Tag: NESCAC

The Early Outlook for the NFL’s Wild Card Matchups

Derek Carr and the Las Vegas Raiders secured a spot in the 2021 NFL Playoffs with an end-of-season victory over the Los Angeles Chargers. (PHOTO COURTESY: Getty Images | New York Post)

By Matt Noonan

The 2021 National Football League’s (NFL) regular season concluded last night.

Now, it is time for the playoffsare you ready?

The 2021 season came down to the final day, as well as its last matchup between the Las Vegas Raiders and Los Angeles Chargers.

In some way, this season mirrored the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) from the last two seasons (2019 and 2021) where every matchup and week was needed to determine not just divisional winners, but overall seeding for the 14-team playoff.  

Saturday cannot come soon enough – I am eager for yesterday’s excitement to continue. Does anyone know how to hit fast forward in the next few days?

Either way, I am excited – and I hope you are, as well – for some playoff football!

Over the next few days and weeks, Noontime Sports will be keeping its focus on football – consider this some “overtime” coverage from last summer and fall. We will have some op-eds and commentary pieces to previews, along with a piece about quarterback progression (I guess I can thank those armchair quarterbacks calling Boston radio stations!) over the next few days.

Let’s jumpstart the week with some early thoughts on all six Wild Card matchups — have a great day, everyone!

AFC Wild Card Matchups

Los Angeles Raiders (10-7) at Cincinnati Bengals (10-7): The Raiders concluded their 2021 campaign by winning four-straight contests, including back-to-back games against the Indianapolis Colts and Los Angeles Chargers. The Silver and Black have been quite the story this season – sure, there was some negative press over the first few weeks, but somehow, they managed to go on a late run to secure an opening round meeting with the Bengals. Don’t overlook the Raiders in this matchup.

New England Patriots (10-7) at Buffalo Bills (11-6): The Patriots ended their season with a disappointing setback to the Miami Dolphins – they also lost two other games before their divisional meeting with the Buffalo Bills and Indianapolis Colts. But something tells me this was the matchup coach Bill Belichick and his team wanted. They beat Buffalo last month by running the ball and attempting three passes. But a few weeks later, New England struggled to contain quarterback Josh Allen. The rubber match between the Bills and Patriots should be fun!  

Pittsburgh Steelers (9-7-1) at Kansas City Chiefs (12-5): The Chiefs may not be the explosive offense they once were – in fact, it seems as if their defense has played better, especially down the stretch. But here’s my question: will this unit be able to stop a Steelers squad that has averaged 17.75 points in their last four outings? My initial answer: yes, but I also wonder if the Pittsburgh defense is good enough to stop Patrick Mahomes?

NFC Wild Card Matchups

Philadelphia Eagles (9-8) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (13-4): With a big win on Sunday over the Carolina Panthers, Tom Brady and the Buccaneers were able to move up to the second seed, thanks to some help from the San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks. Tampa Bay is not the same team as last year – they have some issues on both sides of the ball, which makes them vulnerable. Yet, the Buccaneers should be able to win this game, however, they must find a way to stop an impressive Eagles rushing attack led by quarterback Jalen Hurts. Hurts concluded the regular season with 784 rushing yards on 139 carries and 10 touchdowns while completing 265 of 432 passes for 3,144 yards and 16 touchdowns.

San Francisco 49ers (10-7) at Dallas Cowboys (12-5): This is a classic matchup – go ahead and break out those Steve Young and Troy Aikman jerseys. Neither signal-caller will be spotted under center next Sunday, but the 49ers’ offense will provide some challenges for a Cowboys defense that struggled initially at slowing down Philadelphia’s Gardner Minshew and Kenneth Gainwell this past weekend. But while the 49ers’ come-from-behind win yesterday against the Los Angeles Rams was impressive, the question I have heading into this contest is can this defense — San Franciscos’s, to be exact — slow down Dak Prescott and the Cowboys’ offense? This game presents some interesting storylines, as well as features two coaches that used to work together: Kyle Shanahan (San Francisco) and Dan Quinn (Dallas).  

Arizona Cardinals (11-6) at Los Angeles Rams (12-5): Arizona and Los Angeles both scored one win against each other, so like Buffalo-New England, this is a rubber match. To be honest, I did not anticipate this would be a first-round match-up – in fact, I thought Arizona or Los Angeles would be heading to Dallas this weekend. But instead, the Cardinals and Rams will square off once more this season – I am not confident in the Rams’ defense, which struggled to contain the San Francisco offense yesterday, especially in the final minutes. Additionally, will we see a great or subpar Kyler Murray against the Rams? Similar to Dallas-San Francisco, this game also presents some unique storylines.

Player Perspective: Bobby Maimaron (Williams College)

Bobby Maimaron and the Williams College Ephs capped a perfect season last Saturday, November 13 with a 24-19 win over Amherst College. (PHOTO COURTESY: Kris Dufour/Williams College Athletics)

By NoontimeSports.com

Last Saturday was a special day for the Williams College football team.

The Ephs capped their 2021 campaign with a hard-fought 24-19 victory over Amherst College to clinch a perfect season and become the first squad in program history to win nine contests in a single season.  

Williams has finished previous campaigns with 8-0 records — seven, to be exact — but to win nine New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) games is no easy feat.

“Being the first Williams team to finish 9-0 is a testament to not only how hard our team has worked these last two years, but also to the leadership and growth of our program under coach Mark Raymond,” explained senior quarterback Bobby Maimaron, who completed 11 of 16 passes for 257 yards and two touchdowns last Saturday.

“Coach Raymond is truly one of the greatest coaches I have played for, and I am so happy that my teammates and I were able to clinch a perfect season for both him and the assistant coaches.”

Maimaron, who has played for Raymond since his first season in 2017, has guided the Ephs to at least five wins or more in all four seasons under center. Williams won six games during his initial season in 2017 after concluding their 2016 campaign with an 0-8 record, including their final contest against Amherst in overtime.

We recently caught-up with Maimaron to discuss his final season with the Ephs, as well as what he will remember from his time in Williamstown.

How exciting was it to take a knee and celebrate a hard-fought win against one of your rivals last week?  

I still don’t think it has sunk in yet, but I just couldn’t be prouder of everyone involved. Every single player and coach have worked so hard so I’m just happy we were able to finish it off the right way last weekend. 

We know you (and your teammates) will have time to reflect on this particular season over the next few days, weeks, and months, but what will you remember most from the 2021 season? And we presume it was worth it to come back for one more season to compete with your friends and classmates, right? 

More than anything, I’ll remember all the hard work that went into our championship season. So many people sacrificed a lot for us to win the league and I’ll forever be grateful for that. To work so hard on a goal that’s been in our minds for five years and to finally achieve it is something special. 

From a personal perspective, tell us how you improved from game one against Middlebury College to your team’s final contest against Amherst.

Coach Raymond asked every member of this team to give six seconds of relentless focus and effort at a time. Our focus was on one play — not the next, but the one we were executing — and we never looked past our opponents each week. To go 9-0, you must be at your best every week, and even though our team endured some injuries during the final few weeks, we received some tremendous effort from different players on both sides of the ball that filled those voids by making some important plays when needed.

With this being your final season with the Ephs, tell us one – maybe two? – memories you will always have from competing for Williams since your first season in 2017?  

Talking “The Walk” at the conclusion of my freshman season in 2017 after our team beat Amherst in overtime – the win allowed us to cap the season with a 6-3 record. And my second memory is from last week when I took a knee at the end of the game – again, against Amherst – to complete the 9-0 season. Once the game with Amherst was final, I sprinted to the sidelines, hugged my coach, and thanked him for everything.  

Finally, do you plan to return to campus next fall to support the team as an alum? 

Yes. I can’t wait to come back and see some of my best friends play and coach next season. 

Williams Captures The NESCAC Crown with a 24-19 win over Amherst

Bobby Maimaron capped his impressive career with Williams College on Saturday by leading the Ephs to a 24-19 win over Amherst College. (PHOTO COURTESY: Kris Dufour/Williams College)

By Matt Noonan

For the first time in school history, the Williams College football team finished its campaign with a 9-0 record.

The Ephs topped Amherst College, 24-19, this afternoon to clinch its first perfect season since finishing its 2010 campaign with an 8-0 record, which was the last time Williams captured the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) crown.  

Saturday’s win marks the third time in five seasons that Williams has beaten Amherst in “The Biggest Little Game in America.”

Bobby Maimaron capped his impressive career with the Purple and Yellow by completing 11 of 14 passes for 257 yards and two touchdowns while Mario Fischetti led all rushers with 84 yards on six carries while catching two passes for 31 yards and one score.

Williams dominated the first two quarters, outscoring the hosts, 17-6, thanks to a pair of touchdowns to go with a 23-yard field goal by Ivan Shuran late in the opening stanza.

The Ephs’ 11-point lead would increase to an 18-point advantage (24-6) in the opening minutes of the second half when Bobby Maimaron connected with Justin Burke for a seven-yard touchdown pass to cap a seven-play, 93-yard drive.  

Amherst would respond with a late third-quarter touchdown pass from Chad Peterson to Joe Masterson before locating the end zone once more early in the fourth quarter when Carson Ochsenhirt capped a six-play, 60-yard drive with a two-yard score. Peterson attempted a two-point conversion, which would have made it a three-score game, but his attempt failed.

The Mammoths’ second touchdown, which brought the hosts within five points, did not spark an additional scoring drive as Amherst’s final three series concluded with a punt, turnover on downs, and an interception.

While Williams concludes its 2021 campaign with a perfect 9-0 record, along with its fifth NESCAC title, including its fourth outright championship, Amherst ends its season with a 5-4 mark.

Trinity College (8-1) finished the season in second place while Wesleyan University (6-3) placed third — the Bantams topped the Cardinals in their season finale by a score of 14-7.

Noontime’s Small College Football Roundup: Springfield Edges USMMA, 28-23

DJ Brown and the Springfield College football team outlasted the United States Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA) on Saturday to keep their conference title hopes alive. (PHOTO COURTESY: Springfield College Athletics)

By NoontimeSports.com

Tim Callahan rushed for a team-high 137 yards and one score – his lone touchdown with 10:39 remaining in the third quarter proved to be the difference as Springfield College outlasted the United States Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA), 28-23, to secure the inside track to the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) title.

Springfield, which moves to 5-3 overall and 4-0 against league foes, snapped the Mariners’ seven-game winning streak that included some impressive conference victories against Catholic University and MIT, two teams the Pride will face next month.  

USMMA’s Ian Blankenship produced 313 yards of total offense, including 178 yards on the ground on 23 carries.

Springfield’s Patrick Ladas and David Wells combined for 148 yards and three rushing touchdowns while DJ Brown led the Pride’s defense with 10 total tackles, including nine solo stops and one fumble recovery.

The Pride will visit MIT next Saturday, November 6 – the Engineers will enter the game on a two-game winning streak, thanks to a 21-7 victory against Coast Guard Academy.

WPI snapped a six-game losing streak with a 28-2 victory over Norwich University for the team’s first conference win since November 16, 2019 (their last conference win was also against the Cadets).

Brendan Olexa completed 15 of 25 passes for 199 yards and two touchdowns while Brandon Winn and Zachary Levy each located the end zone once while combining for 90 yards rushing.

UMass Dartmouth snapped a six-game losing streak to Bridgewater State with a 26-20 victory to become the first Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) squad to win seven games this season.

Dante Aviles-Santos tossed four touchdowns in the win, including the go-head score with 13:58 remaining in the final stanza when he located Douglas Machado for an 18-yard strike.

Bridgewater State led UMass Dartmouth, 20-14, at the break, thanks to a 25-yard touchdown run by Adam Couch, who became the ninth halfback in program history to record 1,000 yards or more in a single-season.

Despite the loss, the Bears remain in contention for the conference crown, but need to win their final two contests, including next week’s matchup with Framingham State.

The Rams inched closer to securing the conference crown by defeating Massachusetts Maritime Academy, 23-14, in Buzzards Bay. Devaun Ford recorded two touchdowns in the win, including a 75-yard rushing touchdown with 8:55 remaining in the third quarter that provided the visitors with the lead for good.

Amherst College forced overtime and then beat Wesleyan University in the fourth extra session, 16-14, thanks Brad Breckenridge, who threw for 170 yards and one touchdown.

Breckenridge’s lone touchdown pass to PJ Clementi with 23 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter sent the game to extra sessions where the Mammoths were able to convert a two-point conversion in the fourth overtime.

Wesleyan entered the ninth week of the season with a perfect record – the same could be said for Trinity College and Williams College. The Ephs rolled past the Bantams, 42-3, in Williamstown to secure the top spot in the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) with two weeks remaining in the regular season.  

Other outcomes to note from a very busy Saturday: Castleton University outlasted Anna Maria College, 38-31, Colby College beat Bates College, 10-2, and Plymouth State topped Westfield State, 17-7.  

Bentley University and the University of New Haven both scored important Northeast-10 Conference (NE10) wins this afternoon as the Falcons soared past Franklin Pierce University while the Chargers topped Assumption College, 16-10.

Both teams will meet next weekend in New Haven, Connecticut with the top spot in the NE10 up for grabs.  

Williams College Rolls Past Trinity, Secures Top Spot in the NESCAC

Bobby Maimaron guided the Williams College football team to an impressive win on Saturday against Trinity College in Williamstown, Massachusetts. (PHOTO COURTESY: Kris Dufour/Williams College Athletics)

By Matt Noonan

A pair of touchdowns in the opening frame provided Williams College with all the momentum they would need to beat Trinity College and secure the top spot in the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) on Saturday afternoon Farley-Lamb Field.

The Ephs topped the Bantams, 42-3, to secure their third consecutive win against Trinity while limiting the Blue and Gold to a season-low in points and offensive yards (183).

Trinity has not been held to just three points in a game since falling to Middlebury College, 20-3, on October 28, 2000.

Joel Nicholas, Bobby Maimaron, and Dan Vaughn combined for five rushing touchdowns while the Williams defense concluded its seventh contest of the 2021 season with six tackles for a loss of 40 yards, one forced fumble, one interception, and eight pass breakups. Nicholas led all rushers with 172 yards on 17 carries and three scores.

Maimaron helped Williams secure the lead for good by capping his team’s initial drive with a three-yard rushing touchdown up the middle before locating Vaughn on the ensuing possession for a 33-yard strike. Vaughn would cap the Ephs offensive output with 6:08 remaining in the fourth quarter with a 12-yard burst up the middle.

Trinity capitalized on just one of five offensive series in the first half and struggled to contain the Ephs rushing attack, especially Joel Nicholas, who recorded his first touchdown with 4:36 remaining in the second quarter that provided Williams with a 21-3 lead at the break.

Saturday’s contest marked the first time Trinity quarterback Spencer Fetter did not throw a touchdown this fall – the junior signal-caller leads the NESCAC with 20 touchdown passes.  

Williams will attempt to win its eighth consecutive contest next Saturday, November 6 when the Ephs host Wesleyan University, which saw its six-game winning streak snapped this afternoon in overtime against Amherst College. The Mammoths of Amherst will visit Trinity with both games scheduled to commence at 1 p.m.