Castleton, Vt. – The Castleton offense was unable to capitalize on a few Becker turnovers as the Hawks earned a 20-3 victory over the Spartans on Saturday afternoon in Spartan Stadium.
Castleton turned the ball over just once and generated 189 yards of total offense, but it wasn't enough as the team dropped to 1-8 on the year and 0-6 in the Eastern Collegiate Football Conference. Becker managed 341 yards of offense, including 202 through the air and 139 on the ground as the Hawks improved to 2-7 and 1-5 in conference action.
Freshman Tyler Higley went 22-for-39 on the day for 183 yards and didn't throw an interception, but faced constant pressure as he was sacked eight times. His primary target on the afternoon was junior Kevin Alberque, who caught eight passes for 76 yards. Tyler Combs added six catches for 38 yards. On the ground, Doug Saffo led the attack with 27 yards are seven carries.
Becker senior linebacker Melvin Booker (Roxbury, Mass.) controlled the line of scrimmage for the Hawks, totaling school records with 18 tackles and 4.5 sacks. In all he had 5.0 tackles for a loss of 31 yards. Offensively Robert Baker provided a veteran presence as the senior completed 13 of 21 passes for 202 yards and two touchdowns. Brandon Mulling and Dejahn Dawkins each had four catches and combined for 170 receiving yards and two scores.
Becker received the opening kickoff and the Spartan defense held them to just six yards in three plays, which brought up a fourth down and four from the Becker 38-yard line. Dawkins lined up to punt, but before he could get rid of the ball, Andrew Pursell hit him in the backfield for a 15-yard loss.
Off the turnover on downs, Castleton moved to the Becker five-yard line before ultimately settling for a 22-yard field goal by Robert Lineberger. The chip shot gave the Spartans a 3-0 lead at 10:08 in the first quarter.
Becker used a nine-play drive at the end of the first quarter and into the second to take a 6-0 lead, with the score coming on a three-yard rush by Matthew Romasco with 13:01 left in the second. Romasco rushed in for the two-point conversion to make it 8-3 Hawks.
After forcing the Spartans to punt, Becker needed just three plays to make it a 14-3 game as Baker connected with Hawkins for a 27-yard touchdown.
Castleton started its next possession on its own 40-yard line and used 14 plays to move all the way down to the Becker six-yard line. However three consecutive incompletions stalled the drive, and Lineberger's 24-yard field goal attempt went wide.
In the second half, both offenses struggled to move the ball early. In the final three minutes of the third Becker extended its lead to 20-3 on a 62-yard pass from Baker to Mulling. Mulling beat the corner down the sideline, making a catch just inside the 30 and taking it the rest of the way to the endzone.
Castleton failed to move past its own 50 in the finals 14 minutes as Becker finished with its first conference win of the year.
Jay Morgan led the defense with ten tackles including 0.5 sacks while Nick Romeo also added ten. Todd Carr chipped in with nine tackles while Andrew Pursell had four tackles and a 54-yard interception return.
In addition to Booker, Michael Calafiore had five tackles and two sacks while Andrew Holder added seven tackles and two pass break-ups.
Becker returns to action next Friday at 7:00 pm when the Hawks travel up Route 56 to play Anna Maria College in their regular season finale.