Football falls to Fitchburg in opener

Football falls to Fitchburg in opener

LEICESTER, Mass. --- The Becker College football team opened their 2016 season with a 27-20 loss to visiting Fitchburg State University on Friday night at Alumni Field in Leicester, Massachusetts.

The Hawks of Becker (0-1) were led by junior quarterback Nas Sinkfield-Shelton (New Rochelle, N.Y. / New Rochelle), who threw for 212 yards and three touchdowns while senior quarterback Garrett Dellechiaie (Leominster, Mass. / Leominster) powered the Falcons of Fitchburg State (1-0), throwing for 289 yards and three scores.
On the opening drive of the game, Becker received the kickoff and chose to go for it on fourth-and-one from their own 37. But Fitchburg came up with the stop and the Falcons took over with great field position. Six plays later, Fitchburg senior running back Jevon Brown-Simpson (Lynn, Mass. / Arkansas A&M) punched it in from the two yard line and the visitors were up 7-0 with 11:27 left in the first quarter.
Two possessions later, the Falcons seemed poised for another scoring drive when they took over at midfield after the punt. But on the very first play of the drive, Becker junior linebacker Angel Flores (Azusa, Calif. / Azusa) picked off the pass and returned it 29 yards, deep in Fitchburg territory. Sinkfield-Shelton found senior wide receiver Howard Bradley (Lincoln, R.I. / Lincoln) for an 18 yard pass to take the Hawks to the five, then followed up with a scoring strike to senior running back Jacob Holmes (Worcester, Mass. / Westborough) for a five yard reception to tie the game at 7-7.
On the following possession, Fitchburg again went to their hurry-up offense, running 11 plays over 4:15 and capping the drive off with a 32 yard touchdown pass from Dellechiaie to junior wide receiver Jesse Lastra (Fort Myers, Fla. / Lehigh). After the failed extra point kick, the Falcons took a 13-7 lead.
The Hawks got the ball back at their own 32, but a fumble on third down once again gave Fitchburg State possession of the ball on Becker's side of the field. This time, however, the Hawks' defense stood strong, as the Falcons could manage only 21 yards on 10 plays, finally turning it over on downs. That drive brought the first quarter to a close and gave possession back to Becker.
For the first 11 minutes of the second quarter, both teams exchanged punt-ending drives, neither able to drive deep into their opponents zone. The Falcons finally broke the stalemate with a six-play 68-yard drive that saw Dellechiaie find Lastra for their second hook-up of the night, as Fitchburg went up 20-7. After a Becker punt, the Falcons were driving once again with the game clock ticking down when Hawk sophomore defensive back Jay Maxwell (Dedham, Mass. / Dedham) intercepted Dellechiaie at the ten, and that would be the final play of the half.
Fitchburg State's opening drive ended in a punt, and Becker took control at their own 13. Down two scores and facing third-and-long at midfield, Sinkfield-Shelton turned to last year's top playmaker, senior wide receiver DeJahn Dawkins (East Hartford, Conn. / Cheney Tech) with a deep completion for 48 yards, running into the end zone untouched. After a failed extra-point, the Hawks were back within a score at 20-13.

The Becker defense shut down Fitchburg on the ensuing drive, forcing the Falcons to punt and giving the Hawks control at midfield. On their second play from scrimmage, Sinkfield-Shelton found Howard with a 38 yards pass to the Fitchburg two yard line, giving Becker first-and-goal with a chance to tie. After the Falcons stuffed the Hawks on the goal line to force a third down, Sinkfield-Shelton found Dawkins again, this time in the corner of the end zone and Becker converted to tie the game at 20-20.
On the next drive, Fitchburg made it as far as the Becker 45, but were forced to punt when senior defensive back Davin Collins (Far Rockaway, N.Y. / New Utrecht) tackled the receiver for no gain. On the punt return, Collins took the ball and broke two tackles to break free for 25 yards to the Becker 37. It would be for naught, however, as Becker went three-and-out.
Fitchburg engineered a four play drive, retaking the lead when Dellechiaie found senior tight end Devin Summiel (Tewksbury, Mass. / Shawsheen Tech) for an 18 yard touchdown reception, and the Falcons went ahead 27-20.
Becker drove deep on the ensuing drive, setting up a first-and-goal from the Fitchburg six yard line. But this time it was the Falcons who saw their defense come up with a stop, with senior defensive linesman Bryan Monaco (Monroe, Conn. / Masuk) sacking Sinkfield-Shelton on third down and resulting in a missed field goal for the Hawks.
The Hawks forced a punt on the next possession, and took over from their own 11 with less than three minutes left and no timeouts remaining. Facing fourth-and-three with less than a minute left, Becker couldn't convert and the Falcons held on for the victory.
Dawkins finished with three catches for 54 yards and two scores, while Holmes had a team-high 72 yards from scrimmage. Holmes also punted six times, averaging 40.2 yards per punt.
The Hawks will be back on the field on Saturday, September 10th when they travel to Cambridge to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in a 1:00 p.m. game. Becker prevailed over the Engineers in last year's game in Leicester, 37-26. The Falcons continue their season when they play host to Castleton University with a 2:00 p.m. kickoff.