Corsairs will play Ithaca in a November 19 first-round matchup
The University of Massachusetts Dartmouth football team is the 2022 Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) Champions for the first time in program history and have earned an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament that begins on Saturday, November 19. The Corsairs will take on Ithaca College at 12 p.m. in their second-ever appearance in NCAA Tourney and first since 2002. The matchup's winner will move on to the second round to play the winner of Endicott and Springfield.
This was the first conference championship since 2002, when the team was in the New England Football Conference (NEFC).
The Corsairs possess the 15th highest powered offenses in the nation, averaging 42.1 points per game. Junior QB Dante Aviles-Santos is fifth in the nation in passing yards (2,940), eighth in passing yards per game (294.0), eighth in total offense (312.4) and 16th in passing TD's (26). Sophomore WR Angel Sanchez leads the nation in receiving yards per game (138.0) and is ninth in receiving yards (1,104) despite only playing eight games. Senior RB Luis Gonzalez is 18th in the country with 14 rushing touchdowns.
UMass Dartmouth has the best defense in the MASCAC, allowing only 18.8 points per game, 246.7 yards per game and 11 team interceptions. Senior Josh Lacerte and sophomore Sam Alicea lead the team with seven sacks each, while 5th-year senior Javien Delgado leads the way with 52 tackles on the year.
The Corsairs, who finished the regular season 9-1 and a perfect 8-0 in the MASCAC, defeated Plymouth State 46-21 on the road.
During the championship game, Junior QB Dante Aviles-Santos was special, competing 26-of-29 passes for 316 yards and three touchdowns. Sophomore Angel Sanchez went for 121 receiving yards and two TD's, while senior Luis Gonzalez rushed for two touchdowns and 53 yards, junior Richarno Hylton rushed for 71 yards, and sophomore Jalyn Aponte picked up 65 yards and a TD. Sophomore Mike Vincent caught a TD as well.
5th-year senior Javien Delgado led the team with six tackles, including two for a loss of yards. Senior Josh Lacerte finished with five tackles, while sophomore Mike Henricksen and 5th-year Mekhi Geter each had four tackles. Junior Logan Chappell picked off a pass and returned it for 19 yards.
As they seem to always do, the Corsairs scored on their first drive. A pair of 10-yard passes to 5th-year Keenan Little and sophomore Easten Coleman led to a 37-yard TD rush for Aponte with 11:52 on the clock in the first.
UMass Dartmouth picked up another touchdown on its very next drive. After long gains by Gonzalez and Sanchez, Aviles-Santos connected with Coleman for 25 yards to set up a 10-yard TD rush from Hylton to make it a 12-0 advantage at the 8:13 mark of the first.
Plymouth State cut its deficit to 12-7 early in the second, but UMass Dartmouth extended its lead to 19-7 with a three-yard touchdown rush by Gonzalez with 4:26 until halftime. The Panthers scored one more time, trimming the Corsair lead to 19-14 at the break.
UMass Dartmouth dominated the third quarter with three touchdowns to up its lead to 39-14. The first was a four-yard pass from Aviles-Santos to Sanchez, the second was an 18-yard strike to Vincent, and the third was a 12-yard dot to Sanchez.
A 28-yard rush from Aviles-Santos set up a three-yard TD rush by Gonzalez to push the lead to 46-14 early in the fourth. Plymouth State would score one more time, but the championship was well in hand for the Corsairs.