SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – Springfield quarterback Hunter Belzo ran for 207 yards and two touchdowns and also threw a touchdown pass leading Springfield to a 26-12 win over Coast Guard in the battle of New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) unbeatens.
Springfield, ranked third in the New England Division III poll, improves to 5-1 overall and 3-0 in the NEWMAC while the Bears, ranked 9th, who had their three-game win streak snapped, drop to 4-2 overall and 2-1 in conference play.
Belzo carried 31 times for 207 yards and was 2 of 5 for 39 yards and a touchdown as he finished with 352 yards of total offense, 313 rushing and 39 passing.
Coast Guard had 305 total yards, 210 passing and 95 on the ground. Sophomore Chris Gardner led the Bears with 15 carries for 93 yards.
Junior quarterback Ryan Jones was 8 of 18 for 111 yards while sophomore Justin Moffatt was 2 of 3 for 49 yards and junior Miguel Moroles was 1 of 2 for 29 yards with an interception.
Moffatt, who leads the NEWMAC in receptions and yards, had a game-high seven receptions for 76 yards. He went over the 1,000 receiving yard mark an now has 1,039 career yards, 601 this season.
Coast Guard went three-and-out on the opening possession and Andrew Papiro returned a punt 73 yards to give the Pride a 7-0 lead with 12:45 left in the first quarter. It would be the first of two big special teams plays for the Pride in the first half.
The Bears would get on the board on a 43-yard field goal by senior Cole Austin with 2:25 left in the first quarter to cut the lead to 7-3.
The second big special teams play of the half came when Springfield's Ryan McCarthy would return the kickoff 70 yards to the Bear 26 and the Pride needed just one play to score as Belzo threw a 26-yard touchdown pass to Ryan Deguire to make the score 13-3 with 2:08 left in the opening quarter.
Coast Guard senior Chip Crowley would block the extra point and junior Michael Goldsworthy would return it 98 yards for two points to make the score 13-5.
The Bears had 92 total yards in the first quarter while Springfield, which had the ball for just 5:39 had 63 total yards, but the two key special teams returns were the key in opening quarter.
Belzo had a 1-yard touchdown run with 9:27 left in the first half to cap a six play, 69 yard drive to push the lead to 20-5.
The Pride had 165 total yards in the first half, 126 rushing while the Bears had 135 first half yards, 110 of those in the air.
Sophomore Chris Gardner's 2-yard run with 9:43 left in the third quarter cut the deficit to 20-12. The big play in the drive was a 54-yard pass from Jones to junior Liam Middleton down to the 2-yard line.
The Coast Guard defense would force a punt and then an interception on a trick play gave the Ball back to the Pride at their own 10 with 4:05 left in the quarter.
The Bears defense would again step up and force a punt and the Bears drove to the Pride 26, but turned it over on downs with 12:07 left.
The Pride would miss a 42-yard field goal attempt with 8:16 left keeping it a one score game, but Jones was sacked and fumbled at the Bear 8 yard line and Belzo closed the scoring with a 6-yard touchdown run with 7:23 left in the game.
The Bears are back in action when they host Maine Maritime in a NEWMAC game as part of Homecoming Weekend on Saturday at 1:30.