By Kyle Prudhomme
For the first time since 2005 the Fitchburg State University football team will be playing in a bowl game, punching their ticket to the Robert M “Scott” Whitelaw Bowl at Central Connecticut State University on Nov. 22.
“These kids deserve it. They’ve worked really hard all season, great kids and all-around great representatives of the school, “said Head Coach Patrick Haverty following the close out victory on Nov. 14 that earned the team a post-season spot.
With their record at 7 and 2 and one game against rival Plymouth State, Fitchburg State University would be in control of their post-season destiny needing a win to secure a spot in an Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference bowl game.
The Green and Gold would go on to do just that, controlling the game against Plymouth State from first kick until the final whistle, defeating the visitors by a final score of 30-7 and tying the school’s single-season record for wins in the process finishing the season with an 8-2 mark (6-2 MASCAC).
The last time the Falcons finished a season with eight wins was in 2005, which would also be the last time they stepped onto the field with bowl-game implications at stake.
Not only did 2015 mark the most successful season in the school’s recent memory but it was highlighted by all-conferences awards and record-breaking performances for more than one member of the Green and Gold.
In total career record books were rewritten five times during the season:
Senior wide-out and recent Nils V “’Swede” Nelson winner, which recognizes the top New England football student-athletes, broke the career record for touchdown receptions (21), receptions (162), and receiving yards (2,270). Quarterback Garrett Dellechiaie broke career records of former standout Jim Miller as the junior now holds records for completions (599) and passing yards (7,534).
Three new single-season marks were set:
Dellechiaie broke his own season records of passing completions (232) and passing attempts (371) with a year of eligibility remaining.
First team all-conference tight-end Devin Summiel raised the single-season touchdown receptions record (11) breaking Phillip Saint-Juste’s number from two seasons ago.
Even though records were broken on the offensive side of the ball, the defensive play of the Falcons gave opponents fits each Saturday, allowing a mere 272.7 total yards of offense and halting opposing running backs to just 81.4 yards per game.
“We all stick together, work hard, and follow instructions of our coaches. We believe and if we did that we knew good things would happen this year,” said first team all-conference honoree and senior linebacker Luis Feliz.
Alongside Feliz on the defense the Falcons gained first team all-conference recognition for seniors Taron Seaforth and Asante Easter; junior Malcom Brown-Simpson; and freshman Cyrick Watford garnered MASCAC Defensive Rookie of the Year honors.
The opponent for Fitchburg State in the Robert M “Scott” Whitelaw Bowl is Alfred University (7-3; 5-3 Empire 8) of the Empire 8 conference in New York, marking the first time these two schools have squared off against one another in history.
For seniors of the team Sunday will mark the last time for them suiting up the Green and Gold.
“It feels great because we get one more with this team,” said senior captain Feliz. “As a freshman we were 2-8 and now we’re sitting 8-2 with a bowl game. I’m glad I came here.”
“When these guys [seniors] came in the program was struggling a little bit and now they’re leaving it in great shape. It’s a true testament to how hard they worked and what they’ve done and we’re proud of them,” said head coach Haverty, praising his seniors.
The Falcons toe the field at 5 p.m. looking to close out their season breaking another record, but this time it’s about wins.
For fans traveling to New Britain, Conn. for the bowl game ticket prices are $20 for adults and $10 for students with ID.