Tag: Stephen Sturm

The 2021 New England College Football Season Was Worth The Wait

Matthew Sluka and the Holy Cross football team concluded its 2021 campaign with 10 wins, along with a trip to the NCAA FCS Tournament. (PHOTO COURTESY: Mark Seliger Photography/Courtesy of Holy Cross Athletics)

By Matt Noonan

Another season of New England college football — and yes, preps and high schools, too — are slowly ending. But the 2021 season is still on my mind.

After not seeing so many local teams compete last fall due to the Covid-19 pandemic, it was an amazing feeling to pace the sidelines these last few months and watch numerous student-athletes compete on the gridiron.

The 2021 New England football season will be one we will all remember — in my opinion, it was worth the wait. (And you can revisit some of our favorite memories from the sidelines by watching our end-of-season highlights on YouTube!).

There were some of the “usual suspects” that either won or were in the mix for their respective conference title to some new teams, especially in NCAA Division III that deserve our attention going forward.

Before we officially say so long and farewell to a fun season of coverage, allow me to revisit a few stories that I certainly will remember from this season.

  • Holy Cross not only won its third-straight Patriot League title, including two in the same year, thanks to a shortened spring season to go with their first postseason victory in program history. And despite losing on Friday in the second round of the NCAA FCS playoffs to the University of Villanova, the future is very bright for coach Bob Chesney’s squad.  
  • Harvard University captured their 137th meeting with Yale University last month, thanks to a game-winning touchdown pass from Luke Emge to Kym Wimberly. The 34-31 victory by the Crimson clinched their first eight-win season since 2015. 

  • Sacred Heart University made its second-straight appearance in the NCAA FCS Tournament, but came up short to Holy Cross, which edged the Pioneers in the opening round by a score of 13-10. The Red and White will graduate some key pieces from this year’s squad, but will attempt to win their third-straight Northeast Conference crown next fall.

  • Bentley University and the University of New Haven were two teams to watch in New England NCAA Division II.

    Both teams met twice last month, including in the opening round of the NCAA Division II Tournament. Two weeks earlier, the Falcons and Chargers squared-off in an early November contest with New Haven not only winning the game, but also securing their first Northeast-10 Conference (NE10) crown since 2012.

    The Chargers lost to Kutztown University last weekend in the second round of the playoffs, but they will certainly be a team to watch next season — the same could be said for the Falcons.

  • Bentley’s Stephen Sturm was one of a few NE10 signal-callers to watch this fall as he concluded the season with a league-high 23 touchdown passes.

    Saint Anselm’s Drew Willoughby, who was named the league’s Rookie of the Year, threw for a league-high 2,803 passing yards to go with 22 touchdowns. He averaged 311.4 passing yards per game.

  • Anna Maria College won its first-ever Eastern Collegiate Football Conference (ECFC) title with seven wins, which is the most victories any AMCATs squad has recorded in a single season. And despite losing to Delaware Valley in the opening round of the NCAA Division III Tournament, coach Dan Mulrooney’s squad will certainly be a team to watch next fall, both in and outside of the ECFC.

  • The 2021 Williams College football team made history by becoming the first squad to win nine games in a single season.

    The Ephs capped their campaign with three impressive wins over Amherst College (24-19), Trinity College (42-3), and Wesleyan University (25-0) to clinch a 9-0 record, their first perfect season since 2010.

  • Colby College could be a team to watch next fall as they matched their 2013 squad with four wins.

    The Mules captured their second-straight Colby-Bates-Bowdoin (CBB) crown with a pair of victories over Bates College (10-2) and Bowdoin College (21-10).  

  • Tom Kelley and the Framingham State University football team won their third-straight Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) crown outright. The Rams concluded their season with an 8-3 overall record for the third consecutive season, as well as posted a perfect 8-0 league mark for the second-straight year.

    The Rams will continue to be the team to watch (and yes, follow) in 2022, but will certainly be challenged by a slew of teams in the MASCAC.

  • Endicott College captured its first conference crown since 2013, as well as hosted its first-ever NCAA playoff game.

    Coach Paul McGonagle’s Gulls will certainly be a team to watch next fall — the Green and White are young and will return a slew of talent from this year’s squad on both sides of the ball, including quarterback Mike Ingraffia and wide receiver Shane Aylward.

  • After starting its season with a 1-3 record, Springfield College bounced back with six-straight wins to capture its second New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) crown. The Pride ended their season with three important wins against Catholic University (28-14), MIT (17-7), and the United States Merchant Marine Academy (28-23).

  • NCAA D-III Football Teams to Watch in 2022: Bridgewater State, Husson University, Salve Regina University, Plymouth State, Trinity College, Tufts University,  UMass Dartmouth, University of New England, and Western Connecticut.

Postseason Roundup: RPI Outlasts Endicott; New Haven Rolls Past Bentley

Mike Ingraffia tossed two touchdowns on Saturday in Endicott College’s NCAA D-III Tournament game against RPI. (PHOTO COURTESY: Tammy McManaway)

By NoontimeSports.com

Mike Ingraffia’s second and final touchdown pass with 2:50 remaining in the fourth quarter brought the hosts within one score, but that would be the closest they would get as RPI held onto defeat Endicott College, 20-14, in the opening round of the 2021 NCAA Division III Tournament.   

With the win, the Engineers secured a date with SUNY Cortland, which fended off a late rally by Springfield College in its opening round contest.

George Marinopoulos completed 18 of 27 passes for 175 yards and three touchdowns with two scores landing in the hands of Vinnie McDonald, who led all receivers with seven grabs for 122 yards.

McDonald caught his team’s first and final score – the initial touchdown with 2:07 remaining in the first quarter provided the visiting Engineers with a lead that would expand to 14-0 early in the second quarter when Marinopoulos connected with Peter Lombardi for a four-yard score.

Endicott would respond on the ensuing possession with a 66-yard touchdown strike over the middle from Ingraffia to Geoffrey Ingrando to pull the hosts within one score (14-7) at the break.

RPI would push ahead, 20-7, midway through the third quarter when Marinopoulos located McDonald on a fade pattern in the end zone to provide the Engineers with a two-score cushion that would be reduced to a six-point lead when Ingraffia connected with Kobe Gaudette for a 20-yard touchdown with 2:50 remaining.

Endicott attempted an onside kick on the ensuing possession, which was quickly recovered by the RPI special teams.

RPI concluded the game with 338 yards of total offense on 74 plays while Endicott tallied 190 on 48 plays.

Saturday’s game marked the first time Endicott has hosted an NCAA Tournament game.

University of New Haven 38, Bentley University 13: Connor Degenhardt registered four touchdowns, including three on the ground as the Chargers beat the Falcons for the second time in three weeks to secure a second round NCAA Division II meeting with top-ranked Kutztown University next Saturday, November 27 with kick off scheduled for 1 p.m.

Degenhardt completed 8 of 11 passes for 144 yards and one touchdown while rushing for 38 yards on 11 carries and three scores.

New Haven’s Zach Mauro led all rushers with 119 yards on 33 carries while Dev Holmes recorded four catches for 104 yards and one touchdown.

The Chargers erased a 6-3 deficit late in the second quarter with a pair of touchdowns from Degenhardt that provided New Haven with a 17-6 lead at the break that would morph into a 24-6 advantage after three quarters.

Despite the setback, Bentley’s Stephen Sturm concluded his career by tossing his 58th touchdown while eclipsing 8,000 passing yards.

Delaware Valley 62, Anna Maria College 10:Justin McMillian returned an 82-yard kickoff to start the game while Ryan Kent converted a 37-yard field goal as the AMCATs fell to the Aggies in their first-ever NCAA postseason contest.

Delaware Valley’s Daquan Bohannan and Casey Decker combined for three touchdown passes while Julian White rushed for a game-high 101 yards on four carries and one score.

Muhlenberg College 45, Framingham State 0: Michael Hnatkowsky completed 27 of 36 passes for 352 yards and four touchdowns as the Mules rolled past the Rams in the opening round of the postseason. Michael Brooks led Framingham State’s defense with nine total tackles, including eight solo stops.

SUNY Cortland 26, Springfield College 21: Patrick Ladas capped a 17-play, 75 yard drive with a one-yard touchdown run with 2:43 remaining, but that would be the closest the Pride would get to the Red Dragons hung onto win the 34th meeting between the two schools.

Ladas rushed fro a game-high 88 yards on 28 carries and three schools while Ryan Deguire added 44 yards on six carries.

Jaden Alfanostjohn rushed for a pair of first half scores with his second quarter touchdown providing the hosts with a lead they would not relinquish.

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)

Observations & Thoughts From Five Weeks of New England D2 & D3 Football

Western New England’s Steven Fedorchak set the program record for touchdown receptions last weekend against Salve Regina. (PHOTO COURTESY: Chris Marion)

By Matt Noonan

We’re slowly reaching the halfway mark of the 2021 college football season – crazy, right?

But the good news is there is still plenty of football left to be played.

While yesterday – Sunday, October 3, 2021 – technically marked the beginning of the sixth week of the season, here are some observations from what I have witnessed over the past few weeks.

Let’s begin in the Northeast 10 Conference (NE10) where Bentley University has won five straight contests to stretch its current winning streak to 10 games, dating back to October 2019.  

The Falcons, who currently occupy the top spot in the conference, have won three consecutive league matchups this fall, including a 34-21 contest this past weekend against Saint Anselm. Quarterback Stephen Sturm account for four touchdowns – three passing, one rushing – and 379 yards of total offense against the Hawks while Cole McCubrey registered a team-high 13 total tackles, including nine solo stops (Rene Nunez also recorded nine solo tackles).

Bentley enters the sixth week of the season as the 18th best team in Division II, according to the latest American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) Poll. The Falcons are one of nine teams on this week’s list that have won five consecutive contests this fall.

West Florida and Northwest Missouri State, which secured the first and second positions in this week’s AFCA D-II Poll, boast identical 4-0 records.

As noted above, there is still a lot of football left to be played, but Bentley has certainly found ways to score hard-fought wins, both this past weekend and at the end of September against American International College.

This week, the Falcons host a Pace University squad that provided challenges for New Haven, which broke open a 14-14 tie with a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns.

Last week’s Pace-New Haven contest marked the first time the Chargers competed on the road this school year.

Coach Chris Pincince seemed proud of his team’s effort against the Setters, saying that “a win is a win, we look forward. We took another step toward another goal (of winning the Northeast 10 title) that we have.”

New Haven hosts Saint Anselm this week – the Chargers defense will be tasked with slowing down an impressive Hawks passing attack that is led by quarterback Drew Willoughby, who has thrown for 10 touchdowns and 1,410 yards in four contests.

As of now, it appears as if both Bentley and New Haven are the frontrunners for the conference crown as neither squad has dropped a league contest thus far, but don’t overlook Southern Connecticut (3-2, 2-1), Assumption College (2-3, 2-1), and Stonehill College (3-1, 1-1). All three, along with possible American International College could conclude the season in the top spot.

Sure, we picked against Western New England this past weekend in the previous 10 Games to Watch – I thought Salve Regina University would continue its early-season momentum against the Golden Bears – but the Blue and Gold proved me wrong as they defeated the Seahawks, 41-3, in their initial Commonwealth Coast Football (CCC) contest.

Steven Fedorchak highlighted his team’s big win over the Seahawks by setting a new program record for touchdown receptions with 23. He concluded the contest with a game-high 87 yards on six catches.

With the win, the Golden Bears returned to the top spot in our weekly poll and seem destined to occupy that position for the remainder of the season baring a future setback to say Endicott College this week or another conference foe later this fall.

We’ll share our weekly picks later this week, but from what I have seen from Western New England thus far, as well as this past weekend, they certainly are the favorite to win their fourth-straight CCC title.

Alex Cohen recorded six touchdowns last weekend in his team’s first-ever win against Keystone College. (PHOTO COURTESY: Brian Foley/Anna Maria College)

Here are a few more teams to keep an eye on over the next few weeks:

Anna Maria College: The AMCATs have been a great story this fall.

Anna Maria has won three of four meetings, including its first-ever with Keystone College, which saw quarterback Alex Cohen account for six touchdowns – five passing and one rushing.

Last Saturday’s win provided coach Dan Mulrooney with his seventh victory as the AMCATs head coach – the seven wins are the most recorded by a head coach in program history, dating back to their initial season in 2009.

Anna Maria has never won the Eastern Collegiate Football Conference (ECFC) but could be in line for the title, pending how the next few weeks play out.

Framingham State: After losing back-to-back non-conference games earlier this season, the Rams have bounced back, winning three straight, including their first conference clash of the season with UMass Dartmouth.

Coach Tom Kelley’s squad enters the sixth week of the season tied with Bridgewater State for the top spot in the Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) – the two teams will compete next month in Framingham.

The Rams pitched their first shutout of the season last weekend against Plymouth State (33-0) and will attempt to extend their winning streak to four games on Saturday when they visit Fitchburg State for a 3 p.m. kick-off.

Norwich University: The Cadets scored a big win last weekend against Coast Guard Academy to secure a three-way tie atop the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) standings.

After starting their 2021 campaign with back-to-back losses, Norwich has rebounded quite well – hey, they did not make things easy on Endicott, which rallied to beat the Cadets on their home field.

Keep an eye on the Cadets moving forward – maybe their win against Coast Guard Academy is just the start of an exciting second-half run.

Trinity College: I watched the Bantams game last weekend against Middlebury College and came away impressed.

Trinity blanked the defending champions by a score of 28-0, thanks to a pair of touchdown passes from Spencer Fetter, who has thrown eight touchdowns this fall while completing 62 of 91 passes for 952 yards.

Fetter was impressive, but the same could be said for others, including halfback William Kirby and linebacker Brian Casagrande, who both scored one touchdown last weekend.

Trinity is one of three New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) teams that have yet to drop a game this season – they will attempt to continue their winning ways on Saturday when they visit Hamilton College for a 1 p.m. kick-off.

University of New England: The Nor’easters are one win away from matching their program record for wins in a single season after capturing their last three matchups, including a pair of non-league wins over Alfred State and Bridgewater State.

Last Saturday, UNE scored its first win in program history against Nichols College, thanks to three rushing touchdowns from Jack Mahoney, Jaymeson Maheux, and Connor Sirois.   

UNE travels to Salve Regina this weekend for its second conference tilt of the 2021 season.

Bentley Outlasts AIC In Battle of Unbeatens

Nathaniel Larkins rushed for a game-high 131 yards and two touchdowns on Saturday against AIC. (PHOTO COURTESY: Bentley University Athletics)

By NoontimeSports.com

Three second-half touchdowns were all Bentley University needed to defeat American International College in Saturday’s battle of unbeaten squads in the Northeast-10 Conference.

The Falcons, who rallied to tie the game at the break, secured a hard-fought 35-27 victory over the Yellow Jackets to secure the top spot in the conference, along with its fourth consecutive victory.

Halfback Nathaniel Larkins rushed for a game-high 131 yards on 24 carries and two touchdowns with his second score providing the visitors with their first and only lead of the game, which grew to a two-score advantage with 5:17 remaining in the fourth quarter.

Bentley quarterback Stephen Sturm completed 8 of 18 passes for 76 yards and one touchdown while adding 103 rushing yards on 14 carries.

AIC, which concluded the contest with 405 yards of total offense, was led by quarterback Jayson DeMild, who accounted for 298 yards of total offense, including 265 passing yards and three touchdowns. DeMild tossed two scores in the opening frame to Tommy Smith and Jaxon Ramsay before connecting with Jaheim McGuire in the fourth quarter to bring his team within one score (28-21) with 9:19 remaining.

Bentley’s Cole McCubrey intercepted DeMild on his team’s ensuing possession for a 45-yard touchdown return to provide the Falcons with a 35-21 lead with 5:17 remaining.

McCubrey concluded the game with a team-high eight total tackles, including three solo stops ad one forced fumble.

With the win, Bentley has now beaten AIC in six of their last seven meetings to bump their all-time series advantage to 15-12.

Bentley will look to continue its early-season momentum next Saturday, October 2 when they visit Saint Anselm College for a 3:30 p.m. kickoff.

AIC, which was competing at home for the first time since November 9, 2019, will look to bounce back next Friday, October 1 when they travel to Southern Connecticut State University for a 7 p.m. kickoff.