Springfield, Mass. - August 31, 2018 - Playing in front of over 5,000 fans in their season opener, the Springfield College football team rolled their way to a 42-21 victory over Western New England on Friday night.
It marked the sixth time that these two rivals met in the Pynchon SAW Game, which is derived from city founder William Pynchon and the acronym of "SAW" is for the first initial of both schools, Springfield And Western New England. The Pride defeated WNE for the first time ever at home and defeated the Golden Bears for the second-straight season to regain the rivalry trophy and even the series at 3-3.
Springfield, which was receiving votes in the latest D3football.com National Poll, has now won 11-straight regular season games dating back to last season.
Chad Shade (Pittsfield, Mass.) put together a remarkable showing as the junior quarterback rushed for 247 yards on 22 carries, averaging over 11 yards per carry, and scored all six of Springfield's touchdowns. Fullback Joshua Thomas (Saratoga Springs, N.Y.) addd 96 yards on 11 carries for the Pride, which rushed for 445 yards in the contest.
The Pride's defense was on the field for 80 plays on the night, and sophomore AJ Smith (Rahway, N.J.) delivered a game-high 11 tackles. Kyle Niehr (Bay Shore, N.Y.) produced eight tackles and made a critical fumble recovery in the third quarter, and Nick Giorgio (Cumberland, R.I.) was credited with eight stops in the victory.
For the visitors, junior quarterback Alec Coleman (Arlington, Mass.) completed 22-of-40 pass attempts for 204 yards and one touchdown, while also adding 36 yards on the ground. Senior wide receiver Evan Cain (Berlin, Mass.) made six receptions for 76 yards, while junior Jared Wolfe (Seaford, N.Y.) finished with six catches for 54 yards and a touchdown. Defensively, senior linebacker Kurtis Jolicoeur (Windham, N.H.) paced the Golden Bears with seven tackles, a sack and a forced fumble.
After WNE returned the game's opening kickoff 42 yards to the Western New England 49-yard line, and the Golden Bears drove all the way to the Springfield 26 before the drive stalled and junior Kieran Lombard (Dover, N.H.) missed a 42-yard field goal.
On the first play of Springfield's ensuing drive, however, the Golden Bears forced a fumble and recovered at the ball at the Springfield 18. Five plays later, junior running back Peter Hoff (Shelton, Conn.) found the end zone on a four-yard rush as the Golden Bears claimed a 7-0 lead.
Springfield answered on its next possession, sparked by sophomore Ryan McCarthy's (Palmer, Mass.) 52-yard kickoff return. The Pride took advantage of the short field as Shade capped the five-play, 43-yard drive with a five-yard touchdown scamper.
The Golden Bears went three and out on their next drive, and Springfield claimed a 14-7 lead with just under four minutes remaining in the opening frame on a 24-yard touchdown run by Shade.
Following another missed Western New England field goal midway through the second quarter, Springfield put together a seven-play, 80-yard drive that culminated in a 32-yard rushing score by Shade as the home team increased its advantage to 21-7 with 5:08 on the clock.
The Pride led by the same margin at the break, before opening up a 28-7 cushion early in the third quarter on Shade's fourth rushing score of the night as he punched one in from a yard out.
Western New England cut its deficit in half (28-14) at the 9:53 mark of the third when Coleman found Wolfe for a three-yard score, and the momentum started to shift as WNE marched the ball down inside the Springfield 30. However, first-year Kyle Glidden (Eliot, Maine) came up with a huge forced fumble, which Niehr recovered out of midair to bring the crowd to its feet. Five plays later, Shade broke free for a 75-yard touchdown late in the frame to restore Springfield's 21-point lead.
Shade tacked on another rushing touchdown with 6:39 remaining in the contest as he escaped on a 4th and 1 from the WNE 42 yard line to find paydirt, before Western New England junior quarterback Brendan Smith (Seekonk, Mass.) came in to orchestrate a late scoring drive for the Golden Bears.
Springfield will hit the road for another non-conference game next Saturday when it travels to New Jersey to face Kean University for a 1 pm kick.