Tag: College Football

Taking Stock of Four Weeks of New England D3 Football

Dante Aviles-Santos and the UMass Dartmouth football team currently sit atop the MASCAC standings after four weeks. (PHOTO COURTESY: Jared Marshall/UMass Dartmouth Athletics)

By Matt Noonan

Four weeks of the New England NCAA Division III football season are complete.

The fifth week begins this evening with two teams competing under the lights: Western Connecticut and UMass Dartmouth.

Before we kick off another weekend of college football, let’s check in all five conferences, as well as highlight a few teams (and storylines) to watch, both this weekend and over the next few weeks.  


Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC)

Current Leader: Endicott College (4-0, 0-0 CCC)

The surprise team: Nichols College (3-1, 0-0)

Thoughts on the CCC: As of now, Endicott College appears to be the front-runner, but we should know more about this conference after both this weekend and next weekend with league play beginning tomorrow. The Gulls’ defense, which has yielded just 20 points through four contests, will certainly be challenged against Husson University, as well as when they compete against Nichols College and the University of New England in early October. The Bison of Nichols can solidify themselves as a contender by scoring a week five win over Western New England, which is looking to bounce back from a 35-0 setback to Salisbury University. The Golden Bears have not lost to Nichols since 2006 – additionally, Nichols has not beaten Western New England in Springfield since 2003.


Eastern Collegiate Football Conference (ECFC)

Current Leaders: Anna Maria College (2-1, 0-0 ECFC) and Gallaudet University (2-1, 0-0 ECFC)

The surprise team: Alfred State (2-2, 0-0 ECFC)

Thoughts on the ECFC: Like the CCC, ECFC play commences this weekend with some enticing matchups, including Anna Maria hosting Alfred State to Gallaudet visiting Keystone College. Anna Maria remains the favorite to win the league crown, despite losing last weekend to Coast Guard Academy. The AMCATs can take a step toward winning its second-straight ECFC title on Saturday by beating Alfred State, a squad they have beaten in back-to-back meetings. The Pioneers enter the contest with two wins and two losses – to be honest, I thought this team would have at least three wins by the fifth week, especially with so many returners back from last season. But while all eyes will be on Alfred State and Anna Maria, don’t overlook Gallaudet, which scored an impressive week three win over UNE, thanks to quarterback Brandon Washington. The Bison did commit eight penalties in their three-point win over the Nor’easters, which is something they cannot do in future contests. Keep your eyes on Dean College this weekend as the Bulldogs will aim to provide first-year coach Andrae Murphy with his first win when they visit Castleton University.    


Willie Lombard and the Plymouth State football team visit Framingham State in an important week five contest. (PHOTO COURTESY: Kim Bownes/Plymouth State University Athletics)

Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC)

Current Leader: UMass Dartmouth (3-1, 2-0 MASCAC)

The surprise team: Western Connecticut (2-2, 1-1 MASCAC)

Thoughts on the MASCAC: Following their week one win over Husson, I was ready to anoint the Corsairs of UMass Dartmouth as the “team to beat.” One week later, they suffered a disappointing setback to Anna Maria, which provided an opportunity for Framingham State and Western Connecticut to catch up. In week three, UMass Dartmouth scored its first win against the Rams of Framingham since 2016, which was followed by a week four win against Worcester State. Tonight, they can truly solidify themselves as the front-runner with a win over the Wolves of Western Connecticut. The Wolves are looking to bounce back from their week four setback to Bridgewater State. Plymouth State is also a team MASCAC football fans should keep an eye on. They were idol last week after starting their 2022 campaign with three-straight wins. They visit Framingham State tomorrow. A win for the Rams over the Panthers could provide the Black and Gold with some much-needed momentum heading into upcoming contests with Fitchburg State and Western Connecticut. All in all, it’s hard to pick a clear favorite after four weeks.  


New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC)

Current Leaders: Middlebury College (2-0, 2-0 NESCAC) and Trinity College (2-0, 2-0 NESCAC)

The surprise team: Bowdoin College (1-1, 1-1 NESCAC)

Thoughts on the NESCAC: Entering the third week of the NESCAC season, Middlebury and Trinity appear to be the teams to watch – to be honest, I did not anticipate Middlebury being a front-runner after two weeks, but their recent win over Wesleyan University proves we cannot overlook this squad. The Panthers’ defense has allowed the fewest points amongst all NESCAC teams with 16 while Tufts University leads the conference with 58 points scored. Tufts, like Middlebury, is not a team to overlook as they rolled past Bates College last weekend and almost beat Trinity in their season-opener. Bowdoin has been a pleasant surprise – they scored a big opening day win against Hamilton College but suffered its first setback last weekend to Williams College. Bowdoin hosts Middlebury on Saturday – perhaps they bounce back against the Panthers? Through two weeks, Middlebury and Trinity are clearly the teams to beat — or watch? — but don’t overlook Tufts and Colby College. Maybe we shouldn’t rule out Williams?


New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC)

Current Leaders: Merchant Marine (2-1, 0-0 NEWMAC) and MIT (2-1, 0-0 NEWMAC)

The surprise team: Coast Guard Academy (2-2, 0-0 NEWMAC)

Thoughts on the NEWMAC: I’ll be honest, I didn’t think MIT or Merchant Marine would be leading the NEWMAC after four weeks. Yet, they are, which means we should be in for an interesting few weeks of conference play. MIT hosts Catholic University on Saturday – the Cardinals have yet to crack the win column since week one when they beat McDaniel College. Catholic beat MIT last year but fell to the Engineers two years earlier. Both contests were held in Washington, DC. Merchant Marine will attempt to win its third contest of the season against a WPI squad that enters NEWMAC play with two wins and two losses. Maybe we shouldn’t overlook the Engineers of Worcester? Coast Guard Academy appears to be a team to watch, thanks to halfback Spencer McMillion, who leads all D-III rushers with 653 rushing yards through four weeks. McMillion has rushed for 11 touchdowns — I expect his early-season success to continue against Norwich University on Saturday. Springfield College is idol this weekend after concluding its non-conference schedule with a big win over Husson. They won the NEWMAC last year and will certainly be well-rested for next week’s initial conference meeting with the Bears of Coast Guard.

New England D3 Football: 10 Games to Watch in Week Four

Dante Aviles-Santos has recorded 12 touchdown passes through three contests. (PHOTO COURTESY: Jared Marshall/UMass Dartmouth Athletics)

By NoontimeSports.com

Friday has officially arrived, which means one thing: we need to dish out our picks for New England NCAA Division III football games.

Last week, we didn’t do too bad as we selected seven games correctly to bump our season total to 19-11.

This week, let’s see if we can at least pick seven games correctly – maybe eight or nine?

In the meantime, have a wonderful weekend, everyone, and enjoy the games, along with the amazing fall weather (can I get a hot coffee please?)

Noontime’s D3 Football Games to Watch: Week Four

Norwich University at Endicott College (Saturday, Sept. 24 at 12 p.m.): Last week, the Gulls defense yielded its first touchdown of the season – so much for a third-straight shutout. Expect the Endicott defense to provide a few problems for a Cadets squad that has lost two-straight meetings with the Gulls, dating back to a late November contest in 2012. PREDICTION: Endicott over Norwich

Salisbury University at Western New England (Saturday, Sept. 24 at 12 p.m.): The Golden Bears will cap their non-league schedule against a challenging foe that is looking to keep pace with Rowan University and Montclair State in the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC). PREDICTION: Salisbury over Western New England

Coast Guard Academy at Anna Maria College (Saturday, Sept. 24 at 12 p.m.): The AMCATs are seeking some additional momentum heading into conference play next week. On Saturday, look for another big game from quarterback Alex Cohen. PREDICTION: Anna Maria over Coast Guard Academy

Husson University at Springfield College (Saturday, Sept. 24 at 12 p.m.): Springfield’s four-game homestand concludes with an important non-league clash with an Eagles squad that recently snapped its two-game losing streak. If Springfield is going to be victorious, they will need a big game from quarterback David Wells. PREDICTION: Springfield over Husson

Wesleyan University at Middlebury College (Saturday, Sept. 24 at 1 p.m.): Both teams won their respective season-opener last week, but can this year’s Panthers squad slow down a high-powered Cardinals offense that produced 41 points last week? PREDICTION: Wesleyan over Middlebury

Tufts University at Bates College (Saturday, Sept. 24 at 1:30 p.m.): The Jumbos’ comeback against Trinity College fell short last week – it was impressive, though. Expect another big game from wide receiver Phil Lutz. PREDICTION: Tufts over Bates

Framingham State at Westfield State (Saturday, Sept. 24 at 2 p.m.): This is a must-win for the Rams, which dropped their initial conference clash with UMass Dartmouth last week. PREDICTION: Framingham State over Westfield State

UMass Dartmouth at Worcester State (Saturday, Sept. 24 at 2:30 p.m.): Quarterback Dante Aviles-Santos has been the player to watch on the Corsairs this fall – he has recorded 12 touchdown passes through three games and will certainly continue his early-season success against the Lancers’ secondary. PREDICTION: UMass Dartmouth over Worcester State  

Nichols College at Hartwick College (Saturday, Sept. 24 at 2:30 p.m.): The Bison are off to a 3-0 start – last week, they needed everyone on their roster to score a hard-fought win over Coast Guard Academy. This week, Nichols’ early-season momentum should continue against the Hawks in New York. PREDICTION: Nichols over Hartwick  

Bridgewater State at Western Connecticut (Sept. 24 at 5 p.m.): This is a must-win for the Bears as they have yet to crack the win column this season. Halfback Adam Couch has been the player to watch thus far on Bridgewater State. Last week against Plymouth State, he rushed for a game-high 111 yards and one touchdown. He also caught four passes for 64 yards. Western Connecticut’s John Giller is the player to watch on the Wolves after throwing for a season-high 305 yards in week three. PREDICTION: Bridgewater State over Western Conn.

Noontime’s Five D3 Football Teams to Watch in Week Four

Matt Hersch and the Colby College football team will attempt to win its second-straight contest on Saturday against Trinity College. (PHOTO COURTESY: Colby Athletics and Peter Li)

By NoontimeSports.com

The fourth week of the New England NCAA Division III football season is quickly approaching, which means its time to highlight five squads to watch this week, including the Mules of Colby College, which scored its first opening day win in six years last weekend.

Colby College (1-0, 1-0 NESCAC): For the first time since 2016, the Mules scored an opening day win.

Colby topped Williams College last Saturday by a score of 24-14, which erased memories of last year’s meeting between the two squads that saw the Ephs beat the Mules, 42-0.  

Quarterback Matt Hersch highlighted his team’s win by completing 14 of 23 passes for two touchdowns while adding 46 yards on six carries and one score. Halfback Keon Smart led all rushers with 129 yards on 21 carries.

Colby’s defense intercepted quarterback Jack Dickinson twice while recording three sacks for a loss of 10 yards.

The Mules outgained the Ephs, 357-264, and will attempt to win their second-straight contest on Saturday against a Trinity College squad that was able to squeak past Tufts University last weekend.

Trinity has won its last five meetings with the Mules.

Dean College (0-3, 0-0 ECFC): Coach Andrae Murphy’s Bulldogs have produced the most points amongst all Eastern Collegiate Football Conference (ECFC) squads through three weeks.

Yet, despite producing 108 points in three contests, the Bulldogs have surrendered 137 points, including 77 points earlier this month in a crazy setback to Nichols College.

Dean is inching closer to its first win – perhaps it occurs this weekend when the Bulldogs visit MIT?  

Wide receiver Quintus Reid has been a player to watch this fall – he currently ranks third in the ECFC in receiving yards (266) and is tied for second in touchdown receptions (four) with Anna Maria College’s Justin McMillian.

Reid’s teammate, Mozes Mooney, leads all ECFC receivers with five touchdown receptions.

In addition to Reid and Mooney, fans of New England small college football should keep their eyes on quarterback Nathan Cisco, who previously competed for the University of Idaho. Cisco has tossed eight touchdowns this season.

Framingham State (1-2, 0-1 MASCAC): This is an important week for the Rams.

Coming off its first loss to UMass Dartmouth since 2016, the Rams will look to bounce back against Westfield State on Saturday.

A win against the Owls would even their overall record, but also provide the Black and Gold with some much-needed momentum heading into an important matchup in week five with Plymouth State. The Panthers are idle this weekend, but currently sit atop the Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) standings with a 3-0 record.

Halfback Devaun Ford will be one of many players to watch on Saturday – the Mashpee, Massachusetts native has rushed for a team-high 264 yards and two touchdowns this season. He led all rushers with 143 yards on 23 carries and one touchdown last week against UMass Dartmouth.

In addition to Ford, the Rams will need some key members of its defense to have a big game. Keep your eyes on Dylan DeWolfe, Gerell Boyce, and Cully Curran.

Nichols College (3-0, 0-0 CCC): In the words of coach Dale Olmsted, last Saturday’s win against Coast Guard Academy was a “team effort.”

The Bison scored their third-straight win, thanks to quarterback Xavier Powell, who concluded the non-league matchup with 318 yards of total offense and three touchdowns.  

Derrick Revolus recorded three interceptions to go with 10 total tackles, including seven solo stops. Joshua Sayer led the Nichols defense with 13 total tackles – he also recorded one pass breakup.

The squad’s effort from last week will certainly be needed this week as Nichols concludes its non-conference slate with a visit to Hartwick College on Saturday. Hartwick was idle last weekend after dropping its initial contest of the 2022 season earlier this month to King’s College.

Western Connecticut (2-1, 1-0 MASCAC): Quarterback John Giller has the Wolves heading in the right direction.

The sophomore signal-caller has tossed seven touchdowns in three contests while completing 47 of 93 passes for 716 yards.

Last week against Westfield State, Giller recorded a season-high 305 passing yards to go with three touchdowns. Eli Koukoulis caught two touchdowns – he is currently third on the team in receiving yards (117) but tied with Julian Ferguson for touchdown receptions (two).    

WestConn’s defense has received a boost from Jaeden Alexander, Nosa Uzamere, and Stephen Johnson – expect this trio, along with other members of the defensive unit to provide some challenges for Bridgewater State’s offense on Saturday.

Noontime’s New England D3 Football Top 10 Poll (Sept. 19, 2022)

Nick Helbig highlighted Wesleyan University’s defensive effort last Saturday against Bates College by recording seven total tackles, including three tackles for a loss of 18 yards and two forced fumbles. (PHOTO COURTESY: Steve McLaughlin)

By NoontimeSports.com

Welcome to the fourth week of New England NCAA Division III football season, which technically began yesterday – yes, we know we’re one day late (our apologies!).

Like last week, it’s time to share our latest Top 10 Poll, which saw some teams move up and down, as well as welcome a new member: Western New England.

Despite a 1-2 start to its current campaign, the Golden Bears have shown improvement since its opening day loss to Springfield College – this past weekend, Western New England dropped its second non-league tilt of the 2022 season to Utica College. But despite the loss, it seems like the Golden Bears are headed in the right direction.

Plymouth State moved up one spot following its initial conference win against Bridgewater State while Endicott College remained in the top spot after clinching its third-straight victory of the season against The College of New Jersey (TCNJ).

Noontime’s Top 10 Poll: Monday, September 19, 2022 (Week Four)

1. Endicott College (3-0, 0-0 CCC) (LW: No. 1): The last time an Endicott squad began its campaign with three-straight wins was in 2011 when the Gulls competed in the New England Football Conference (NEFC). Endicott clinched its third-straight win last Saturday by defeating TCNJ, 28-7. They will attempt to win their fourth-straight contest on Saturday against Norwich University.

2. Wesleyan University (1-0, 1-0 NESCAC) (LW: No. 4): Wesleyan jumped up two spots after scoring a big opening day win against Bates College. Quarterback David Estevez tossed three touchdowns in the win while Nick Helbig stuffed the stat sheet with seven total tackles, including three tackles for a loss of 18 yards and two forced fumbles.   

3. Trinity College (1-0, 1-0, NESCAC) (LW: No. 2): The Bantams scored an opening day win last Saturday but struggled to contain Tufts University in the second half. Tufts outscored the visitors, 20-0, during the final two sessions. This week, Trinity faces a Colby College squad that beat Williams College in its season-opener.

4. UMass Dartmouth (2-1, 1-0 MASCAC) (LW: No. 7): The Corsairs moved up three spots following an important conference win over Framingham State. With the win, UMass Dartmouth returns to the win column for the second time this season – this week, they visit Worcester State, a team they beat last year by a score of 52-7.  

5. Springfield College (1-2, 0-0 NEWMAC) (LW: No. 3): The Pride dropped their second-straight non-league tilt last Saturday to a Union College squad that had produced 40 points or more in its previous two contests. Springfield limited the Dutchmen to just three touchdowns while the Pride produced a pair of field goals. Husson University visits Springfield on Saturday.

6. Anna Maria College (2-0, 0-0 ECFC) (LW: No. 6): Following an exciting opening day victory last Saturday, the AMCATs scored its second-straight win on Saturday by defeating Massachusetts Maritime Academy, 23-14. Anna Maria will conclude its non-conference slate on Saturday when they welcome Coast Guard Academy to Paxton, Massachusetts.

7. Salve Regina University (2-1, 0-0 CCC) (LW: No. 5): The early-season success vanished last Saturday as the Seahawks fell to Montclair State, 31-14. Despite suffering its first loss of the season, Salve Regina finished its non-league tilt with a game-high 313 yards of total offense while its defense registered three sacks.

8. Western New England (1-2, 0-0 CCC) (LW: NR): For the second-straight week, the Golden Bears recorded more than 400 yards of total offense. Against Utica College, the Blue and Gold produced a season-high 425 yards of total offense on 79 plays. Additionally, they converted a game-high 10 of 21 third down conversions. Utica finished 3 of 12 on third down.

9. Plymouth State (3-0, 1-0 MASCAC) (LW: No. 10): The Panthers matched their start from 2019 by winning its third-straight contest of the 2022 season. Plymouth State topped Bridgewater State this past weekend, thanks to a pair of touchdown passes from Braden Lynn.  

10. University of New England (2-1, 0-0 CCC) (LW: No. 8): Coach Mike Lichten’s squad saw its early season momentum disappear last Saturday with a 34-31 setback to Gallaudet University. Despite losing by three points, the Nor’easters defense was able to stop the Bison on 10 of 11 third downs. UNE will be idle this weekend before starting conference play next Saturday, October 1 against Curry College.

On the rise: Colby College (1-0, 1-0 NESCAC), Husson University (1-2, 0-0 CCC), and Nichols College (3-0, 0-0 CCC).

Noontime’s NESCAC Football Preview: Can Williams Defend Its 2021 Crown?

Joel Nicholas and the Williams College football team begin their 2022 season on Saturday at Colby College. (PHOTO COURTESY: Kris Dufour)

By Matt Noonan

A brand-new season of New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) football returns this Saturday.

As expected, there are some enticing matchups this weekend, including Trinity College at Tufts University, Amherst College entertaining Middlebury College, and Bates College visiting Wesleyan University.

But perhaps the game most fans will be watching – or perhaps following – is Williams College at Colby College.

The Ephs completed their first-ever 9-0 campaign last fall – Williams defeated Trinity, Wesleyan, and Amherst during the final three weeks to clinch its first outright crown since 2010 (the Ephs concluded its 2010 campaign with an 8-0 record, along with some hardware).

Quarterback Bobby Maimaron and wide receiver Frank Stola have graduated so if Williams is going to defend its crown, the Ephs will need to lean on both its returners and newcomers this fall.

Halfback Joel Nicholas returns after leading the NESCAC in scoring last season – the Buffalo, New York native tallied 17 touchdowns in nine contests. In addition to Nicholas, Williams will lean on John Freeman (offensive line), Ian Devine (defensive line), and Rocco Giandomenico (defensive back).  

The biggest question for the Ephs is who will play quarterback?

That remains an unknown, but don’t be surprised if you see Jack Dickinson or Luke Bobo line up under center on Saturday.

“We’ll make our decision on who will start later this week,” coach Mark Raymond said in the Williams College football preview on Ephsports.com. “Both are smart, talented, athletic, and they are good leaders who have taken control of the offense.”

Looking to challenge Williams for the top spot in the standings are Trinity and Wesleyan, which finished second and third, respectively, last season.

The Bantams return some key pieces from its 8-1 squad, including quarterback Spencer Fetter, halfback Will Kirby, and wide receiver DeVante Reid. Additionally, Noah Glantz (defensive line), Brian Casagrande (linebacker), and Aidan Kennedy (defensive back) return to anchor a defense that yielded 13.77 points per game last season.

Trinity concluded its season with back-to-back wins over Amherst (49-7) and Wesleyan (14-7) but saw its six-game winning streak snapped last October against Williams (42-3).  

Wesleyan began its 2021 campaign with six-straight wins before losing its final three contests to Amherst, Williams, and Trinity.

But despite ending its previous season with three-straight losses, there is a sense of optimism surrounding coach Dan DiCenzo’s squad, which will be led this fall by Nick Helbig, who was named the NESCAC Defensive Player of the Year last November.

Helbig was the Co-Rookie of the Year in 2019 with Middlebury College’s Alex Maldjian and finished his junior season with 50 total tackles. He ranked second in the conference in tackles for a loss (11) and tied with Ian Devine in sacks (5.5).

As a unit, the Cardinals surrendered 168 points while the offense produced 197 points, thanks to David Estevez, a dual-threat quarterback that placed fourth in the conference in rushing yards (746). His longest burst was an 88-yard rush against Tufts last October.

Wesleyan shared the conference crown with Amherst and Middlebury in 2013 while finishing as the runner-up to the Panthers in 2019.

Trinity won three-straight titles from 2016 to 2018 and is seeking its 18th crown in program history.

Noontime’s Team to Watch in 2022: Colby College. Coach Jack Cosgrove’s squad has gradually improved over the last few seasons – last fall, the Mules produced its first four-win season since finishing 4-4 in 2013.

Brett Holmes, who represented the Blue and White on the NESCAC First-Team Defense last November, has graduated, which means Colby will need to lean on a few returners, including defensive back Nick Donatio, who led the unit in total tackles (69.0). Donatio also recorded a team-high 47 solo stops to go with six pass breakups.

Linebacker EJ Brister is back after recording 35 total tackles in nine contests, including seven tackles for a loss of 15 yards.

Quarterback Matt Hersch returns after throwing for 1,742 yards – expect him to target wide receiver Jack Sawyer, who led the Colby receiving core with 462 yards on 28 receptions.

Colby may have dropped three of its first four contests last season, but the Mules did score some impressive wins last fall over Amherst (10-7) and Middlebury (28-14). Additionally, they topped Bates and Bowdoin College to claim their third consecutive CBB crown (Colby-Bates-Bowdoin trophy).

Noontime’s Surprise Team in 2022: Middlebury College. The 2022 season will mark the final time coach Bob Ritter will pace the sidelines, so I expect this current group of Panthers to play some inspired football this fall.

Middlebury’s perfect season from 2019 seemed like a distant memory last fall as the Navy Blue and White won just three of nine contests.

For the Panthers to cap Ritter’s time on the sidelines with some hardware, they will need to score wins over Trinity, Wesleyan, and Williams, along with Amherst, Colby, and Tufts. Additionally, they will want to beat Bates, Bowdoin, and Hamilton College.

Linebacker Jack Pistorius has graduated, which means the Middlebury defense will need to lean on Tomas Kenary (defensive line), who was named Co-Rookie of the Year last fall with Andre Eden of Bowdoin, and wide receiver Donovan Wood, who earned a spot on the All-NESCAC Second Offense.

Cole Crider returns as the team’s punter – he represented Middlebury on the All-NESCAC First team Special Teams.

Noontime’s NESCAC Champion Prediction: Trinity College. As much as I would like to pick Williams to repeat, Trinity seems like the safe pick, as well as the early favorite by many that observe or cover the NESCAC. Sure, you could make the case for Wesleyan, but in the end, coach Jeff Devanney’s squad will score a few late-season wins over Bates, Bowdoin, and Wesleyan to secure the team’s first NESCAC crown in four years.