Bentley University and the University of New Haven met two weeks with the Chargers scoring an impressive 31-14 victory over the Falcons.
This weekend, the two teams will meet in the opening round of the 2021 NCAA Division II Tournament with the winner advancing to next week’s second round against top-ranked Kutztown University.
Let’s go inside the matchup to learn more about these two teams, who finished first and second, respectively, in the Northeast-10 Conference (NE10) standings.
Game Time & Location: Saturday’s meeting between the Falcons and Chargers will occur in New Haven, Connecticut with kickoff scheduled for 1 p.m.
Bentley’s journey to the postseason: Despite seeing a 13-game winning streak that dated back to October 2019 snapped earlier this month to the Chargers, Bentley secured a spot in the 2021 NCAA Division III, checking in as the fifth seed on the upper left-hand side of the bracket. Bentley won nine of ten contests this fall, including every matchup in September and October.
New Haven’s journey to the postseason: An early November win against Bentley allowed the Chargers to secure their first NE10 crown since 2012 — they entered the last week of the regular season as the fourth-best team in Super Region One, which is the seed they received in this year’s tournament. New Haven won nine of ten contests with their only loss coming earlier this year to Bowie State, which entered the week three contest ranked No. 24.
The Bulldogs also secured a spot in the postseason — they will begin their potential title march on Saturday against Lenoir-Rhyne.
Bentley’s last trip to the NCAA Tournament: Believe it or not, Bentley has not competed in the postseason since 2004 — crazy, right? Yes, they captured the NE10 crown in 2019 but did not compete for a national championship after capping their season with a 38-0 victory over American International College.
In 2004, their national title dreams were dashed in the opening round as they lost to Edinboro University by a score of 47-44. The Fighting Scots would see their postseason run conclude in the following round with a 36-32 setback to East Stroudsburg University.
New Haven’s last trip to the NCAA Tournament: In 2018, the Chargers scored an opening-round win over West Chester, thanks to a go-ahead (and eventual game-winning) touchdown by Ajee Patterson, who rushed for a one-yard score. Patterson concluded his team’s opening-round victory with 44 yards on 11 carries and two touchdowns. One week later, the Chargers’ postseason run concluded with a 59-20 setback to Slippery Rock, which outlasted LIU Post in the opening round by a score of 20-14. LIU Post captured the NE10 crown in 2018.
Bentley’s NCAA Tournament history: Saturday’s contest with the Chargers will mark the third time in program history that the Falcons have competed in the NCAA Tournament with their first appearance coming in 2003. Bentley is seeking its initial postseason win after seeing both appearances conclude with opening round setbacks.
New Haven’s NCAA Tournament history: It’s only been three years since the Chargers last competed for a national title, but fans of the program know the Blue and Yellow have appeared in the postseason a few times over the years with their first trip occurring in 1992 with New Haven scoring a pair of wins, including a victory over Ferris State at the Yale Bowl. Their quest for a national crown, however, concluded one week later with a 46-35 setback to Jacksonville State in the national semifinals.
The Gamecocks would go on to win the D-II title against Pittsburgh State — the nine-win season for New Haven was a big improvement from one year earlier when they posted a 3-7 record. New Haven was coached by Mark Whipple in 1992, who is currently the offensive coordinator at the University of Pittsburgh.
Players to Watch on Bentley: Stephen Sturm (QB), Andrew Brazicki (RB) Noah Neville (WR), Cedie Dashiell II (DL/LB | NE10 Defensive Lineman of the Year), Steven Paulino (DL), Cole McCubrey (LB | NE10 Defensive Player of the Year), Jailen Branch (DB), and Charlie Ogletree (P)
Players to Watch on New Haven: Connor Degenhardt (QB), Dev Holmes (WR), Kevin Foelsch (TE), Khalim Cisse (DL), Michael Montecalvo (DL), Khyon Fitzpatrick(LB), Ryan Hodgins (LB), Ryan Dolce (DB), Shawn Tafe (DB), and Briant DeFelice (PK)