Springfield’s journey to the postseason: After ending its initial month of play with just one win, the Pride rebounded with six straight wins, including three consecutive hard-fought wins during the final three weeks against Catholic University, MIT, and the United States Merchant Marine Academy. Their end-of-season win over the Cardinals allowed the Pride to secure their second New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) crown since capturing it in 2017.
Cortland’s journey to the postseason: After beginning their season with an opening day win over Wittenberg University, the Red Dragons ripped off nine straight wins, including six Empire 8 victories that saw just two teams – Brockport and SUNY Morrisville – score at least one touchdown against a Red Dragons squad that is yielding an average of 8.4 points per game this season.
Springfield’s last trip to the NCAA Tournament: The Pride competed in the opening round of the 2017 postseason but saw their 10-game winning streak snapped to a Husson University squad that had captured its second-straight Eastern Collegiate Football Conference (ECFC) crown one week earlier against Mount Ida College.
Cortland’s last trip to the NCAA Tournament: The Red Dragons last appeared in the postseason in 2015 where they won an opening round contest against Salisbury University by a score of 45-21. Linfield University defeated Cortland in the second round before losing to St. Thomas in the semifinals.
Springfield’s NCAA Tournament history: The Pride are making their seventh trip to the postseason with their first appearance coming in 1998 when Springfield lost to Buffalo State in the opening round by a score of 38-35. Two years later, Springfield returned to the NCAA Tournament and advanced to the East Regional Finals where they lost to Widener University.
Cortland’s NCAA Tournament history Saturday will mark the 10th time in program history that the Red Dragons have competed in the national postseason. Cortland first appeared in the postseason in 1988. They beat Hofstra University in the opening round at home before falling to Ithaca College in the quarterfinals.
Players to Watch on Springfield: Tim Callahan (FB), Isaiah Cashwell-Doe (RB), Christian Hutra (K | NEWMAC Special Teamer of the Year), Kyle Niehr (DB), Ronald Beard (DB), DJ Brown (LB), Aiden Lewin (LB), David Wells (QB), and Patrick Tuohy (P)
In just a few hours, we will learn the opening round matchups of the 2021 NCAA Division III Tournament with four New England teams scheduled to compete in the opening round.
One of the four teams — Framingham State — is making its third-straight trip to the national postseason while the other three, including Endicott College, are making their first appearance in a few seasons.
Let’s highlight the four local teams that will be competing in the national postseason, as well as how things played out in their previous appearances.
Anna Maria College (7-2, 5-1 ECFC): Coach Dan Mulrooney and his AMCATs made history this fall by winning their first-ever Eastern Collegiate Football Conference (ECFC) title on Saturday with a 31-7 victory over SUNY-Maritime. The win snapped an 11-game losing streak to the Privateers, dating back to Anna Maria’s first season as a varsity program, but this particular trip will be the team’s initial appearance in the national tournament.
Endicott College (8-2, 5-1 CCC): Saturday’s 37-3 victory over Nichols College provided the Gulls with their first conference crown since 2013 when they beat Salve Regina in the New England Football Conference (NEFC) championship game. Endicott secured a matchup with Rowan University but saw their second trip to the playoffs conclude in the opening round with a 24-0 setback. The Gulls’ initial trip to the national tournament came in 2010 — they lost to SUNY Cortland by a score of 49-35 after edging Maine Maritime Academy in the NEFC Championship one week earlier.
In addition to two trips to the NCAA Tournament, the Gulls have appeared in four bowl games, winning a pair of ECAC North Atlantic bowls against Mount Ida College and Norwich University, along with two appearances in the New England Bowl (beat Dean College in 2019, lost to the United States Merchant Marine Academy in 2018).
Framingham State (8-2, 8-0 MASCAC): The Rams are heading back to the postseason for the third consecutive season after winning eight Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) matchups this fall.
Framingham State is seeking its initial postseason win — the Black and Gold have competed in the national tournament five times in the last nine years. They made their first appearance in 2012 after beating Salve Regina in the New England Football Conference championship — Framingham State lost to SUNY Cortland by a score of 20-19.
In addition to competing in the NCAA Tournament, coach Tom Kelley‘s Rams have won two New England Bowls in 2016 and 2017 to go with a pair of ECAC Bowl games.
Springfield will represent the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) in the postseason for the second time in program history — they captured the conference crown in 2017 with a 10-0 overall record but lost their opening-round matchup to Husson University.
The Pride’s initial appearance in the national postseason came in 1998 when coach Mike DeLong‘s squad lost its opening-round contest to Buffalo State by a score of 38-35. They would return two years later, winning back-to-back contests against Montclair State (first round) and Brockport (second round) before losing to Widener University in the NCAA East Regional Final.
Springfield’s 2000 postseason run was the furthest any Pride team would advance in the national tournament — they did advance to the second round in 2006 but lost to St. John Fisher by a score of 27-21. One round earlier, Springfield rolled past Curry College, 42-14.
It’s hard to believe, but somehow, we made it to the final week of the 2021 New England NCAA Division III college football season – where did the time go?
The final week pits some real intriguing matchups that will determine conference winners. Others feature teams looking to gain some much-needed momentum heading into the offseason.
We’ll have plenty of time over the next few weeks to look back on the regular season, but for now, let’s get ready for the final jam-packed Saturday with 10 Games to Watch (and yes, our picks, too).
And just for those keeping track at home, we enter the final week with a 71-29 record when it comes to selecting games. Not bad, eh?
Catholic University (6-3, 4-1 NEWMAC) at Springfield College (6-3, 5-0 NEWMAC) Saturday, November 13 at 12 p.m.: The Pride are on a roll and should be able to conclude their conference slate with a victory, along with a league crown. PREDICTION: Springfield 30, Catholic 22
Merchant Marine Academy (7-1, 4-1 NEWMAC) at Coast Guard Academy (2-7, 0-5 NEWMAC) Saturday, November 13 at 12 p.m.: The Mariners will look to send coach Mike Toop off with one last win in the Secretaries Cup against the Bears. PREDICTION: Merchant Marine 30, Coast Guard 20
Endicott College (7-2, 4-1 CCC) at Nichols College (2-7, 0-5 CCC) Saturday, November 13 at 12 p.m.: A win for the Gulls over the Bison would most likely secure them a spot in the upcoming postseason. PREDICTION: Endicott 30, Nichols 16
Williams College (8-0, 8-0 NESCAC) at Amherst College (5-3, 5-3) Saturday, November 13 at 12 p.m.: The Ephs can make history on Saturday by becoming the first team in program history to win nine games in a single season. PREDICTION: Williams 30, Amherst 14
Alfred State (5-4, 4-1 ECFC) at Dean College (2-7, 1-4 ECFC) Saturday, November 13 at 12 p.m.: A win for the Pioneers and an AMCATs loss would provide the Blue and Yellow with their first-ever conference crown, so this is a must-win for Alfred State. PREDICTION: Alfred State 24, Dean 14
Bridgewater State (5-4, 5-2 MASCAC) at Massachusetts Maritime Academy (4-5, 3-4 MASCAC) Saturday, November 13 at 12 p.m.: Mother Nature should cooperate for the 42nd Annual Cranberry Bowl in Buzzards Bay – the rain today should vanish by kickoff tomorrow. PREDICTION: Bridgewater State 23, Mass. Maritime 20
Plymouth State (5-4, 5-2 MASCAC) at UMass Dartmouth (7-2, 5-2 MASCAC) Saturday, November 13 at 12 p.m.: Second place in the conference is on the line — of course, Bridgewater State is in the mix for second place, as well, but this outcome could determine who will represent the conference in the New England Bowl. PREDICTION: UMass Dartmouth 28, Plymouth State 20
Husson University (7-2, 4-1 CCC) at Western New England (6-3, 4-1 CCC) Saturday, November at 1 p.m.: The Eagles soar into Springfield with a great deal of end-of-season momentum. PREDICTION: Husson 28, WNE 24
SUNY-Maritime (3-5, 3-2 ECFC) at Anna Maria College (6-2, 4-1 ECFC) Saturday, November 13 at 1 p.m.: The AMCATs are one win away from capturing their first-ever conference crown. PREDICTION: Anna Maria 28, SUNY-Maritime 15
Bowdoin College (1-7, 1-7 NESCAC) at Colby College (3-5, 3-5 NESCAC) Saturday, November 13 at 5 p.m.: The Mules can secure their second-straight Colby-Bates-Bowdoin (CBB) crown on Saturday with a win over the Polar Bears. PREDICTION: Colby 24, Bowdoin 14
The Springfield College football team is one win away from capturing their second New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) crown in program history, thanks to a 17-7 victory last night against MIT.
With a win on Saturday against Catholic University, the Pride will secure the league’s automatic bid to the upcoming NCAA Division III Tournament, which will begin Saturday, November 20.
David Wells highlighted his team’s win against the Engineers by rushing for a game-high 142 yards on 22 carries and two touchdowns while completing two passes for 19 yards.
Christian Hutra’s 33-yard field goal with 4:55 remaining in the fourth quarter sealed the come-from-behind win as the Engineers led the Pride, 7-6, at the break, thanks to a 10-yard touchdown pass from Chris Mauck to Dennis Gastel with 6:48 remaining in the second quarter.
Springfield produced 402 yards of total offense on 85 plays while MIT finished with 181 yards on 50 plays.
The Pride was picked to win the league crown prior to their initial game of the 2021 season – Springfield garnered two first-place votes and started their campaign with one win and three losses. They have not lost a game since losing to Husson University at the end of September.
With just two weeks remaining in the regular season, we head into the tenth week with some exciting conference races to watch in both NCAA Division II and Division III.
As usual, let’s start in Division II and then run through the five Division III conference races.
Northeast-10 Conference (NE10)
The Leaders: Bentley University (8-0, 6-0) and University of New Haven (7-1, 6-0)
Matchup to watch this weekend:
Bentley at New Haven (Saturday, November 6 at 1 p.m.)
Synopsis: A few weeks ago, I thought this would be the matchup that would determine the conference winner. And indeed, it is.
The Falcons and Chargers enter the tenth week of the 2021 college football season with a great deal of momentum – they both secured spots on the NCAA Division II Super Region One Rankings with Bentley securing the top spot while New Haven checked in sixth.
Saturday’s winner will most likely represent the NE10 in the national postseason later this month, pending they don’t win their final contest next weekend.
Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC)
The Leader(s): Endicott College (7-2, 4-1) and Salve Regina University (8-1, 4-1)
In the Hunt: Husson University (6-2, 3-1) and Western New England (5-3, 3-1)
Matchups to watch this weekend:
Salve Regina at Husson (Saturday, November 6 at 12 p.m.)
Western New England at University of New England (Saturday, November 6 at 1 p.m.)
Synopsis: The Seahawks will wrap up their regular-season slate with a visit to Maine on Saturday with hopes of returning to Newport, Rhode Island with their ninth victory. A win for Salve Regina would eliminate Husson from the conference championship hunt, but the same could be said for the Eagles if they are able to outlast the Seahawks as it seems unlikely that this year’s league champion will have two conference setbacks on their resume.
Western New England will also be in Maine on Saturday to face a Nor’easters squad that almost edged Endicott last weekend. UNE can play spoiler by beating the Golden Bears, but most likely, Western New England will prevail.
Endicott is idle this weekend but will return to the gridiron next week when they visit Nichols College.
Eastern Collegiate Football Conference
The Leader(s): Alfred State (4-4, 3-1), Anna Maria College (5-2, 3-1), Castleton University (5-3, 3-1 ECFC), and Gallaudet University (5-1, 3-1)
Matchups to watch this weekend:
Castleton at Alfred State (Saturday, November 6 at 12 p.m.)
Gallaudet at Anna Maria (Saturday, November 6 at 12 p.m.)
Synopsis: This is a “playoff” week with all four contenders competing against each other. And when it concludes, we may have a better gauge of who will represent the conference in the postseason.
For a few weeks, it appeared as if Anna Maria was going to win the league, but now, it could be Castleton, which needs to win its final two contests, as well as get some help from other ECFC members. Anna Maria needs help, along with Alfred State and Gallaudet.
Speaking of Gallaudet, the Bison have been a team to watch this fall, too – can they bounce back from a three-point setback last month to Alfred State this week? I believe they can, but they are facing an Anna Maria squad that is eager to return to the win column after losing to Castleton one week ago.
Don’t rule out Alfred State as they could finish the season on a four-game winning streak to secure their first-ever conference crown. Again, they will need some help to win the league, but I could see them winning the ECFC. Just a hunch.
All in all, it should be an exciting final two weeks of the ECFC football season.
Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC)
The Leader: Framingham State (6-2, 6-0)
In the Hunt: Bridgewater State (5-3, 5-1)
Matchup to watch this weekend:
Bridgewater State at Framingham State (Saturday, November 6 at 12 p.m.)
Synopsis: Framingham State inched closer to winning the conference crown last week with a 23-14 win against Massachusetts Maritime Academy. But as coach Tom Kelley and the Rams know, for them to win the conference, they must beat a Bridgewater State team that was stunned last weekend by UMass Dartmouth.
Bridgewater State can still win the conference, but they need to win their final two contests, including this Saturday’s tilt in Framingham. Like the Rams, they have beaten some of the league’s top teams, including Massachusetts Maritime Academy, Plymouth State, and Western Connecticut. Framingham State, however, topped UMass Dartmouth in their third game of the season.
If the Rams lose on Saturday, then they will need to beat Worcester State next weekend and hope the Bears get tripped up by the Buccaneers in the Cranberry Bowl.
All in all, Saturday’s contest has the makings of an instant classic – can Bridgewater State bounce back and keep their title hopes alive or will Framingham State’s current momentum carry them to their seventh straight victory?
New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC)
The Leader: Williams College (7-0, 7-0)
In the Hunt: Amherst College (5-2, 5-2), Trinity College (6-1, 6-1), and Wesleyan University (6-1, 6-1)
Matchups to watch this weekend:
Wesleyan at Williams (Saturday, November 6 at 1 p.m.)
Amherst at Trinity (Saturday, November 6 at 1 p.m.)
Synopsis: Following an impressive win last weekend against Trinity, Williams heads into its final two contests with a great deal of momentum, but they will certainly be challenged by Amherst and Wesleyan, who are eager to hand their Little Three rival a loss.
Williams will enter this week’s meeting with the Cardinals as the favorite, but Wesleyan is a resilient squad that seems eager to bounce back from a heartbreaking defeat this past weekend against Amherst in overtime.
And speaking of the Mammoths, they need to win, both this week and next week, to have a shot at sharing the conference crown. Amherst has not beaten Trinity since November 4, 2017, so let’s see if they score an important win this weekend against a squad that will be ready to return to the win column.
New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC)
The Leader: Springfield College (5-3, 4-0)
In the Hunt: Catholic University (5-3, 3-1) and United States Merchant Marine Academy (7-1, 4-1)
Matchups to watch this weekend:
Norwich University at Catholic (Saturday, November 6 at 12 p.m.)
Springfield at MIT (Saturday, November 6 at 1 p.m.)
Synopsis: With a 28-23 victory last Saturday, Springfield has put itself in a position to win the conference for the first time since 2017. But for Springfield to win the NEWMAC, they must beat their two remaining opponents: Catholic and MIT.
After dropping a pair of league contests, the Engineers of MIT have roared back, winning back-to-back games against Coast Guard Academy and Norwich, so don’t expect the Cambridge football team to lay down to Springfield. But it’s hard to see MIT or Catholic derailing Springfield, which has not lost a game since September.
Despite losing to Springfield last weekend, the Mariners of Merchant Marine Academy are still in contention to win the league, but they need the Pride to lose either this week or next week. Additionally, Catholic is in the mix but needs to beat Norwich and Springfield and have Coast Guard beat Merchant Marine next week.
All in all, it should be an exciting final two weeks of NEWMAC football.