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Mercadante sets Westfield State career and season TD records

Date: 11/26/2014

WESTFIELD – Senior running back Michael Mercadante of Wilbraham set school records for career and season touchdowns, senior Steve Guercio threw for 230 yards and classmate Troy Cutter made 17 tackles as the Owls' seniors left all on the field in a 43-28 season-ending loss to Western Connecticut on Nov. 14.

On a night where the mercury barely cracked the freezing mark, Westfield State honored its 20 football and four cheerleading seniors before the game.

The Owls' enthusiasm carried into the early stages as Westfield jumped to a 14-0 lead on its first two possessions of the game. On the third play from scrimmage, Guercio found Colby Bostek on a crossing route, which Bostek sprung for 73 yards down to the Western Connecticut 2-yard line. Mercadante plunged in one play later from a yard out for a 7-0 lead.

Mercadante busted off runs of 20 and 48 yards to open Westfield's next offensive series, then plunged in from two yards out for a 14-0 Owls lead just 5:04 into the ball game.

The Colonials responded with 38 unanswered points. Nichol connected with Tyre Pinder on a 50-yard scoring strike on a broken play, as Nicol escaped pressure and rolled right, finding Pinder alone at the 25 yard line, where he escaped down the right side avoiding a couple of tackles for the score.

Nicol found Connor Falaguerra for a 28 yard scoring strike to tie the game at 14-all with 12:20 left in the second quarter.

Nicol added a one-yard scoring plunge with 5:49 left in the second quarter to give Western Connecticut the lead for good at 21-14.

After a Michael Killoran field goal boosted the lead to 24-14, Westfield had a chance to add points late in the first half, but the Colonials' Douglas Katz blocked Westfield's Mike Bortolussi's 30-yard field goal try. The blocked kick bounced directly to Jacobson Jean-Baptiste, who rumbled for 78 yards and a touchdown with one second left in the half for a 31-14 lead at the half.

Westfield got a six-yard TD run from Mercadante in the third quarter. The touchdown was the 38th of his career, to set a school-record (breaking the mark of 37 set by Tim Lightfoot from 1992-95), and his 16th of the season to tie the school's single season mark (set by Dave Benoit in 2008). Mercadante finished with 126 yards rushing and three touchdowns on the day. It was his seventh game of 120 or more yards this season and seventh game with two or more touchdowns. He finishes the year with 1,289 yards rushing, the fourth best total in school history. He finishes his Westfield State career with 2,993 yards rushing, also the fourth-best career total in school history.

Gurecio added an eight-yard scoring strike to Yinka Areago with 7:25 left in the game to cap the scoring.

Western Connecticut was able to hold the ball for the final 4:24 of the game to end hopes for an Owls comeback.

Bostek finished with four catches for 90 yards. Bobby Boire caught four balls for 68 yards.

Defensively, senior inside linebacker Cutter capped his career with a 17-tackle performance, including two tackles for losses. Senior Nick Sullivan was in on 12 stops with a sack, and classmate Julon McCoy came up with 11 tackles.

Nicol threw for 247 yards and three touchdowns and ran for another, to lead Western Connecticut.

Tory Mack finished with 117 yards rushing for the Colonials. Faluguerra caught eight balls for 155 yards.

Westfield ends the season at 5-5, 4-4 in the MASCAC. Western Connecticut is 7-3, 6-2 in the MASCAC.