James Cahoon‘s lone touchdown pass on Friday evening against Western Connecticut proved to be the difference in an important conference matchup for Bridgewater State.
The Bears, who rallied to beat the Western Connecticut by a score of 21-17, improve to 2-2 overall and 2-0 in the Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) — the victory should provide the Red and White with some momentum heading into next week’s meeting with Fitchburg State after starting its 2021 campaign with back-to-back losses to Ithaca College and the University of New England.
Cahoon finished Friday’s contest 19 of 32 for 214 yard and one touchdown while halfback Adam Couch rushed for a game-high 165 yards and two scores.
Steven Silvia and Kodi Saotome combined for 24 total tackles on defense while the entire unit finished the game with four tackles for a loss of four yards, two forced fumbles, two pass break-ups, two interceptions, and one fumble recovery.
Western Connecticut entered its second conference tilt averaging 31.3 points per game — last week, the Colonials produced a season-high 42 points against Westfield State.
Heading into the second month of play, the Bears will certainly be a team to watch — sure, they might be the favorites in a few upcoming matchups against the Falcons, Worcester State, and Westfield State, but you never know if one or all three of these teams could score an upset victory.
As of now — midday, to be exact — the Bears are the only MASCAC squad with two conferece wins, but they could end the day in a three-way tie for the top spot in the conference, pending outcomes from Worcester State-UMass Dartmouth and Framingham State-Westfield State.
Both Framingham State and Worcester State boast identical 1-0 conference records.
There is still a lot of football left to be played, but last night’s outcome should certainly provide Bridgewater State with a great deal of momentum heading into the second month of play, but don’t overlook Western Connecticut, which faces an important test next week at home against UMass Dartmouth.
Our preseason New England college football coverage rolls on with some early thoughts on the Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC), which certainly has the making of a multi-team race for the top spot.
2019 Conference Refresh: For the sixth time in seven seasons, Framingham State secured the top spot with an 8-2 overall record, including an 8-0 league record. The Rams advanced to the opening round of the NCAA Division III Tournament but saw their championship hopes dashed to Wesley College by a score of 58-21.
Western Connecticut also finished its 2019 campaign with an identical 8-2 record — the Colonials, who finished tied for second in the conference with Bridgewater State with a 6-2 record, ended their season against WPI in the New England Bowl (the Engineers won the game by a score of 35-6).
The biggest surprise of the 2019 season was UMass Dartmouth — the Corsairs posted seven wins for the first time since 2004 when they represented the conference in the ECAC Northwest Bowl. Quarterback Stephen Gacioch was named the MASCAC Offensive Player of the Year — the junior signal-caller finished second in the conference in efficiency (143.2) while completing 59.2 percent of his passes.
Additionally, Gacioch competed in eight games and recorded career-highs in passing touchdowns (20), passing yards per game (277.6), rushing yards (356), and rushing touchdowns (six).
Massachusetts Maritime ended its season with six wins, which is the most the Buccaneers have tallied since posting an 8-2 record in 1999.
New Signal-Callers: A majority of the quarterbacks from 2019 have graduated, so the expectation is we will see some new signal-callers this fall for some of the “usual” contenders.
Stephen Gacioch is the only starting quarterback returning (that I know of at this time), but it is expected that we’ll see someone new running the offense at Bridgewater, Fitchburg, and Framingham this fall.
Westfield State excited to be back on the field: Like many teams in our region, getting back to the gridiron after a year away due to the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic is certainly something the Owls of Westfield State were happy to do a few days ago, despite a mini-heatwave. But with cooler weather now arriving to the area, the Blue and White will use this time, as well as the next few days and weeks to prepare for their season-opener against Nichols College on Friday, September 3 at 6 p.m.
Nichols and Westfield last met in the opening week of the 2018 season when the Owls topped the Bison, 25-14, thanks to 205 rushing yards and two touchdowns from halfback R.J. Darby.
Early-Season Favorite(s): It might be easy to pick the Rams of Framingham State, but the Black and Gold enter the upcoming season with some question marks on both sides of the ball, including who will be their starting quarterback. Adam Wojenski has graduated, so it will be interesting to see who coach Tom Kelley selects to lead his offense.
While Framingham State will certainly be a team to watch, the same could be said for these three squads: Bridgewater State, UMass Dartmouth, and Western Connecticut. Like Framingham, all three have some question marks heading into their respective 2021 campaign, but the Colonials will welcome back some key members of its 2019 squad, including wide receiver Will Daniels and cornerback Jarius Bailey.
Don’t rule out Plymouth State, which finished its 2019 campaign with a 6-4 record. The Panthers concluded their 2019 campaign by winning one of their final four contests, but I expect the Green and White to be in the mix this fall.
It may sound hard to believe, but the New England NCAA D-III lacrosse regular season is slowly approaching the finish line – don’t worry, we still have a few more weeks of games before the conference tournaments commence, so there is still time to watch your favorite teams compete, both this week and later this month.
Ethan Robson highlighted the win for the Seahawks, netting a season-high five goals off 11 shots while Brendan Kelly added four goals and Liam Cooney tallied three assists. Goalies Ryan Chambers and Connor Cunningham combined for 15 saves. Cunningham would conclude the contest with his initial win between the pipes.
The come-from-behind win was the Seahawks’ second-straight victory of the 2021 season – as of this morning, Salve Regina is one of two teams in the Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) with a 2-1 league mark. Endicott College, which defeated Salve Regina in its season-opener, has won five of six contests, including four-straight conference matchups. The Gulls currently occupy the top spot in the conference standings.
Endicott and Salve Regina are scheduled to compete again on Wednesday, April 14 at 4 p.m.
Staying in the CCC, Endicott remains the top team in the women’s standings with a 3-0 conference mark. The Gulls have won three straight after falling to Trinity College in their season-opener and are currently led by Maya Feigenbaum, who has produced 11 goals and three assists in four contests. Kiana Napolitano, who is in her second season with the Green and White, has recorded 11 points on eight goals and three assists.
Bryce Adam, who played high school lacrosse locally at Newton North High School, secured his first New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) Player of the Week honor of the 2021 season yesterday after leading Tufts University to a 29-11 win last Saturday against Colby College. Adam tallied nine points on five goals and four assists against the Mules – the Jumbos’ 29 goal was a school record.
Two days after the impressive win over Colby, Tufts moved up one spot in the Nike/ US Lacrosse Division III Men’s Top 20 to the second position behind Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), which remains the top team for the second-straight week. Williams College checked in 15th overall while Bates College and Wesleyan University received consideration for this week’s poll.
The Tufts women’s lacrosse team also beat Colby this past weekend, thanks to Catherine Lawliss, who also earned this week’s NESCAC Player of the Week honor. Lawliss recorded sis points on five goals and one assist while scooping two ground balls in the Jumbos’ second-straight conference win. Tufts is the only team in the NESCAC with a perfect record (2-0) and they will attempt to secure a season-sweep of Connecticut College on Saturday, April 17.
The Babson College men’s lacrosse team commenced their season with a commanding 20-2 win over Wheaton College last Saturday. Ryan Donovan, who played high school lacrosse at Cohasset Hig School, led the Green and White with five points on four goals and one assist while Grey Sunderland and Jack Gregory combined for 20 face-off wins.
Babson will play two more times this month, including this weekend against Emerson College before closing the month of April by welcoming Springfield College to Babson Park. The Beavers and Coast Guard Academy are the only two teams in the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) with perfect marks.
As for NEWMAC women’s lacrosse, Coast Guard and Springfield remain the only teams without a loss – both squads boast identical 2-0 records – while Babson sits one game back with a 2-1 record. Wheaton is currently in third place with a 2-2 mark.
Other news and notes from the New England D-III Lacrosse World:
Like many of our fans and friends, I miss New England D-III football. But as an optimist, I believe we’ll see our favorite teams and student-athletes back on the gridiron at this time next year vying for conference crowns, along with at-large bids to the NCAA Tournament.
And speaking of conference crowns – and yes, the national postseason, too – I thought it would be fun to produce a special Noontime’s ‘What If‘ post on which teams I believe would have won their respective conference this fall.
As expected, these predictions were not easy as there are a slew of teams and programs capable of winning their respective conference, but here are my predictions. And as usual, you can share your thoughts with me on social media, as well as send a note to MattNoonan@noontimesports.com.
Commonwealth Coast Football (CCC): Western New England
For the past few seasons, the Golden Bears have been the team to watch and beat in this conference. And once again, Western New England would be the squad to watch in the CCC this fall. They would most likely enter their final game of the regular season with two important wins against Endicott College and Salve Regina University. And like most teams highlighted in this post, the 2020 Golden Bears would look a bit different than previous years, especially on offense as they would have a new quarterback, but their defense would be be a unit to watch – it would be led by linebacker Erich Keutmann, who was named a D3Football.com Preseason All-America second-teamer in September.
Eastern Collegiate Football Conference (ECFC): Dean College
The Bulldogs captured their first-ever conference crown last season, thanks to quarterback Terrell Watts, who was named the league’s Offensive Player of the Year, along with wide receiver Errol Breaux and safety Tyzohn Poole. Of course, there would be other student-athletes to watch as the season progressed, but at this point of the 2020 season, the Bulldogs would have claimed some important wins against Castleton University and SUNY Maritime. They would have also beaten a new D-III football team: Keystone College.
Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC): Framingham State University
Like Western New England, it is hard to pick against the Rams, which would be starting a new chapter in its program history with first-year coach Aynsley Rosenbaum, who spent the past 12 seasons overseeing the Framingham State offense. But like prior years, this would be the team to watch in the MASCAC. Sure, they would look a bit different on offense without quarterback Adam Wojenski, who graduated last spring, but the Rams would welcome back some key pieces from that unit, including halfback Devaun Ford, who was named the 2019 MASCAC Rookie of the Year. Framingham State would be challenged for the top spot by Bridgewater State, UMass Dartmouth, and Western Connecticut.
New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC): Williams College
The Ephs of Williams College suffered just two setbacks last season, including an opening day loss to Middlebury College, which would be a game circled on their calendar this season. Williams would somehow find a way to beat the Panthers at home, along with Wesleyan University, which tripped up the Ephs prior to their season-ending win over Amherst College last November. But for the Ephs to win the NESCAC, they would not only need to beat Amherst, Middlebury, and Wesleyan, but also Trinity College and Tufts University. Additionally, let’s not overlook Colby College and Hamilton College, which would challenge the Purple and Yellow, but in the end, quarterback Bobby Maimaron, along with the rest of the Ephs would make just a few more plays in all nine contests to secure the NESCAC title.
New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC): Springfield College
Sure, MIT maybe the favorite after winning the NEWMAC crown the past two years, but it would be hard to overlook Springfield College, which would be led by halfback Hunter Belzo and linebacker AJ Smith. The Pride, which finished with six wins last year, would win at least seven, maybe eight games this season, but their most important victory would occur during the final weekend of the regular season against the Engineers in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
And welcome to our second installment of ‘Football Friday,’ a post where we revisit stories, teams, coaches, and student-athletes that we have covered over the past decade.
Today, we’re jumping back to 2012 to highlight a Framingham State University football team that not only won the New England Football Conference (NEFC) championship against Salve Regina University but also advanced to its first-ever NCAA D-III Tournament.
The Rams’ run toward a national championship, unfortunately, concluded in the opening round against SUNY Cortland – the Red Dragons edged Framingham State, 20-19, despite a fourth-quarter rally by the Black and Gold.
Yet, despite a one-point setback in the national tournament, the 2012 season was quite a memorable one for the Rams, which captured the program’s first and only NEFC title, while four members of the squad, including coach Tom Kelley, garnered major postseason awards from the conference. Additionally, Framingham State won 10 games for the first time in program history and only lost once in the regular season to Endicott College, which defeated the 2011 NEFC Bogan Division and Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) champions on the opening day of the 2012 season.
Endicott’s defense shined in its week one victory against the Rams as the unit finished the contest with five interceptions, five tackles for a loss, one fumble recovery, and a trio of pass break-ups.
“We stuffed them on first down (and) forced them (into) long second downs (and) that really got them out of their groove,” Endicott’s Andrew Holfinger said following his team’s initial win of its 2012 campaign.
Luckily, the loss to the Gulls was quickly forgotten six days later when Framingham State scored its first win of the 2012 season against Nichols College.
The Rams, who defeated the Bison by a score of 34-6, leaned on its ground game as both Matthew Mangano and Melikke Van Alstyne combined for four touchdowns and 393 rushing yards.
The victory over the Bison seemed to provide the Rams with a ton of momentum as they would go onto capture its next nine contests, including a 16-0 win over rival Bridgewater State University followed by an exciting overtime victory against Massachusetts Maritime Academy.
Not only did the Framingham State offense shine throughout the 2012 season, but so did the defense, which limited its numerous foes to 12.8 points per game, along with 63.0 rushing yards per contest.
After registering just seven points in the opening week, the Rams concluded seven contests with 30 points or more. But during the team’s final regular-season contest against Worcester State University, all three units – offense, defense, and special teams – collaborated to produce a season-high 65 points.
The 65-21 win over the Lancers allowed the Rams to clinch its second-straight NEFC Bogan Division crown, as well as secure a spot in the conference’s championship round one week later against Salve Regina.
“We’re certainly going to be tested,” Kelley said when previewing his team’s contest against the Seahawks at the New England Football Writers’ Gridiron Club of Greater Boston luncheon, which was held at Harvard University.
Salve Regina entered the contest with an identical 9-1 record. The Seahawks averaged nearly 400 yards of offense while the defense limited opponents to roughly two touchdowns per game.
But despite scoring the first points of the 2012 NEFC title game, Salve Regina struggled to contain both Melikke Van Alstyne and Matthew Silva, who combined for three rushing touchdowns.
James Muirhead led the Rams defense with eight total tackles, including three stops for a loss of 17 yards and one forced fumble.
Salve Regina, which trailed Framingham State by four points (14-10) at the break, attempted to mount a late comeback during the final minutes of the fourth quarter but saw its rally dashed when the Rams recovered its onside kick.
Moments after the final kickoff of the game was recorded, the Rams celebrated a hard-fought championship, which Muirhead considered “so surreal.”
“All the hard work paid off,” said Muirhead, who was named the Bull Mottola Championship Game Most Valuable Player Award following the final whistle.
“I don’t really have any words to explain it,” he would add.
The 28-16 win over the Seahawks was a culmination of the Rams’ commitment of hard work and determination that was fueled by an overtime setback one year earlier in the same contest to Western New England. And while the victory over the Seahawks did not spark a deep postseason run, it was certainly the beginning of many more conference titles and postseason appearances for a squad that has maintained its success over the past few years.
Watching – and yes, covering – this team truly made me fall in love more with small college football. The 2012 season truly marked the beginning of my tenure of producing content on various New England D-III athletic teams and programs, and I am thankful for the time both Tom Kelley and the players provided me throughout this exciting and historic campaign.