Player Perspective: Michael Pina (Nichols College)

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Michael Pina threw for a career-best 329 yards this past weekend, along with three touchdowns, which helped Nichols College outlast the University of New England in four-overtimes. (PHOTO COURTESY: Jill Souza)

By NoontimeSports.com | @NoontimeSports 

For quarterback Michael Pina, last Saturday’s four-overtime win against the University of New England had the feel of a dramatic movie – it seemed as if it would never end.

“It was wild to be a part of a game like that,” said Pina. “It felt like we were in a movie.”

But eventually, the game would conclude with Pina’s team scoring the game-winning touchdown – a two-yard plunge by junior halfback Joshua Pierre-Charles – which helped Nichols College escape with a 51-48 victory.

Pina concluded the game by throwing for a career-best 329 yards, while also rushing for a season-high 53 yards on nine carries. He tossed three touchdowns, too, which helped the Bison move to 5-2 for the first time since 2001.

For his effort against UNE, Pina was named this week’s recipient of the New England Football Writers Association Gold Helmet Award for Division II/III, which is presented by the Jack Grinold Eastern Massachusetts Chapter of the National Football Foundation. Pina, as noted in Monday’s release about the Gold Helmet award, is currently second all-time in program history in touchdown passes (30) and fourth in passing yards (3,442).

Following Saturday’s exciting win, Noontime Sports caught-up with Pina to discuss what it was like to be a part of a four-overtime contest and what his team’s outlook is for this upcoming week’s contest against Husson University.

Tell me about this past week’s effort from your offense and defense. What was the takeaway from both you and your teammates following an exciting four-overtime win against UNE? 

This past week’s game was the most exciting game most of us have ever played in. We fought through a lot of adversity on both sides of the ball to come out with the win.

No matter what I can always count on the guy to my left and right to give it (their best) effort. Our offensive line was huge in the run game and that all starts with the great leadership from senior captain Sam Gallant. We were able to rush the ball for four touchdowns.

You threw for a career-high 329 yards in the win. Did you imagine you would throw the ball that much against the Nor’easters? 

I wouldn’t say that I imagined (I was going to throw that much against UNE), however, I am always ready to do whatever our coaches ask of me. Whether it is throwing the ball, running the ball or even blocking a defender, (I’ll do what is needed to help our team win).

Your team is still in contention for the Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) title, so what is the mindset heading into another game week this week?  

The mindset heading into another game is to go 1-0 this week. That has been our goal every week this season. Whatever week it is, we must give full attention to that opponent.

Do you think the offense and defense are peaking at the right time? 

Yes, I do believe the offense and defense are peaking at the right time. I also believe our special teams are peaking at the right time, too.

I feel as if all three units can attack the opponent in multiple ways, which makes us dangerous (heading into the final three weeks of the regular season).

Finally – and I know it is only Wednesday – but what must you (and your teammates) do to be successful again this Saturday against Husson?

We have to have the best week of practice we’ve had all year long. Husson University is a team that won multiple championships in the Eastern Collegiate Football Conference (ECFC). They will be extremely well-coached and will want to come to our home field and beat us.

Player Perspective: Stephen Gacioch (UMass Dartmouth)

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Stephen Gacioch recorded three touchdowns in his team’s 21-14 win over Plymouth State University to bump UMass Dartmouth’s record to 4-0. (PHOTO COURTESY: UMass Dartmouth Athletics)

By NoontimeSports.com | @NoontimeSports 

Stephen Gacioch has enjoyed a successful start to his junior season with the UMass Dartmouth football team.

Through four contests, the Tiverton, Rhode Island native has completed 91 of 143 passes for 1,344 yards and 15 touchdowns, while adding 185 yards on 63 rushing attempts and one score.

Earlier this week, Gacioch was tabbed our Offensive Player of the Week – he was also awarded his second Division II/III Gold Helmet Award of the season from the New England Football Writers Association after leading the Corsairs to a 21-14 win last weekend against Plymouth State.

Gacicoch is currently second in Division III in passing yards and is tied for third in touchdown passes with Blaine Hawkins of Central College.

Noontime Sports recently spoke with Gacioch about his team’s impressive start, as well as what he and the team must do this week when they visit Framingham State on Saturday, October 5th.

Your team is off to a 4-0 start. Did you imagine your team would enjoy this much success when you all convened prior to your first game against Alfred State?

Prior to (facing) Alfred State (in week one), we had a feeling that things were different this year. There was a focus and intensity that was buzzing throughout camp, and every day we were making each other better. We knew if we played each game with high intensity, make no mental mistakes, and stayed disciplined that we had the talent to start the way we have (thus far).

From your perspective, what has made this offense click?

We’re a close-knit group. We have a lot of returners at the receiver position and we have four unselfish running backs that rotate and maintain fresh legs throughout the game.

Our offensive line has done a great job of being versatile and overcoming many different situations we’ve been in this year. We like to spread the ball around and give everyone their opportunities to make a play and we thrive off that as a group.

How has the defense, which has allowed just 18.0 points per game, helped the offense during practice?

Our defense does a great job. Playing against them in camp every day was the hardest challenge we’ve faced – the offense became much better because of (facing this unit every day).

Our scout guys right now are doing an amazing job giving us different looks at practice to prepare us every week for a new opponent.

How has your relationship with DJ Machado and Leroy Brown improved from last season to this season?

This year they both came to camp ready to play. They have instilled so much trust in me that there are times when I know pre-snap who the ball should go to based on matchups or defensive alignments.

DJ and Leroy have done an awesome job at winning their routes and I trust them to make the plays.

This week, your team faces Framingham State in an important conference contest. What must the offense do to be successful against the Rams defense?

As an offense, we must win the 12% rule, which is to now allow sacks, drops,  turnovers or foolish penalties. And if we can execute the game plan then we’ll be successful.

Lastly, what do you enjoy most about playing on the road? Do you get a different adrenaline boost being away from your home stadium?

I personally like the feeling of having something to prove. Whenever we’re on the road there are people who doubt us and it gives a little extra adrenaline every-time we’re on the field.

WPI’s McAllen Earns Golden Helmet Award

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Sean McAllen became the second D3 football player to earn the D2/D3 Gold Helmet Award this season. (PHOTO CREDIT: Frank Poulin)

By NoontimeSports.com | @NoontimeSports

After rushing for a season-high 160 yards and three touchdowns last weekend, WPI junior halfback Sean McAllen was named this week’s recipient for the New England Division II/III Gold Helmet Award.

The weekly award for both Division I and Division II/III is presented by the Jack Grinold/Eastern Massachusetts Chapter of the National Football Foundation.

McAllen accounted for four touchdowns last week during his team’s 45-0 win over Becker College, including a 22-yard touchdown reception midway through the second quarter, which helped the Engineers secure a 38-0 lead at the break. His effort against the Hawks earned him recognition by the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) as the Offensive Player of the Week.

The third year tailback has rushed for 250 yards and seven touchdowns this season through three contests, while averaging 83.3 yards per game.

McAllen and the Engineers open NEWMAC play on Saturday when they host Springfield College at 12 p.m.

Fram. State’s Harris Earns NEFW/Grinold Chapter DII/DIII Gold Helmet Award

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Framingham State senior Jaquan Harris (right) earned this week’s NEFW/Grinold Chapter Gold Helmet Award. (PHOTO CREDIT: Framingham State Univ. Athletics)

By Matt Noonan (@MattNoonan11) 

After recording a NCAA Division III record five interceptions last Friday evening in his team’s 32-16 win over Fitchburg State, Framingham State senior Jaquan Harris earned this week’s New England Football Writers’ Grinold Chapter DII/DIII Gold Helmet Award.

The Gold Helmet is an additional award this week for Harris, who earned a trio of honors already, including a spot on the D3Football.com Team of the Week. Additionally, he was named the Defensive Player of the Week by both the Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) and Noontime Sports.

Harris’ five interceptions established a new single-game record at Framingham State – he now has recorded eight interceptions this fall, which ties the program mark for picks in a season.

Harris and the Rams head to Plymouth State this weekend for a marquee MASCAC clash. Kick-off is scheduled for 1 p.m.

Dartmouth College’s Jack Heneghan earned this week’s Division I (FBS/FCS) Gold Helmet following his team’s exciting 28-27 win over Yale University.

Mass. Maritime’s Phillips Earns NEFW Division II/III Gold Helmet Award

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Massachusetts Maritime Academy tailback Richie Phillips earned this week’s NEFW Division II-III Gold Helmet Award. (PHOTO CREDIT: Mass. Maritime Academy Athletics)

By NoontimeSports.com (@NoontimeSports)

Following an impressive showing against Maine Maritime Academy last weekend, Massachusetts Maritime Academy senior tailback Richie Phillips earned this week’s Division II-III Gold Helmet, which was presented by the New England Football Writers and Jack Grinold Eastern Massachusetts Chapter of the National Football Foundation.

Phillips, who received the prestigious award this afternoon at the weekly New England Football Writers Luncheon at Harvard University, recorded a career-high 146 yards on  on 25 carries, while registering a pair of scores, including a 31-yard touchdown reception at the end of the first half.

Prior to earning today’s prestigious award,  Phillips earned a spot on this week’s Noontime Sports Honor Roll, which was posted on Tuesday, September 19th.

The Buccaneers’ 34-25 win helped the squad secure the Admiral’s Cup for the first time since 2014. And according to today’s release, Massachusetts Maritime has now won five of the last seven meetings against Main Maritime, dating back to the 2011 season.

Through two games this season, Phillips has rushed for 196 yards on 48 carries and three touchdowns, while recording two catches for 45 yards. His catch this past weekend – the 31-yard touchdown reception – is the longest reception he has recorded this season.

Prior to earning today’s Division II-III Gold Helmet Award, Phillips’ teammate George Lampros was named this week’s Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) Football Special Teams Player of the Week. Lampros concluded last week’s contest with a pair of field goals (34 and 39 yards out) – both kicks were his first, as noted in Sunday’s release – while converting four extra points.

Massachusetts Maritime Academy will begin conference play this Saturday, September 23rd when they visit Framingham State for the annual Kelley Cup. Kickoff is scheduled for 12 p.m.