With three games left in the season, the Tufts University football team sits at 5-1 in the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC), one game behind undefeated Amherst College.
As the Jumbos prepare for Saturday’s big game against the Mammoths, we caught up with Tufts football coach Jay Civetti to discuss the Powder Blue and White’s current success this fall on the gridiron, which recently included a hard-fought 28-21 win over Williams College last Saturday in Somerville.
“Anytime you beat Williams, that’s a big deal, and I’m certainly proud of the effort last week,” said Civetti. “There’s a lot of great accomplishments that came from that win.
“We’ve got a lot of ahead of us, and this weekend we have as good of a challenge as we’ve had all year.”
One of the players who’s stepped up defensively against the Ephs was junior linebacker Greg Holt. The senior linebacker had a game-high 13 tackles in the victory over the Ephs, which earned him the Gold Helmet award and NESCAC defensive player of the week honors.
“Greg’s just a tremendous competitor,” said Civetti. “He’s a very smart player. He’s got a great knack for the ball, and he just plays the game incredibly hard.”
“I think all the hard work he puts in during the week shows on Saturday.”
On offense, quarterback Ryan McDonald is having a solid senior season, throwing ten touchdown passes, while adding an additional six scores on the ground.
“The one thing about Ryan’s game is he’s a runner first before he’s a thrower,” said Civetti. “(He’s) managing the game in different ways, but at the same time, when he has to make moves…he’s doing everything he can to do that.”
McDonald and Holt will certainly be counted on this Saturday when the Jumbos visit the Mammoths of Amherst with kickoff scheduled for 1 p.m.
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Bowdoin College junior halfback Nate Richam appeared unstoppable last week on the ground, rushing for a game-high 288 yards and two touchdowns in the Polars Bears’ second contest of the season against Middlebury College.
Richam’s 288 rushing yards shattered a 42-year old single-game record, which was previously held by Jim Soule, who tallied 270 yards on the ground during a Bowdoin football game in 1976.
The third year back’s impressive performance against the Panthers earned him recognition by the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) as this week’s Co-Offensive Player of the Week (Richam shared the honored with Trinity College quarterback Jordan Vazzano).
Through two games this season, Richam has rushed for 366 yards on 48 carries and two touchdowns. He is averaging 183.0 yards per game and has rushed for an additional 20 more yards than he finished with last season when he tallied 346 yards in six games.
Earlier this week, Noontime Sportscaught-up with Richam to discuss his impressive performance from a week ago, as well as his outlook on his team’s offense heading into their next few contests, including Amherst College on Saturday.
Following the conclusion of last Saturday’s game, did you know you had broken a Bowdoin single-game rushing record?
I wasn’t aware that I had broken a Bowdoin’s single-game rushing record once last week’s game concluded. It wasn’t even a thought that crossed my mind during the course of the game, but after the handshakes and our final huddle, a couple of my coaches approached me with the news. My reaction was lackluster, I was not trying to downplay the achievement, but at the time I really wished we had won the game. Looking back on the accomplishment, it’s definitely something that I will cherish, but at the end of the day I am just happy for all of my teammates that were on the field with me that helped me make it happen.
It sounds cliche, but what worked for you and the o-line this past week against Middlebury?
I think it was our shift to more downhill running plays. A major part of our offensive momentum was within the attitude of our plays. It was very clear what we were going to run the ball. It didn’t matter if the defense knew what was happening because we were going be more physical, and we also knew our plays were going to work.
How can you and the offense continue this ground success this week against Amherst, as well as the rest of the season?
We have to remain level headed going forward, but also remain confident about the progress we made last week. We had a very poor start to the season, but our ability to bounce back was impressive last week. Additionally, we can’t be complacent with our offensive success because there are far too many things that we will be improving on as the season progresses.
Have you ever rushed for 288 yards in a single-game before or possibly more? If so, when and where did it happen?
During my final home game of my senior year I rushed for 503 yards against my high school’s rival, which we had not beaten in four years. My offensive line beat up their front seven and from there I was off to the races.
Do you have a favorite current or past running back that you look up/have shaped your game after? If so, who is it and what makes them a great running back?
I am a huge fan of LaDainian Tomlinson and Le’Veon Bell. Tomlinson had an iconic stiff arm that would knock helmets off of unsuspecting defenders, while Bell has ridiculous patience in the hole and trusts his blockers. Bell also has a certain explosiveness to his game when he breaks free. My running style is a mix of those two players.
Have you always been a running back or have you played other positions in the past? What made you interested in being a running back?
I’ve played running back since youth league. Honestly, I just wanted the ball. I also knew no six year-olds were going to pass it, so I made sure I was in the position to carry the ball as much as possible.
What are you currently studying at Bowdoin and do you know what you like to do with that major after graduation?
I’m an economics major and would like do something in finance in the future. At this moment I’m looking into asset management.
Finally, what is a game day atmosphere like at Bowdoin? What do you enjoy most about playing in front of your hometown fans and friends?
The atmosphere on a game day here at Bowdoin is very unique. It starts with the walk bordering our campus through the pines and between towering iron gates. There is nothing like it. My favorite moments of playing here are at the end of the season when it’s very cold, but our fans are in full-form regardless of the weather. But playing at home in front of our fans is just a bonus. I love it.
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The third week of the Division III football season saw some impressive quarterback performances, including a few from the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC), which officially began its season last Saturday, September 16th.
Three NESCAC quarterbacks concluded the first week with four touchdowns, while three student-athletes tossed two scores. Middlebury’s Jared Lebowitz was the lone NESCAC quarterback to throw three touchdowns – his final score came in the middle of the fourth quarter, which provided the hosts with a 17-point advantage (30-13) with 9:17 remaining.
One of the three student-athletes to toss a pair of scores in his team’s opening day win was Williams’ Bobby Maimaron, who concluded his first collegiate game with 283 passing yards. Maimaron recorded his first collegiate touchdown pass in the opening minutes of the second quarter with a 93-yard strike to Frank Stola – the 93-yard pass was the longest heave by any of the 10 NESCAC signal-callers.
Wesleyan’s Mark Piccirillo did not throw a 70 or 90-yard pass, but did conclude his team’s initial contest with four scores and 432 passing yards. And 15 of his 39 completions were hauled in by Mike Breuler, who is currently second in the league with three touchdown receptions. Hamilton’s Joe Schmidt currently leads all NESCAC receives with four touchdown receptions.
We’ll certainly be keeping an eye on all of these student-athletes this week when they return to the gridiron on Saturday, September 23rd. The NESCAC will feature five games this weekend, including a 6 p.m. kick-off between Tufts and Wesleyan – the game will be played at Wesleyan.
Another big NESCAC game to watch this week is Amherst at Hamilton – this could be a battle of two great offenses, especially from what we saw in the opening week. Hamilton recorded 28 points in his season-opening setback to Tufts, while Amherst tallied 41 points against Bates.
SUNY Maritime’s Matthew Murphy Eclipse 100-point Plateau: For the third-straight week, the Eastern Collegiate Football Conference (ECFC) honored SUNY Maritime’s kicker Matthew Murphy as the Special Teams Player of the Week. As noted in Tuesday’s press release, this is the seventh time Murphy has been honored by the ECFC for his kicking.
In addition to Murphy, wide receiver Brandonn Drumgole was named this week’s ECFC Offensive Player of the Week after hauling in 13 receptions for the second-straight week – the 13 receptions in back-to-back weeks are both program records. Drumgole also established a new single-game receiving record of 164 yards against Merchant Marine – he also caught two touchdowns in his team’s seven-point win to bump his season total to five scores.
Program Note: Make sure to circle back later this week for our weekly 10 Games to Watch post, which does include some non-New England teams, as well as a brad new Football Friday Podcast. The Football Friday Podcast is a brand new podcast we started prior to kick-off this season that highlights the various teams, coaches and student-athletes we cover.
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Ah, the second to last regular season weekend is upon us – yes, this is the final weekend of New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) play, for your information – however, it is an important weekend for many teams fighting for spots in their upcoming conference’s tournament.
So, to kickstart your weekend, here are 10 predictions – short and quick, by the way. Let me know if you agree or disagree by sending me a tweet or posting a comment on our Noontime Sports page on Facebook.
Williams at Tufts (MBB | Fri., Feb. 10): It’s the final home game for the Jumbos and their seniors, but I don’t think their last regular season contest will end with a win. Williams seems to have picked-up some serious momentum – they have scored some important wins recently over Middlebury and Wesleyan – and will most likely pick-up another big win over the Powder Blue and White. PREDICTION: Williams 80, Tufts 75
Middlebury at Amherst (WBB | Fri., Feb. 10): The Panthers have been a great story this season – as of today, they would be the fourth seed in the NESCAC and host a playoff game next weekend. Do they have what it takes to get past Amherst? I don’t believe so, but they’ll give the Purple and White a good fight. PREDICTION: Amherst 65, Middlebury 40
Tufts at Williams (WBB | Fri., Feb. 10): After falling to Amherst last weekend, Tufts will look to close out its regular season slate with back-to-back victories (after tonight’s game, they’ll face Rhode Island College next week), including a win in Williamstown. Expect Michela Northand Melissa Baptista to lead the Jumbos to their ninth NESCAC win of the season. PREDICTION: Tufts 65, Williams 45
Conn. College at Bowdoin (WBB | Sat. Feb. 11): Could this be a potential preview of a possible NESCAC Tournament contest? Possibly, but before we turn our attention to the NESCAC Tournament, let’s focus on the Camels’ five-game winning streak – something one should not overlook. Brian Wilson‘s squad will have to be perfect on both ends of the court in order to secure a win. Yet, I think this game will go in favor of the Polar Bears since they’re at home. PREDICTION: Bowdoin 59, Conn. College 53
Roger Williams at Endicott (MBB | Sat. Feb. 11): I’ll be at this game as long as Mother Nature doesn’t drop another foot of snow on us – please, Mother Nature … NO! Roger Williams will need its defense to keep the Endicott offense in-check – last game, they held the Gulls to just 21 field goals (60 attempts), while forcing 14 turnovers. PREDICTION: Roger Williams 75, Endicott 72
Castleton at Husson (WBB | Sat. Feb. 11): As of now, the Eagles of Husson appear to be the front-runner for the North Atlantic Conference (NAC) regular season crown. However, that could change, pending this weekend’s outcomes. And one of those outcomes could be a Castleton win over the Eagles – the victory would have to come on the road, though. Since falling to Husson, the Spartans have captured five of their last six, and need to win out to have a chance to secure the regular season crown. PREDICTION: Castleton 50, Husson 49
Eastern Conn. State at UMass Dartmouth (WBB | Sat. Feb. 11): Can anyone slow down the Corsairs? I am not sure, especially since they have won eight-straight contests and seem to have a great deal of momentum on their side. They’ll need that momentum, along with a big day from their entire roster to secure an important conference win over the Warriors. PREDICTION: UMass Dartmouth 60, Eastern Conn. State 58 (OT)
Becker at Wheelock (MBB | Sat. Feb. 11): After dropping a pair of games to Southern Vermont earlier this week, Becker will look to return to its winning ways with a victory over the Wildcats. Against Wheelock earlier this season, three Hawks netted double-figures, including Antonio White Jr., who led all scorers with 30 points. PREDICTION: Becker 84, Wheelock 75
Westfield State at Salem State (MBB | Sat. Feb. 11): This is a must-win for the Vikings, who lost a mid-week clash to Bridgewater State. As of today, Salem State remains the top team in the Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC), but a loss to the Owls could open the door for Fitchburg State to secure number one seed in the conference. Before we turn the page to Falcons-Vikings (next week, FYI), let’s keep our eyes on this contest as Chris Harvey‘s squad will look to bounce back against an Owls squad that has won three-straight. PREDICTION: Salem State 75, Westfield State 68
Johnson & Wales at Suffolk (MBB | Sat. Feb. 11): After a slow start, Jamie Benton‘s squad is back in the mix for a top spot in the Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) Tournament. This should be a layup for the Wildcats – earlier this season, Johnson & Wales defeated the Rams at home, thanks to 23 points from Anthony Jernigan. PREDICTION: Johnson & Wales 75, Suffolk 65
MEDFORD, Mass. – The three-pointers kept falling. The points kept adding up. And the top team in the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) is still looking down at the rest of the league.
Fouth-ranked Tufts defeated Connecticut College on Saturday afternoon, 100-83, behind a career-high 25 points from Everett Dayton and 13 three-pointers. It was the team’s ninth win a row, and the first time this season they’ve scored 100 points in a game.
“The best thing for us is that we just have great team chemistry,” said Tufts Head Coach Bob Sheldon, whose team improved to 6-0 in the NESCAC.
This was a very entertaining, fast-paced game from both teams. Tufts never trailed in this one, and midway through the first half, it looked like the game might turn into a blowout, with the Jumbos leading by as many as 14. But the Camels (2-4) outscored the Jumbos 16-7 over a five-minute stretch to tie the game at 43. A last-second three-ball by Ethan Feldman gave the Jumbos the lead at the intermission, and they slowly increased that advantage in the second 20 minutes.
Dayton came into this contest averaging 7.5 points a game. But he more than tripled that on Saturday, and added eight assists, also a career high.
“Everett is a real good basketball player,” said Sheldon. “It all came together for him today.”
Connecticut College had four players in double figures, led by Tyler Rowe’s 19.
The Jumbos will face Newbury on Thursday night. The Camels return home on Wednesday night to take on Fisher.