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Mercadante fourth on WSU’s all-time rushing list

Date: 11/7/2014

FITCHBURG – Senior running back Michael Mercadante of Wilbraham rushed for 171 yards and two touchdowns to lead Westfield State to a 28-14 win over Fitchburg State on Nov. 1 at Elliott Field.

Mercadante had his fifth rushing game of 120 or more yards, and cracked the 1000-yard barrier for the season, with 1,003 yards.  The Owls’ big back also moved in to fourth on the Owls all-time rushing list as he now has 2,707 yards, passing Shawn Lyman ’01 who totaled 2,659 in his career.

Mercadante also garnered Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference Offensive Player of the Week honors as a result of his performance.

Westfield totaled 249 rushing yards on a rainy day, and the Owls defense thwarted the Falcons’ high-powered offense, intercepting four passes on the day.

Westfield State opened the contest, driving 72 yards on 11 plays as senior quarterback Steve Guercio hit junior Cody Bostek in the right corner of the end zone for a 15 yard touchdown pass and catch for the 7-0 lead with 9:51 remaining in the first quarter.

The Falcons responded with an 11-play drive of their own, capping a 60 yard drive as junior receiver Trayvon Neal hauled in a 15-yard pass from sophomore quarterback Garrett Dellechiaie to knot the score at 7-7

Westfield State marched back, regaining the lead (14-7) as time expired in the opening Mercadante plunged in from one yard out.

The Owls upped their margin with 1:51 left in the first half, finishing off a 92-yard drive on a two-yard touchdown run from Mercadante to take a 21-7 lead into halftime.

Following the break, the Owls took command with 5:33 left in the third quarter when Guercio found junior Bobby Boire in the far corner of the end zone for a 25-yard strike to make the score 28-7 after three quarters of play.

Fitchburg got a two yard rush from junior wide out Taylor Ekstrom, early in the fourth quarter resulting in the 28-14 final.

For the game, Dellechiaie led the Falcons offense, completing 10-of-28 passes for 143 yards and one score, while also adding 70 rushing yards on 14 carries, while senior Phillip Saint-Juste finished with four catches for 56 yards.

Westfield got an efficient passing game from senior quarterback Steve Guercio, who completed 8 of 12 passes for 77 yards and a pair of scores. Boire added three grabs for 35 yards and one touchdown.

Westfield junior defensive back Greg Sheridan came up with two of the Owls four interceptions, both in the second half.  The first came in the end zone to deflate a long drive from the Falcons, the second ended all hope on what proved to be Fitchburg’s final drive.

Julon McCoy and Joey Mespelli also had interceptions for the Owls dominant defense, with Mespelli returning his 41 yards in the first half, giving the Owls’ offense a short field for their second touchdown drive.

Marcus Pettigrew and Troy Cutter each had 11 tackles to lead the Owls, with both players registering a sack. The Owls managed to sack Dellachaie four times in the contest.

Westfield State (5-3, 4-2 MASCAC) will host Worcester State University for a contest starting at 1 p.m. on Nov. 8.