The Framingham State University football team built a 35-6 halftime lead and overcame three second half turnovers to defeat the Fitchburg State University Falcons 42-21 in a Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference match-up on the inaugural weekend of conference football.
The Rams improve to 2-1 on the year and 1-0 in the conference, while the Falcons fall to 1-2 overall and are now 0-1 in the MASCAC.
Senior running back Melikke Van Alstyne had an outstanding day en route to his third straight Calder Award.
The Calder Award is presented annually to the most valuable player of the Homecoming Day game in memory of former Ram football captain John Calder.
Van Alstyne accounted for 215 of the Rams 436 yards of offense in the game. He rushed for 192 yards on 30 carries with a touchdown and had three receptions for 23 yards and a score.
After punting on their first possession of the game, the Rams scored on their next five. They got on the board first with8:46 remaining in the first quarter when sophomore quarterback Matt Silva hit classmate Travis Hayes of Framingham with a 36 yard touchdown strike. After sophomore Sean Wlasuk converted the extra point the Rams led 7-0.
Freshman Jalen Green set up the Rams second touchdown with a 49 yard punt return giving the Rams the ball on Fitchburg’s 21 yard line. After a pair of rushes by Green netted seven yards, Silva connected with junior Jared Gauthier for a 14 yard touchdown pass.
The Rams needed just five plays to go 64 yards to put their next points on the board. Van Alstyne racked up 37 yards on the drive including capping it off with a 12 yard TD run. Wlasuk, who was perfect on PAT’s for the game, converted the extra point giving the Rams a 21-0 lead with 2:01 left in the first quarter.
While the Rams offense was putting points on the board the Ram defense forced four consecutive three and outs by the Falcons. On their fifth possession of the day, the visitors finally were able to put a drive together that resulted in their only score of the half. The Falcons methodically moved the ball down the field and were the beneficiaries of a pair of personal foul calls against the Rams. Freshman quarterback Garrett Dellechiaie rushed for 18 yards on the drive and completed a pair of passes to junior Phillip Saint-Juste . The Falcons faced a fourth and goal at the Rams one yard line and Dellechiaie was tackled for a loss, but the Rams were called for a penalty in the end zone giving the Falcons a new set of downs. On the next play, sophomore Mike Delaney went over the top of the pile for the touchdown from one yard out cutting the Rams lead to 21-6.
The Rams answered on their next drive as Silva and Hayes connected on their second touchdown of the day this one a nine yard fade to the corner of the end zone.
The Framingham State defense once again kept the Falcons in their own territory forcing a punt. Green scooped the bouncing punt at the Fitchburg 48 yard line and raced into the end zone untouched giving the Rams a 35-6 lead at the half.
The second half was a different story as the Rams turned the ball over three times on a fumble and a pair of interceptions which the Falcons converted into a pair of touchdowns. Junior Talib Barksdale (Hudson, NY) stripped Van Alstyne on the Rams opening possession of the second half, but the Rams defense once again came up big forcing another three and out.
Silva was intercepted by junior Tevin Bienaime on the Rams ensuing possession and the Falcons went 17 yards in three plays for their second score of the day – a 17 yard touchdown pass from Dellechiaie to freshman Jesse Lastra.
Bienaime intercepted Silva once again early in the fourth quarter giving the Falcons the ball on their own 33 yard line with 11:05 left in the game. The Falcons took advantage as Dellechiaie started the drive with a 22 yard completion to Saint-Juste and eluded the Framingham State rush on a fourth and three completing an 18 yard pass to Lastra to keep the drive alive. After a Framingham State penalty, Dellechiaie completed a 10 yard touchdown pass to Saint-Juste cutting the deficit to 35-21 with 8:57 left in the contest.
That was as close as the Falcons would come as the Rams added a final touchdown with 2:33 left in the game on a 15 yard screen from Silva to Van Alstyne to reach the margin.
Silva finished the game 13 for 28 with four touchdowns and two interceptions, while Hayes made six catches for 83 yards and two scores. Senior Pat McGrath of Everett led the defense with nine tackles including 1.5 for a loss, while classmate Kevin Donahue finished with eight including five solo stops.
Dellechiaie went 15-of-28 in the game for 178 yards and two touchdowns and led the Falcons with 28 yards rushing. The Falcons were held to just 46 yards on the ground in the game. Saint-Juste was Dellechiaie’s favorite target making six catches for 129 yards with a score, while Lastra made four catches for 36 yards and a touchdown.
The Rams take to the road next weekend for a clash with Western Connecticut on Saturday with kickoff slated for 12 p.m..