We’re another day closer to the opening round of the NCAA Division III Tournament — 32 small college football teams will be competing for spots in the second round on Saturday, including Endicott College and RPI.
Endicott and RPI will meet for the first time in the postseason — additionally, Saturday’s first round matchup will mark the first time the Gulls and Engineers meet since RPI edged Endicott, 6-3, on September 11, 2010.
Let’s learn more about this particular matchup that features two teams that captured their respective conference crown.
Game Time & Location: Saturday’s matchup between the Gulls and Engineers will take place in Beverly, Massachusetts at Hempstead Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for 12 p.m.
RPI’s journey to the postseason: It’s been an exciting few weeks for these Engineers, who bounced back from a 10-9 setback to Hobart College with hard-fought wins over Ithaca College, St. Lawrence University, and Union College. Their come-from-behind win over Union last Saturday, which was highlighted by a game-winning field goal from Trevor Bisson, not only provided the squad with the Dutchman Shoes Trophy, but also the opportunity to represent the Liberty League (LL) in the national tournament.
Endicott’s journey to the postseason: After capping its last two seasons with appearances in the New England Bowl, the Gulls returned to the postseason by winning eight of 10 contests, including five of six Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) matchups. Endicott rebounded from a late October setback to Salve Regina University with a pair of end-of-season wins over the University of New England and Nichols College to secure its third trip in program history to the NCAA Tournament.
RPI’s last trip to the NCAA Tournament: The Engineers last appeared in the postseason in 2018 when they win a pair of games against Husson University and Brockport. Their quest for a national title would conclude on the first day of December when they lost to Johns Hopkins University by a score of 37-14.
Endicott’s last trip to the NCAA Tournament: Endicott’s last appearance in the national postseason occurred in 2013 — the Gulls won the New England Football Conference (NEFC) Championship against Salve Regina, but los their first postseason contest to Rowan University by a score of 24-0.
RPI’s NCAA Tournament history: The Engineers will be making their seventh appearance in the national postseason in program history with their first trip occurring in 1999. Saturday will mark the third time coach Ralph Isernia has guided RPI to the postseason.
Endicott’s NCAA Tournament history: Endicott is making its third appearance in the national postseason with their first two trips occurring in 2010 and 2013. This particular trip is Paul McGonagle’s first with the Gulls – he last was in the postseason in 2017 as an associate coach with Assumption College.
Players to Watch on RPI: George Marinopoulos (QB), Vinnie McDonald (WR), Peter Lombardi (WR/ATH), Josh Cohen (DL), Joe Deptula (LB), C.J. Lyons (DB), Zac Montrief (P), Conor Ahern (DL), Francis Perry (DB), and Sterling Walker-Sutton (Return Specialist).
University of New Haven’s football team beat Bentley University earlier this month, but can they do it again in the opening round of the 2021 NCAA Division II Tournament?
The two Northeast-10 Conference (NE10) teams will square off for the second time in three weeks on Saturday, November 20 with the winner advancing to the second round to compete against Kutztown University.
All three teams appeared in the most recent Super Region One rankings, which were released last Monday, November 8.
Bentley and UNH will enter their first-round postseason contest with an identical 9-1 overall record. The Falcons concluded the regular season with a 48-23 victory over Assumption College while the Chargers beat Franklin Pierce University by a score of 34-20.
The Falcons, who previously captured the NE10 crown in 2019, have not competed in the NCAA Division II Tournament since 2004 when they lost to Edinboro University by a score of 47-43. One year earlier, Bentley made its first trip to the national postseason but saw their bid toward a national championship dashed in the opening round by Grand Valley State.
New Haven competed in the national tournament three years ago when they advanced to the second round after beating West Chester by a score of 35-28 (the Chargers’ postseason run concluded against Slippery Rock one week later).
The 2021 NCAA Division II Tournament features 28 teams with 12 first-round matchups. Four teams, including Kutztown, earned an opening-round bye.
Saturday’s kickoff between Bentley and New Haven is scheduled for 1 p.m.
Tim Callahan rushed for a team-high 137 yards and one score – his lone touchdown with 10:39 remaining in the third quarter proved to be the difference as Springfield College outlasted the United States Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA), 28-23, to secure the inside track to the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) title.
Springfield, which moves to 5-3 overall and 4-0 against league foes, snapped the Mariners’ seven-game winning streak that included some impressive conference victories against Catholic University and MIT, two teams the Pride will face next month.
USMMA’s Ian Blankenship produced 313 yards of total offense, including 178 yards on the ground on 23 carries.
Springfield’s Patrick Ladas and David Wells combined for 148 yards and three rushing touchdowns while DJ Brown led the Pride’s defense with 10 total tackles, including nine solo stops and one fumble recovery.
The Pride will visit MIT next Saturday, November 6 – the Engineers will enter the game on a two-game winning streak, thanks to a 21-7 victory against Coast Guard Academy.
WPI snapped a six-game losing streak with a 28-2 victory over Norwich University for the team’s first conference win since November 16, 2019 (their last conference win was also against the Cadets).
Brendan Olexa completed 15 of 25 passes for 199 yards and two touchdowns while Brandon Winn and Zachary Levy each located the end zone once while combining for 90 yards rushing.
UMass Dartmouth snapped a six-game losing streak to Bridgewater State with a 26-20 victory to become the first Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) squad to win seven games this season.
Dante Aviles-Santos tossed four touchdowns in the win, including the go-head score with 13:58 remaining in the final stanza when he located Douglas Machado for an 18-yard strike.
Bridgewater State led UMass Dartmouth, 20-14, at the break, thanks to a 25-yard touchdown run by Adam Couch, who became the ninth halfback in program history to record 1,000 yards or more in a single-season.
Despite the loss, the Bears remain in contention for the conference crown, but need to win their final two contests, including next week’s matchup with Framingham State.
The Rams inched closer to securing the conference crown by defeating Massachusetts Maritime Academy, 23-14, in Buzzards Bay. Devaun Ford recorded two touchdowns in the win, including a 75-yard rushing touchdown with 8:55 remaining in the third quarter that provided the visitors with the lead for good.
Amherst College forced overtime and then beat Wesleyan University in the fourth extra session, 16-14, thanks Brad Breckenridge, who threw for 170 yards and one touchdown.
Breckenridge’s lone touchdown pass to PJ Clementi with 23 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter sent the game to extra sessions where the Mammoths were able to convert a two-point conversion in the fourth overtime.
Wesleyan entered the ninth week of the season with a perfect record – the same could be said for Trinity College and Williams College. The Ephs rolled past the Bantams, 42-3, in Williamstown to secure the top spot in the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) with two weeks remaining in the regular season.
Other outcomes to note from a very busy Saturday: Castleton University outlasted Anna Maria College, 38-31, Colby College beat Bates College, 10-2, and Plymouth State topped Westfield State, 17-7.
Bentley University and the University of New Haven both scored important Northeast-10 Conference (NE10) wins this afternoon as the Falcons soared past Franklin Pierce University while the Chargers topped Assumption College, 16-10.
Both teams will meet next weekend in New Haven, Connecticut with the top spot in the NE10 up for grabs.
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.
To say the next three weeks of the small college New England football season will be fun – and yes, exciting, too – would be an understatement.
For starters, we have quite a few conference races to watch these next few weeks, including one that currently features four teams in the Commonwealth Coast Football (CCC) league.
Endicott College appeared to be a lock to win their first-ever conference crown since 2013 when they, along with other members of the CCC, competed in the New England Football Conference (NEFC). But unfortunately, things changed this past weekend as their three-game conference winning streak was snapped with a 21-14 setback to Salve Regina University.
Luckily, it is just one loss – Endicott currently holds the head-to-head tiebreakers over Husson University and Western New England, who are also in the mix for the league crown. But to win the conference, the Gulls will need to beat their two remaining foes – Nichols College and the University of New England – as well as get some help from their rivals: Salve Regina and Western New England.
Salve Regina has beaten Nichols and UNE but needs to win their final two contests against Curry College and Husson.
Western New England beat Salve Regina in their first conference meeting of the 2021 season earlier this month before falling to Endicott one week later. The Golden Bears will be idle this weekend but conclude their regular-season slate with back-to-back contests in November against Husson and UNE.
And while all the attention is currently on Salve Regina following an exciting win this past weekend against Endicott, one should certainly not overlook Husson, which has won two of three league matchups, as well as scored some impressive non-league wins against Plymouth State and Springfield College.
As of now, it is hard to project a winner of the Commonwealth Coast Football (CCC) league, but we should have a better gauge this Saturday.
Speaking of Springfield College, they are also in the mix for their conference crown in the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) but need to win their remaining three contests, including their matchup this weekend with the University of Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA).
The Mariners have been a great story this fall, winning seven consecutive contests to match their best start in program history. They scored an exciting 44-34 win this past weekend against Catholic University, thanks to both Ian Blankenship and Brian McGovern, who combined for five touchdowns, including three on the ground.
Springfield has beaten USMMA in two of their last three outings, including twice at home in 2017 and 2019.
Like the Mariners, the Pride has also become a team to watch over the last few weeks after rebounding from a 1-3 start by winning their last three contests to bump their overall record to 4-3.
David Wells and Isaiah Cashwell-Doe headlined Springfield’s most recent win against WPI.
Saturday’s matchup between the Pride and Mariners is scheduled for 1 p.m. – the contest will be held in Springfield, Massachusetts.
South of Springfield – West Haven, Connecticut, to be exact – will feature another important matchup to follow as Assumption College visits the University of New Haven on Saturday, October 30 for a 1 p.m. kickoff.
Both teams enter the ninth week of the Division II season in contention for the Northeast-10 Conference (NE10) crown – UNH has not lost a single conference game this fall while Assumption has won four of five league meetings. Assumption could win the conference, but they need to win their final three outings, including two against the top two squads in the league.
Bentley University was idle this past weekend but has been a great story as they have not lost a game since October 12, 2019, and head into the final three weeks with a great deal of momentum.
The Falcons will be at home this weekend against Franklin Pierce before visiting New Haven next Saturday, November 6. It is possible the Falcons and Chargers could enter the week ten matchup without a single conference loss.