Leicester, Mass. --- Big plays were the story of the day as the Spartans of Castleton State defeated the Hawks of Becker by a score of 56-28 on Saturday in a matchup of ECFC conference rivals. It was homecoming weekend for Becker, who played before a capacity crowd.
Becker is now 1-6 and 1-3 in the conference standings while Castleton leaves with a 2-4 record and a 2-2 mark in the ECFC.
The Spartans were led by running back Tyler Carpenter (Fort Edward, N.Y.), who scored five touchdowns. Carpenter ran for 171 yards on 26 carries and four touchdowns on the ground and would also catch three receptions for 38 yards and one score. Quarterback Shane Brozowski (Rensselaer, N.Y.) went 18-of-36, throwing for 244 yards and three touchdown passes. Zach Waitkus (Stafford Springs, Conn.) had six receptions for 80 yards.
For the Hawks, Ezequiel Torres (Ledyard, Conn.) ran for 108 yards on 21 carries and quarterback Robert Baker (Monroe, Conn.) threw for 260 yards and two touchdown passes. Luis Sanchez (Springfield, Mass.) had six receptions for 117 yards and a touchdown. Corinthian Bostic (Jacksonville, Fla.) caught four receptions for 127 yards and one touchdown.
The Hawks took the lead on the first play of the game as Kyle Gregg (Charlotte, N.C.) took a kickoff from Castleton's Nate Swahn (Rutland, Vt.), running 87 yards to the endzone and giving his team a 7-0 lead. It was Gregg's second kickoff return for a touchdown on the season, who has also scored on a punt return.
The Spartans would quickly tie the game on their first drive of the game, as Brozowski would take his team down the field on an eight play, 64 yard drive capped off by a 23 yard touchdown pass to Adam Farmer (So. Burlington, Vt.).
After the Hawks went three and out on their following possession, Castleton began their next drive with excellent field position at their own 47. Playing from a no-huddle shotgun formation, the Spartans drove into Hawks' territory, scoring on an 18 touchdown reception by Carpenter that put Castleton up 14-7.
Becker kept the ball on the ground on their following drive, as running back Torres slowly carved up the Spartan defense, pushing the ball into Castleton territory. After the Spartans' James Ferber (Middletown, N.J.) and Todd Carr (Ticonderoga, N.Y.) tackled Gregg in the backfield to force a fourth and seven at the Castleton 29 yard line, Becker Head Coach Mike Lichten reached into his bag of tricks and pulled out a fake field goal attempt that resulted in a 29 yard touchdown pass by William Ramirez (Bethel, Conn.) to Asante Harris (Charlotte N.C.), tying the game at 14-14 and thrilling the Becker faithful.
Castleton State was not to be outdone, driving 66 yards on four plays and scoring on a two yard rushing touchdown by Carpenter as the Spartans would go up 21-14. After the Castleton kickoff, the first quarter would come to a close.
The second quarter began in promising fashion for Becker, as Baker completed a 22 yard pass to Sanchez, giving his team a first down at the Spartan 36. Three plays later, however, the Hawks would be forced to punt.
Becker's defense came up huge on Castleton State's following drive, as Mike Carroll (Sutton, Mass.) and Kenneth Quist (Winthrop, Mass.) sacked Brozowski for a loss of eight yards on a third and fourteen, forcing the Spartans to punt the ball away and setting Becker up with excellent field position.
This time it was the Spartans' defense that made the big play, as Cameron Laundry (Hartland, Vt.) forced a Becker fumble that he quickly recovered, giving the Spartans the ball back at the Becker 47.
The Castleton State drove deep into Becker territory, picking up a first and goal on the Becker 2. The Hawks defense would hold stiff, however, coming up with a huge stand and stuffing the Spartan rush on a fourth and goal to give the ball back to Baker and the offense.
Starting from their own one, the Hawks slowly ground their way down the field. Torres made a huge play near midfield, rushing for twenty yards off a third and one and taking Becker to the Castleton 28.
The first half would end on a 25 yard field attempt by Becker's Chad Bacon (Cumberland, R.I.) that went short, ending a 15-play drive that ate up 8:21. The teams would head into halftime with Castleton State leading 21-14.
Receiving the kickoff at the start of the second half, the Spartans ran a reverse that netted them strong field position at their own 48. An aggressive Hawks' defense gave up little, forcing a Castleton punt. Castleton punter Stew Quinn (Newton, N.J.) stranded the Becker offense at their own one yard line, seeming to put the home team in dire straits.
But on their first play from scrimmage of the half, Baker completed a short pass to Bostic who proceeded to break a tackle and take the ball 99 yards to the end zone, knotting the game at 21-21. It was the longest touchdown pass in the history of the Hawks' program.
The Spartans would rely on the big-play on their following drive, going fifty yards on four plays in a mere 47 seconds to retake the lead on a five yard touchdown rush by Mick Wong (Hartford, Vt.) to give the lead back to Castleton, 28-21.
On the following drive, the Hawks would go for it on fourth and ten from the Spartan 30, turning it over on downs. The Spartans drove into Becker territory but no further, punting it away for a touchback.
With the ball back, Baker completed a pass to Sanchez for a fifty yard reception to the Castleton 30. Three plays later, Baker would run it himself on a trick play to pick up a first and goal at the Spartan 10. Two plays later, the Hawks executed a perfect play-action pass from Baker to Sanchez, completing a seven play, 80 yard and tying the game at 28-28 and sending their fans into a frenzy.
With a third and one from their own 45, Castleton's Carpenter rushed for 29 yards to the Becker 26, stopped only by a touchdown-saving tackle by Dominick Whitley (Springfield, Mass.). Carpenter would later complete the ten play, 64 yard drive on a one yard touchdown rush, putting the Spartans back up by seven at 35-28.
With 2:13 remaining in the action-packed third quarter, the Hawks took over at their own 40 after a 24 yard kickoff return by Harris. Dropped passed would quickly doom the drive, forcing Becker to punt for the first time in the second half.
Taking over from their own 39, Castleton State drove into Hawks' territory, bringing the fourth quarter to a close. For plays into the quarter, Carpenter would punch it in from two yards out, giving the Spartans a 42-28 lead.
Becker would go three and out on the following possession, fumbling the ball on a bad snap on fourth down to give the Spartans the ball back on the Becker 11. Two plays later Carpenter would punch it in from five yards out for another touchdown as the Spartans went up 49-28.
Gregg returned the ensuing kickoff 35 yards to the Becker 49, and the Hawks would take over with 11:50 left in the game. On their first play from scrimmage, the Hawks ran an option pass through Kyle Gregg, who was hit on the pass and intercepted by Castleton's Brandon Bergeron (Hartford, Vt.), who returned it 30 yards to the Becker 40.
On the next play, a rush by Wong would take the ball down to the 12 yard line of the Hawks. Three plays later, Brozowski would complete a 12 yard touchdown pass to Brandon Boyle (Springfield, Vt.) to give the Spartans a 56-28 lead.
The following drive ended when Baker was intercepted by Castleton's Cody TanCreti (Hartland, Vt.), who returned the ball to the Spartan 37 with 6:59 left in the game. The Hawk defense held, forcing Castleton State to punt and giving Becker the ball back with 3:40 left in the game. The Hawks would reach midfield before the clock ran out, ending the game.
Castleton State's defense was led by TanCreti, who had seven tackles, a forced fumble and an interception. Dustin Young (Dunnellon, Fla.) had seven stackles. Carr had six tackles, including two for a loss.
For the Becker defense, Quist had seven tackles and 1.5 sacks. Melvin Booker (Roxbury, Mass.) led the team with ten tackles, including 1.5 tackles for a loss. Andre Holder (Queens, N.Y.) added eight tackles. Deven Roberts (South Bound Brook, N.J.) had four tackles and broke up two Castleton State passes.
Becker will return to action next Saturday as they travel to Gallaudet to take on the Bison. Kickoff will be at 1:30p.m. Castleton heads to Anna Maria for a 5:00p.m. game against the Amcats.