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Football Claims New England Bowl Title Over Maritime, 17-14

Springfield, Mass. - November 17, 2018 - The Springfield College football team prevailed in their first-ever New England Bowl as they bested Maritime, 17-14, on Stagg Field on Saturday afternoon. 

Playing in the postseason for the second-straight season, Springfield closed out the 2018 campaign with an 8-3 record.  In the last two years, the Pride has combined to win 18 games, marking the best two-year stretch since the 2003-04 teams won 18 games as well. The Privateers made their second-consecutive appearance in the New England Bowl and finished the year with a 7-4 record.

Springfield's Jonny Bianchi (Pittsfield, Mass.) was named the Most Outstanding Player of the game as he tied a Springfield College football program record with three interceptions.  Bianchi became just the eighth player in program history, and first since 2005, to have at least three picks in a game for the Pride.  The Pride finished the day with 327 yards on the ground, with Hunter Belzo (Middletown, Conn.) totaling 74 yards and a pair of scores.  In his final game at Springfield, Nick Giorgio (Cumberland, R.I.) was sensational, producing a team-best 12 tackles, including 4.5 tackles-for-loss and 1.5 sacks, as well as a blocked kick.   

For Maritime, Thomas Wright (Wantagh, N.Y.) rushed for 60 yards and threw for 127 yards and two scores, both of which were hauled in by Brandonn Drumgole (Mt. Sinai, N.Y.), as he finished the day with 80 receiving yards. Liam Bailey (Sayville, N.Y.) led all players with 17 tackles, including 11 solo stops. 

On their second possession of the game, Maritime put together a seven-play, 84-yard scoring drive that lasted 3:30.  The drive, which was highlighted by a 43-yard catch and run by Antonio Clark (Brooklyn, N.Y.), was capped off by a three-yard back-shoulder touchdown grab by Drumgole with 9:25 on the clock. 

After Bianchi produced first first interception with 21 seconds left in the first quarter to give the Pride the ball on the Privateers 20 yard line, Springfield capitalized 40 seconds into the second quarter with a 33-yard field goal by Blake Heller (North Bellmore, N.Y.) to make it a 7-3 ball game.  

The Pride would again benefit from a remarkable interception by Bianchi, this time gaining the ball on the Springfield 42 yard line, with 2:38 on the clock in the first half.  Eight plays later, Belzo dove over the goal line from a yard out allow the Pride to take the first lead of the game, 10-7, with 13 seconds remaining in the half.  Springfield was able to gain possession after the ensuing kickoff deflected off a Maritime player, but Heller's 54-yard field goal attempt in the waning seconds was just short as the teams headed into the break with the score, 10-7.  Springfield would would total 154 yards on the ground in the first half as it had the ball for over 17 minutes. 

Neither team would find the end zone in the third quarter, despite the Pride having the ball for over 10 minutes.  Springfield would make it a 17-7 game with 6:31 remaining in regulation on another one-yard score by Belzo, as he finished off a 12-play drive that lasted just over four minutes.  The Privateers answered right back, needing just five plays to go 79 yards in only two minutes to make it a one-score game.  Wright connected with Drumgole for a 45-yard strike, then rushed four 21 yards, and later found Drumgole on a beautiful throw to the back pylon with 4:25 on the clock. 

However, Springfield would recover the ensuing onside kick and seal the game by chewing up the final four-plus minutes off the clock.  Belzo converted a huge 3rd-and-1 on the Privateers 27-yard line, and three plays later in victory formation gave the Pride the postseason win.