Mass. College Football: Week 11 Teams Of The Week


With the second to last week of the regular season in the books, it is now time to unveil this week’s Noontime Sports Teams of the Week.

Division 1 – Boston College: The Eagles matched their longest winning streak of the season (two games) with a 48-34 win over New Mexico State. The Eagles outscored the Aggies, 28-17 in the second half to earn their fifth win.

Andre Williams, who is currently the leading rusher in the ACC and No. 2 in the FBS (Football Bowl Subdivision), rushed for 295 yards on 30 carries and two scores, while quarterback Chase Rettig tossed three touchdowns.

The Eagles finished with 550 yards of total offense, along with 18 first downs. They converted on 5-of-13 third downs and were 1-for-1 on fourth down.

BC will return to conference play next weekend when they host North Carolina State, which will be their final home game of the 2013 season.

Division 2 – Stonehill College: For the first time since 1996, the Skyhawks won their fifth straight game by defeating Merrimack College, 26-14.

Brian Harrington led Stonehill’s defense with 16 tackles, as well as established a new single-season record with 134 stops.

Colin Markus rushed for 185 yards on 31 carries and Nate Robitaille caught seven passes for 113 yards and two touchdowns.

Stonehill raced out to a 13-0 lead thanks to two Steve Grzywacz field goals and a touchdown pass from Joe Della Vecchia to Robitaille. Merrimack did comeback in the third, but the Skyhawks padded their lead with a 90-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by Paul Piccirillo.

The Skyhawk, who earned a share of the Northeast-10 Conference regular season crown, will travel to Springfield on Saturday to face AIC in the title game. A win for the Skyhawks would most likely secure them a spot in the NCAA Division 2 tournament.

Division 3 – WPI: The Engineers snapped a four-game losing streaking on “Senior Day” with a 31-21 victory over Rochester.

Halfback Zach Grasis rushed for 155 yards on 22 carries and two scores, while quarterback John Antonopoulos amassed 179 yards of total offense. He also tossed one touchdown in the opening quarter to Gallagher Hogan, which evened the score at 7-7.

Defensively, Sean Murphy led the unit with two interceptions, along with five solo stops, one fumble recover and two pass break-ups. Brian Murtagh finished with a team-high nine total tackles and two pass break-ups.

The Engineers, who improved to 3-6 overall, will conclude their season on Saturday when they travel to Springfield to face the Pride.

Mass. College Football: Five Games To Watch This Week


We’re closing in on the halfway mark of another season of college football. The seventh week, which kicks-off tomorrow, will feature some intriguing, but important conference matchups, so we’ve decided to look ahead to this weekend’s slate in our first installment of the current 2013-14 season with our “Five Games to Watch.”

We started “Five Games to Watch” this past winter during basketball and hockey season to profile a variety of local Division 1, 2, and 3 games. We won’t make predictions, but will provide a quick synopsis of each matchup.

Quick Note: Going forward, we will be continuing our “Five Games to Watch” series during basketball, hockey and lacrosse season. These posts will appear closer to the weekend, though.

So, without further ado, here are five games to watch this weekend.

Harvard at Cornell, 12:30 p.m. (Saturday, Oct. 12): Coming off an exciting triple-overtime win last week against Holy Cross, the Crimson will turn their attention to their second Ivy League foe of the season.

The Big Red, who’re 1-2 overall, are led by quarterback Jeff Matthews, who is the Ancient Eight’s all-time leading passer with 9,303 yards. Matthews and the Big Red struggled last season at Harvard Stadium as the Crimson capped the meeting with a 21-0 run to secure a 45-13 victory.

Paul Stanton Jr. leads Harvard’s ground attack with 258 yards and five rushing touchdowns. He’s averaging 86 yards per game, as well as one touchdown per game, too.

Defensively, keep an eye on Eric Medes, Norman Hayes and Zach Hodges, three players that will want to pressure Matthews.

Harvard has won the last seven meetings and leads the all-time series, 40-32-2.

Stonehill at Southern Conn., 1 p.m. (Saturday, Oct. 12): The Skyhawks suffered their first Northeast-10 Conference setback last weekend against AIC, which held Stonehill to 189 yards of total offense.

This week, Stonehill will look to rebound against Southern Conn., a squad that has won three straight. The Owls have posted at least 40 points or more in all three of their victories.

Anthony Masucci, Tim Bennett and Brian Harrington each registered 10 total tackles against AIC, as well as combined for one tackle for a loss and a forced fumble. Harrington continues to leads the defense with 66 total tackles (31 solo), while Mark Trudeau leads all players with 2.5 sacks.

Stonehill will certainly rely on its defense to stop the Owls, but also look for their offense to bounce back. Quarterback Logan Meyer has tossed 14 touchdowns this season, four of them to Nate Robitaille, who has recorded 100 receiving yards in four-straight contests.

Framingham State at Westfield State, 1 p.m. (Saturday, Oct. 12): Tom Kelley’s squad will play its fifth road contest of the season on Saturday when they travel to Westfield State to face the Owls, who’re on a three-game winning streak.

The Rams are coming off a 21-14 win against UMass Dartmouth last week, which feature three rushing touchdowns from Melikke Van Alstyne. Defensively, Chevere Archer recorded 10 solo tackles, five of them for a loss of 20 yards, as well as one sack, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.

Westfield recently defeated Plymouth State, 31-0, thanks to another impressive defensive performance, which included seven tackles for a loss of 30 yards; four pass break-ups, three tackles for a loss and two interceptions. Tim Rich completed 11-of-13 passes for 245 yards and one touchdown, while Michael Mercadante rushed for 79 yards on 16 carries for two scores.

Keep an eye on the Westfield defense, which has yielded just seven points in three conference meetings.

Coast Guard at Curry College, 1 p.m. (Saturday, Oct. 12):  The Colonels snapped their three-game skid last weekend with a victory against MIT. This weekend, they’ll turn their attention to an impressive Coast Guard unit, which defeated Western New England last weekend, 41-38. The Bears have won two New England Football Conference contests and currently remain tied for first with Endicott College and Salve Regina.

As always, expect Curry to rely on Kevin Fruwirth’s arm, which produced two touchdowns last week, as well as running backs Phil Bigelow and Trae Weathers, two players that combined for 171 yards on the ground and two rushing touchdowns.

The last time these two squads met, Curry defeated Coast Guard in 2011, 44-21. Bigelow led all rushers with 158 yards on 21 carries for two rushing touchdowns.

WPI at Union, 1:30 p.m. (Saturday, Oct. 12): Coming off a tough loss to Hobart, Chris Robertson’s squad will look to rebound against their third Liberty League foe this season.

Against Union a year ago, Chris Turner brought WPI within one point following a 17-yard touchdown run in the second quarter before the Dutchmen answered with a pair of touchdowns.

Expect the Engineers to rely on their ground game. Zach Grasis finished last week’s contest with 93 yards on 23 carries. Also, look for quarterbacks John Antonopoulos and Jacob Grills to air it out to either Larry McGillicuddy or Ehab Hamdan.

Defensively, the Engineers finished their contest against Hobart with three pass break-ups and two tackles for a loss. Sean Murphy, Brian Murtagh, Robert Harasimo and Jack Downey each recorded six total tackles in the loss.

Mass. College Football: RPI-WPI Battle For Transit Trophy Tomorrow

By Matt Noonan 

As mentioned on, RPI and WPI will meet in Worcester tomorrow afternoon for the Transit Trophy, a tradition that was decided by the athletic directors of both schools after the 1979 contest.

RPI has won a majority of these meetings, while WPI’s most recent victories came in 2010 and 2011.

Once the “rivalry game” began, both teams alternated wins before the Engineers of RPI captured a majority of the contests in the 1980’s and 1990’s.

RPI won last season’s meeting, 39-17, thanks two touchdown passes from Mike Hermann, one of them going to Steven Burpoe, who finished the contest with nine catches for 100 yards. Both players have graduated, so WPI’s defense will be faced with a new challenge of defending quarterbacks Jeff Avery and Jessie Maynard, two signal callers that have combined for four touchdowns (three passing, one rushing).

The Engineers of RPI enter the contest on a three-game winning streak, while WPI will attempt to snap their two-game skid. WPI commenced their season with a win against Curry College under the lights before suffering a heartbreaking defeat a week later to Worcester State. Last weekend, the Engineers fell to Norwich University, a team RPI defeated in their season opener.

WPI’s Zach Grasis will be one of many players to watch tomorrow. The junior halfback leads the team with 378 yards on 74 carries and five touchdowns, while quarterbacks John Antonopoulos and Jacob Grills have combined for five touchdown passes, all of them to Ehab Hamdan.

Defensively, keep an eye on WPI’s Eric Lacroix, who has recorded 25 total tackles (23 solo), one interception and a forced fumble. Also, make sure to pay attention to RPI’s defense, which recorded six sacks last weekend against Castleton State.

All in all, it should be an exciting contest. Tomorrow is also WPI’s Homecoming, so expect a great crowd, too.

Quick Note: We will have a blog post on this game tomorrow afternoon, but for updates make sure to follow @NoontimeSports and @NoonSportsBlog, as well as @WPIAthletics and @WPIFootball.

Mass. College Football: WSU Tops WPI, 15-14


Courtesy of the Worcester State sports information department, here’s Friday’s release about the Lancers football team defeating crosstown rival WPI, 15-14:

Worcester, MA — Worcester State junior Jack Sprague (Maynard, MA) hauled in a 22-yard touchdown pass on fourth-down from classmate Pat Viencek (Bernardston, MA) with 37 seconds left in regulation to help lead the Lancers to a 15-14 victory over crosstown rival WPI in non-conference football action this evening at Coughlin Field.

The Blue and Gold (2-0) have now won three in a row over the Engineers (1-1) who hold the all-time series edge at 14-7. All three wins for WSU have come with under six minutes to play in the fourth quarter.

Following an interception by freshman Carrick Driscoll (E. Longmeadow, MA) that helped set Worcester State up on their own 20 with 2:37 remaining in the game, Viencek made several clutch passes to help the Lancers overcome the late deficit.

Facing third and 15 on their own 37, junior Casey Hippert (Douglas, MA) snatched a 21-yard completion as he sprinted into enemy territory on the WPI 42.

After a key pass interference call put WSU on the Engineer 34, Sprague kept the chains moving with a 14-yard catch to get into the red zone.

With under one minute to play, WPI freshman Kevin Lynch (E. Bridgewater, MA) diagnosed a screen pass that went for a tackle for a loss on first down and then junior Vincent Samuel (Merrick, NY) swatted a pass at the line of scrimmage on third and 12.

That set the stage for Viencek’s heroics as he completed the fourth down play to Sprague for what proved to be the game-winning score.

Worcester State claimed the early 3-0 lead on a 33-yard field goal by senior Alex Blakeslee (Shrewsbury, MA) on their first possession with 11:26 remaining in the opening quarter.

On the Engineers second series of the contest, junior Zach Grasis (E. Brookfield, MA) coughed up the ball on their own nine to put the Lancers in great field position.

After the visitors nearly stonewalled the hosts at the goal line, the Blue and Gold drew up a fake field goal play to extend the lead to 9-0 on an eight-yard scoring strike from Driscoll to junior Zack Skerry (Milford, MA) with 3:59 in the first quarter.

WPI immediately responded with a 41-yard flick by senior John Antonopoulos (Cambridge, MA) to classmate Ehab Hamdan (Revere, MA) with 1:45 on the clock. Hamdan snuck behind the secondary on a curl route and he streaked into the end zone for the score.

Both defenses locked heads for a scoreless second as Worcester State maintained their 9-6 margin at the intermission.

Early in the third, the Engineers took the 12-9 edge on a four-yard plunge by Grasis with 11:42 on the clock. WPI took advantage of a muffed punt return that was recovered on the WSU eight yard-line.

With 1:53 remaining in the stanza, Lynch darted through the line and blocked a Lancer punt at the 15 that rolled through the back of the end zone for a safety to make it a 14-9 contest.

In the fourth quarter, the hosts were stopped twice on fourth down by the Engineer defense and on their last series, the Boynton Hillers took over on their own 32 with 8:30 left in the game.

WPI drove into Lancer territory, but were halted on fourth down by Driscoll’s clutch interception in the end zone.

Viencek amassed 260 yards passing on the day for the Lancers in relief of injured junior Kevin Bumpus (Bridgewater, MA), completing 18-of-37 of his pass attempts.  Bumpus, the reigning Division II/III Gold Helmet award winner, was 10-for-21 for 103 yards before exiting midway through the second quarter.

Hippert led all players with 183 receiving yards on eight catches while senior AJ Scerra (Marlboro, MA) hauled in a game-best 11 passes for 76 yards. Junior Dana Valentine (Roxbury, MA) added 54 yards on the ground to go with four receptions for 40 yards.

Senior Adam Straughn (Rockland, MA) paced all players with 12 tackles (10 solo) while classmate Nick Doria (Watertown, MA) chipped in with seven solo stops. Skerry added to his strong day up front for WSU with six tackles, including a pair of sacks.

Lynch led the defensive effort for WPI as he registered a team-best 10 tackles (eight solo) to go along with a pair of pass breakups and the blocked punt. Junior Robert Harasimowicz (Gardner, MA) added eight stops while Samuel was credited with a sack and half.

Grasis totaled 77 yards on 28 carries and the touchdown. Antonopoulos finished 15-for-27 for 152 yards and one score. Hamdan paced the receiving corps with six catches for 84 yards and a touchdown while senior Jake Konowitch (Northampton, MA) and junior Larry McGillicuddy (Stow, MA) both hauled in a pair of pass receptions.

Worcester State nearly enjoyed a 2-1 edge in totals yards (415-210) and doubled up the Engineers on first downs (24-12).  WPI turned the ball over four times while the Lancers had only one possession-changing miscue. The Crimson and Gray did have a 32:38-27:22 bulge in time on the field.

Worcester State opens up MASCAC play next Friday night traveling to NCAA Division III Bridgewater State at 7 PM. WPI wraps up its non-conference slate by entertaining Norwich next Saturday at 1 o’clock.

Mass. College Football: Friday Night Roundup


The second week of the college football season commenced this evening and below are the scores and highlights.

WPI 48, Curry College 28Zach Grasis rushed for 195 yards on 31 carries for four touchdowns, while quarterback John Antonopoulos completed 11-of-19 passes for 143 yards and tossed two touchdowns, both to wide receiver Ehab Hamdan (three catches for 46 yards) as the Engineers defeated the Colonels in their home openers. Curry quarterback Kevin Fruwirth finished 22-of-49 for 294 yards with four touchdown passes and two interceptions.

Becker 35, Fitchburg State 33: Robert Baker‘s (12-of-27 for 206 yards) fourth touchdown pass to Matthew Romasco with eight seconds remaining in the fourth quarter lifted the Hawks past the Falcons in Fitchburg.

Mount Ida 21, UMass Dartmouth 20: Jawad Yatim completed 10-of-21 passes for 135 yards and rushed for two touchdowns on 19 carries for 47 yards as the Mustangs defeated the Corsairs in Dartmouth.

Nichols College 28, Westfield State 27 (OT)The Bison overcame a 21-7 deficit by forcing an extra session and defending a two-point conversion to earn an opening day win against the Owls.

Merrimack College 42, Wagner 41: Joe Clancy completed 35-of-50 passes for 309 yards with four touchdown passes, while Jimmy Holland and Justin Hood combined for 20 tackles as the Warriors edged the Seahawks in Staten Island, New York.

Boston College 24, Wake Forrest 10: Chase Rettig completed 7-of-14 passes for 123 yards and tossed two touchdowns as the Eagles soared to their second victory of the season.

WPI’s McClune Reflects On First Golden Helmet Award

By Matt Noonan 

CAMBRIDGE, MA – On Wednesday afternoon, WPI’s Mitch McClune was awarded this week’s Golden Helmet Award at the weekly New England Football Writers’ Gridiron Club of Greater Boston luncheon.

McClune, who had never won this prestigious award, was speechless when introduced to coaches and media members at Harvard University.

However, once the weekly gathering adjourned, the graduate student had no problem piecing together sentences about the award, as well as the season, too.

“This is all new to me,” admitted the Pembroke native.

Against St. Lawrence University last Saturday, McClune tallied four interceptions (a school record) against the Saints in his team’s first Liberty League victory.

“Things kind of worked out,” McClune stated. “They kept throwing the ball my way.

“It was pretty much the first time all year I’ve been challenged at corner and had the ball actually thrown at me, so that was kind of good to see it, but bad for them because the [opposing quarterback] kept throwing it at me.”

McClune recorded his first interception late in the second quarter, which resulted in touchdown three plays later.

Once the second half commenced, McClune became Saints quarterback Danny Metzgar’s favorite target, as the Natick native sailed three of his passes in the graduate student’s direction.

“We were pretty much sitting in Cover 2 [defense] a lot,” McClune said of his team’s defensive formation.

“The last play of the game was kind of just a fluke thing. [Metzger] just threw it up, I got lucky, but I’ll take it either way.”

Prior to his career day, McClune admitted the last time he came close to four picks was during a youth football game where he accumulated two interceptions. At Boston College High School, he admitted it was roughly one pick per game.

“It didn’t really set in until after the game that I had four,” explained McClune.

“[My teammates] were talking to me and I said if he throws it again, I’m going to pick it off, and I really wasn’t thinking about how many I had, but he threw it up on the last play and I figured I’d come down with it.”

Excluding the four interceptions and junior John Antonopoulos’s four touchdowns (three through the air, one on the ground) the victory provided an end to the Engineers’ six-game losing streak, as well as marked their first win in the conference, too.

WPI has two games remaining, and while they won’t be making the trek to a conference championship or tournament, McClune hopes their second win of the season will translate into successful outcomes against Rochester and Springfield College.

“We’ve been in a lot of tough close games this year where one or two plays go a different way we’d come out on top,” said McClune.

“[Being] able to get that win and put a great game together all around on offense and defense feels good, so hopefully we can carry that over to the last two weeks and get on kind of a roll to finish it out. It would be great.”

McClune is the second player this season from the Liberty League to earn this honor. Earlier this year, Springfield College’s Jonathan Marrero was named the Div. II/III recipient after registering seven touchdowns in two quarters.