We have reached the final week of the small college football regular season – that went by fast!
And while there is still more football to be played after the final whistle sounds for most contests tomorrow, I thought I would take a few moments to reflect on the last 10 weeks.
To say the 2021 New England Division II and Division III college football season has been fun would be an understatement. It has been a blast – can I say incredible?
Many fields, bleachers and press boxes sat quietly at this time one year ago – yes, Coast Guard Academy and the United States Merchant Marine Academy did compete in the Secretaries Cup, but that was the closest we would get to a small college football experience due to the Covid-19 pandemic (other teams outside our region did compete once, twice or a few times last fall or this spring).
Tomorrow, Coast Guard and Merchant Marine will meet again – the contest will mark coach Mike Toop’s final regular season game with the Mariners while a slew of other teams, including Amherst College, Anna Maria College, Husson University, Bentley University, and the University of New Haven will also be in action.
There will be games that will decide conference champions.
There will be contests pitting two rivalries.
And there will be matchups between two teams – excuse me, two programs – looking to gain some much-needed momentum heading into the offseason.
But no matter the outcome of every small college football game tomorrow, both locally and around the country, a celebration should be in store for everyone as this will be a season we should all remember five, ten and yes, 50 years from now.
The 2021 small college football season provided us with a sense of joy and excitement that maybe we did not have before the pandemic. But it also provided us with some new (and exciting) storylines like Anna Maria winning its most games in a single season with six victories as of this evening to New Haven capturing its first Northeast-10 Conference (NE10) crown since 2012 with an impressive win one week ago against Bentley.
Framingham State won another Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) crown after starting 0-2 for the second consecutive season, and American International College was one of a handful of teams to watch from the get-go, especially when they were winning dramatic road games, including a come-from-behind 40-33 victory in week two against Pace University.
Of course, there were others – and yes, there are still more stories being written as I type this somewhat “ode-to-the 2021 small college football season.” But no matter what, it has been so much fun seeing the local teams back on the gridiron this fall – enjoy the final day of the regular season, everyone, and make sure to stop by for a few blog posts throughout the weekend.
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
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.
The ninth week of the 2021 New England NCAA Division III football season was quite exciting — there were some really interesting outcomes, including Williams College rolling past Trinity College and Springfield College outlasting the United States Merchant Marine Academy.
With today (Sunday, October 31) marking the official start of the tenth week of the season, allow us to share a brand new New England Top 20 Poll, which finds Salve Regina University in the top spot for the second straight week.
A quick program note: our New England Division III Top 20 Poll will be posted for the remainder of the season on Sundays due to our New England Division III Basketball Polls — our week one poll will be posted tomorrow, Monday, November 1, 2021.
1. Salve Regina University (8-1, 4-1 CCC | LW: No. 1): The Seahawks flew past Curry College on Saturday, thanks to five touchdown passes from Jack Maguire.
2. Williams College (7-0, 7-0 NESCAC | LW: No. 5): The Ephs scored a statement win against Trinity College this past weekend.
3. Endicott College (7-2, 4-1 CCC | LW: No. 3): Ryan Smith’s game-winning field goal helped the Gulls edge the University of New England.
4. Western New England (5-3, 3-1 CCC | LW: No. 4): The Golden Bears return from their bye as a team to watch in the final two weeks.
5. Framingham State (6-2, 6-0 MASCAC | LW: No. 6): The Rams moved up two spots after winning the Kelley Cup against Massachusetts Maritime Academy.
6. UMass Dartmouth (7-2, 5-2 MASCAC | No. 9): The Corsairs won their first game against Bridgewater State this past weekend since 2014.
7. Husson University (6-2, 3-1 CCC | LW: No. 10): The Eagles head into the final two weeks of the 2021 regular season with some momentum, which will be tested against Salve Regina and Western New England.
8. Bridgewater State (5-3, 5-1 MASCAC | No. 7): The Bears tumble one spot after seeing their five-game winning streak snapped at home. Despite the loss to the Corsairs, Bridgewater State is still in the mix for the conference crown.
9. Springfield College (5-3, 4-0 NEWMAC | No. 11): The Pride head into their final two contests with a great deal of momentum following a big win against the United States Merchant Marine Academy.
10. Trinity College (6-1, 6-1 NESCAC | LW: No. 2): The Bantams were held to just three points last Saturday against Williams but will attempt to bounce back this week against Amherst College, which handed Wesleyan University its first loss of the 2021 season.
11. Amherst College (5-2, 5-2 NESCAC | LW: No. 15): The Mammoths moved up four spots after outlasting Wesleyan University in overtime.
12. Wesleyan University (6-1, 6-1 NESCAC | LW: No. 8): The Cardinals tumble four spots following a difficult setback to Amherst College in the pouring rain. This week, they head to Williamstown.
13. Plymouth State (4-4, 4-2 MASCAC | LW: No. 13): Make it four straight wins for the Green and White as the Panthers topped Westfield State on the road.
14. MIT (4-3, 2-2 NEWMAC | LW: No. 14): The Engineers scored their second straight conference win with a 21-7 victory over Coast Guard Academy.
15. Castleton University (5-3, 3-1 ECFC | LW: Not Ranked): The Spartans make their initial appearance on the poll this week after a big win over Anna Maria College this past weekend. Like the AMCATs, the Spartans are in the mix for their conference crown.
16. Anna Maria College (5-2, 3-1 ECFC | LW: No. 12): The AMCATs saw their five-game winning streak snapped this past weekend but will look to bounce back this Saturday in Paxton when they host Gallaudet University.
17. Massachusetts Maritime Academy (4-4, 3-3 MASCAC | LW: No.16): The Buccaneers lost the Kelley Cup but will attempt to bounce back with a win on the road this week at Plymouth State.
18. Western Connecticut (4-5, 3-4 MASCAC | LW: No. 18): The Colonials snapped a three-game losing streak with a big win against Worcester State.
19. Colby College (3-4, 3-4 NESCAC | LW: No. 19): The Mules are one win away from winning the Colby-Bates-Bowdoin (CBB) trophy.
20. University of New England (3-4, 1-3 CCC | LW: No. 17): The Nor’easters came close to upsetting Endicott this past weekend.
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.