WESTFIELD, Mass. – Westfield State senior running back Travon Holder (Cheney/East Hartford, Conn.) rushed for 101 yards and two touchdowns, but the Owls' comeback attempt fell short against Western New England as the Owls fell to the Golden Bears by a 31-23 final at Golden Bear Stadium in Springfield on Saturday.
The Owls spotted the Golden Bears a 14-0 lead in the first quarter, but battled back in the late stages, trimming the lead to eight points on a 30-yard Corey Pooler (Middleboro) field goal in with 2:54 to play.
The ensuing Owls' onside kick attempt was unsuccessful, but Westfield forced a Western New England 4-and out, giving Westfield possession on the Owls own 41-yard line with 2:26 left in the game and needing a touchdown and a two-point conversion to tie.
Westfield picked up one first down, but Owls' QB Jake Cassidy's (Lawrence Academy/Lynn, Mass.) fourth-down pass with just under a minute left in the game was intercepted to thwart the comeback attempt.
With the win, Western New England retained the President's Cup, the annual trophy for the winner of the local rivalry game.
WNE Junior quarterback Alec Coleman (Arlington, Mass.) led five scoring drives, as he went 18-of-27 through the air for 179 yards with three touchdowns and one interception.
Junior running back Peter Hoff (Shelton, Conn.) carried the ball 15 times for 56 yards and one score, while junior tight end Jordan Moore (Croton-on-Hudson, N.Y.) caught four passes for 65 yards and a touchdown.
Defensively, senior linebackers Kurtis Jolicoeur (Windham, N.H.) and Mike Chirco (Weedsport, N.Y.) led the way for the Golden Bears. Jolicoeur totaled 11 tackles and blocked an extra point, while Chirco finished with ten stops, including two sacks, to go with a forced fumble. Junior cornerback Tommy Ganley (Delmar, N.Y.) also had a big day with a pair of interceptions and a pass breakup.
For Westfield, Cassidy finished 12 of 32 passing for 156 yards and a touchdown. Junior wide receiver Evan Garvey (Waconah/Dalton, Mass.) caught two passes for 78 yards.
Senior linebacker Andrew Carpenter (Auburn, Mass.) paced the Owls' defense with a team-high 11 tackles, while sophomore cornerback Brian Short (Marlborough, Mass.) recorded eight stops and a pass breakup.
Western New England (1-1) travels to Bangor, Maine next Saturday for a matchup with Husson University, while Westfield State (1-1) hosts UMass Dartmouth on Friday night.
Photos from this game (courtesy Diane Hallet)