By: Ryan Yursha
In their second conference matchup on Saturday, Sept. 28, and on Worcester State University’s Homecoming, no less, the Western Connecticut State University football team spotted their opponents a 21-point lead before scoring six consecutive touchdowns in a thrilling 42-38 comeback victory to keep their unbeaten streak intact at 4-0.
Senior quarterback David James threw for 370 yards on 23-of-38 passing for four touchdowns, and sophomore wide receiver Will Daniels had 157 receiving yards on six catches for a total of two scores, including an incredible one-handed grab in the end zone to kick-start the comeback for the Colonials.
“It’s never easy to spot a team 21 points,” said WestConn head coach Joe Loth. “We did a good job of battling back. Will Daniels had a great day that included some big plays for us. However, we still have a lot of improvements we need to make in all three phases—offensively, defensively and special teams.”
After both the Lancers and the Colonials were forced to punt on their opening drives, Worcester State’s Aaron-Moses Williams called his own number on fourth-and-goal to cap a 10-play, 76-yard drive and get the scoring started with just over five minutes left to play in the first quarter.
The following three possessions ended in punts and both offenses looked to be having trouble getting things started until, after WestConn sophomore running back Roy Penn-Consentino coughed up the ball while being taken down in the back field, Worcester State’s Nick Ashley recovered the fumble at the WestConn 31. The Lancers only needed four plays to get into the end zone; Amir Mells would take it to the house on a 4-yard carry to extend Worcester State’s lead to two scores.
Following another punt from both teams, the Colonials got the ball back with just over two minutes remaining in the first half. On the second play of the drive, and desperately needing to get on the board before the break, James dropped back to pass but was stripped by Westfield State’s Anthony Casparriello and Josh Obisui, the latter of whom would pick up the loose ball and scoop-and-score to make it a three-score game.
But on the ensuing drive, a personal foul by Obisui gave the Colonials the ball on the Lancers 29-yard line, and James made them pay when he hit junior wide receiver Jahzaari Mullings for a 21-yard score to bring the Colonials back within two scores just before the half.
Following a three-and-out and a punt on their first possession after the break, the Colonials were backed up to their own goal line when senior defensive back Jarius Bailey picked off Williams.
On the ensuing possession, James hit Penn-Consentino for a 44-yard completion before stepping up in the pocket and delivering a 40-yard strike to sophomore WR Will Daniels for a wild circus catch in the end zone to put the Colonials within striking distance.
The catalyst for the comeback, the WestConn defense took the field after Daniels’ grab and forced Worcester State to punt following a three-and-out, and Penn-Consentino evened the score at 21 on a 7-yard rushing touchdown with 5:34 remaining in the penultimate period.
The Colonials defense forced another three-and-out on the following possession, and they went for broke on fourth-and-15 inside the red zone, but James couldn’t connect with senior WR Nick Kimball and the Lancers took over on downs.
The Colonials defense bailed them out again, however, when senior defensive end Jordan Fletcher and sophomore defensive lineman Brian Tucker broke through the Lancers’ offensive line and came up with a huge sack to force yet another three-and-out on the first possession of the 4th quarter. Daniels fumbled the ensuing punt, but freshman WR Tyler Dean made the recovery to give the Colonials the ball at the Worcester 46-yard line.
After three quarters of frustration, the Colonials made quick work of the short field to take their first lead of the game. James dumped the ball off to Kimball for what looked destined to be a short gain, but Kimball broke a tackle and made it a foot race for the pylon, diving for the goal line and sending the pylon flying as the ball just barely broke the plane for a 22-yard score to make it 28-21 in favor of the Colonials with 11:22 remaining in the final stanza.
The Colonials looked poised to run away with the game when, after an incomplete pass on the next possession, Mells was taken down in the backfield by junior linebacker Vincent Scancarello, who both forced the ball out and made the recovery, giving WestConn possession on the Lancers 39-yard line. But four plays later, Penn-Consentino fumbled at the Worcester 16-yard line, his second of the game.
But the Colonials defense came up big yet again, forcing their second straight three-and-out. And on the fourth play of their next drive, James hit Daniels for his second score of the afternoon, this one for 36 yards, to put the Colonials up by two touchdowns.
With just over four minutes to play, and in need of a quick score, Williams was intercepted by senior linebacker Will Dorvillier, who took it 67 yards to the house for a WestConn score to make it 42-21 and put the game on ice.
Williams hit Colin Robinson for a 52-yard touchdown with just under two minutes remaining, but it was too little to late for the Lancers, and the Colonials won 42-28 to bring their Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) record to 2-0. WestConn is now 4-0 in all contents this season.
The Colonials have a bye this week before taking on Mass. Maritime for WestConn’s Homecoming Game in the Westside Athletic Complex at 5 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 12.