New England Small College Football Conference Race Watch (Week Nine)

Giye Jenkins and the University of New Haven football team enter the ninth week of the 2021 college football season with a great deal of momentum. (PHOTO COURTESY: Clarus Studios)


Welcome to the ninth week of the 2021 New England college football season — it should be another exciting week for a slew of small college teams that remain in the mix for their respective conference crown.

Like we did last week, it is time to highlight and share some thoughts on six conference races to watch in NCAA Division II and Division II.

Northeast-10 Conference (NE10)

The Leader(s): Bentley University (7-0, 5-0) and University of New Haven (6-1, 5-0)

In the Hunt: Assumption College (4-3, 4-1)

Matchups to watch this week:

  • Franklin Pierce University at Bentley (Oct. 30 at 1 p.m.)
  • Assumption at New Haven (Oct. 30 at 1 p.m.)

Synopsis: We’re one week away from what should be the de-facto conference championship game between Bentley and New Haven – the game will take place in Connecticut, not Massachusetts. But instead of looking ahead to the tenth week of the season, let’s worry about this week’s games.

Bentley returns from a bye week looking to continue its early (and yes, mid-season) momentum against a Ravens squad that has yet to win a game. As for Assumption, this is a must-win game against a Chargers squad that has not lost a game this month. In fact, the last time the Chargers dropped a game was last month.

Assumption enters this week’s contest with New Haven having won four of their last five contests. They lost to Stonehill College, a team New Haven beat last weekend, at the end of September.

As of now, we’re thinking Bentley and New Haven will win their respective week nine matchups, but don’t rule out a potential surprise on Saturday.

Commonwealth Coast Football (CCC)

The Leader: Salve Regina University (7-1, 3-1)

In the Hunt: Endicott College (6-2, 3-1), Husson University (5-2, 2-1), and Western New England (5-3, 3-1)

Matchups to watch this week:

  • Husson at Nichols College (Oct. 30 at 12 p.m.)
  • University of New England at Endicott (Oct. 30 at 12 p.m.)
  • Curry College at Salve Regina (Oct. 30 at 12 p.m.

Synopsis: With a come-from-behind win last week against Endicott, the Seahawks of Salve Regina head into the ninth week with a great deal of momentum. However, they need to score back-to-back wins against Curry and Husson to keep their national postseason hopes alive.

Despite losing to the Seahawks, the Gulls are still in a position to win the conference, thanks to recent wins against Husson and Western New England. Like Salve Regina, Endicott needs to win its final two outings – they should be the favorites this week and at the end of the season when they visit Nichols.

Western New England will be idle this weekend but faces both Maine teams during the final two weeks of the 2021 season.

Husson rebounded from a seven-point setback to Endicott last weekend with a commanding win over UNE. Look for their momentum to continue this week against the Bison.

Eastern Collegiate Football Conference (ECFC)

The Leader: Anna Maria College (5-1, 3-0)

In the Hunt: Castleton University (4-3, 2-1), Gallaudet University (5-1, 3-1), and Alfred State (3-4, 2-1)

Matchups to watch this week:

  • Anna Maria at Castleton (Oct. 30 at 2 p.m.)
  • Alfred State at Keystone College (Oct. 30 at 2 p.m.)

Synopsis: The AMCATs of Anna Maria head into the final three weeks of the 2021 season with a great deal of momentum, but they will certainly be tested, beginning this weekend when they visit the Spartans of Castleton.

Saturday’s game is a must-win for the Spartans, who have won their last two outings against Dean College (21-13) and Keystone (41-0). The win over the Giants marked the second time the Spartans have shut out an opponent this fall – they rolled past Fitchburg State, 35-0, in week two.

Don’t be surprised if the Anna Maria-Castleton game comes down to the final possession – in some ways, this is somewhat a playoff game for both teams.

Gallaudet is idle this weekend after falling to Alfred State last weekend – the Pioneers kicked a field goal with 1:25 remaining in the fourth quarter to seal a come-from-behind victory. The Pioneers will enter their week nine clash with the Giants as a favorite.   

Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC)

The Leader: Bridgewater State (5-2, 5-0 MASCAC) and Framingham State (5-2, 5-0)  

Matchups to watch this week:

  • UMass Dartmouth at Bridgewater State (Oct. 30 at 12 p.m.)
  • Framingham State at Massachusetts Maritime Academy (Oct. 30 at 12 p.m.)

Synopsis: Next week’s Bridgewater State-Framingham State contest could serve as a de-facto conference championship game, but before we look ahead to next week, let’s worry about the two matchups above.

UMass Dartmouth enters their week nine clash with the Bears riding a three-game winning streak. That momentum should help them keep pace with a Bridgewater State squad that has produced six touchdowns or more in their last three outings. Bridgewater State has won its last three meetings with UMass Dartmouth.

Framingham State enters its final three contests with a great deal of momentum, as well – they were idle this past weekend but should be able to continue their recent success against a Massachusetts Maritime Academy squad that snapped a six-game losing streak to Western Connecticut last weekend.

New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC)

The Leader: Trinity College (6-0, 6-0), Wesleyan University (6-0, 6-0), and Williams College (6-0, 6-0)

In the Hunt: Amherst College (4-2, 4-2)   

Matchups to watch this week:

  • Trinity at Williams (Oct. 30 at 1 p.m.)
  • Amherst at Wesleyan (Oct. 30 at 1 p.m.

Synopsis: One of these teams – may be two – will end the ninth week with their first setback of the season. But which one will it be?

Trinity is on a roll, outscoring opponents, 222-68, while Williams has produced 216 points through six contests. Should we expect a shootout on Saturday in Williamstown between the Bantams and Ephs?

Despite losing a pair of games to Bowdoin College and Colby College, Amherst College is still very much alive to possibly share the league crown with one of the three undefeated NESCAC squads. We expect the Mammoths will beat one of these teams, maybe two – could they beat all three of them? It is certainly possible.

All four teams will play each other over the next three weeks, including this weekend, so get ready for a fun ending to the 2021 NESCAC season.

New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC)

The Leader: United States Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA) (7-0, 4-0)  

In the Hunt: Catholic University (5-3, 3-1) and Springfield College (4-3, 3-0)  

Matchups to watch this week:

  • Merchant Marine at Springfield (Oct. 30 at 1 p.m.)

Synopsis: The Mariners can technically clinch the conference crown this weekend with a win against the Pride. But a Springfield victory could result in some serious scoreboard watching over the next two weeks.

Merchant Marine has been a great story this fall, winning seven consecutive contests – you could say eight, dating back to their lone outing last fall with Coast Guard Academy – and appear destined to win the NEWMAC for the first time in program history. But as of recently, the Mariners have struggled against the Pride, losing two of their last three outings, but their most recent win did occur in Springfield in 2018.

After starting 1-3, the Pride have ripped off three straight wins and have outscored their last three foes by a combined score of 162-24. Springfield – from what we’re hearing – seems ready for this matchup. And so are we.

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