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.

D3 Football: Nichols Outlasts UNE, Framingham State Tops West Conn.

SATURDAY ROUNDUP

By NoontimeSports.com | @NoontimeSports 

For the second-straight season, Nichols College defeated the University of New England. But on Saturday, they needed not one, but four overtime sessions to outlast the Nor’easters in Biddeford, Maine.

Halfback Joshua Pierre-Charles helped the Bison keep their conference title hopes alive by rushing for a two-yard touchdown in the fourth extra session following a 21-yard field goal by UNE’s Kevin Heintz to clinch the three-point victory.

With the win, the Bison improve to 5-2 overall and 3-1 in Commonwealth Coast Football (CCC) league play.

Pierre-Charles concluded Saturday’s thriller with three touchdowns and a game-high 82 yards on 22 carries. He also caught three passes for 24 yards.

Nichols quarterback Michael Pina ended the game with 329 passing yards and three scores while adding 53 yards on nine carries.

UNE led Nichols, 21-14, at the break before both offenses swapped touchdowns and field goals over the final 30 minutes.

Quarterback Brian Peters completed 34 of 50 passes in the setback for 343 yards and four touchdowns – he also rushed for three yards on five carries.

Nichols’ Joe Cox led the defense with 11 total tackles, including six solo stops and one tackle for a loss of four yards. He also added one pass break-up, too.

The Bison face Husson University next weekend in another must-win game for Nichols, which needs to beat the Eagles, Curry College, and Endicott College to have a chance to secure the league title. Nicholas did lose earlier this month to Western New England but has scored conference wins over UNE, Becker College and Salve Regina.

Endicott, Salve Regina, and Western New England all scored conference wins this afternoon – the Gulls and Golden Bears are currently tied for the top spot in the conference and will meet next Saturday, November 2nd in Springfield, Massachusetts with the winner securing the inside track to the conference crown.

Adam Wojenski accounted for five touchdowns, including four through the air, which helped Framingham State defeat Western Connecticut, 39-14, and secure the top spot in the Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) with three weeks remaining.

Wojenski completed 15 of 25 passes for 176 yards while rushing for a game-high 84 yards on 16 carries and one touchdown.

The Framingham State defense ended the game with 10 tackles for a loss of 57 yards, including six sacks for a loss of 38 yards. Adeboye Oyaronbi tallied seven total tackles, including four solo stops and two sacks for a loss of 12 yards, while Cully Curran paced the unit with 10 total tackles, including eight solo stops.

Western Connecticut’s Will Daniels led all receivers with eight catches for 149 yards and one touchdown.

With today’s win over the Colonials, the Rams have won five-straight contests since starting the season with back-to-back losses. Framingham State visits Massachusetts Maritime Academy next Saturday – the Buccaneers lost to Plymouth State this afternoon by a score of 7-3.

While Western Connecticut sees its six-game winning streak conclude, they still have a chance to win the MASCAC crown, pending how the final three weeks play out. The Colonials have already beaten Bridgewater State and Massachusetts Maritime, two teams the Rams will face the next two weeks.

Westfield State scored its first win of the season with a 26-7 victory against Fitchburg State. Leesandro Colon rushed for a pair of touchdowns while finishing the game with 132 yards on 20 carries.

Westfield’s Joseph Mazzotta led the Owls defense with 14 total tackles, while George Cole added 12 total stops.

Terrell Watts accounted for five touchdowns – three through the air, two on the ground – while Saquan Kelly rushed for a game-high 80 yards on 15 carries and one touchdown as Dean College defeated Gallaudet University, 56-35, to secure the top spot in the Eastern Collegiate Football Conference (ECFC).

With the win, the Bulldogs improve to 3-4 overall and 3-0 in conference play with just two games remaining. Dean needs to beat Alfred State and Castleton University the next two weeks in order to secure the program’s first-ever ECFC title.


Quick Hitters 

  • The Commonwealth Coast Football (CCC) title race is down to just three teams: Endicott, Nichols, and Western New England. The Golden Bears currently have the edge with a win over the Bison earlier this month, but the Gulls can secure their first-ever CCC title with a victory next Saturday against the Golden Bears, along with a win over the Bison two weeks later. Endicott will also need to beat UNE, too – both Nichols and WNE have beaten the Nor’easters this season.
  • With today’s win over Western Connecticut, Framingham State controls its own destiny with three weeks remaining. They need to beat Bridgewater State and Massachusetts Maritime Academy, along with Worcester State in week 11. The Rams defense (and its offense, too) seem to be peaking at the right time, but their next two matchups against the Bears and Buccaneers are no gimmes.

  • Middlebury College remains the frontrunner in the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC), but cannot overlook its next two foes, Hamilton College and Tufts University. Hamilton beat Tufts this afternoon in Somerville, Massachusetts – they also scored an exciting win last week against Amherst College, which lost to Wesleyan University in double-overtime earlier today. If the Panthers can get past the Continentals next Saturday, then they should be able to find a way to beat the Jumbos in their season finale.
  • Both Wesleyan and Williams College are both in a position to still win the NESCAC, thanks to wins earlier this fall against Hamilton and Tufts. The Ephs and Cardinals will meet next week in Middletown, Connecticut with second place on the line.
  • WPI appears destined to win the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC). The Engineers defeated Merchant Marine, 66-13, to secure their seventh win of the season. WPI will face MIT next weekend in a game the Engineers of Cambridge need to win in order to keep their title hopes alive.

Saturday’s Scoreboard 

  • Endicott College 41, Husson University 16
  • Nichols College 51, University of New England 48 (4OT)
  • Western New England 49, Curry College 27
  • Salve Regina 45, Becker College 0
  • Alfred State 21, Castleton University 15
  • Dean College 56, Gallaudet University 35
  • SUNY-Maritime 13, Anna Maria College 10 (OT)
  • Framingham State 39, Western Connecticut 14
  • Plymouth State 7, Mass. Maritime Academy 3
  • Westfield State 26, Fitchburg State 7
  • UMass Dartmouth 46, Worcester State  8
  • Colby College 23, Bates College 20
  • Hamilton College 36, Tufts University 21
  • Williams College 29, Trinity College 15
  • Wesleyan University 31, Amherst College (2OT)
  • Middlebury College 47, Bowdoin College 29
  • Norwich University 51, Maine Maritime Academy 10
  • MIT 22, Coast Guard Academy 16
  • WPI 66, Merchant Marine 13
  • Springfield College 49, Catholic University 21