FITCHBURG, Mass. – Mitchell Caron's two passing and one rushing touchdown paved the way as the Castleton University football team defeated the Fitchburg State Falcons – 34-13 – at Elliot Field on Saturday afternoon.
Castleton improves to 1-1 with the nonconference win, while Fitchburg State falls to 0-2.
Following two quick drives, which yielded no scoring for the Spartans, a Grant Cummings interception set the tone for the rest of the contest. Castleton immediately executed on the short field and operated as a well-oiled machine throughout.
Taking over at the Fitchburg 35-yard line, a false start penalty pushed the team back right away. Following a six-yard Moe Harris rush and an incomplete pass, Castleton faced a 4th and 9. Deciding to go for it, Caron heaved the ball down the sideline, finding Anthony Martinez who took it as far as the one-yard line. On the ensuing play, Caron completed the drive with a keeper and the touchdown.
Separated by back-to-back unsuccessful drives – one for each team – Fitchburg State scored the equalizer, making it 6-6. It did not hold, however, as Caron kept the lamp burning with a 65-yard touchdown pass to Matthew Hesford on the very next drive.
As the Spartan offense continued to click on all cylinders, the Falcons refused to go away. Fitchburg State used a five-play, 79-yard drive to take the lead, capping it off with a nine-yard touchdown run.
Continuing the trend of immediate bounce backs, the Spartans drove right down the field to reclaim the lead – this time for good. Going 3-for-3 on the drive, Caron accumulated 82 yards through the air, including a 52-yard connection with Jared Brockway that brought the ball to the Fitchburg four-yard line. The Falcons proceeded to put a strong goal-line stand, but on his third attempt, Moe Harris pushed the ball throw the defense and into the end zone.
Strong defense stymied the next Fitchburg State drive as the Falcons took the ball 67 yards and into the Castleton zone. Yet, on a rush in the red zone, the Fitchburg State running back fumbled the ball, which Dustin Rock proceeded to recover. The latter was also responsible for eight tackles during the game, joining teammates Luc Issa and Owen Tretter. Cummings tallied nine stops, while Chris Rice had a team-high 12 tackles.
As the teams traded stops to open the third quarter, Rice came up with one of the biggest plays of the game. The Bethel, Conn. native read the pass the whole way, stepping in front for the interception before proceeding to take the ball 80 yards for the score.
Tallying points in each quarter, Castleton continued a drive from late in the third into the beginning stages of the fourth. Caron continued to torch the Falcon defense through the air (37 yards) and on the ground (eight yards). The senior quarterback hit Damon Burgess for 17 yards and the touchdown to wrap up the scoring for Castleton.
On the receiving front, Brockway led the team with 80 yards on three catches. Hesford (65), Burgess (42) and Martinez (33) combined for 140 receiving yards.
Football will return to action at 2 p.m. on Saturday as it travels to Norwich University looking to keep the Maple Sap Bucket Trophy in its possession for another year.
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