Tag: Slippery Rock

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.

Inside The Matchup: Bentley University @ University of New Haven

Stephen Sturm has been a quarterback to watch this fall in the Northeast-10 — he has thrown 22 touchdown passes while rushing for six scores. (PHOTO COURTESY: Bentley University Athletics)

By NoontimeSports.com

Bentley University and the University of New Haven met two weeks with the Chargers scoring an impressive 31-14 victory over the Falcons.

This weekend, the two teams will meet in the opening round of the 2021 NCAA Division II Tournament with the winner advancing to next week’s second round against top-ranked Kutztown University.

Let’s go inside the matchup to learn more about these two teams, who finished first and second, respectively, in the Northeast-10 Conference (NE10) standings.


Game Time & Location: Saturday’s meeting between the Falcons and Chargers will occur in New Haven, Connecticut with kickoff scheduled for 1 p.m.

Team Schedules: Bentley | New Haven

Team Statistics: Bentley | New Haven


Bentley’s journey to the postseason: Despite seeing a 13-game winning streak that dated back to October 2019 snapped earlier this month to the Chargers, Bentley secured a spot in the 2021 NCAA Division III, checking in as the fifth seed on the upper left-hand side of the bracket. Bentley won nine of ten contests this fall, including every matchup in September and October.

New Haven’s journey to the postseason: An early November win against Bentley allowed the Chargers to secure their first NE10 crown since 2012 — they entered the last week of the regular season as the fourth-best team in Super Region One, which is the seed they received in this year’s tournament. New Haven won nine of ten contests with their only loss coming earlier this year to Bowie State, which entered the week three contest ranked No. 24.

The Bulldogs also secured a spot in the postseason — they will begin their potential title march on Saturday against Lenoir-Rhyne.

Bentley’s last trip to the NCAA Tournament: Believe it or not, Bentley has not competed in the postseason since 2004 — crazy, right? Yes, they captured the NE10 crown in 2019 but did not compete for a national championship after capping their season with a 38-0 victory over American International College.

In 2004, their national title dreams were dashed in the opening round as they lost to Edinboro University by a score of 47-44. The Fighting Scots would see their postseason run conclude in the following round with a 36-32 setback to East Stroudsburg University.

New Haven’s last trip to the NCAA Tournament: In 2018, the Chargers scored an opening-round win over West Chester, thanks to a go-ahead (and eventual game-winning) touchdown by Ajee Patterson, who rushed for a one-yard score. Patterson concluded his team’s opening-round victory with 44 yards on 11 carries and two touchdowns. One week later, the Chargers’ postseason run concluded with a 59-20 setback to Slippery Rock, which outlasted LIU Post in the opening round by a score of 20-14. LIU Post captured the NE10 crown in 2018.

Bentley’s NCAA Tournament history: Saturday’s contest with the Chargers will mark the third time in program history that the Falcons have competed in the NCAA Tournament with their first appearance coming in 2003. Bentley is seeking its initial postseason win after seeing both appearances conclude with opening round setbacks.

New Haven’s NCAA Tournament history: It’s only been three years since the Chargers last competed for a national title, but fans of the program know the Blue and Yellow have appeared in the postseason a few times over the years with their first trip occurring in 1992 with New Haven scoring a pair of wins, including a victory over Ferris State at the Yale Bowl. Their quest for a national crown, however, concluded one week later with a 46-35 setback to Jacksonville State in the national semifinals.

The Gamecocks would go on to win the D-II title against Pittsburgh State — the nine-win season for New Haven was a big improvement from one year earlier when they posted a 3-7 record. New Haven was coached by Mark Whipple in 1992, who is currently the offensive coordinator at the University of Pittsburgh.

Players to Watch on Bentley: Stephen Sturm (QB), Andrew Brazicki (RB) Noah Neville (WR), Cedie Dashiell II (DL/LB | NE10 Defensive Lineman of the Year), Steven Paulino (DL), Cole McCubrey (LB | NE10 Defensive Player of the Year), Jailen Branch (DB), and Charlie Ogletree (P)

Players to Watch on New Haven: Connor Degenhardt (QB), Dev Holmes (WR), Kevin Foelsch (TE), Khalim Cisse (DL), Michael Montecalvo (DL), Khyon Fitzpatrick(LB), Ryan Hodgins (LB), Ryan Dolce (DB), Shawn Tafe (DB), and Briant DeFelice (PK)

Bentley, New Haven To Meet In Opening Round Of NCAA D2 Tournament

New Haven captured the NE10 crown earlier this month by beating Bentley. (PHOTO COURTESY: University of New Haven Athletics)

By NoontimeSports.com

University of New Haven’s football team beat Bentley University earlier this month, but can they do it again in the opening round of the 2021 NCAA Division II Tournament?

The two Northeast-10 Conference (NE10) teams will square off for the second time in three weeks on Saturday, November 20 with the winner advancing to the second round to compete against Kutztown University.

All three teams appeared in the most recent Super Region One rankings, which were released last Monday, November 8.  

Bentley and UNH will enter their first-round postseason contest with an identical 9-1 overall record. The Falcons concluded the regular season with a 48-23 victory over Assumption College while the Chargers beat Franklin Pierce University by a score of 34-20.  

The Falcons, who previously captured the NE10 crown in 2019, have not competed in the NCAA Division II Tournament since 2004 when they lost to Edinboro University by a score of 47-43. One year earlier, Bentley made its first trip to the national postseason but saw their bid toward a national championship dashed in the opening round by Grand Valley State.

New Haven competed in the national tournament three years ago when they advanced to the second round after beating West Chester by a score of 35-28 (the Chargers’ postseason run concluded against Slippery Rock one week later).

The 2021 NCAA Division II Tournament features 28 teams with 12 first-round matchups. Four teams, including Kutztown, earned an opening-round bye.

Saturday’s kickoff between Bentley and New Haven is scheduled for 1 p.m.