Tag: Matthew Mangano

Football Friday: Revisiting Framingham State’s 2012 Campaign

Endicott Football
Framingham State’s Melikke Van Alstyne chases Endicott College’s PJ Bandini after an interception in the second half. (Photo Credit: Matt Noonan/NoontimeSports.com)

By Matt Noonan 

Happy Friday, everyone!

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.

Mass. College Football: Framingham State 16, Bridgewater State 0

By Matt Noonan 

BRIDGEWATER, MA – On Friday evening, Framingham State’s football team exhibited why they were a New England Football Conference preseason favorite by defeating Bogan Division rival Bridgewater State, 16-0.

“This was special,” exclaimed Framingham State head coach Tom Kelley. “I thought turnovers and penalties were going to be huge and it was and that was maybe the difference.

“Our defense just came up huge and we were really, really concerned about [our opponent’s] running game, but we shut the running game down and we knew if we made them pass that we had a real good shot [of earning our first Bogan Division win].”

The Rams defense held the Bears to 148 yards of total offense (30 yards on the ground), along with seven first downs.

Bridgewater State’s quarterback Mike McCarthy, who registered two scores on the ground last weekend against Endicott College, finished Friday’s affair 13-of-32 for 118 yards with two interceptions. He also ran 11 times, but accounted for 10 negative yards, too.

“We knew we had it in us. We just had to come out, play hard and just basically come out here and play,” stated Framingham State’s Jeff Touron, who concluded the contest with three solo tackles and two sacks.

Both squads began the game with similar drives, which resulted in missed field goals. Yet, the Rams managed to capitalize on the Bears first mistake of the evening, a fumble by Blaise Branch that resulted in a two-yard touchdown by quarterback Matthew Mangano five plays later.

The Bears attempted to respond, but numerous penalties halted drives and allowed Framingham State the opportunity to double their lead with a nine-yard touchdown strike from quarterback Matthew Silva to Philip Clain with nine seconds remaining in the first half, which provided the Rams with a 14-0 cushion at the break.

“[Those two scores] definitely boosted everyone’s morale and everyone really, really believed in it,” explained Framingham State running back Melikke Van Alstyne, who finished with 107 yards on 30 carries.

“We already believed [we could win this game], but that [provided] a little poke right there,” added Van Alstyne.

Bridgewater State started with the ball once the second half commenced, but Framingham State’s defense forced the Bears to punt four times.

The Rams offense struggled to move the ball in the second half, too, so the defense went to work and not only recorded a safety early in the fourth quarter, but also a game-clinching interception by Ony Ramos on the Bears final drive.

“Coming off the block [prior to recording the safety], most of their plays were just all sprint outs and in that situation, down and distance I figured it’s going to be a sprint out one way or another, [and] as soon I came off the block all I saw was [their] quarterback [and] there wasn’t a tailback in my way and I just capitalized on the opportunity,” Touron said of safety.

“Basically at the half, coaches told us [to] stay composed, do our assignment and plays will come to us, just make the play when you have the opportunity.”

Coach Kelley added, “We had to take the edge away from [Mike McCarthy]. He was rolling out and he was getting some pretty good looks from his receivers, and he’s a good athlete, he killed us last year with his feet, so we thought if we kept him in the pocket we’d have a pretty good chance of being successful.”

Framingham State has now won three consecutive games against Bridgewater State, which dates back to 2009. The Rams have also strung together three wins since their opening day loss to the Gulls, too.

Mass. College Football: Friday Nigh Roundup

By Brian Willwerth 

Here are some highlights from Friday’s three college football games.

Framingham State 34, Nichols 6 – In Dudley, the Rams piled up over 400 yards rushing in the victory. Melikke Van Alstyne ran for 222 yards and two touchdowns, while Matthew Mangano added two scores and 171 yards on the ground.

Suny-Maritime 20, Massachusetts Maritime 14 – In the Fifth Annual Chowder Bowl, the Privateers got a 19-yard touchdown pass from Tyler Trodden to Erik Heedles with just 20 seconds remaining. Barry Reopell and Brad Skeffington scored rushing touchdowns for the visiting Buccaneers.

Assumption 24, St. Anselm 14 – In Worcester, Bobby Jordan threw for 237 yards and a pair of touchdowns – one to Adam Gruschow, the other to Evan Butters. The Greyhounds evened their record at 1-1.