SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (October 5, 2019) – The Western New England University football team defeated Nichols College 30-19 on Saturday afternoon during Homecoming Weekend in Commonwealth Coast Football action at Golden Bear Stadium.
Western New England's top offensive contributors were senior running back Jamyre Soberanis (Dorchester, Mass.) and sophomore wide receiver AJ Hall (Norwalk, Conn.). Soberanis ran for 74 yards and one touchdown on 14 attempts (5.3 avg.), while Hall caught five passes for 81 yards.
On the defensive side of the ball, junior linebackers Erich Keutmann (Washingtonville, N.Y.) and Ricky Montalvo (Rocky Hill, Conn.) led the way with 13 and 11 tackles, respectively. Keutmann also recorded two tackles for loss, including a sack, and a pass breakup. Montalvo finished with 3.5 tackles for loss (1.5 sacks), and he blocked a field goal that resulted in a Golden Bear touchdown.
Senior kicker Kieran Lombard (Dover, N.H.) was successful on all three of his field goal attempts with a long of 44 yards.
Nichols senior quarterback Michael Pina (Brockton, Mass.) completed 35-of-51 pass attempts for 314 yards and two touchdowns. His top target was sophomore receiver Hunter Ferreira (Mansfield, Mass.), who finished with eight catches for 86 yards and a score.
The Bison were paced defensively by sophomore linebacker Joe Cox (Mansfield, Mass.), who made a team-high nine tackles (1 TFL) and recorded an interception.
After coming up empty on their first possession of the game, the Golden Bears opened the scoring on a 44-yard field goal by Lombard with 8:15 remaining in the first quarter.
The Bison got on the board at the 9:12 mark of the second quarter when senior kicker Alex Santiago (Sunrise, Fla.) connected on a 29-yard field goal that evened the score.
Western New England quickly regained the lead, however, as the Golden Bears found the end zone on their ensuing possession to take a 10-3 lead. Freshman EJ Dudley (Meriden, Conn.) gave WNE favorable field position as he returned Santiago's kickoff 39 yards to the Nichols 46-yard line. Six plays later on third and 15, senior quarterback Brendan Smith (Seekonk, Mass.) evaded pressure and found senior running back Byron Jones (West Hartford, Conn.) down the sideline for a 41-yard touchdown.
Nichols then responded with a touchdown of its own, as Pina connected with junior receiver Terrance Harris (East Falmouth, Mass.) for a three-yard score with 5:24 left in the half. Two plays earlier, Harris hauled in a 47-yard reception from Pina to get the Bison to the WNE 12-yard line. The Golden Bears maintained a 10-9 lead, however, as Santiago's extra point attempt was unsuccessful.
Western New England utilized a big play just before the half to extend its lead to 17-9 heading into the break. After a Smith fumble gave the Bison the ball in WNE territory, Nichols was able to move to the 22-yard line before its drive stalled. Santiago's 39-yard field goal attempt was blocked by Montalvo and returned by senior Deven Perez (Newington, Conn.) 73 yards for a touchdown.
The Golden Bears outscored Nichols 10-0 in the third quarter to increase their advantage to 27-9. Lombard converted his second field goal of the game with 10:04 on the clock, and Soberanis found the end zone on a three-yard rush with 3:47 to play in the period.
Western New England held its largest lead of the afternoon (30-9) after Lombard booted a 30-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter.
The Bison were able to cut the final margin to 11 with ten late points, including a 27-yard touchdown pass from Pina to Ferreira.
• Western New England's win improves the Golden Bears to 21-15 in 37 all-time meetings with the Bison. WNE has won 13 consecutive games against Nichols.
• Lombard's 44-yard field goal is tied for the longest of his career.
Western New England (4-1, 2-0 CCC) has a bye next weekend, before hosting Salve Regina on Saturday, October 19 at 1 p.m. Nichols (3-2, 1-1 CCC) is also off next weekend before returning to action against Becker in Dudley on October 19.