By Matt Noonan | @MattNoonan11
Last week, a majority of New England’s D3 quarterbacks were forced to tuck and run – you can thank Mother Nature for last week’s ground and pound attack.
Sure, the weather may have been a factor for some offensive game plans, but watching quarterbacks lead teams down the field this fall with both their arms and legs seems to be the new norm for a position that used to be all about throwing touchdowns or fades.
And with a very important week approaching for some teams, one should expect to see their favorite school’s quarterbacks once again utilize both their arms and legs in must-win contests.
One of those quarterbacks that can pass and run is Alec Coleman of Western New England, who has scored 16 touchdowns in his last three contests, including nine scores on the ground.
Last week against Nichols College, Coleman helped the Bears erase a one-score deficit by finishing the game with five touchdowns, including four on the ground (Coleman’s four rushing scores matched a season-high, which he set one week earlier during his team’s 70-13 win over the University of New England).
Coleman began catching our attention for his passing and rushing abilities last month when he guided his team to impressive wins against Anna Maria College and Salve Regina.
Through eight games this season, Coleman has accounted for 28 touchdowns, including a team-high 13 scores on the ground. He currently leads the Golden Bears’ rushing attack with 652 yards and should certainly enjoy more success this weekend against Endicott College.
Watching the Endicott defense attempt to slow down Coleman will be one of many storylines to follow when the two teams converge on Saturday in Beverly – a win for Coleman’s squad would most likely secure the Blue and Gold their second-straight conference crown.
In Springfield this weekend, one should keep an eye on Hunter Belzo, the running back turned quarterback that has led Springfield College to some exciting wins this fall, including a 17-14 win last month at WPI (that was hands down one of my favorite football games I saw this season).
Belzo, who made his first career start under center against the Engineers last month, will look to keep the Pride in contention for a conference crown when Springfield hosts Maine Maritime Academy.
Similar to his performance two weeks ago against Catholic University, Belzo should have no problems finding the end zone against the Mariners with both his feet and arm.
Amherst College quarterback Ollie Eberth has quietly enjoyed a successful third season with the Mammoths, tossing eight touchdowns, while adding a career-best six scores on the ground.
Eberth recorded a pair of rushing touchdowns in his team’s first two wins of the season, while adding one score on the ground against Colby College and Middlebury College.
Last week against Tufts University, Eberth relied more on his teammates in the rushing game, but did conclude his team’s 19-13 win with 150 passing yards.
This week, Eberth will most likely depend on arm against a Trinity College defense that has surrendered an average of 204.9 yards per game through the air, while holding rushing attacks to roughly 65 yards per contest. But maybe Eberth could locate the end zone with his feet when Amherst’s offense makes it into the red zone on Saturday.
Trinity’s defense managed to slow down Tufts signal-caller Ryan McDonald, a player coach Jay Civetti considers “a runner first,” a few weeks ago, so it will be interesting to see if they can contain Eberth, as well.
McDonald is always a player to watch on the Jumbos – so far this season, he has scored 17 touchdowns, including seven on the ground. Last week against Amherst, McDonald rushed for a 25-yard touchdown late in the second, which brought the visitors within four points (10-6) of the Mammoths at the break.
A few other quarterbacks to keep an eye on this week:
- Will Jernigan (Middlebury College): The Decatur, Georgia native has been a quarterback to watch this fall – currently, he has recorded career-bests in touchdown passes (six) and rushes (four). Despite being grounded for much of last week against Trinity, Jernigan has been able to lead a Panthers offense with both his arm and legs. Against Williams College, he rushed for a season-high 94 yards on 27 carries and one score, while tossing two touchdowns. One week later against Bates College, he relied on his arm more than his leg to lead the Blue and White to an exciting 35-34 victory. Look for Jernigan to return his form from earlier this season when the Panthers visit Hamilton College on Saturday.
- Bobby Maimaron (Williams College): Maimaron still has time to establish some new career-highs, both this week and next week, but our Noontime Sports Rookie of the Year has quietly produced a successful second season with the Ephs, which has seen the Duxbury, Massachusetts native toss eight touchdowns, while adding an additional eight scores on the ground. The eight rushing touchdowns shattered his mark of seven from one year ago.
- Mark Piccirillo (Wesleyan University): The Shelton, Connecticut native is always a quarterback to watch every week. So far this season, he has accounted for 15 touchdowns, including three on the ground. He needs 29 yards to match last year’s rushing total (474), which he should be able to muster against Williams on Saturday.
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