BRIDGEWATER, Mass. — Here are five takeaways from the University of New England’s 23-20 overtime victory over Bridgewater State on Saturday afternoon.
The Nor’easters came back from a 14-point deficit in the fourth quarter to force an extra session, and eventually win the game.
I talked to coach Mike Lichten and quarterback Matthew Harkins after the game, and they said one of the keys to victory was sticking to the game plan, even when playing from behind in the second half. And It worked.
UNE dominated the second half, and finally scored the game’s final two touchdowns, including the tying score with six remaining in the fourth quarter.
UNE’s defense was exceptional in the second half, and was key part of their victory of the season.
After allowing 20 points and 359 yards of offense in the first half, the Nor’easters pitched a shutout and held the Bears to just 52 yards of total offense the rest of the way.
Special teams were critical in this one.
OK, I’m sure every coach in the country can tell you something about that, but there were five missed kicks in this game, including two that ‘doinked’ off an upright. The only ball that went through the uprights was the field goal in overtime by Abe Ruelas Villasenor. He’s a freshman offensive lineman in addition to a kicker, and the Nor’easters’ blocking the Bears’ kick on the ensuing possesion resulted in a wild celebration, with UNE players rushing the field.
Despite the setback, I was impressed by the Bears’ quarterback James Cahoon, who completed 18 of 31 pases for 308 yards and two touchdowns. And it was also a big game for wide receiver Kyle Torres, who finished with 184 yards and one score.
Finally, one other player that was fun to watch — and yes, quite impressive — was halfback Adam Couch, who rushed for a season-high 101 yards on 24 carries and one touchdown. The Winchendon, Massachusetts native reached the end zone once last weekend against Ithaca College, but did not tally 100 yards on the ground. Instead, he finished his team’s season-opener against the Bombers with 68 yards.
Next up: Both teams return to the field next Saturday, September 18 with Bridgewater State hosting Plymouth State at 3 p.m. and UNE traveling to AlfredState for a 12 p.m. kickoff.
Happy Monday, everyone — I hope everyone is enjoying the long weekend, but also enjoyed seeing football games played, both in-person or on television over the past few days.
Starting today and every week throughout the remainder of the New England D-III college football season, I’ll be producing a weekly post called “Noontime’s Teams to Watch,” which will highlight some programs fans should watch (and yes, keep their eyes on) heading into the upcoming week.
So, without further ado, let’s highlight some teams to watch this week.
MIT: The Engineers scored an opening day win against Curry College — the offense really kicked into gear in the second half as they outscored the Colonels by a score of 27-0. Quarterback Chris Mauck was one of a few players to watch as the Wellington, Florida native completed 17 of 29 passes for 261 yards and four touchdowns.
Halfback Jay Theriault, who played high school football at Masconomet, led the Engineers with 58 yards on ten carries and one touchdown while linebacker Paul Calvetti paced the MIT defense with 13 total tackles.
The Engineers, who moved up three spots in our week two poll, certainly proved they’re going to be a team to watch this fall, but we should get a better gauge on this MIT squad, especially the defensive unit this weekend when they visit Salve Regina University. MIT limited the Curry rushing attack to just 96 yards, but will certainly be challenged this week against a Seahawks squad that is led by halfback Joey Mauriello.
WPI: Despite a slow start to their first game since November of 2019, the Engineers of Worcester found their groove in the second half against Worcester State by outscoring the visitors, 35-7. Coach Chris Robertson‘s squad leaned heavily on its ground game as Hunter Carey and Brandon Winn combined for 240 rushing yards and three touchdowns.
Nica Hesel highlighted the WPI defensive effort with four total tackles, including two tackles for a loss of 20 yards, one sack for a loss of 17 yards, and one forced fumble. Of course, Hesel wasn’t the only one providing challenges for the Lancer’s offense as Derrick Doncaster and Evan Wertz combined for 15 total tackles, one fumble recovery, and one tackle for a loss of 17 yards.
WPI faces a challenging test on Friday evening against second-ranked Endicott College — the Gulls rallied to beat St. Lawrence University on Saturday after trailing the Saints, 14-6, at the break.
Dean College: Wide receiver Errol Breaux was a player to watch last Saturday as the Baton Rouge, Louisiana native tallied six touchdowns (five receiving, one rushing) against Fitchburg State. The senior wideout concluded the game with 251 yards of total offense — he averaged 30.9 yards per reception.
Quarterback David Curry concluded Saturday’s outing with the Falcons by completing 18 of 30 passes for 327 yards and five touchdowns — I’ll certainly be watching him and Breaux on Saturday when they visit the UMass Dartmouth Corsairs.
In addition to the dynamic duo on offense, keep your eyes on Dre Kidd this Saturday — the Manassas, Virginia native was the only member of the Bulldogs defense to record double-digits in total tackles: 13.
Castleton University: Noah Crossman was the player to watch in the Spartans’ initial contest of 2021 against Plymouth State as the North Chittenden, Vermont native booted a pair of field goals in the opening half before Devin Wollner capped a four-play, 62 yard drive with a 40-yard touchdown in the third quarter to secure the victory.
Chris Rice led the Castleton defense with nine total tackles, including three solo stops, three-and-a-half tackles for loss of 16 yards and two-and-a-half sacks for a loss of 13 yards. Rice was a player to watch in 2019 and will certainly be someone all New England D-III fans will want to watch as the season progresses.
The Spartans will travel to Fitchburg State on Saturday — Castleton lost to the Falcons by a score of 12-10 in 2019 but defeated the Gold and Green in 2018.
University of New England: Despite an opening day loss to Coast Guard Academy, the Nor’easters defense was the story as Keegan Stanton-Meas led all defenders with 12 total stops, including seven solo tackles and one-and-a-half tackles for a loss of four yards.
UNE, which secured the final spot on today’s poll, is certainly trending in the right direction — the Nor’easters under coach Mike Lichten have shown improvements since their first varsity contest in 2018, and could surprise some squads this fall with a defense that combined for eight tackles for a loss of 20 yards, two quarterback hurries, and one interception returned for 38 yards last Saturday against the Bears.
For Brian Peters and the University of New England football team, 2019 has been a successful season thus far.
The Nor’easters, who are in their second season as a Division III football program, have won two of three contests and will attempt to win a third on Saturday, September 28th when they welcome Western New England to Biddeford, Maine.
For UNE to be successful against its Commonwealth Coast Football (CCC) foe, they will need both its offense and defense, as well as its special teams, too, to continue its recent play from a week ago when the Nor’easters defeated Castleton University, 31-21.
Against the Spartans, Peters threw for a career-high 354 yards and three touchdowns, while Joe Kucky led the defense with eight total tackles.
Noontime Sports recently spoke with Peters about the 89-yard connection between him and Johnson, but also how he feels the team has done thus far through three games.
Your team is off to a 2-1 start. How has the season gone from your perspective?
I think this season has gone well so far, but I think we have yet to play our best game.
The games we have won we have left a lot of points on the board. If we play a complete game on both sides of the ball you will notice how far this program has progressed (since our first game as a Division III program last September).
This past weekend, you threw for a career-high 354 passing yards. Did you expect to throw the ball that much against Castleton?
I expected to throw the ball a little more in that game, but I am glad we didn’t. We had a great day rushing the football – we finished the game with more than 500 yards of total offense. If we can continue to have a balanced attack like (we did against Castleton) then we can be a lethal offensive unit.
Tell me about the 89-yard touchdown pass from you to Cobey Johnson. How did the play develop and when Cobey caught the ball did you think he was going to score a touchdown?
Cobey made a heck of a play on that ball. Basically, he took it from one high safety.
Looking back I should not have thrown that ball (in a different direction), but Cobey saved me with his athleticism. He is a great player and is probably our most improved player on offense.
How do you feel the past three games will help the team be successful in conference play, beginning this Saturday against Western New England?
The first three games of the season showed how competitive we are as a team.
When we face adversity we may bend but we will not break. This is something that coach (Mike) Lichten instills in us. We try to be the toughest team, but also a team that will never quit. If we continue to play with that passion we will be competitive in every conference game.
Do you feel your experience from last season, especially down the stretch has helped you understand the Nor’easters offense and feel more comfortable under center/in the pocket this fall?
Absolutely. Having a year under my belt has helped me get comfortable with the speed and physicality of college football.
The coaching staff and my experience from last year have taught me to control what I can control, and to not try to make the hero play all the time. I just have to do a better job of taking care of the football and trusting my offensive line and playmakers on the outside.
Finally, with this week’s game being a home contest, tell me what a game-day atmosphere is like at the University of New England.
For this being the second year of varsity football at the University of New England, I think the game-day atmosphere is incredible. The fans are passionate and they make sure that they are a factor in the game for all four
The Becker College football program will have a new head coach this fall as Director of Athletics Frank Millerick announced the promotion of Frank Forcucci, who has been named the interim head coach. Forcucci replaces Mike Lichten, who resigned Monday evening.
Forcucci spent the past three seasons with the Hawks as an associate head coach and defensive coordinator.
Last season, the Hawks concluded their campaign 7-3 overall and 5-2 in Eastern Collegiate Football Conference (ECFC) play. The team’s seven victories was a program-record for win. Becker ended its campaign with an exciting 35-21 victory against Castleton, which resulted in a third place finish for the Hawks.
CAMBRIDGE, MA – On Wednesday, the New England Football Writers’ Gridiron Club of Greater Boston reconvened for their 84th season, and various coaches from the region provided some thoughts on their team’s first game, as well as an outlook on this weekend’s match.
Here are some tidbits and notes from Wednesday’s luncheon.
University of New Hampshire: Wildcats wide receiver R.J. Harris earned a Golden Helmet Award, the first Division I player of the season, for his performance last week against Holy Cross. Harris caught 12 passes for 102 yards and rushed four times for 57 yards. Harris’ 12 receptions matched a career high from last season against Richmond.
The Wildcats will look to earn their second victory of the season when they travel out to Minnesota to face the Gophers, who’re coming off an impressive triple-overtime victory against UNLV.
Castleton State: The Spartans initiated their fifth season with a 35-7 victory against Plymouth State. Quarterback Shane Brozowski tossed four touchdowns and completed 22-of-35 passes for 400 yards. His performance earned him the first Golden Helmet Award for a Division II or III player.
“This award means a lot for our new program [at] Castleton,” Brozowski said upon receiving the award. “I just want to thank the lineman for blocking, the wide receivers for having a big game, and most of all the coaching staff for preparing us for the success we have on Saturday’s.
“We have a tough game coming up this Saturday, a team we’ve never played before, but I think we’re as ready as we’ll ever be.”
The Spartans will look to earn their second win of the season when they travel to Beverley, Massachusetts to face Endicott College.
Endicott College: After earning an impressive New England Football Conference victory last Saturday, the Gulls will look to earn their second win of the season against the Spartans on Saturday, which happens to be their home opener.
The Gulls defense will once again have their hands full, as they’ll attempt to keep Brozowski and the Spartans offense off the field. Endicott will also attempt to maintain the time of possession.
Framingham State: The Rams began their season with an excruciating loss to the Gulls of Endicott. However, it wasn’t exactly the loss that remains on the mind of head coach Tom Kelley, but his squad’s injuries, as quarterback Matthew Silva and Mitchell Johnson each dislocated their shoulders last week, which paved the way for third-string quarterback Al Krasco, who concluded the contest going 0-for-3.
Kelley voice a smite remark about his team’s health after he disclosed the news of his quarterbacks by saying, “maybe it’s our shoulders?” Yet, whether it’s a shoulder or an arm issue, Framingham State cannot afford to start their season with two back-to-back losses, as they’ll travel to Dudley, Massachusetts on Friday to face Nichols College.
“Nichols is a much improved team, [but] we’re just hoping to put forward our best effort on Friday night,” said Kelley.
Becker College: The Hawks soared to a 13-3 victory last Friday against Fitchburg State. However, as head coach Mike Lichten noted, his team has a lot to work on.
Against the Falcons, the Hawks recorded nine penalties for 119 yards. They also accounted for 126 yards of total offense and one fumble. Fitchburg also dictated the time of possession, too.
“Nine penalties for 119 yards almost always leads to a loss no matter how well you play on either offense or defense, so [there’s] a lot of work to be done,” stated Lichten.
Becker will look to build off their first win of the season on Saturday when they travel to Cambridge, Massachusetts to face the Engineers of MIT.
“[MIT is] a team we’ve seen the last two years. They’ve beaten us both times,” Lichten explained. “[They’re] obviously a very disciplined team, they don’t make big mistakes, they don’t lose the game for themselves, [and they certainly exhibit] discipline.”
Becker has never won more than two games in a season, so Lichten hopes this particular game will propel his squad to future success.
“It would be nice to go 2-0 for the first time in three years. At Becker, we’ve never won more than two games in a season, so starting off 2-0 would be tremendous for us,” added the Hawks head coach.
Merrimack College: The Warriors started their season with a tough loss to New Haven, a ranked squad in Division II. Yet, despite the outcome, the Warriors will have to turn the page to this week’s opponent, Rowan.
“[Rowan] is coming off a huge win last week against [the fifth-ranked] team in the country, so we’re going to have a huge challenge in front of us, [but] we’re just glad to be home [because] we’ve played really well at home, 4-1 at home last year,” said head coach John Perry. “I know going into our first home game the kids are going to be fired up and hopefully we can avoid the turnovers and punch the ball in when we get down and close.”
* Massachusetts Maritime kicks off its season on Friday when they travel to New York Maritime. The Buccaneers are coming off a five-win season, which they hoe to build off of this year.
* Bentley University earned their first win of the season against a young Pace University squad last Friday in Waltham. This week, the Falcons will hit the road to face West Virginia Wesleyan, a squad that features NFL Hall of Famer Joe Montana’s son at quarterback, Nate Montana.