Tag: Tom Kelley

Noontime’s Five D3 Football Teams to Watch in Week Three

Willie Lombard and the Plymouth State Panthers will attempt to continue their early-season momentum on Saturday against Bridgewater State. (PHOTO COURTESY: Kim Bownes/Plymouth State Athletics)

By NoontimeSports.com

It may be Tuesday, but it’s never too early to look ahead to this weekend’s slate of small college football games.

Like we did last week – and yes, last season, too – it is time to highlight this week’s five New England NCAA Division III football teams to watch on Friday and Saturday.

Anna Maria College: Quarterback Alex Cohen highlighted his team’s season-opener by recording eight touchdowns.

No, the “eight touchdowns” was not a typo.

The AMCATs’ win over UMass Dartmouth certainly proves this squad can defend its Eastern Collegiate Football Conference (ECFC) title from last fall.

While it’s only one game, Cohen has been a player to watch on Anna Maria, dating back to his initial season with the Maroon and White in 2018 when he recorded 13 touchdowns, including five scores on the ground. The veteran signal-caller has thrown for 5,562 yards and 43 touchdowns in 30 contests with Anna Maria – expect his impressive debut from last week to continue this weekend against Massachusetts Maritime Academy.

Endicott College: The Gulls’ defense has been the story through two contests.

Entering this week’s non-conference matchup with The College of New Jersey (TCNJ), Endicott’s defense has limited its first two opponents – St. Lawrence University and WPI – to zero points. Additionally, the unit is yielding 61.0 rushing yards per game.

Hector Johnson was named to this week’s D3Football.com Team of the Week after establishing a career-high for tackles (six), sacks (four), and tackles for a loss (four) last Friday against WPI. Johnson is currently third on the team in total tackles (11.0) and has complemented linebacker Matthew Licciardi (15 total tackles) and defensive back Tyler Davis (13.0 total tackles).

Framingham State: Last season, it took the Rams three weeks to score their first win.

This season, the Rams needed just two weeks to secure a victory as they earned their first non-conference win in four years this past weekend.

Beating St. John Fisher, a team that produced 62 points in its season-opener against Buffalo State, should provide coach Tom Kelley’s squad with some much-needed momentum heading into Saturday’s conference clash with UMass Dartmouth. Framingham State has won its last four meetings with UMass Dartmouth while averaging 40.5 points.

The Corsairs’ last win over the Rams came in 2016 in overtime.

For the Rams to score its initial conference win, they will need to lean on their defense, specifically Cully Curran, Michael Brooks, and Chase Buono, to slow down a high-powered UMass Dartmouth offense that is led by quarterback Dante Aviles-Santos and halfback Marvens Jean.

Plymouth State: It’s been a good start for coach Paul Castonia’s Panthers.

Plymouth State has won back-to-back games over Castleton University (20-7) and Husson University (17-0), thanks to both its rushing attack and defense.

Manny Sanchez and Willie Lombard have been two players to watch on offense this fall with the duo combining for 325 rushing yards and two touchdowns. Lombard has been Braden Lynn’s go-to receiver with five catches for a team-high 66 receiving yards.

Lombard, along with Sanchez and Lynn, will be players to watch against a Bridgewater State squad that appears eager to snap its two-game losing streak. The Bears beat the Panthers last season, thanks to halfback Adam Couch, who rushed for a game-high 150 yards and one touchdown.

Couch will be on the field Saturday and will certainly be a player the Panthers’ defense will need to stop if the Green and White would like to extend its current winning streak.

Trinity College: The wait for a brand-new season of Trinity College football has concluded.

The Bantams return to the gridiron this Saturday with hopes of continuing its previous success from a year ago when the Blue and Gold concluded their campaign with eight wins and one loss.

The Bantams return some key members of last year’s squad, including quarterback Spencer Fetter, halfback Will Kirby, wide receiver DeVante Reid, and linebacker Brian Casagrande. Of course, other first and second-team all-New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) players return with hopes of winning its first conference crown since 2018.

Trinity will visit Tufts University on Saturday – last year, the Bantams beat the Jumbos in their season-opener, thanks to Spencer Fetter and Will Kirby, who combined for six touchdowns.

New England D3 Football Roundup: Salve Regina Rallies To Beat MIT; Rowan Tops Springfield

The Seahawks of Salve Regina University improved to 2-0 on Saturday. (PHOTO COURTESY: George Corrigan ’22/ Salve Regina University Athletics)

By NoontimeSports.com

For the second-straight week, the Salve Regina University football team scored a hard-fought victory.  

The Seahawks rallied to beat MIT this afternoon, 13-10, thanks to a pair of second-half touchdown passes from Jake Stack.

Stack connected with Keith Sutton for a 78-yard strike late in the third quarter before capping a 13-play, 91-yard drive in the final session with a four-yard touchdown pass to Josh Letellier to clinch the Seahawks’ second win of the 2022 season.

With the win, the Seahawks have now scored four-straight wins over the Engineers, dating back to 2015. 

Salve Regina’s early-season momentum will be tested next week against Montclair State, a team the Seahawks defeated last September by a field goal.  

The Engineers will be idle next week, but return to the gridiron on Saturday, September 24 when they welcome Dean College to Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Quarterback Mike Husni tossed five touchdowns, including the go-ahead score in the fourth quarter to lead Rowan University past Springfield College, 38-35.

Rowan led by one score at the break (21-14) before Springfield rallied to secure a 35-31 advantage with 4:26 remaining. The Profs responded with a 13-play, 75-yard drive which ended with Husni connecting with John Maldonado for the game-winning score.

Maldonado led all receivers with nine catches for 115 yards and three touchdowns while Springfield’s Arsen Shtefan paced all rushers with 97 yards on 10 carries and one score.

Springfield will entertain Union College next Saturday. The Dutchmen defeated Worcester State this afternoon by a score of 76-7.

Plymouth State scored its second-straight win, downing Husson University, 17-0, thanks to a Panthers defense, which limited the Eagles to 261 yards of total offense while stopping the Green and White nine times on third down.

Manny Sanchez led the Panthers with a game-high 131 rushing yards on 21 carries.

Elsewhere in New England, coach Tom Kelley and the Framingham State Rams defeated St. John Fisher for its first win while Anna Maria stunned UMass Dartmouth, 63-48. Quarterback Alex Cohen recorded six touchdowns in the first half for the AMCATs, including two scores on the ground.

Finally, make it back-to-back seasons that the University of New England has defeated Bridgewater State as the Nor’easters topped the Bears in Biddeford, Maine by a score of 38-23.

New England D-III Football Week Two Scoreboard

  • Nichols College 71, Dean College 55
  • Endicott College 24, WPI 0
  • Plymouth State 17, Husson University 0
  • University of New England 38, Bridgewater State 23
  • Salve Regina University 13, MIT 10
  • Western New England 38, Westfield State 14
  • Coast Guard Academy 22, Curry College 16
  • Maritime College 17, Massachusetts Maritime Academy 14
  • Anna Maria College 63, UMass Dartmouth 48
  • Castleton University 48, Fitchburg State 0
  • Framingham State 31, St. John Fisher 20
  • Union College 76, Worcester State 7
  • Western Conn. 28, Albright College 14
  • St. Lawrence University 30, Norwich University 19
  • Rowan University 38, Springfield College 35

Noontime’s Way Too Early New England D-III Football Top 20 Poll

Elijah Nichols and the Framingham State Rams will once again be a team to watch in the Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) this fall. (PHOTO COURTESY: Frank Poulin Photography).

By NoontimeSports.com

It’s time to start thinking about football — well, more the upcoming NCAA Division III season, to be exact.

It’s time to share our ‘Way Too Early‘ New England D-III Top 20 Poll, which may look similar to our final Top 20 from last season. But the expectation is the poll will change ahead of the opening week of the season — be on the lookout for some preseason and camp coverage later this summer.

Enjoy our early-season — well, way-too-early-season poll and feel free to let us know your thoughts by sending us a message on Instagram (@NoontimeNation) and or tweet on Twitter (@NoontimeSports).

Noontime’s Way Too Early New England NCAA D-III Football Poll

  1. Endicott College (8-3, 5-1 CCC): The Gulls captured their first conference crown last fall since 2013 and will certainly be ready to defend it this season.

  2. Framingham State (8-3, 8-0 MASCAC): Coach Tom Kelley and the Rams will once again be a team to watch — maybe the team to beat? — in the Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) this fall.

  3. UMass Dartmouth (9-2, 6-2 MASCAC): The Corsairs capped their 2021 season with a New England Bowl victory. Expect their win over Alfred State to provide the squad with some additional momentum this season.

  4. Husson University (7-3, 4-2 CCC): Quarterback Nic Visser is just one of many student-athletes to watch this fall on the Eagles.

  5. Trinity College (8-1, 8-1 NESCAC): Look for a big year from halfback Will Kirby.

  6. Wesleyan University (6-3, 6-3 NESCAC): The Cardinals are going to surprise many New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) football fans.

  7. Salve Regina University (8-2, 4-2 CCC): Last season, the Seahawks won eight games for the first time since 2016.

  8. Springfield College (7-4, 6-0 NEWMAC): The Pride should be the favorite to win the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) this fall.

  9. Western New England (7-4, 5-1 CCC): Members of the 2019 and 2021 squad have graduated, which means it’s time for some new Golden Bears to step up.

  10. Bridgewater State (6-4, 6-2 MASCAC): This could be a big year for halfback Adam Couch.

  11. Plymouth State (5-5, 5-3 MASCAC): Like the Cardinals of Wesleyan, the Panthers are going to surprise fans of the MASCAC.

  12. Anna Maria College (7-3, 5-1 ECFC): A new chapter of AMCATs football begins this fall with first-year coach Steve Croce.

  13. University of New England (4-5, 2-4 CCC): This Nor’easters squad proved they’re going to get better every season.

  14. Tufts University (4-5, 4-5 NESCAC): Don’t sleep on the Jumbos this year.

  15. Amherst College (5-4, 5-4 NESCAC): A five-point setback to Williams at the end of last year will be the motivation for the Purple and White this fall.

  16. Williams College (9-0, 9-0 NESCAC): After producing its first-ever nine-win season in program history, these Ephs have some graduation holes to fill.

  17. MIT (5-4, 3-3 NEWMAC): One has to think “Bubna Magic” will return after a 5-4 season last fall.

  18. Western Conn. (5-5, 4-4 MASCAC): After posting just five wins for the first time since 2016, one should expect coach Joe Loth‘s squad to bounce back and be in the mix for a conference crown.

  19. Colby College (4-5, 4-5 NESCAC): Expect the Mules to capture the Colby-Bates-Bowdoin (CBB) crown again this fall.

  20. WPI (3-7, 2-4 NEWMAC): After a down year, expect the Engineers to bounce back with possibly one or two new signal-callers.

On the Rise: Coast Guard Academy, Curry College, Dean College, and Massachusetts Maritime Academy.

Framingham State’s Onujiogu’s Signs With The Seattle Seahawks

Joshua Onujiogu (No. 91), who played defensive end at Framingham State, was recently signed by the Seattle Seahawks. (PHOTO COURTESY: Frank Poulin Photography)

By NoontimeSports.com

Joshua Onujiogu’s football journey is not over yet.

The Framingham State University defensive end that racked up a career-best 44 solo stops last fall, including 13.5 sacks and 25 tackles for a loss, was signed yesterday by the Seattle Seahawks.

According to D3Football.com, Onujiogu is the only NCAA Division III student-athlete to ink his name on a contract with an NFL team.

The Wareham, Massachusetts native gained attention from the Houston Texans and New England Patriots following an impressive pro day workout earlier this year at Holy Cross. He also visited with the Patriots ahead of this year’s draft.

Onujiogu has been a staple of coach Tom Kelley’s defense since his initial season with the Rams in 2016. He registered 228 total tackles in 47 contests to go with 36 sacks, 67 tackles for a loss, and three forced fumbles.

Against Westfield State University last September, Onujiogu recorded his first-ever interception to go with nine total tackles, including five tackles for a loss of 26 yards.

Prior to his team’s initial NCAA postseason contest against Muhlenberg College, Onujiogu was named the Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) Defensive Player of the Year. He was also named to the New England Football Writers’ (NEFW) Division II/III All-New England team while securing a spot on the D3Football.com All-Region 1 squad.

Onujiogu concluded his final season by earning a spot on our Noontime Sports All-New England Team.

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.