Tag: New Hampshire

Five New England College Football Teams That Surprised Us This Fall

Phil Lutz enjoyed a very successful senior season with the Tufts University football team. (PHOTO COURTESY: Tufts University Athletics)

By Matt Noonan

Every season, there are a handful of New England college football teams that surprise me.

Sure, there are the favorites, along with squads many expect to contend for a conference crown – perhaps a national championship? – but with another season of college football slowly winding down, I thought I would highlight five teams that exceeded my preseason expectations.

Assumption University: The Greyhounds enjoyed one of their better seasons this fall, winning eight games to go with their first Northeast-10 Conference crown in five years. Additionally, Assumption advanced to the NCAA Division II playoffs where their run toward a national title concluded in the opening round with a 17-14 setback to Slippery Rocky.  

Sure, losing in the first round is not an ideal way to conclude a season, but perhaps this year’s effort is a sign of more exciting things to come for coach Andy McKenzie’s squad.

McKenzie and his staff deserve credit for a successful season after posting a 5-5 record last fall, including a 5-3 record against NE10 foes. The fifth-year coach was tabbed the NE10 Coach of the Year last Wednesday while three members of the Assumption defense earned First-Team All-Conference honors, including linebacker Lorenzo Valencia.

Plymouth State: The last time the Panthers won nine games, they were sharing the Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) crown with Framingham State.

Plymouth State clinched its ninth win this past weekend, thanks to a come-from-behind 21-20 win over Husson University in the New England Bowl.

Halfbacks Manny Sanchez and Willie Lombard were a big reason why the Panthers were in the mix for a conference crown as the duo combined for 20 rushing touchdowns and 1,343 rushing yards.

Jake Donahue led the receiving core with 38 catches for 562 yards and six touchdowns while Evan Wilson paced the defense with 80.0 total tackles, including 49 solo stops and a team-best nine tackles for a loss of 25 yards.

21 seniors made-up this year’s Plymouth State squad, along with six graduate students. It is possible we could see a few of these student-athletes return next season – the NCAA granted student-athletes an extra year of eligibility during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Tufts University: After producing back-to-back 4-5 seasons, the Jumbos concluded its 2022 campaign with six wins and three losses.

Wide receiver Phil Lutz was a big reason why the Jumbos enjoyed their best season since 2018 as the North Caldwell, New Jersey native finished the year with 78 catches for 1,221 yards and 14 touchdowns. Lutz averaged 15.7 yards per catch and established a new single-season record for touchdown receptions in New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC).

Lutz is currently one of 15 NCAA Division III student-athletes being considered for this year’s Gagliardi Trophy.

Quarterback Michael Berluti enjoyed his best year under center, throwing for a career-high 2,749 yards and 26 touchdowns. The Westwood, Massachusetts native completed a career-best 197 passes and averaged 305.4 passing yards per game.

The Jumbos’ 2022 momentum should carry over to the next season, which should help Tufts contend for its first-ever NESCAC crown.

University of Connecticut: The Huskies exceeded my expectations.

Coach Jim Mora guided UConn to its first six-win season in seven years to provide the Huskies with an additional contest this fall: their first bowl game since 2015.

The Huskies’ regular season concluded with a 34-17 loss to Army last weekend, but it was highlighted by halfback Victor Rosa, who rushed for a career-high 111 yards and a touchdown.

Prior to ending their regular season with a two-score setback, UConn scored three-straight wins over Boston College (13-3), UMass (27-10), and Liberty University (36-33).

No matter what transpires in UConn’s upcoming bowl game, the Huskies are heading in the right direction, thanks to their first-year coach.

University of New Hampshire: After concluding its 2021 campaign with an eight-game losing streak, the Wildcats bounced back to share the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) crown with William & Mary while earning a spot in this weekend’s NCAA FCS Tournament.

First-year coach Rick Santos guided the Navy Blue and White to an eight-win season this fall, along with a 7-1 conference mark.

Santos was tabbed the CAA Coach of the Year on Tuesday while halfback Dylan Laube collected a trio of end-of-season honors, including a spot on the All-Conference First team as a punt returner.  

Laube will be one of a few players to watch this Saturday, November 26 when the Wildcats entertain Fordham University.

Holy Cross, New Hampshire Advance To The NCAA FCS Tournament

Matthew Sluka and the Holy Cross football team secured the eighth seed in this year’s NCAA FCS Tournament. ((PHOTO COURTESY: Mark Seliger Photography/Courtesy of Holy Cross Athletics)

By Matt Noonan

A pair of New England NCAA Division I FCS teams are headed to the postseason.

Holy Cross and New Hampshire heard their names called Sunday afternoon when the NCAA unveiled its 24-team tournament.

The Crusaders were one of eight teams to earn a spot in the second round – Holy Cross clinched its first 11-0 season in 31 yesterday after capturing its fourth-straight Patriot League title earlier this month with a 42-14 win over Lehigh University.

Holy Cross will host the winner of New Hampshire-Fordham University, which is scheduled to commence Saturday, November 26 at 2 p.m. The Wildcats will host the Rams after concluding their regular season as co-champions of the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA).

William & Mary shared the CAA title with the Wildcats after New Hampshire outlasted Maine and the Tribe beat Richmond.

Like Holy Cross, William & Mary earned a first-round bye and will compete against the winner of Eastern KentuckyGardner-Webb.   

Holy Cross is making its four-straight appearance in the NCAA FCS Tournament. The Crusaders boast a 1-4 record in postseason play with their initial playoff win occurring last November with a come-from-behind victory over Sacred Heart University.

New Hampshire last competed in the FCS Tournament in 2017, winning back-to-back contests against Central Connecticut (14-0) and Central Arkansas (21-15) before falling to South Dakota State in the quarterfinals.  

In 2014, the Wildcats competed against the Rams of Fordham in the second round, scoring a 44-19 win, which was followed by a quarterfinal victory against Chattanooga. Illinois State ended New Hampshire’s championship run in the semifinals.

New England FCS Football Week One Schedule

Matthew Sluka and the Holy Cross football team begin its 2022 campaign on Friday against Merrimack College. (PHOTO COURTESY: Mark Seliger Photography/Courtesy of Holy Cross Athletics)

By NoontimeSports.com

Earlier today, we unveiled the opening week schedule for New England Division II and III football.

Now, it’s time to share the schedule for the regions’ NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) teams, which will be something our blog will post regularly throughout the season.

New England FCS Week One Schedule

Thursday, September 1, 2022

  • Monmouth at New Hampshire at 7 p.m.
  • Rhode Island at Stony Brook at 7 p.m.
  • Bryant at Florida International at 7 p.m.

Friday, September 2, 2022

  • Holy Cross at Merrimack at 7 p.m.

Saturday, September 3, 2022

  • Central Conn. at University of Conn. at 12 p.m.
  • Sacred Heart at Lafayette at 12:30 p.m.
  • Stonehill at Bloomsburg at 2 p.m.
  • Maine at New Mexico at 8 p.m.

Harvard-New Hampshire Announce Home-And-Home Football Series for 2024 & 2026

Harvard Stadium will be the site of Harvard-New Hampshire football in 2024. (PHOTO COURTESY: Matt Noonan/NoontimeSports.com)

By Matt Noonan

Harvard University and the University of New Hampshire last met on the gridiron in 1939.

In two years, the two schools will square off in a home-and-home series, which will see the Wildcats visit Cambridge, Massachusetts on October 5, 2024, followed by the Crimson visiting to Durham, New Hampshire on September 19, 2026.

“Renewing this series is important for the UNH program and for New England college football at the FCS level,” New Hampshire coach Rick Santos said in a statement this afternoon.

“We have a great deal of respect for coach Tim Murphy and the success he’s built at Harvard, and we always embrace the challenge of facing strong competition.”

Harvard and New Hampshire met regularly in the 1920s and 1930’s with the Crimson winning every matchup by a combined score of 282-3.

In their last matchup on November 18, 1939, the Crimson cruised past the Wildcats by a score of 46-0.

Noontime’s New England D-I Preseason Football Team

By NoontimeSports.com

As we inch closer to a brand new season of New England college football, Noontime Sports is excited to unveil its first-ever NCAA Division I preseason football team — we will release preseason squads for D-II and D-III in a few weeks.

Without further ado, here is our first-ever New England Preseason D-I Team — offense, defense, and special teams — and as usual, please let us know your thoughts by engaging with us on social media!

Noontime’s New England Preseason D-I Offense

QB: Phil Jurkovec | Boston College | Pittsburgh, Pa.

QB: EJ Perry | Brown University | Andover, Mass.

RB: Kevin Mensah | UConn | Worcester, Mass.

RB: Julius Chestnut | Sacred Heart | Bowie, Md.

WR: Zay Flowers | Boston College | Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

WR: Cameron Ross | UConn | Newark, Del.

WR: Andre Miller | Maine | Old Town, Maine

WR: Tyshaun James | Central Conn. | Middletown, Conn.

TE: Trae Barry | Boston College | Summerdale, Ala.

OL: Zion Johnson | Boston College) | Bowie, Md.

OL: Alec Lindstrom | Boston College | Dudley, Mass.

OL: J’Von Brown | Central Conn. | Norwich, Conn.

OL: J.D. DiRenzo | Sacred Heart | Hammonton, N.J.

OL: Josh Sokol | Sacred Heart | Hopkinton, Mass.

OL: Nick Olsofka | Holy Cross | Louisville, Ky.


Noontime’s New England Preseason D-I Defense

DL: Benton Whitley | Holy Cross | Springfield, Mass.

DL: Truman Jones | Harvard University | Atlanta, Ga.

DL: Anthony Nelson | Harvard University | Tampa, Fla.

DL: Jack Daly | Bryant University | South Glastonbury, Conn.

DL: Kevin Peprah | Sacred Heart | Woodbridge, Va.

LB: Jacob Dobbs | Holy Cross | Macomb, Mich.

LB: Jordan Hill | Harvard University | Silver Spring, Md.

LB: Tre Jones | Central Conn. | Providence, R.I.

LB: Foday Jalloh | Central Conn. | West Lawn, Pa.

LB: Chris Outterbridge | Sacred Heart | Long Beach, N. J.

DB: Evan Horn | New Hampshire | Lebanon, Pa.

DB: John Smith | Holy Cross | Lake Worth, Fla.

DB: Niko Mermigas | Dartmouth College | Wexford, Pa.

DB: Andre Brackett | Bryant University | East Windsor, Conn.

DB: Darion McKenzie | Merrimack College | Berlin, Md.


Noontime’s New England Preseason D-I Special Teams

PK: Derek Ng | Holy Cross | Las Vegas, Nev.

P: Jon Sot | Harvard University | Clark, N.J.

LS: Evan Deckers | UMass | Avon, Conn.


Honorable Mentions: RB: Zane Dudek (Yale), RB: Peter Oliver (Holy Cross), RB: Joey Kenny (Rhode Island), TE: Joey Luchetti (Boston College), TE: Tyler Roberts (Merrimack College), TE: Jihad Edmond (Bryant University), TE: JJ Howland (Yale University), OL: Chad Broome-Webster (Brown University), OL: Spencer Rolland (Harvard University), OL: Nick Gargiulo (Yale University), OL: Clay Legault (Merrimack College), P: Patrick Haughney (Holy Cross), DB: Dexter Lawson, Jr. (Central Conn.), DB: Melvin Rouse II (Yale University), and P: Noah Gettman (Sacred Heart)