CASTINE — Maine Maritime Academy exploded for 34 first half points en route to a 40-7 win over Fitchburg State in the New England Football Conference (NEFC) Bogan Division opener. The Mariners (3-0, 1-0) scored on each of their first five possessions, piling up 316 yards of offense in the first half to the delight of the homecoming crowd. The early run on the scoreboard left the Falcons (1-3, 0-1) in a hole they could not escape.
Maine Maritime hit paydirt on its first two possessions in an unusual fashion. Quarterback Matthew Rende (Augusta) called his own number on third and goal from the three. Jonathon Salvatore (Leominster, Mass.) put a shoulder into the ball which popped up into the air and landed in the hands of Nick Bourassa (Jay) in the end zone for the early 7-0 lead.
On the next MMA possession, Chris Rose (Gloversville, N.Y.) jarred the ball loose from Bill Wetherbee (Veazie) at the goal line. Again, the ball popped up into the air, this time finding its way into Nate Duford's (Claremont, N.H.) hands in the end zone to make it a 14-0 game.
Fitchburg State responded driving down to the Mariner's 13, where the Falcons set up for a 30-yard field goal. Wetherbee came untouched off of the edge for the block, giving Maine Maritime possession on its own 21 at the end of the first quarter. Ian Champeon (Dover-Foxcroft) took the first snap of the second quarter up the right sideline for 79-yards and a touchdown to make it 21-0. Champeon finished with a game-high 126 yards on 12 touches.
The Mariners dusted off the passing game on their next possession, moving 79 yards in four plays. Duford caught a pass from Rende for 28 yards, then on first and 10 from the 37, Rende found him wide open for a walk to the end zone. Rende completed three of his four passes in the game for 93 yards.
Fitchburg went three and out on the ensuing possession, before Michael Burgess (North Yarmouth) blocked the Falcons' punt to give the Mariners a short field. Rende called his own number four times on the six-play, 28-yard drive. He punched in on the right side from three yards out to give the Mariners a 34-0 break heading into the locker room.
Fitchburg took advantage of the extended halftime to make adjustments on defense, while the Mariners offense helped out with several turnovers in the second half. The Falcons limited Maine Maritime to just 35 yards in the second half.
The Falcons were poised to strike from the Maine Maritime five-yardline to open the second half. Chase Hutchinson (Dover-Foxcroft) nabbed a Brian McDonald (Westwood, Mass.) pass in the end zone to temporarily thwart the scoring threat. Two plays later, Rende botched a handoff exchange, which was recovered by Fitchburg's Joseph Sasso. McDonald completed a pass to Alexander Morse (Charlemont, Mass.) to set up Steph'fon Teague's (Fitchburg, Mass.) three-yard jaunt into the endzone for the Falcons only score of the game.
McDonald finished the game with 193 yards on 19 completions in 35 attempts. Jeremy Kimber (Fitchburg, Mass.) was on the receiving end of eight passes. He had 84 yards on the afternoon. McDonald was under duress throughout the game. John Regis (Old Orchard Beach) sacked him three times, while Joel Chadbourne (Westbrook) got to him once. Alex Hermes (Fallsington, Pa.) recorded eight tackles, broke up a pass, and scored on a 50-yard fumble recovery that resulted in the Mariners' only second half points. It was forced by Chris Brawn (Winslow). Wade Severance (Hollis Center) led all tacklers with nine stops. Six were solo stops.
Sean Golden (Uncasville, Conn.) recorded eight tackles, seven solo and forced a fumble for Fitchburg. Sasso had six solo stops, including two for losses, to go with his fumble recovery.
The Mariners return to action Saturday at Worcester State.
Fitchburg State-S. Teague 19-54; Farren Davis 7-21; Chris Bachand 4-2; Sajan Thakkar 2-2; Mike Chaplin 1-2; Brian McDonald 5-minus 11.
Maine Maritime-Ian Champeon 12-126; Matthew Rende 15-56; Nick Bourassa 5-45; Bill Wetherbee 5-23; Cameron Pancier 1-7; Tom Marcisso 1-2; Ryan O'Neal 1-0; Ben Violette 3-minus 1; Nate Duford 0-0.
Fitchburg State-Brian McDonald 19-35-1-193; Sajan Thakkar 2-5-0-14; S. Teague 0-1-1-0.
Maine Maritime-Matthew Rende 3-4-0-93; Ben Violette 0-1-0-0.
Fitchburg State-Jeremy Kimber 8-84; C. De La Rosa 7-74; Ryan Kasik 2-14; S. Teague 1-19; Mike Chaplin 1-6; Alexander Morse 1-6; Anthony Brooks 1-4.
Maine Maritime-Nate Duford 2-65; Nick Bourassa 1-28.
Maine Maritime-Chase Hutchinso 2-minus 6.
Fitchburg State-S. Teague 1-1.
Maine Maritime-Matthew Rende 5-2; Nate Duford 1-0; Bill Wetherbee 1-0.
Fitchburg State-Luis Cruz 1-0.
Maine Maritime-John Regis 3-0; Joel Chadbourne 1-0.
Fitchburg State-Sean Golden 7-1; A. Bizzotto 5-3; Joseph Sasso 6-0; Chris Rose 3-2; Jesus Moore 3-2; Will Gasson 2-2; Mike Vaughan 1-1; Kevin Spence 1-1; Jim Jaworski 0-2; Alexander Morse 1-0; Luis Cruz 1-0; James Mullin 1-0; C. De La Rosa 1-0; T. Bridgewater 1-0; J. Salvatore 1-0.
Maine Maritime-Wade Severance 6-3; Alex Hermes 6-2; Joel Chadbourne 6-1; John Regis 4-2; Brock Lawrence 4-1; Chris Brawn 3-1; Andrew Hammond 3-0; Jacob Albon 2-1; Matthew Ball 2-1; Frank True 2-1; Evan Sinclair 1-2; Bill Wetherbee 2-0; Ryan Williams 2-0; Derek True 1-1; Kris Smith 1-1; Jared Woods 1-1; Pat Richardson 0-2; Michael Burgess 1-0; Chase Hutchinso 1-0; Nick Cawood 1-0; Ryan O'Neal 0-1; Michael Brennan 0-1.