Mass. College Football: Camping With Stonehill College Football

Stonehill College football prepares for its upcoming 2015 season. (Photo Credit: Brian Willwerth)
Stonehill College football prepares for its upcoming 2015 season. (Photo Credit: Brian Willwerth)

By Brian Willwerth 

EASTON, Mass. — The Stonehill College Skyhawks are looking to improve on last year’s 5-6 record. On Tuesday, we had the opportunity to catch up with the team at practice, on a hot and humid day at W.B. Mason Stadium.

After using several different quarterbacks in 2014, Matt Foltz will be leading the offense this year. He went 2-1 in the three games last year. He was very effective with his legs, scoring six touchdowns on the ground. Through the air, he completed nearly 64% of his passes, throwing two touchdowns and four interceptions.

“He’s really coming along,” said head coach Robert Talley. “He has a really good grasp of the offense, and every day he seems to improve.”

One of the players Foltz will try to get the ball to is wide receiver – and co-captain – Gordon McLeod. He has 1,350 receiving yards in his Stonehill career.

“We expect to be fast,” said McLeod. “We weren’t too consistent last year….so that’s what we’re striving for.”

The running game will be led by tailback Colin Markus, whom Talley called “a game breaker.” Markus rushed for over 700 yards and five touchdowns in 2014.

The Skyhawks’ defense — ranked first in the Northeast-10 last year in just about every single category — lost some players to graduation, including two key members of the secondary, so others will need to step up and fill the void.

“We’re pretty talented on that side of the ball. It’s just a matter of how quickly we can come together as one unit,” said Talley.

Talley said special teams have been a strong point, and he expects this year to be no different. Kicker Steve Grzywacz is a four-year starter.

Stonehill opens the season on the road, on September 5 against the Huskies of Bloomsburg University.

Mass. College Football: Week 11 Teams Of The Week

By NoontimeSports.com 

With the second to last week of the regular season in the books, it is now time to unveil this week’s Noontime Sports Teams of the Week.

Division 1 – Boston College: The Eagles matched their longest winning streak of the season (two games) with a 48-34 win over New Mexico State. The Eagles outscored the Aggies, 28-17 in the second half to earn their fifth win.

Andre Williams, who is currently the leading rusher in the ACC and No. 2 in the FBS (Football Bowl Subdivision), rushed for 295 yards on 30 carries and two scores, while quarterback Chase Rettig tossed three touchdowns.

The Eagles finished with 550 yards of total offense, along with 18 first downs. They converted on 5-of-13 third downs and were 1-for-1 on fourth down.

BC will return to conference play next weekend when they host North Carolina State, which will be their final home game of the 2013 season.

Division 2 – Stonehill College: For the first time since 1996, the Skyhawks won their fifth straight game by defeating Merrimack College, 26-14.

Brian Harrington led Stonehill’s defense with 16 tackles, as well as established a new single-season record with 134 stops.

Colin Markus rushed for 185 yards on 31 carries and Nate Robitaille caught seven passes for 113 yards and two touchdowns.

Stonehill raced out to a 13-0 lead thanks to two Steve Grzywacz field goals and a touchdown pass from Joe Della Vecchia to Robitaille. Merrimack did comeback in the third, but the Skyhawks padded their lead with a 90-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by Paul Piccirillo.

The Skyhawk, who earned a share of the Northeast-10 Conference regular season crown, will travel to Springfield on Saturday to face AIC in the title game. A win for the Skyhawks would most likely secure them a spot in the NCAA Division 2 tournament.

Division 3 – WPI: The Engineers snapped a four-game losing streaking on “Senior Day” with a 31-21 victory over Rochester.

Halfback Zach Grasis rushed for 155 yards on 22 carries and two scores, while quarterback John Antonopoulos amassed 179 yards of total offense. He also tossed one touchdown in the opening quarter to Gallagher Hogan, which evened the score at 7-7.

Defensively, Sean Murphy led the unit with two interceptions, along with five solo stops, one fumble recover and two pass break-ups. Brian Murtagh finished with a team-high nine total tackles and two pass break-ups.

The Engineers, who improved to 3-6 overall, will conclude their season on Saturday when they travel to Springfield to face the Pride.

Mass. College Football: Week Seven Teams Of The Week

By NoontimeSports.com 

Another weekend of college football has come to an end. And with the seventh week in the books it is time to announce this week’s Noontime Sports Teams of the Week.

Division 1 – Massachusetts: The monkey is finally off their backs. The Minutemen, who entered Saturday’s contest on a six-game losing skid, relied on a second half touchdown pass from A.J. Doyle and a 25-yard field goal by Blake Lucas to seal their first victory of the season. Doyle had his best game, tossing two touchdowns, the most he’s recorded in a game this season, and a season-best 249 passing yards.

UMass finished the contest with 23 first downs and 376 yards of total offense. The Minutemen also won the time of possession battle as they held the ball for 34:28.

Charley Molnar’s squad returns to the gridiron next week when they travel to Buffalo. Last season, the Bulls topped the Minutemen at Gillette Stadium, 29-19.

Division 2 – Stonehill College: Quarterback Logan Meyer tossed two of his three touchdowns in the second half, as he connected with Colin Markus and Paul Piccirillo, while Steve Grzywacz kicked a 38-yard field goal as the Skyhawks outscored the Owls, 16-0, during the final two frames en route to a 23-21 victory against Southern Connecticut.

Stonehill’s Brian Harrington finished another game this season with more than 10 total tackles as he registered 16, 11 solo, while teammate Andrew Kibarian recorded eight total tackles, six solo and two tackles for a loss.

Gordon McLeod hauled in five receptions for a career-high 109 yards, while Nate Robitaille finished with 10 catches for 85 yards.

The Skyhawks will be on the road again next weekend as they travel to New Haven for a 1 p.m. kickoff.

Division 3 – UMass Dartmouth: For the first time since 2008, the Corsairs defeated the Bears of Bridgewater State on Friday in a wild conference clash. UMass Dartmouth rallied from a 22-point deficit to seal the win.

DaVon Fuller helped his team earn their second win of the season when he intercepted Bridgewater State’s Mike McCarthy on his team’s two-yard line with seven seconds remaining in regulation.

Quarterback Cullen Hanna recorded season-highs of 179 yards passing and three touchdowns. He also rushed for 26 yards and one score on six carries. Wide receiver Abiola Aborishade, who caught the game-winning touchdown, registered a game-high 10 catches for 111 yards, while running back Charles Ruffin produced his first 100-yard rushing game with 101 yards on the ground.

Defensively, UMass Dartmouth was led by Derek Tarpey, who finished with 22 stops, which was a career-high, 14 solo tackles, five tackles for a loss, two forced fumbles and one sack.

The Corsairs, who’re now 2-3 overall and 2-2 in their conference will be back on their home field Saturday when they host Worcester State for a 12 p.m. contest.

Mass. College Football: Stonehill College 26, Assumption College 24

By Brian Willwerth  

EASTON, MA – Talk about a game-changing play. On a day when Stonehill College defensive back Kevin Anderson had three interceptions, the last one was by far the biggest, and most memorable, too.

With his team in danger of falling behind by two scores, he picked off a Bobby Jordan pass and returned it 98 yards for the game-winning touchdown with just over six minutes remaining, as the Skyhawks rallied past Assumption College Saturday night in Northeast-10 action, 26-24.

This was a game full of big pass plays, a few trick plays, and a whopping 20 yellow flags thrown by the officials, 12 of them against the visitors from Worcester.

The Greyhounds got on the board first on their first possession. Jordan found Scott Simonson for a two-yard touchdown pass. The key play on the drive was a 51-yard reception on a flea-flicker to Adam Gruschow.

Stonehill College rallied back on Saturday evening to defeat the visiting Assumption College Greyhounds, 26-24! (Photo Credit: Brian Willwerth for NoontimeSports.com)

Anderson’s first pick led to a Stonehill field goal. When he picked off Jordan a second time, his team found the end zone. The Skyhawks took their first lead when Logan Meyer threw a 15-yard strike to Nate Robitaille to make it 10-7. But the Hounds regained the lead by blocking a punt, executing a fake field goal to perfection, and cashing in courtesy of Matt Tuleja’s one-yard run.

The Skyhawks cut the margin to 14-13 just before the half when Steve Grzywacz nailed his third field goal of the half, a drive that was set up by a 35-yard completion from Meyer to Josh Gomes, who led the home team with 88 receiving yards.

In the third quarter, the Hounds extended their lead to eight, thanks to the Jordan-to-Simonson connection hooking up again, this time for 42 yards.  Simonson finished with six catches for 87 yards. A field goal made it 24-13.

But the Skyhawks would rally.  On the final play of the quarter, Meyer found Robitaille again for a 27-yard scoring play. The score would remain at 24-20 until Anderson’s heroics.

With Assumption facing third-and-goal, Anderson stepped in front of a Jordan pass at the two-yard line, and took off down the sidelines. He broke a couple of tackles on his way to an electrifying trip to the end zone.

Stonehill missed the extra point, and an excessive celebration penalty on Anderson, allowed Assumption to start its next possession in Skyhawk territory, needing only a field goal to take the lead. But Stonehill’s defense rose to the challenge, and the Hounds never threatened the rest of the way.

Assumption outgained Stonehill 354 to 258 in total yards. But turnovers can often be the equalizer when you have that kind of disparity. Such was the case on this night. Jordan threw for 211 yards, while Meyer threw for 188.

The Skyhawks improve to 3-0 in the conference. The Greyhounds fall to 1-2.