Tag: Plymouth State

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.

Noontime’s New England D3 Top 10 Poll (Nov. 21, 2022)

The Springfield College football team clinched its first postseason win in 16 years this past weekend against Endicott College. (PHOTO: Matt Noonan/NoontimeSports.com)

By NoontimeSports.com

Another season of New England small college football is slowly winding down.

Springfield College highlighted the 12th week of the season, winning its first NCAA Division III playoff game since 2006 with a hard-fought 17-14 win over Endicott College.

The Pride secured a spot in the second round of this year’s national playoffs. Springfield will travel to Ithaca College on Saturday, November 26 with kickoff scheduled for 12 p.m.

Springfield and Endicott secured the top two spots in our end-of-season poll followed by Trinity College, which checked-in third with a 9-0 record.

UMass Dartmouth and Plymouth State rounded out the top five.

Noontime’s End of Season Top 10 Poll: Monday, November 21, 2022

1. Springfield College (9-2, 6-0 NEWMAC): The Pride clinched their second-straight New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) crown with a 6-0 record, as well as won their first postseason contest in 16 years this past weekend against Endicott. Springfield will compete in the second round of the NCAA Division III Tournament this Saturday, November 26 against Ithaca.

2. Endicott College (10-1, 6-0 CCC): Despite ending its season with an opening-round postseason setback, the Gulls were the team to watch this fall. Endicott produced its first perfect season (10-0) in program history, as well as claimed its second-straight Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) crown. Additionally, Endicott’s defense limited opposing offenses to just 6.5 points per game in 10 contests.

3. Trinity College (9-0, 9-0 NESCAC): The Bantams became the third-straight New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) squad to clinch a perfect 9-0 season. Trinity’s defense was a unit to watch this season, yielding just 98 points in nine games while the Bantams’ offense ranked second in touchdowns (40) and points (301).  

4. UMass Dartmouth (9-2, 8-0 MASCAC): UMass Dartmouth made its first appearance in the national tournament in 20 years by winning its first Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) crown earlier this month. The Corsairs have won 14 of their last 16 conference tilts, dating back to last season’s initial league clash with Worcester State.

5. Plymouth State (9-2, 6-2 MASCAC): The Panthers concluded their 2022 campaign by winning their first-ever New England Bowl on Saturday with a come-from-behind victory over Husson University. Plymouth State won nine games for the first time since sharing the MASCAC crown in 2017 with Framingham State.

6. Middlebury College (7-2, 7-2 NESCAC): Coach Bob Ritter’s tenure may have concluded with a setback to Tufts University, but the Panthers exceeded our expectations, winning seven of nine contests, including an impressive late September win over Wesleyan University. Middlebury has recorded five wins or more in its last five seasons, including a 9-0 campaign in 2019.

7. Western Connecticut (7-3, 6-2 MASCAC): The Wolves were the biggest surprise of the 2022 season, winning seven games after concluding the 2021 season with five wins. Western Connecticut was one of the top three offenses in the MASCAC, averaging 383.7 yards per contest.

8. Tufts University (6-3, 6-3 NESCAC): Like Western Connecticut, Tufts was a pleasant surprise, as well, thanks to an impressive quarterback-wide receiver duo of Michael Berluti and Phil Lutz that helped the Jumbos offense conclude its nine-game season with a league-best 306 points.

9. Wesleyan University (6-3, 6-3 NESCAC): The Cardinals’ season ended with a difficult setback to rival Trinity – Wesleyan did lead Trinity, 14-10, at the break before the momentum shifted to the Bantams in the second half. Wesleyan’s biggest victory of the season occurred in mid-October when they beat Tufts under the lights by a score of 26-24.

10. Bridgewater State University (7-4, 6-2 MASCAC): The Bears closed out their 2022 campaign with a three-game winning streak, which culminated with their second New England Bowl victory in program history this past weekend. Bridgewater State was one of three MASCAC teams to post a 6-2 conference record – additionally, the Red and White ranked second in the conference in yards per game (415.1).

D3 Football Roundup: Springfield Tops Endicott In The NCAA D3 Tournament

Arsen Shtefan and the Springfield College football team won its first postseason contests since 2006 as the Pride topped Endicott College.
Arsen Shtefan powered the Springfield College football team to an exciting 17-14 postseason win on Saturday over Endicott College. (PHOTO: Matt Noonan/NoontimeSports.com)

By NoontimeSports.com

For the second-straight week, Arsen Shtefan eclipsed the century mark, rushing for a season-high 156 yards and one touchdown as Springfield College raced past Endicott College, 17-14, in the opening round of the 2022 NCAA Division III Tournament.

With the win, Springfield clinched its first playoff win since beating Curry College in 2006 to secure a second-round date with Ithaca College next Saturday, November 26.

Ithaca advanced to the second round with a 63-20 win over UMass Dartmouth.

Shtefan’s lone touchdown came midway through the opening session before Springfield tacked on two more scores in the second half to provide the Pride with their ninth win of the season.

Blane Hart rushed for a seven-yard touchdown in the third quarter before Christian Hutra capped his team’s offensive output with a 33-yard field goal with 7:25 remaining in the final stanza.

Endicott’s Clayton Marengi completed 14 of 25 passes for 146 yards and two touchdowns with his final score landing in the arms of Jaeden Baxter. Shane Aylward, who caught Marengi’s first touchdown early in the third quarter, led all receivers with three catches for 68 yards.

Saturday marked the first time Endicott and Springfield have squared off on the gridiron – additionally, the three-point win over the Gulls provided coach Mike Cerasuolo with his initial postseason with his alma mater.

Endicott entered the game riding a 10-game winning streak – the Gulls clinched their second-straight Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) crown two weeks earlier with a win over Salve Regina University before concluding their regular season with a come-from-behind win against Western New England.

Ithaca 63, UMass Dartmouth 20: Max Perry completed five of six passes for 95 yards and one touchdown to go with 83 rushing yards and two scores as the Bombers cruised past the Corsairs in the opening round of the postseason.

Dante Aviles-Santos, who has been the player to watch on the Corsairs this fall, tossed two touchdowns while JP Mason tallied a team-high 15 total tackles.

Saturday’s game marked the second time UMass Dartmouth has competed in the NCAA Tournament.

Plymouth State 21, Husson University 20: Manny Sanchez rushed for a game-high 131 yards on 30 carries and one touchdown as the Panthers rallied to beat the Eagles and win their first-ever New England Bowl.

Husson’s Nic Visser completed 24 of 32 passes for 227 yards to go with a team-high 56 rushing yards and one touchdown. Elijah Garnett rushed for 50 yards on 10 carries and one touchdown.

Bridgewater State 34, Catholic University 24: Quarterback James Cahoon completed 24 of 33 passes for 249 yards and three touchdowns while Isaiah Wright added 120 rushing yards on 23 carries as the Bears topped the Cardinals to clinch their second New England Bowl.

Catholic’s Nico Casares completed 25 of 44 passes for 256 yards and two touchdowns.

Inside The Matchup: UMass Dartmouth at Ithaca College

Matt DeSimpliciis and the Ithaca College defense will be tasked with slowing down a high-powered UMass Dartmouth offense on Saturday. (PHOTO COURTESY: Rich Barnes)

By NoontimeSports.com

We’re two days away from the opening round of the NCAA Division III postseason.

UMass Dartmouth is scheduled to compete against Ithaca College on Saturday, November 19 with the winner advancing to next week’s second round.

Like we did yesterday with our New England Bowl previews, it’s time “go inside” our first NCAA matchup, which could see both teams produce a slew of points in 60 minutes.

Game Time & Location: UMass Dartmouth will make the trek to Ithaca, New York on Saturday, November 19 to compete against the Bombers at Butterfield Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for 12 p.m.

Ithaca’s 2022 Season Review: The Bombers were certainly the team to watch in the Liberty League (LL) this fall.

Ithaca clinched its first perfect season since 1986 last Saturday with a 34-17 win over SUNY Cortland in the 63rd Cortaca Jug Game, which was played at Yankee Stadium.

Prior to their win over the Red Dragons, the Bombers celebrated their first-ever Liberty League championship with a hard-fought 31-28 victory over Union College after scoring a 13-10 win over RPI one week earlier. RPI won the league last fall.

Ithaca boasts an impressive offense that is averaging a little more than five touchdowns per game while its defense is limiting foes to 9.90 points per game.

Saturday will mark the first time Ithaca will host an NCAA Tournament game since 2013.

UMass Dartmouth’s 2022 Season Review: It took the Corsairs 20 years to return to the national postseason.

UMass Dartmouth captured its first-ever Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) crown last Saturday with a 46-21 victory over Plymouth State.  

The Corsairs return to the postseason with a great deal of momentum – the Blue and Gold have won eight-straight contests since falling to Anna Maria College in early September.

Quarterback Dante Aviles-Santos has been one of many players to watch on the Corsairs this fall. The junior signal-caller from Cumberland, Rhode Island turned in an impressive second season by concluding the regular season with a slew of career bests in multiple categories, including passing yards (2,940) and touchdown passes (26).

Like Ithaca, the Corsairs’ offense has produced a slew of points this fall – 423 points, to be exact – to go with 5,458 yards on 722 plays.

The Last Meeting: Ithaca scored its only win against UMass Dartmouth in 2004 when the Bombers beat the Corsairs, 36-19, in the ECAC Northwest Championship.

The game was played in Ithaca and was highlighted by Jamie Donovan, who led the Bombers’ rushing attack with 165 net yards and three touchdowns. Bryan Marion paced the UMass Dartmouth receiving core with seven receptions for 70 yards.

Inside the Numbers: The Corsairs enter the opening round of the NCAA Tournament with an offense that ranks second in total offense (5,458). They are currently 10th in yards per game (7.07), which is one spot below Tufts University (7.10).

Ithaca’s defense is one of the top units in NCAA Division III – they are currently tied for ninth in defensive touchdowns with four scores (three interceptions and one fumble).

Players to Watch on Ithaca: A.J. Wingfield (QB), Jake Williams (RB), Michael Anderson (WR), Julien Deumaga (WR), Michael Roumes (P/DB), Matt DeSimpliciis (LB), and Jason Haber (LB).  

Players to Watch on UMass Dartmouth: Dante Aviles-Santos (QB), Jalyn Aponte (RB), Richarno Hylton (RB), Angel Sanchez (WR), Keenan Little (WR), Javien Delgado (LB), JP Mason (DB), and Sam Alicea (LB).     

Inside The Matchup: Plymouth State at Husson University

Quarterback Braden Lynn and the Plymouth State Panthers will compete against Husson University on Saturday in the New England Bowl. (PHOTO COURTESY: Chris Kilmer/Plymouth State University Athletics)

By Matt Noonan

Our small college football postseason coverage rolls on with “going inside” another New England Bowl matchup: Plymouth State at Husson University.

Game Time & Location: Plymouth State will make the trek to Husson for the second time this fall on Saturday, November 19 with kickoff scheduled for 12 p.m. (LIVE STATS || VIDEO)

Husson’s 2022 Season Review: For the third consecutive season, the Eagles won four of six Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) contests to go with a non-league win against Alfred State.

Husson concluded its regular season slate with five wins, matching its total from 2013 when the Eagles competed in the Eastern Collegiate Football Conference (ECFC).

The Eagles scored some exciting wins this fall, including a 27-17 victory over Western New England last month, which provided Husson with its first-ever win against the Golden Bears.  

Quarterback Nic Visser was recently named the CCC Offensive Player of the Year after ending the regular season with 14 passing touchdowns to go with a league-best 2,200 passing yards.

Plymouth State’s 2022 Season Review: The Panthers’ regular season concluded with a disappointing setback last Saturday to UMass Dartmouth in a win-or-go-home matchup.

Despite losing to the Corsairs, Plymouth State enjoyed a successful season, producing eight wins in 10 contests, which was one less than the Green and White produced in 2017 when they shared the Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) crown with Framingham State.

The Panthers began their campaign with four-straight wins, including a week two victory over Husson. Manny Sanchez highlighted the win, rushing for a game-high 131 yards on 21 carries while quarterback Braden Lynn completed 12 of 17 passes for 107 yards and one touchdown.

New England Bowl History (for both teams): Saturday’s clash between the Eagles and Panthers will be the first time either school competed in the New England Bowl.

Series History: Plymouth State has won three of its five meetings with Husson, dating back to the first contest between the Panthers and Eagles in 2004. Husson beat Plymouth State in 2018 and 2021.

Husson’s Last Postseason Appearance: It’s been four years since the Eagles last appeared in a postseason (or a bowl) contest – Husson lost to RPI in the opening round of the 2018 NCAA Division III Tournament.

Prior to their meeting with the Engineers, Husson competed in five NCAA Tournament games, along with two Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference (ECAC) Bowl games.

Their lone postseason win occurred in 2017 when they beat Springfield College in the opening round of the national postseason.

Plymouth State’s Last Postseason Appearance: The Panthers previously advanced to the opening round of the national postseason in 2017 where they lost to Brockport by a score of 66-0.

The Green and White have competed in the postseason six times in program history, dating back to their first trip to the NCAA Tournament in 1984 (Plymouth lost to Union College in the quarterfinals by a score of 26-14).

Plymouth State’s lone postseason win occurred in 1994 when the Panthers edged Merchant Marine, 19-18, in the first round.

Players to Watch on Husson: Nic Visser (QB), Elijah Garnett (RB), Jon Bell (WR), Russ Walker (WR), Tucker Buzzell (LB), Adam Bertrand (LB), Alex Brown (DB), and Sean Savage (LB).       

Players to Watch on Plymouth State: Braden Lynn (QB), Manny Sanchez (RB), Willie Lombard (RB), Jake Donahue (WR), Conner Sheehan (K/P), Evan Wilson (LB), Quinn Girard (DB), Bryce Wronski (LB), and Luc Normandeau (DB).