Tag: Aaron Jenkins

Noontime’s New England D3 Football Conference Predictions

The early expectation is that Trinity College will begin the 2022 season as the de-facto favorite to win the NESCAC. (PHOTO COURTESY: Trinity College Athletics)

By Matt Noonan

We’re less than 30 days from the start of a brand-new New England NCAA Division III Football season.

Are you excited?

I am, which is why I am ready to share my early predictions for which team will win their respective conference this fall.

Like most of our early season content, these picks are educated guesses. It’s possible these picks will be right while some could be wrong.

Anywho, allow me to share my early predictions for all five New England D-III football conferences.

Commonwealth Coast Football (CCC): From top to bottom, this might be the most competitive conference in the region.

As of early August – and yes, a few weeks back – I was pretty sure Endicott College would be the favorite to win its second-straight title this fall. But from doing some additional research, I will change my mind and go with another team: Salve Regina University.

To me, the Seahawks might be the best team on paper in this conference heading into the upcoming season. They will return some key members of last year’s offense that averaged 199.2 rushing yards per game.

But while Salve Regina might be the squad receiving some early-season praise for its key returners, do not overlook Endicott, along with Husson University, Western New England, and the University of New England. All four squads, along with Curry College and Nichols College will provide the Seahawks with plenty of challenges this season.  

Noontime’s CCC Champion Prediction: Salve Regina University

Noontime’s Surprise CCC Team of 2022: University of New England

Eastern Collegiate Football Conference (ECFC): A new chapter of Anna Maria College football will begin this fall with first-year coach Steve Croce.

Croce, who was on the staff last year, will be tasked with continuing the squad’s momentum, which saw the AMCATs win their first-ever conference crown, as well as appear in the NCAA Division III Tournament.

Like Salve Regina, Anna Maria will return some key members of last year’s squad on both offense and defense, including quarterback Alex Cohen, who concluded the 2021 season with 23 touchdown passes.

While Anna Maria appears to be the team to beat in the ECFC, don’t overlook Alfred State College, a squad that appeared in its first-ever postseason contest last November. Additionally, the Pioneers set a new program record for wins with six victories. For the Blue and Yellow to continue its success this fall, they will need to do it without quarterback Aaron Jenkins, who will be competing for Adrian College this season.

One team to keep an eye on this fall is Keystone College, a squad that concluded its inaugural season winless but could pose problems for both its non-conference and conference foes.

Noontime’s ECFC Champion Prediction: Anna Maria College

Noontime’s Surprise ECFC Team of 2022: Keystone College

Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC): Framingham State has been the team to beat over the last decade or so and should be the squad with a target on its back heading into training camp this month.

But don’t rule out the Corsairs of UMass Dartmouth, which concluded the 2021 season with a league-best nine wins (that’s nine wins in 11 contests).

UMass Dartmouth earned some much-needed momentum heading into the postseason by capturing its first-ever New England Bowl Game last November – the Corsairs rolled past Alfred State, 42-16, thanks to a six-touchdown effort (four passing and two rushing scores) by Dante Aviles-Santos.

Aviles-Santos returns this fall hoping to lead the Corsairs to their first-ever conference crown. UMass Dartmouth has never won a MASCAC title and appears to be the team to beat on paper.

While UMass Dartmouth might be equipped to challenge the Rams for the top spot in the conference, don’t overlook Bridgewater State, which finished its 2021 campaign with six wins and a Cranberry Bowl victory over Massachusetts Maritime Academy. Plymouth State, which ended its previous season with a 5-5 overall record, will also be in the mix for the conference crown.

Noontime’s MASCAC Champion Prediction: Framingham State  

Noontime’s Surprise MASCAC Team of 2022: Plymouth State  

New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC): The Bantams of Trinity College won eight games last season. They also lost one contest to Williams College, which captured the NESCAC crown with a perfect 9-0 record.

The loss to the Ephs should fuel a conference championship run for the Bantams this fall – Trinity, like other New England squads, will welcome back some key members of its 2021 squad, including quarterback Spencer Fetter, halfback Will Kirby, and wide receiver DeVante Reid. Linebacker Brian Casagrande, who led the Bantams’ defense with 46.0 total tackles, is also expected to return.

While Trinity will be the squad to watch in the NESCAC heading into their initial contest, the same could be said for others such as Amherst College, Colby College, Tufts University, and Wesleyan University.

Williams College could also pose threats to Trinity’s title run with the Ephs representing the region on last month’s D3Football Preseason Poll. Williams is one of many teams receiving votes.

Noontime’s NESCAC Champion Prediction: Trinity College  

Noontime’s Surprise CCC Team of 2022: Tufts University  

New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC): After starting their season with one win and three losses, Springfield College responded with a six-game winning streak that helped the Pride capture its second NEWMAC crown, as well as advance to the opening round of the NCAA D-III Tournament.

The early expectation is that Springfield will be the de-facto favorite to win the NEWMAC this fall, but don’t overlook Merchant Marine, which finished its 2021 season with a 9-1 overall record.

The Mariners won their final two contests against Coast Guard Academy and Western New England – the win over the Golden Bears provided Merchant Marine with its second New England Bowl victory since beating Endicott in 2018. Additionally, the team’s final win was an ideal sendoff for longtime head coach Mike Toop, who guided the Silver and Blue to 70 wins in 17 seasons.

Toop announced he would be retiring last November.

Merchant Marine should be able to compete for the top spot with Springfield – sure, both teams will need to fill some graduation holes, but the same could be said for every team in college football.

A few other teams to watch in the NEWMAC include Catholic University, MIT, and WPI.

Noontime’s NEWMAC Champion Prediction: Springfield College  

Noontime’s Surprise NEWMAC Team of 2022: WPI

UMass Dartmouth, USMMA Capture New England Bowls

Dante Aviles-Santos tossed four touchdowns on Saturday in his team’s first-ever New England Bowl. (PHOTO COURTESY: Eric Ogden)

By Matt Noonan

Three days after being named the 2021 Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) Offensive Rookie of the Year, Dante Aviles-Santos concluded his sophomore season by recording six touchdowns, including two rushing scores as UMass Dartmouth rolled past Alfred State in one of two New England Bowls this afternoon.

The Corsairs, who beat the Pioneers by a score of 42-16, ended their season on a six-game winning streak to finish 9-2 for the first time since 2003.

Aviles-Santos, who recorded 339 yards of total offense, scored two of his six touchdowns in the opening frame, including a three-yard rushing score with 11:56 remaining that provided UMass Dartmouth with a lead that would eventually grow to 22-3 at the break.

Both teams would trade touchdowns throughout the third quarter – Alfred State did pull within three scores (34-16) when Jake Palmer capped a four-play, 58-yard drive with a two-yard rushing touchdown, but that would be the closest they would get. UMass Dartmouth would tack on one more score in the opening minutes of the fourth quarter with an eight-yard touchdown pass from Aviles-Santos to Winston DeLeon.

Alfred State’s Aaron Jenkins, who was named the Eastern Collegiate Football Conference (ECFC) Offensive Player of the Year, ended the game with 287 yards of total offense, including 215 yards passing and one touchdown. Mike Nushar led the Pioneers’ defense with a game-high 21 total tackles, including 12 solo stops to go with one forced fumble.

Despite the loss, the Pioneers concluded the season with six wins, which is the most they have recorded in a single season since their initial campaign in 2013.

Merchant Marine 63, Western New England 35: Coach Mike Toop won his final game on the sidelines as the Mariners jumped out to a 21-0 lead and never looked back as the United States Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA) capped its season with a New England Bowl against the Golden Bears of Western New England.

Ian Blankenship recorded seven touchdowns in the win – he rushed for a game-high 137 yards on 30 carries for four scores while completing 4 of 11 passes for 150 yards and three touchdowns. Talsen Smith caught both touchdown passes while finishing the contest with three catches for 120 yards.

Western New England’s Steven Fedorchak led all receivers with 130 yards on six grabs and caught three touchdowns.

As a team, USMMA recorded 579 yards of total offense on 83 plays compared to 412 yards on 85 plays for Western New England.

The Mariners end their season with a 9-1 record while setting a program record for points in a game with 63.

Noontime’s D3 Football Teams to Watch In Week 10

Ricky Goodson and the Amherst College football team will look to continue their recent momentum on Saturday against Trinity College. (PHOTO COURTESY: Geoff Botle, Clarus Studios Inc.)

By NoontimeSports.com

It’s that time of the week when we highlight five teams to watch this weekend in New England Division III. And with the tenth week quickly approaching, that means we better press the publish button … NOW!

Amherst College (5-2, 5-2 NESCAC): The Mammoths head into their final road game of the 2021 season with a great deal of momentum.

Last weekend, Amherst overcame a two-score deficit to edge Wesleyan University in four overtimes.

Can they continue that momentum this week against Trinity College? We think so.

Amherst has won two of their last five meetings with the Bantams, who have captured back-to-back contests in 2018 (27-16) and 2019 (21-7). When Amherst has beaten Trinity, it has been by at least a touchdown — in some games, it has been eight or nine points.

Like Wesleyan, Amherst is a resilient bunch — they bounced back from a 21-14 setback last month to Bowdoin College by scoring a pair of wins over Hamilton College and Wesleyan to put themselves in a position to conclude their 2021 campaign with possibly six or seven wins.

Trinity will enter Saturday’s contest looking to bounce back from a 42-3 setback to Williams College.

Anna Maria College (5-2, 3-1 ECFC): For the past few weeks, the AMCATs of Anna Maria appeared destined to win their first-ever conference crown. But after seeing their five-game winning streak was snapped last weekend to Castleton University, their hopes of winning an Eastern Collegiate Football Conference (ECFC) title were somewhat derailed — well, at least for one day.

The AMCATs head into the final two weeks of the regular season in a four-way tie for first place in the conference. And this week’s contest with Gallaudet University is an important one as the Bison are also in the position to win the ECFC crown.

Under the direction of coach Dan Mulrooney, the AMCATs have beaten the Bison once when they ended their 2019 campaign with a 53-14 victory.

A win against the Bison would keep the team’s conference title hopes alive while a loss would result in some scoreboard watching next weekend.

Bridgewater State (5-3, 5-1 MASCAC): Despite losing to UMass Dartmouth last weekend, the Bears of Bridgewater State are still in the mix for the Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) crown. However, for the Red and White to win their first title since 2016, they will need to score two more wins against Framingham State and Massachusetts Maritime Academy.

Wins against the Rams and Buccaneers are possible, but coach Joe Verria’s squad needs to play their best football, both this week and next week. Additionally, the Bears will need to lean on halfback Adam Couch, who leads the conference with 125.4 rushing yards per game.

Couch recently became the ninth running back in Bridgewater State’s program history to eclipse 1,000 yards last weekend — he has currently rushed for 1,003 yards and 13 touchdowns in eight contests.

Bridgewater State has won four of six contests this fall when Couch rushes for 100 yards or more.

Castleton University (5-3, 3-1 ECFC): The Spartans head into their final two contests with a great deal of momentum, thanks to three-straight wins, including an impressive 38-31 victory last Saturday against Anna Maria.

Like the AMCATs, the Spartans are one of four teams in first place with hopes of winning the conference crown.

This week, the Green and White will head to New York to compete against an Alfred State squad that has also won three of four conference matchups this season. For Castleton to be successful, they will need to find a way to slow down quarterback Aaron Jenkins, who rushed for three touchdowns last weekend against Keystone College while completing 8 of 12 passes for 126 yards.  

Castleton should be able to come away with a hard-fought win to keep momentum on their side for next week’s home date with Gallaudet.

Salve Regina University (8-1, 4-1 CCC): The Seahawks are one win away from matching their 9-2 record from 2012 when they captured the New England Football Conference (NEFC) Boyd Division crown and competed in the league’s final championship game against Framingham State.  

If the Seahawks are going to enter their upcoming bye week with nine wins, then they must play perhaps their best football of the season against a Husson University squad that outlasted them in their previous meeting in 2019.

Like Salve Regina, Husson is in the mix for the Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) title but needs to win their last two contests against the Seahawks and Western New England. Neither matchup is going to be easy, but these Eagles must find a way to contain an impressive Salve Regina passing attack that produced five touchdowns last weekend against Curry College. In addition to an impressive showing by quarterback Jack Maguire, Nicholas Lane rushed for a season-high 102 yards on 10 carries and one touchdown.

Anna Maria Captures Its Fourth-Straight Contest, Tops Alfred State, 28-17

Alex Cohen tossed three touchdowns against Alfred State on Saturday. (PHOTO COURTESY: Brian Foley)

By Matt Noonan

The early-season momentum continued this afternoon for Anna Maria College as the AMCATs returned from their bye week to score their fourth-straight win over Alfred State on Saturday in New York.

The AMCATs, who improve to 4-1 overall and 2-0 in Eastern Collegiate Football Conference (ECFC) play, defeated the Pioneers, 28-17, thanks to three touchdown passes from Alex Cohen with two of them landing in the hands of Deandre Wallace.

Eric Pino led the AMCATs rushing attack with 45 yards on nine carries while Sam Jakana stuffed the stat sheet on defense with 10 total tackles, including five solo stops, two forced fumbles and one tackle for a loss of nine yards.

Alfred State’s Aaron Jenkins totaled 299 yards of total offense, including 20 passing yards to go with a pair of rushing touchdowns.

Both teams swapped scores throughout the opening three quarters before Alex Cohen put the AMCATs ahead for good by capping a 12-play, 85-yard drive with a two-yard strike to Deandre Wallace with 10:02 remaining in the fourth quarter. The two-yard strike from Cohen to Wallace extended the visitor’s lead from four to 11 points.

Saturday’s win over the Pioneers is the AMCATs’ third in the series history between the two teams – Anna Maria edged Alfred State in its previous meeting in 2019 by a score of 21-20.

Anna Maria will look to extend its winning streak to five games next Saturday, October 23 when they welcome Dean College to Paxton, Massachusetts.

Noontime’s Northeast College Football Games to Watch (Week Seven)

Rory Sullivan and the FDU-Florham football team will host Delaware Valley on Saturday in an important conference matchup. (PHOTO COURTESY: Sherry Saccoliti)

By Matt Noonan

Sure, we’re a New England sports blog – yes, we’re based right outside of Boston (technically across the river, to be exact in Somerville), but that doesn’t mean we can’t keep our eyes on some college football games outside our region, right?

So, today, we’re going to highlight a few matchups to watch this weekend outside of New England, including one taking place in Madison, New Jersey.

Delaware Valley (5-0, 3-0 MAC) at FDU-Florham (4-1, 3-0 MAC) Saturday, October 16 at 12 p.m.:  The Devils have been on a roll since losing their season-opener to the United States Merchant Marine Academy (USSMA).

Last week, FDU-Florham won its fourth consecutive contest by outlasting Lebanon Valley in double-overtime. Connor Perez, who finished with two touchdown receptions, caught the game-winning score in the second overtime session and quarterback Anthony Caserta concluded the conference clash with four touchdown passes.

The Devils’ momentum will certainly be tested against an Aggies squad that has not lost a game this fall – DelVal has produced 114 points in three-straight conference games and scored their fifth consecutive win last weekend with a 48-15 win over King’s College.

DelVal enters Saturday’s contest having won 32 consecutive Middle Atlantic Conference (MAC) matchups, dating back to their 2016 campaign. Their 5-0 start is their best since 2017 when they finished 12-1 overall and 9-0 in conference play.

FDU-Florham’s offense will be challenged with scoring points this week as DelVal’s defense is one of six units in NCAA Division III that is limiting opponents to less than 10 points per game. DelVal’s defense has yielded an average of 9.40 points per game.  

Gallaudet University (4-0, 2-0 ECFC) at SUNY-Maritime (1-4, 1-1 ECFC) Saturday, October 16 at 2 p.m.: The Bison enter their third conference matchup with a great deal of momentum.

Last week, Timel Benton and the Bison rushed past Keystone College, 34-14, thanks to five rushing touchdowns. Benton rushed for a team-high 167 yards on 19 carries and two scores while D’Mitri Lofton, Mikka Harvey, and Preston Garrett all rushed for one touchdown.

As a team, Gallaudet leads all Eastern Collegiate Football Conference (ECFC) teams with 17 rushing touchdowns – Alfred State ranks second with 10 – while the Privateers rank fourth in touchdown passes (Anna Maria College and Dean College are tied for first with 10 touchdowns through the air).   

SUNY-Maritime captured its conference opener with a come-from-behind win against Castleton University before falling one week later to Alfred State.

Saturday’s game is an important one for both teams, but especially the Privateers as two conference losses would make it tough for them to win the league title. But anything is possible, of course.

SUNY-Maritime topped Gallaudet in their last meeting in 2019 by a score of 24-13, while the Bison’s last win against the Privateers came in 2012. The win – the Bison’s seventh of the 2012 season – matched their total from 2007, which was when the squad returned to the “NCAA Division III ranks.”  

Anna Maria College (3-1, 1-0 ECFC) at Alfred State (2-3, 1-0 ECFC) Saturday, October 16 at 12 p.m.:  The AMCATs have been a great story thus far. But can they continue their early-season momentum one week after they were idle? I think so.

Quarterback Alex Cohen leads the conference in passing yards per game (288.0) and passer rating (151.5) and guided the AMCATs to a thrilling 21-20 victory two years ago against the Pioneers.

Cohen will certainly be a player to watch in this matchup, but the same could be said for Alfred State’s Aaron Jenkins, who registered 317 yards of total offense last week, including a game-high 222 yards on 22 carries and one rushing touchdown against SUNY-Maritime. Jenkins also completed 8 of 18 passes for 95 yards and two touchdowns – he located both Ben Ba and Shy’rel Broadwater in the end zone.  

Look for Alfred State to rely on its rushing attack on Saturday, which has held them to back-to-back victories.

Anna Maria has won two of three meetings – Saturday’s contest will mark the fourth meeting between the two schools.  

More Games to Watch:

  • Wilkes University at Widener University (10/16 at 1 p.m.): A pair of five-win teams will tangle in Chester, Pennsylvania.
  • Utica College (4-1, 1-0 E8) at Brockport (3-2, 1-1 E8) (10/16 at 6 p.m.): The Golden Eagles look to bounce back against the Pioneers, who needed to rally past Hartwick to score their first conference win.
  • RPI (6-0, 2-0 LL) at Hobart College (4-1, 0-1 LL) (10/16 at 1 p.m.): The Statesmen look to bounce back against an Engineers team that continues to find ways to win games.