Mass. College Football: Curry 27, Coast Guard 24

Curry College earned its second win of the season on Saturday against Coast Guard! (Photo Credit: Brian Willwerth)
Curry College earned its second win of the season on Saturday against Coast Guard! (Photo Credit: Brian Willwerth)

By Brian Willwerth 

MILTON, MA – After losing three straight games to open the season, the Curry College Colonels are now riding a modest two-game winning streak.

On a rainy Saturday afternoon, they used a 275-yard effort in the running game to hold off Coast Guard Academy, 27-24.

“I think we’re doing some good things there. We’ve got a bunch of young guys.  They’re working their tails off. They’re starting to believe themselves in the team,” said Colonels head coach Skip Bandini, whose team improved to 2-1 in the New England Football Conference (NEFC.)

Curry took the lead on its opening possession with a 13-play, 76-yard drive that took more than seven minutes off the clock. It ended with quarterback Kevin Fruwirth finding Tyran Harrigan in the end zone from nine yards out. The Colonels led 6-0 after the extra point hit the right upright.

In the second quarter, the Bears took advantage of a muffed punt by Curry, and turned it into a 26-yard field goal from Tyler Henning. It stayed 6-3 until the closing seconds of the half, when Fruwirth found a wide-open Jordan Shairs on the right side, and Shairs went untouched into the end zone to give the Colonels a 13-3 lead at the intermission.

In the second half, the rain picked up, and so did both offenses. The third quarter began with a surprise onside kick attempt by Curry that did not fool the Bears.  They marched down the field, and scored their first touchdown of the game on an eight-yard pass from Derek Victory to Nick Fredericksen.

But Curry came right back, with the running game really asserting itself. Shairs broke through the middle of the line, and was off to the races – 59 yards for the touchdown to make put the home team back up by 10. Shairs finished with 17 carries for 161 yards and two scores, one rushing and one receiving.

Yet, the Bears wouldn’t go away. Victory led a 70-yard drive, and capped it off with an eight-yard pass to Blake Thompson to make it 20-17. Victory finished 28-of-50 for 235 yards, but was also intercepted twice, and had two other picks nullified by Curry penalties.

Midway thru the fourth quarter, Phil Bigelow’s two-yard plunge on 4th-and-goal turned out to be the deciding score. With 2:37 to play, Coast Guard scored its own touchdown on a 4th-and-goal, with Jake Wawrzyniak taking the pitch on the option and finding the end zone from two yards out. Curry recovered the ensuing onside kick, picked up a first down, and was able to run out the clock.

Fruwirth finished 15-of-24 for 120 yards, but did not make any mistakes to cost his team. While Curry had 275 yards rushing, Coast Guard had just 38.

“We’re a young team, we got a long way to go,” said Bandini. “We’re making some mistakes, but that’s part of the game…so if they don’t do the right thing, it’s my fault.”

Curry hosts Salve Regina on Friday night – a team Bandini called one of the better teams in New England, not just the NEFC. Coast Guard returns home to face Maine Maritime on Saturday.

Mass. College Football: Five Games To Watch This Week

By NoontimeSports.com

We’re closing in on the halfway mark of another season of college football. The seventh week, which kicks-off tomorrow, will feature some intriguing, but important conference matchups, so we’ve decided to look ahead to this weekend’s slate in our first installment of the current 2013-14 season with our “Five Games to Watch.”

We started “Five Games to Watch” this past winter during basketball and hockey season to profile a variety of local Division 1, 2, and 3 games. We won’t make predictions, but will provide a quick synopsis of each matchup.

Quick Note: Going forward, we will be continuing our “Five Games to Watch” series during basketball, hockey and lacrosse season. These posts will appear closer to the weekend, though.

So, without further ado, here are five games to watch this weekend.

Harvard at Cornell, 12:30 p.m. (Saturday, Oct. 12): Coming off an exciting triple-overtime win last week against Holy Cross, the Crimson will turn their attention to their second Ivy League foe of the season.

The Big Red, who’re 1-2 overall, are led by quarterback Jeff Matthews, who is the Ancient Eight’s all-time leading passer with 9,303 yards. Matthews and the Big Red struggled last season at Harvard Stadium as the Crimson capped the meeting with a 21-0 run to secure a 45-13 victory.

Paul Stanton Jr. leads Harvard’s ground attack with 258 yards and five rushing touchdowns. He’s averaging 86 yards per game, as well as one touchdown per game, too.

Defensively, keep an eye on Eric Medes, Norman Hayes and Zach Hodges, three players that will want to pressure Matthews.

Harvard has won the last seven meetings and leads the all-time series, 40-32-2.

Stonehill at Southern Conn., 1 p.m. (Saturday, Oct. 12): The Skyhawks suffered their first Northeast-10 Conference setback last weekend against AIC, which held Stonehill to 189 yards of total offense.

This week, Stonehill will look to rebound against Southern Conn., a squad that has won three straight. The Owls have posted at least 40 points or more in all three of their victories.

Anthony Masucci, Tim Bennett and Brian Harrington each registered 10 total tackles against AIC, as well as combined for one tackle for a loss and a forced fumble. Harrington continues to leads the defense with 66 total tackles (31 solo), while Mark Trudeau leads all players with 2.5 sacks.

Stonehill will certainly rely on its defense to stop the Owls, but also look for their offense to bounce back. Quarterback Logan Meyer has tossed 14 touchdowns this season, four of them to Nate Robitaille, who has recorded 100 receiving yards in four-straight contests.

Framingham State at Westfield State, 1 p.m. (Saturday, Oct. 12): Tom Kelley’s squad will play its fifth road contest of the season on Saturday when they travel to Westfield State to face the Owls, who’re on a three-game winning streak.

The Rams are coming off a 21-14 win against UMass Dartmouth last week, which feature three rushing touchdowns from Melikke Van Alstyne. Defensively, Chevere Archer recorded 10 solo tackles, five of them for a loss of 20 yards, as well as one sack, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.

Westfield recently defeated Plymouth State, 31-0, thanks to another impressive defensive performance, which included seven tackles for a loss of 30 yards; four pass break-ups, three tackles for a loss and two interceptions. Tim Rich completed 11-of-13 passes for 245 yards and one touchdown, while Michael Mercadante rushed for 79 yards on 16 carries for two scores.

Keep an eye on the Westfield defense, which has yielded just seven points in three conference meetings.

Coast Guard at Curry College, 1 p.m. (Saturday, Oct. 12):  The Colonels snapped their three-game skid last weekend with a victory against MIT. This weekend, they’ll turn their attention to an impressive Coast Guard unit, which defeated Western New England last weekend, 41-38. The Bears have won two New England Football Conference contests and currently remain tied for first with Endicott College and Salve Regina.

As always, expect Curry to rely on Kevin Fruwirth’s arm, which produced two touchdowns last week, as well as running backs Phil Bigelow and Trae Weathers, two players that combined for 171 yards on the ground and two rushing touchdowns.

The last time these two squads met, Curry defeated Coast Guard in 2011, 44-21. Bigelow led all rushers with 158 yards on 21 carries for two rushing touchdowns.

WPI at Union, 1:30 p.m. (Saturday, Oct. 12): Coming off a tough loss to Hobart, Chris Robertson’s squad will look to rebound against their third Liberty League foe this season.

Against Union a year ago, Chris Turner brought WPI within one point following a 17-yard touchdown run in the second quarter before the Dutchmen answered with a pair of touchdowns.

Expect the Engineers to rely on their ground game. Zach Grasis finished last week’s contest with 93 yards on 23 carries. Also, look for quarterbacks John Antonopoulos and Jacob Grills to air it out to either Larry McGillicuddy or Ehab Hamdan.

Defensively, the Engineers finished their contest against Hobart with three pass break-ups and two tackles for a loss. Sean Murphy, Brian Murtagh, Robert Harasimo and Jack Downey each recorded six total tackles in the loss.

Mass. College Football: The View From Curry College

By Brian Willwerth 

In 2013, the Curry College football team will be looking to improve on last year’s record of 6-4, 5-2 in the Boyd Division of the New England Football Conference (NEFC). The Colonels ended last season by winning three straight, and four of their last five.

Curry’s four captains include senior quarterback Kevin Fruwirth, defensive tackle Sam Calley and fullback Jordan Shairs. All three are returning First Team All-Division. The fourth captain is offensive tackle Gil Parson, who was hurt for part of last year, but head coach Skip Bandini said Parson should be as good as anyone else in the league.

Fruwirth started all ten games for Curry last season, throwing 27 touchdowns. With Rob Bambini having graduated, expect Skubie Mageza to see even more passes thrown in his direction. Last year, he hauled in 54 passes with three touchdowns. Phil Bigelow returns in the backfield for his senior year, having rushed for over 700 yards as a junior.

Joining Calley on the defensive line are Tim O’Brien, Nic Calvano and Parrish Rogers-Reed. The Curry defense as a team picked off 13 passes in 2012.

Bandini, entering his eighth season at Curry, says he also has some outstanding freshman on the roster, which he hopes will make their mark this season.

Mass. College Football: Curry College 31, MIT 28

By Brian Willwerth 

MILTON, MA – At Curry College, they’re getting used to this kind of drama. For the second week in a row, the Colonels pulled off out a last-second win on their home field.

On Friday night, Kevin Fruwirth did it again in the clutch. He threw a 23-yard touchdown pass to Robert Bambini on fourth down with 23 seconds to play, as Curry came back to beat MIT, 31-28, in an New England Football Conference Boyd Division matchup. It was a terrific football game that featured four lead changes in the last 18 minutes.

Curry was the first to reach the end zone. After a Tim Crowley field goal made it 3-0, the Colonels drove 83 yards in 13 plays. Phil Bigelow capped off the drive with an 8-yard run to make it 10-0. With just over a minute left before halftime, the Engineers’ Brad Goldsberry got behind the Curry defense, and quarterback Peter Williams found him stride. Goldsberry won the race to the end zone to cut the lead to 10-7.

But MIT’s momentum would not stay with them heading into the locker room, because the ensuing kickoff bounced a couple of times on the turf before Richard Johnson picked it up at his own 15. He got away from defenders, raced down the sideline, got some blocks, and finished with an 85-yard kickoff return for a score.  Curry led 17-7 at the half.

The Engineers came out and dominated the third quarter. Goldsberry finished off a 76-yard drive with a nine-yard touchdown run, his second score of the game.  MIT took its first lead of the contest when Williams found Karson Ota wide open down the field for a 50-yard strike. The visitors led 21-17 after three.

The stage was set for a wild fourth quarter. After Fruwirth found Bambini deep down the left sideline – he found Jordan Shairs for a three-yard touchdown to put Curry back on top. But MIT came right back, with Goldsberry scoring his third touchdown of the game from 11 yards out to put the Engineers back in the front, 28-24. Goldsberry finished with 174 yards receiving to go along with his 79 on the ground.

Curry got the ball back at its own 17 with just over two minutes remaining. And just as he did last week against Westfield State, Fruwirth drove the Colonels down the field. Facing fourth down from the MIT 23, he threw one up in the left corner of the end zone, and Bambini hauled it in for the game-winning score, which set off a big celebration among the homecoming crowd. The pair hooked up 13 times for 221 yards in this contest.

Fruwirth was named Offensive Player of the Week in the NEFC last week for his heroics. He’s sure to get a few more votes this week as well. He finished 28-of-49 for 325 yards, and one very big touchdown at the end of the game. MIT’s Williams was also impressive, going 25-of-37 for 366 yards.

Curry improves to 2-0 in the Boyd Division, and 2-2 overall. MIT falls to 0-2 in division play.

Endicott College Routes Curry College, Advances to 5-0

By Brian Willwerth 

MILTON, MA – This had all the makings of a terrific matchup: the top two teams in the New England Football Conference’s Boyd Division, a big crowd, high energy all around the field. If only the game had lived up to the hype.

Instead, Endicott College [5-0] fired on all cylinders in a 55-7 trouncing of Curry College [3-2] Saturday night on the Colonels’ home field.

Sometimes, numbers can be deceptive. This is not one of those times. Gulls’ senior quarterback Phil Konopka threw for 385 yards and five touchdowns.  Endicott had 250 yards rushing.

To put that in perspective, Curry was held to 235 yards of total offense.

“When you’ve got a senior quarterback, that’s played with a senior line, that’s played with a senior running back, you should be pretty good on offense,” said Endicott head coach J.B. Wells.

The Gulls started off quickly and never looked back. Konopka’s first touchdown pass was a 42-yarder to Mike Fimiani, who broke through the defense and was in the clear after making the catch. Later in the quarter, after an Endicott drive was kept alive by a roughing the kicker penalty, Konopka threw a shovel pass to Mike Lane just as the quarterback was about to get nailed. Lane did the rest, weaving through the defenders and into the end zone to make it 14-0. Then, after a deep pass to Mike Murphy, Taylor Allen caught a two-yard touchdown to make it 21-0.  The Gulls upped their lead to 28-9 on a three-yard run by Mike Wheeler – a drive that featured another deep pass to Murphy.

All of that was in the first quarter. The rout was on.

For much of the night, it seemed like the Endicott receivers were several steps behind the Curry secondary.

“When it’s there, we tell ‘em to take it,” said Wells.  “If the safety was playing deeper, we’d have to go to a lot of different things, but the safety wasn’t playing very high, so it was bombs away.”

Curry got on the board in the second quarter when Bruce Vieira took a swing pass and raced into the end zone. But that would be the lone score of the night for the home team. Endicott responded with a 55-yard touchdown pass from Konopka to Murphy. The Gulls added a field goal to make it 38-7 at the intermission.

In the second half, Konopka’s fifth touchdown pass of the night went to Ryan Carino. Another Lane touchdown and a 55-yard field goal by Dylan Rushe accounted for the final score. Lane finished with 277 total yards.  Murphy caught seven balls for 202 yards.

While Endicott was going full throttle, it was a night of miscues and missed opportunities for Curry. There were several fumbled snaps. And in the first quarter, they executed a flea-flicker to perfection, only to have a wide-open receiver drop it in the end zone. It was one of those nights for the home team.

Quarterbacks Anthony Carnevale and Mark Gilson combined to go 16-for-35 for 140 yards. Phil Bigelow rushed for 101.

“I thought Curry kind of shot themselves in the foot a little bit, but I thought in the second half, we kind of closed the door on them with our defense,” said Wells.

Next week, Endicott plays at Nichols, while Curry travels to Western New England.