MIDDLETOWN, RI - Running backs Octavias McKoy (Stratford, CT) and Eddy Williams (West Haven, CT) were named Co-Most Valuable Players after they led Western Connecticut State University to a 48-35 victory over Salve Regina University Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) Northeast Bowl at Gaudet Field on a blustery Saturday afternoon.
Freshman Williams finished with 130 yards on 13 carries and scored one touchdown while McKoy amassed 118 yards on 23 carries and scored a pair of touchdowns.
Western, 8-2, gained 351 yards on the ground and finished with a 574-356 total-offense advantage over the Seahawks.
The Colonials raced the length of the field to open the contest. McKoy returned the opening kick off 42 yards to start the drive at Western's 46 yard line. The Seahawks' defense allowed WCSU quarterback Will Arndt (Sandy Hook, CT) to complete five straight passes and move the visitor's offense to the five yard line. Then the SRU front five stopped McKoy on three straight rushing attempts and Western had to settle for a 23-yard field goal from sophomore Michael Killoran (West Hartford, CT) for a 3-0 lead.
On Western's second possession, Arndt was effective again through the air moving down the field and finishing off a nine-play, 54-yard drive with a two-yard keeper. Following the extra point from Killoran, Western led, 10-0.
The Seahawks, 7-4, got on the scoreboard on the ensuing drive. Steve Wilken (Ringwood, NJ) found Dan Buonocore (Mahwah, NJ) in the corner of the endzone from 10 yards out. The junior running back added the point after and Salve drew within three, 10-7.
Killoran tacked on a 38-yard field goal with 12:37 remaining in the first half to give Western a 13-7 advantage.
Following a fumble from McKoy at his own 32-yard line, Wilken hooked up with Matthew Traynor (Secaucus, NJ) from 20 yards out to put the host up 14-13 with 9:15 remaining before the break.
Killoran's 43-yard attempt as the half ran out went wide right and the score stood for intermission.
The Colonials took back the lead with 8:06 remaining in the third stanza when McKoy scored from seven yards out. The touchdown run was set up when Arndt connected with Jason Piontkowski (New London, CT) for a 28-yard gain on fourth-and-15.
The lead didn't last long though.
Three plays and just 48 seconds into the Seahawks' next possession, Wilken led Darrick Sarfo-Darko (East Hartford, CT) for a break-away 58-yard touchdown reception. The kick by Buonocore gave Salve Regina the lead, 21-20.
With 3:17 left in the third, Arndt connected with Connor Falaguerra (Milford, CT) from 32 yards out to regain the lead, 27-21. The Colonials took advantage of a 15-yard penalty assessed on the Seahawks when their punt-coverage defender did not leave a yard open for Tory Mack (Stratford, CT) to field Benjamin Barrett's boot.
Arndt completed 19 of 33 passes for 223 yards and one score via the airways. He added 62 yards and a pair of scores on the ground on Saturday.
Williams closed out the third quarter with a 12-yard touchdown run off left tackle and Western increased its lead to 34-21.
After scoring 21 points in third stanza, Western kept things rolling to start the fourth.
On the ensuing kick off, SRU's Kyle Hein (East Sandwich, MA) fumbled the kick off and Joe Pierro (Manchester, CT) pounced on the ball. On the first play, McKoy raced 31 yards down the left side for his second score of the afternoon and 28th of the season.
Salve Regina's offense wasn't done however.
A five-yard pass from Wilken to Michael Mahoney (Mahwah, NJ) capped off a six-play 30-yard drive and and brought the Seahawks within two scores, 41-28.
Wilken had an impressive afternoon, completing 21 of 46 passes for 268 yards and tossed five touchdowns. He shared the wealth with Traynor and Buonocore as each gathered eight catches and 121 and 71 yards, respectively.
On fourth-and-nine, Western's Ryan Falaguerra (Milford, CT) set to get off his second punt of the afternoon, Chris Elser (Southbury, CT) took the snap and scampered 41 yards to set up a one-yard scoring plunge by Arndt with 7:45 left in the game.
With 5:30 left in regulation, Wilken and Buonocore converted a four-yard TD reception to cut SRU's deficit to 13 again, 48-35.
Defensively, senior Devin Myers (Waterbury, CT) led the Colonials with 10 total tackles and a pair of quarterback sacks. Classmates Tyrell Ballard (Bridgeport, CT) and Michael Lacaria (Watertown, CT) followed with eight and seven take downs.
Saturday marked the second ECAC Championship for the Colonials. They defeated Nichols College, 63-10 for the Northeast title in 2000.