By Greg Dudek
Junior wide receiver Matt Green knew the perfect way to kickoff the inaugural weekend of Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference play.
In the first ever MASCAC football game, Green put on a show, as he caught a school-record five touchdown receptions in a 51-20 win over Worcester State University Friday night.
“Breaking the school record was an honor,” Green said. “Working hard this offseason paid off. It’s an amazing feeling to have my name in the Bridgewater State football record book.
“Everything was happening so fast. I was just taking it one series at a time and doing whatever it takes to help make big plays and get my offense rolling.”
Green finished the night with six receptions for 202 yards, breaking another school record. This week, Green was named MASCAC Football Offensive Player of the Week. Green also received other weekly accolades, as he was named to the D3football.com Team of the Week, and earned ECAC Division III New England Offensive Player of the Week and Beyond Sports Network Divsion III Offensive Players of the Week honors.
“Obviously, Matt was terrific on this night, but that is what happens occasionally when you work hard every day, give effort blocking in the run game, and are well prepared,” said Bridgewater State head coach Chuck Denune. “Yes, he is athletic, but he prepares himself for success every week with hard work.”
Green wasn’t the only Bridgewater State University player having a career night. Senior quarterback Mike McCarthy joined him, as he completed 14-of-23 passes, for a career-best 263 yards and five touchdowns. If that wasn’t enough, McCarthy also ran the ball 22 times for 98 yards and a touchdown.
“I’ve said it the past four years, Mike is just a good football player,” Denune said. “People will see a big performance from him during a game, but what they don’t see is all the time he has put in during the offseason. Who do you think I saw in the weight room right before practice on Monday after the record setting performance? Enough said, he knows we have work to do.”
After both teams went scoreless on their first possession of the game, the Bears got things started with a seven-yard touchdown run by McCarthy with 6:18 left in the first quarter.
Worcester State tied it up late in the first quarter, but Bridgewater State answered, as McCarthy connected with Green for a 39-yard touchdown pass with 14:53 remaining in the second quarter.
The Bears added to their lead with another McCarthy to Green touchdown pass, to take a 20-7 advantage. But the Lancers cut the lead to 20-13 going into halftime.
The McCarthy-Green connection continued in the second half for two touchdown passes, going for 30 and 60 yards. Green also caught another 60-yard touchdown reception from senior John Criscuolo.
Bridgewater State finished the game with 528 total yards of offense, and their 51 points were the most in a game since 2005.
“Our offense still has plenty of room for improvement, but I am happy with how we have performed as a unit thus far,” McCarthy said. “As long as we continue to go to work each week and get better, I think we will be in a good place come game day.”
The defense was not to be outdone though, as Springfield College transfer and senior defensive end Rob Ruggiero had three sacks, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery and a pair of pass deflections in the win.
For his performance, Ruggiero was named MASCAC Football Defensive Player of the Week.
“Rob is fun to watch, he’s fast, he’s athletic and strong and has a bit of an edge to him,” Denune said. “It was really good to see him have a great night. With the injury to Tate [Doehler], we were really counting on him to step up his play, and he did not disappoint.”
Early in the season, the Bears seem to be hitting their stride, as they have put up 92 points in the past two weeks.
“We have many returning starters back so we were basically picking up where we left off,” Green said. “We have a lot of weapons on offense which gives the defense a hard time stopping us. We come ready and focused each practice and it has carried over into game day these past couple weeks.”
Now in conference play, the Bears will look to improve on an already impressive start to their season.
“The road will only get harder, hence we need to work harder,” Denune said. “Big games every week. Right now we have to worry about Fitchburg.”
Bridgewater State will travel to Fitchburg State University on Saturday to take on the Falcons. Kickoff is scheduled for 1:30 p.m.
Greg Dudek is The Comment’s Editor-In-Chief. Follow him on Twitter at gdudek10 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.