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Caruso, Bennett receiving high marks at Mass. Maritime

Receivers Keith Caruso (left, catching ball) and E.J. Bennett (right) are setting records.

Massachusetts Maritime Academy photos

Receivers Keith Caruso (left, catching ball) and E.J. Bennett (right) are setting records.

Mass. Maritime has trio of record-setters

It may seem that every time Keith Caruso and E.J. Bennett step on the football field another record falls at Massachusetts Maritime Academy.

In a 37-27 loss at Westfield State Saturday, Bennett established a program single-game mark with 274 receiving yards, eclipsing the record set in 1999 by Dan Reading (230).

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The 6-foot, 185-pound junior for Wareham hauled in 15 catches for three touchdowns — including his team-leading ninth — and is nine receptions shy of breaking his own single-season mark of 59 set last season.

Caruso, meanwhile, will enter Saturday’s matchup against the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth 19 yards shy of the Bucs’ career mark for receiving yards (1,733), held by Tim Quinn (1981-1983).

A 5-9, 170-pound senior from Hingham, Caruso said he realizes that his time in the record books will be brief, because Bennett mostly likely will shatter his marks next season.

That kind of camaraderie plays out each game for the Buccaneers (3-3, 1-3 MASCAC). When Bennett’s number is not called by record-setting quarterback Mike Stanton of Quincy, he is running blocks for Caruso, and vice versa.

“These two are definitely the best receivers we’ve had here, without question,” said Mass. Maritime coach Jeremy Cameron, in his ninth season at the helm. “These are probably the two most complete receivers I’ve been around in terms of being able to run, catch, block. . . . They will do whatever you ask them to do. They both have a tremendous work ethic.”

They also have a tremendous ability to help the Bucs put points on the board.

When the Bucs defeated Maine Maritime, 52-28, in late September, Caruso and Bennett combined for a relatively conservative seven receptions for 109 yards and two scores.

A week later, in a 64-63 loss to Worcester State, the Lancers limited Caruso to two catches, which allowed Bennett to snare a school-record 17 catches for 188 yards and three touchdowns.

The Bucs lit up the scoreboard again two weeks ago in a 54-53 victory over Western Connecticut, when senior back Stefan Gustafson of Plymouth rushed for a career-high 235 yards and four touchdowns.

The work of Caruso, Bennett, and Stanton, however, has been a constant over the last three seasons.

Caruso, a 5-foot-9, 175-pound slot receiver in the mold of Wes Welker, had four receptions on Saturday to extend his career receptions mark to 154. Bennett is MMA’s outside threat, a speedy and gifted athlete who has hauled in 51 catches for 696 yards.

“Keith and I complement each other well,” said Bennett, who was a quarterback at Wareham High, where he also played basketball and competed in track. “At 6-5, Mike [Stanton] sees the field so well, and the chemistry that the three of us have is incredible. It’s hard for other teams to cover both of us, so if they double Keith it opens things up for me, and if they double me, it opens things up for Keith and the other receivers.”

In the loss to Worcester State, Bennett shattered the MMA single-game receptions record (12), previously held by Caruso and Quinn. Last year, he set program records for receptions (59) and receiving yards (857). As a freshman, Bennett also earned Division 3 All-New England honors in the high jump for the outdoor track team.

“Setting the record would definitely be a cool accomplishment, but having a receiver like E.J. definitely opens things up for me,” said Caruso, an international maritime business major who has 138 career receptions for 1,715 yards and eight touchdowns. “I wouldn’t have been able to do it without everyone else. I won’t hold the record for long; E.J. is on pace to break it next year.”

Caruso jokes that he should have one more career reception added to his mark, dating back to his senior year, as the MVP at Hingham High, when he intercepted Stanton, then a senior at North Quincy High.

“We kind of count that as our first real connection,” said Caruso.

Stanton continues to add to his career numbers. He holds the school single-game (420), season (2,449), and career (6,804) passing yard records in just 32 starts. He also holds the school single-season (16) and career (44) marks for touchdown passes and helped the Bucs to establish 17 new school records in 2012.

Odds and ends

Duxbury’s Emily Brook , a junior goalkeeper on the women’s soccer team at Colby (4-5-2), earned NESCAC Player of the Week honors after making nine saves to help the Mules secure a 0-0 tie at Hamilton. She leads the conference with 91 total saves and ranks fourth in save percentage (.883). . . .

The third annual Hull Boosters Golf Ball Drop will take place at the conclusion of the Thanksgiving Day football game against visiting Cohasset. Marked balls ($10 per ball, or three for $25) are hoisted by a crane 100 feet above the field and the owner of the ball that lands closest to a pin at the 50-yard line wins $1,000. The second closest wins $500, and the third three tickets to a Bruins game. To purchase golf balls, call 781-925-0640 or visit www.hullboosters.org and click on the “Donate” button.

John R. Johnson can be reached at jjohnson49@comcast.net.
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