Noontime’s Coast Guard-USMMA Prediction

Jake Behne (left) and Hudson Dunaway (right) pose with the Secretaries’ Cup in November 2018. (PHOTO COURTESY: Coast Guard Academy Athletics)

By NoontimeSports.com

The final NCAA D-III football game of 2020 will take place tomorrow between Coast Guard Academy and the United States Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA) with the winner claiming the Secretaries’ Cup.

Last season, the Mariners topped the Bears, 56-41, thanks to quarterback Krystian Abbott, who finished the game with 298 yards of total offense.

Coast Guard captured the 2018 meeting by a score of 26-12 to secure the Secretaries’ Cup for the first time since 2014.

Tomorrow’s matchup – the 49th meeting between these two academies – will be streamed on ESPN3 with kickoff scheduled for 12:05 p.m.

Below is our pregame preview, as well as our prediction – let us know if you agree or disagree by sending a tweet to @NoontimeSports. Enjoy the game, everyone!


Noontime’s Coast Guard-USMMA Preview: It’s been nearly a year since the Bears and Mariners tangled on the gridiron, but it seems as if both teams are eager and ready to play some football.

Coast Guard enters the contest with a great deal of experience on both sides of the ball. Quarterback John Barbera, who has appeared in five contests, including three last season, will start his first game for the Bears – expect the Glen Mills, Pennsylvania native to target Justin Moffatt, who led the NEWMAC last season with 66 receptions while posting a career-best in receiving yards (872) to go with five touchdowns.

Linebacker Eugene Bizer will be tasked with leading a Coast Guard defense that will need to slow down a Mariners squad that averaged 41.1 points per game last fall. Merchant Marine’s offense is very run-heavy and it is expected that the Mariners will lean heavily on halfback Matt Restifo, who finished last season with career-bests in rushing yards (389), yards per game (43.2), and touchdowns.

Eric Davidson and Colton Ray will be two players to watch on the Mariners defense tomorrow – this particular unit limited opposing foes to 112.7 rushing yards per game last season.

Noontime’s Prediction: This has the potential for a back-and-forth affair, but I think this contest will come down to whichever defense can slow down the opposing attack. I don’t anticipate a high-scoring affair like we witnessed last season, but instead both teams scoring at least three, maybe four touchdowns. PREDICTION: Coast Guard 30, USMMA 26

Daily Noontime (Friday, Nov. 13, 2020)

By Matt Noonan

Happy Friday, everyone – we made it!

It’s been a busy week of blogging to producing some new content for our social channels – we’ll recap it later today in during our Friday Rewind post – but in the meantime let’s dish out a late morning edition of the Daily Noontime.

So tomorrow will be a special day for our New England NCAA D-III football fans with Coast Guard Academy competing against the United State Merchant Marine Academy with kickoff scheduled for 12:05 p.m.

Fans can stream the game between the Bears and Mariners on ESPN3 – here is a preview of tomorrow’s Secretaries’ Cup.

Sticking with college football, some big-time matchups for this weekend have been canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic. So does this mean college football is in trouble? I think so!

According to Sports Illustrated, there seems to be growing concern about not just the remainder of the college football season, but also the college football playoffs. Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby knows the college football world is heading into some serious uncharted territory, but as of now, no games and bowls have been canceled, including the traditional New Year’s Day contests, so please remain calm, everyone.

Switching gears to college basketball – what is college basketball again? – it appears as if 40 teams will compete in ‘Bubbleville‘ at Mohegan Sun in Connecticut later this month. 45 games will be played over an 11-day period with the final contests scheduled for Saturday, December 5.

The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) has started its college basketball season, but things have not gone smoothly due to the coronavirus. It’s likely every NCAA men’s and women’s basketball team will be impacted at some point this winter by the virus. And that could mean games – not just a few, but many – will get postponed or canceled.

Alright, that will do it for now, but stop by later and as always, make sure to smile, everyone!

Noontime’s ‘What If’ D3 Football Conference Champion Predictions

Bobby Maimaron and the Williams College football team would have been one of our teams to watch this fall. (PHOTO COURTESY: Kris Dufour/Williams College)

By Matt Noonan

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.

Revisiting Bates’ Comeback Against Hamilton

Bates College quarterback Brendan Costa was a player to watch on this date one year ago against Hamilton College. (PHOTO COURTESY: Brewster Burns for Bates College)

By Matt Noonan

It was exactly one year ago when Brendan Costa and the Bates College football team overcame a 21-point deficit to beat Hamilton College, 26-21.

Costa highlighted his team’s second-straight victory of the 2019 season by tossing a career and season-best four touchdowns, including three in the second half with two scores landing in the hands of Sean Bryant.

Bryant concluded the contest by posting season-bests in receptions (five), receiving yards (93), and touchdowns (three).

Hamilton commenced the game by jumping out to a 21-0 lead, thanks to a pair of Kenny Gray touchdown passes to Sam Robinson and Christian Donahoe, along with a 17-yard rushing score by Joe Park before Bates began mounting its comeback by capping the first half with a 15-yard strike from Brendan Costa to Sean Bryant.

Bates’ comeback would continue on its initial possession of the second half when Bryant hauled in a 15-yard strike from Costa before the Bobcats completed the comeback by scoring twice during the final minutes of the fourth quarter. Costa pulled the visitors within two points (21-19) with a 35-yard touchdown pass to Parker Smith with 2:31 remaining before locating Sean Bryant for a 25-yard score with 1:08 remaining to push the Bobcats ahead by five points (26-21).

Gray and the Continentals attempted respond on their final drive of the contest, but the Hamilton quarterback’s last three passes were incomplete.

The win over the Continentals was the Bobcats’ first since 2014. It was also the program’s biggest comeback in 50 years when Bates rallied to beat Trinity College by the same score in 1969.

In addition to throwing both a career and season-best four touchdowns against Hamilton, Costa established a new program record for total offense in a season with 1,739 yards. The Westport, Massachusetts native recorded 1,402 passing yards last season, along with 337 rushing yards. The new record erased the previous mark of 1,688 yards by Trevor Smith in 2011.

The Final D3 Football Game of 2020 Is Next Saturday

Ryan Jones previously quarterbacked Coast Guard Academy last season against Merchant Marine. (PHOTO COURTESY: Matt Noonan/NoontimeSports.com)

By Matt Noonan

One more NCAA D-III football game remains on the calendar for next Saturday, November 14. And it will feature Coast Guard Academy and the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy.

We learned this particular matchup would occur back in September when both institutions announced they would have three programs – football, men’s soccer, and women’s volleyball – compete for the Superintendents’ Trophy, which is something both academies contend for on a yearly basis, as noted in the September release on the Coast Guard Academy’s athletic website.

The Coast Guard Academy men’s soccer team and women’s volleyball team each captured their respective meeting with Merchant Marine last month.

Last year, Merchant Marine’s football team topped Coast Guard Academy, 56-41, to secure the Secretaries’ Cup while the Bears beat the Mariners one year earlier by a score of 26-12. The 2018 victory marked the first time the Bears had beaten the Mariners on the road since 1996. It was also the first road win in the series for former head coach Bill George, who retired last fall.

Kickoff for next Saturday’s game is at 12:05 p.m. Fans can watch the game on ESPN3 while following along with live stats.