Endicott outlasts Western New England 50-45 in offensive slugfest
BEVERLY, Mass. – The 100th game for the Endicott football program was a memorable one as the Gulls exchanged offensive blows with their NEFC Boyd Division rival Western New England but came out on top 50-45 to improve to 7-2 (5-1 NEFC Boyd) on the season.
For the second week in-a-row, sophomore quarterback Drew Frenette (New Bedford, Mass.) connected with his favorite receiver, senior Mike Murphy (Chelmsford, Mass.), 11 times for 139 yards and a new program record five touchdown receptions under the lights at Endicott Stadium. When Murphy brushed off his defender and scampered into the end zone 35 yards for his fourth touchdown with 8:58 remaining in the second quarter, not only did he break the single game record for touchdown catches but he also passed Ryan MacLean ('07) for Endicott's career receiving yards mark.
Murphy ended up catching five of Frenette's six touchdown passes, also a new Endicott record. The sophomore signal-caller finished 27-of-39 for 342 yards, six touchdowns, and one pick. His sixth touchdown of the game came with 3:47 remaining in the third quarter as he found tight end Greg Dellorco (Franklin, Mass.) wide open for 42 yards up the middle of the field to put the Blue and Green ahead 45-31.
Not to be outdone, Endicott senior running back Mike Wheeler (Hanover, Mass.) provided an effective all-around game as well as he surpassed Mike Lane's ('12) single-game all-purpose yards record with 288 total yards against Western New England on Saturday evening. Wheeler rushed 23 times for 123 yards, returned six kickoffs a total of 161 yards and caught one pass for four yards.
Despite numerous offensive records being broken for the second straight week, Western New England amassed 579 total yards of offense in the game. Sophomore tailback Kevin Cook (Hamburg, N.J.) took the ball 31 times for 192 yards and two touchdowns while junior quarterback John Krafick (New Milford, Conn.) threw for 323 yards and four scores through the air.
The Golden Bears started the game with an 14-play, 79-yard opening drive that resulted in a 16-yard touchdown reception by junior tight end Mike Uszakiewicz (Prospect, Conn.) from Krafick. Endicott answered on their first drive as Murphy kept one foot in the corner of the end zone to complete a 13-yard touchdown pass from Frenette.
Later in the first quarter with great field position to start their drive, Murphy caught touchdown number two from nine yards out to put Endicott ahead 14-7. The Gulls defense forced Western New England to punt to start the second quarter and five plays into their first drive of the new period, Murphy was back in the end zone after another near sideline grab from 24 yards out.
The Golden Bears fired back with a 10-play, 83-yard drive that saw Uszakiewicz catch his second touchdown of the game from Krafick, a 19-yard reception to pull within seven at 21-14.
Murphy's record-breaking, 35-yard touchdown catch put the Blue and Green back up by two scores but Cook pounded the ball into the end zone from three yards out to make it 28-21 with 3:02 left in opening half. Endicott would go into halftime up 31-21 after junior Dylan Rushe (Palos Verdes, Calif.) drilled a 24-yard field goal with only seconds remaining in the half.
Momentum shifted Western New England's way at the start of the third quarter after Endicott's first play from scrimmage was a fumble that was recovered by the Golden Bears at the Gulls 32 yard line. The very next play, Krafick found sophomore wide out Andrew Walz (Groton, Conn.) for a 32-yard touchdown to pull within three at 31-28.
Murphy's final touchdown, a Golden Bears field goal, then Dellorco's 42-yard touchdown reception put the Blue and Green on top 45-31 with 3:47 remaining in the third quarter. Cook scored his second touchdown, a hard-fought eight-yard score to trim Endicott's lead down to seven points heading into the final 15 minutes of the game.
Early in the fourth quarter, Wheeler got Endicott down to the Western New England 15-yard line after a 26-yard rush. The Gulls settled for Rushe's second field goal of the game but Endicott held a 48-38 lead with 11:51 to go.
After Rushe pinned the Golden Bears deep into their own territory courtesy of an Endicott record 69-yard punt, the Gulls defense forced a fumble in the backfield inside the five yard line. Western New England recovered in their own end zone, resulting in a safety and two points for Endicott. Junior defensive lineman Marcell Cooper (Dorchester, Mass.) forced the fumble in the backfield.
Western New England would score one more time on Walz' second TD catch of the game as the sophomore finished with six catches, 135 yards and two touchdowns in the loss. Endicott squashed Western New England's hopes for a final drive touchdown as senior linebacker Peter Kallas (Beverly, Mass.) made a diving interception on a Krafick pass to effectively end the game.
The defense was led by Cooper who had a team-high 13 tackles, eight of which were solo, one tackle for a loss and a forced fumble. Junior defensive back Jason Silva (Palatine, Ill.) had 10 tackles with a pass breakup and three other players, PJ Bandini (Waltham, Mass.), Kallas, and Andrew Holfinger (Sterling, Mass.) all added nine tackles each. Junior defensive back Andrew Lawson (Framingham, Mass.) had three pass breakups to lead all players.
For the Golden Bears, junior linebacker Nathan Fleming (Willimantic, Conn.) had a game-high 16 takedowns, nine of which were solo, while forcing and recovering a fumble. Andrew Imperatore (Wyckoff, N.J.) added 11 tackles in the loss. Senior defensive back Corey Brown (Worcester, Mass.) had Western New England's lone interception with a 15-yard return.
Endicott will close out the regular season on Saturday, November 3rd at home for Senior Day as the Gulls will honor 15 seniors on the roster. Endicott hosts MIT at 5:00 pm at Endicott Stadium. Western New England closes out their regular season at home against UMass Dartmouth at 1:00 pm next Saturday.