Tag: Tom Kelley

Noontime’s D3 Football Teams to Wach In Week Four

Adam Couch rushed for a season-high 150 yards and one touchdown last week in Bridgewater State’s first win of the 2021 season. (PHOTO COURTESY: Bridgewater State Athletics/Andrew Turco)

By NoontimeSports.com

The fourth week of the New England NCAA Division III football season is set to begin tomorrow with Bridgewater State hosting Western Connecticut in a very important Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) meeting. 

Both teams enter the contest with identical 1-0 marks in conference play, but a win will certainly provide either the Bears or Colonials with a leg-up heading into the second month of conference play. 

But before the Bears and Colonials kick off the fourth week of the 2021 New England D-III football season, allow us to share our five teams to watch this weekend.

In case you missed it, make sure to check out this week’s Noontime Sports New England D-III Top 20 Poll, which featured both Bridgewater State and Western Connecticut.

Bridgewater State (1-2, 1-0 MASCAC): The Bears have been competitive this fall, despite losing two of three contests, but Friday’s tilt with the Colonials of Western Connecticut is somewhat of a “must-win.”

Bridgewater scored its first victory of the 2021 season last Saturday by defeating Plymouth State by a score of 27-24. 

Halfback Adam Couch was a big part of his team’s win by rushing for a game-high 150 yards on 26 carries and one touchdown — he also caught two passes for five yards. 

Brendan Albert led the Bridgewater State defense with 11 total tackles, including two tackles for a loss of 10 yards, two forced fumbles, and one fumble recovery returned for 12 yards. 

Plymouth State won the time of possession — they also outscored the hosts 14-0 in the final session.  

Bridgewater will need to play one of its best games of the season on Friday — one of the biggest tasks for the Red and White’s defense is slowing down a Western Connecticut offense that is second in the MASCAC in yards per game (388.7). 

If you like offense, then you will be in for a treat as both squads rank in the top three in yards per game behind UMass Dartmouth (409.0) while Western Connecticut leads all MASCAC teams with 94 points through three games. Bridgewater has tallied 67 points through three contests.

Framingham State (1-2, 1-0 MASCAC): Tom Kelley celebrated his birthday last Saturday with a Homecoming Day victory over UMass Dartmouth, which has provided the Rams with some much-needed momentum after dropping back-to-back non-conference games to Brockport and St. John Fisher.

Quarterback Nicolas Goffredo was tabbed the MASCAC Offensive Player of the Week on Sunday after tallying 248 yards of total offense, including 166 through the air to go with two touchdown passes. 

Matthew Farley was named the conference’s Special Teams Player of the Week — the first-year kicker converted all six extra points to go with a 23-yard field goal. 

This week, the Rams welcome Westfield State to Framingham — it is a game we believe they will win to even their record at 2-2 heading into an important October stretch.

MIT (1-1, 0-0 NEWMAC): The Engineers were idle last week after seeing their comeback against Salve Regina fall short in week two. 

This week, coach Brian Bubna’s squad heads to Dean College in what should be an interesting matchup for both the Engineers and Bulldogs. 

Both MIT and Dean are seeking their second win of the 2021 season after scoring opening day victories earlier this month  

Through two contests, MIT has limited its opponents to just two touchdowns, but can this Engineers defense slow down a Dean offense that is averaging 28.3 points per game? Additionally, Dean’s passing attack could provide challenges for the MIT secondary — that is one matchup to watch — but keep an eye on the Engineers’ rushing attack, which is led by Jay Theriault (115 yards and one touchdown) and Brady Klein (82 yards and two touchdowns).

Springfield College (1-2, 0-0 NEWMAC): Similar to Bridgewater State, the Pride of Springfield has also been quite competitive this fall, despite dropping two of three games to Union College and Western New England.

Against Union, the Pride tallied 435 yards of offense after registering a season-best 495 one week earlier against Rowan University while limiting the Dutchmen to a season-low in total points (30). 

Springfield College quarterback David Wells registered season-highs in completions (four), passing yards (145), and one passing touchdown to go with 56 rushing yards and two scores on the ground. Kicker Christian Hutra tallied five points on two extra points and a 30-yard field goal, which brought the visitors within a touchdown with 2:54 remaining.  

The Pride head to Husson University this Saturday for a chance to even their record before their initial New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) clash next month against Coast Guard Academy

Springfield last competed against Husson in 2017 when the two squads met in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament.

Williams College (1-0, 1-0 NESCAC): The Ephs were impressive in their initial game of the 2021 New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) season by scoring a big win over the league’s 2019 champions Middlebury College last Saturday. 

Quarterback Bobby Maimaron accounted for three touchdowns, including two on the ground while Joel Nicholas added 41 yards on 13 carries and three scores. 

On defense, Jarrett Wesner, Edward Manzella, and TJ Rothman combined for 22 total tackles to go with two interceptions. The defense did not make things easy on Middlebury quarterback Will Jernigan, who threw for a game-high 215 passing yards and two touchdowns, along with three interceptions. 

The opening day win momentum should continue this week as Williams travels to Tufts University for an enticing matchup between two teams that are expected to contend for the conference crown. 

Tufts dropped its season-opener to Trinity College, but a few Jumbos, including quarterback Matt Crowley, wide receiver Jackson Butler, and linebacker Spencer Alligood played well — all three, along with others will be players to watch on Saturday against Williams. 

The last time the Ephs topped the Jumbos in Somerville was October 20, 2012.

Noontime Football: 10 Games to Watch (Week One)

Sam Opont and the Endicott College Gulls begin their 2021 season at home against St. Lawrence University. (PHOTO COURTESY: David Le ’10 | Endicott College Athletics)

By NoontimeSports.com

Welcome to the opening week of the New England (and Northeast) college football season — yes, we know some teams have already competed on Wednesday and Thursday, but we’ll highlight (and pick) ten games to watch today and tomorrow (and maybe Sunday?). 

Anywho, we’re excited for a busy slate of games and hope you are, as well — let’s dish out and share some picks! 

Have a great weekend, everyone!


FEATURED GAME: St. Lawrence Univ. at Endicott College (Saturday, September 4 @ 12 p.m.): We’ll be in Beverly tomorrow to see the Gulls and Saints square-off in what should be an exciting week one tilt — make sure to check out our preview of the game, which was posted earlier today. We think Endicott will find a way to squeak out an exciting win with a last-minute touchdown drive. Prediction: Endicott 28, St. Lawrence 27


Westfield State at Nichols College (Friday, September 3 @ 6 p.m.): The Bison are a team to watch this fall, both in Commonwealth Coast Football (CCC) and New England, and should be able to pick up an opening night win against an Owls squad that might surprise some this fall. Prediction: Nichols 30, Westfield State 13 

Salve Regina at Norwich University (Friday, September 3 @ 6 p.m.): Both teams are expected to be in the mix for their respective conference crown, but look for the Seahawks to lean on its running game — well, hand the ball off to Joey Mauriello a few times to squeak out an important road win. Prediction: Salve Regina 24, Norwich 20

Worcester State at WPI (Friday, September 3 @ 7 p.m.): When we last saw the Engineers of Worcester, they produced a 10 win season, which is the most wins they have tallied since winning nine games in 2017. This squad is a mix of first-years and veterans but look for Lou Duh (defensive line) and Phillip Durgin (fullback) to lead WPI to an opening night win. Prediction: WPI 24, Worcester State 10    

Merchant Marine at FDU-Florham (Friday, September 3 @ 7 p.m.): The Mariners won their only game of 2020 — they beat their rival Coast Guard Academy last November — and returned some key pieces from that squad, including quarterback Ian Blankenship, who will be a player to watch this fall. Prediction: USMMA 28, FDU-Florham 14  

Brockport at Framingham State (Saturday, Sept. 4 @ 12 p.m.): The Golden Eagles are 2-0 all-time against the Rams — they enter the 2021 season as one of the best teams in NCAA Division III and will certainly provide some challenges for Tom Kelley’s unit. Prediction: Brockport 35, Framingham State 14

Fitchburg State at Dean College (Saturday, September 4 @ 12 p.m.): Scott Sperone has waited quite some time to coach his first game since being named the new head coach at Fitchburg State in 2020. So Saturday’s contest with the Bulldogs will be a special day for the second-year coach, who is keeping the focus on building a culture with the Falcons. Dean is the favorite in the Eastern Collegiate Football Conference (ECFC) and may have the edge being at home. PREDICTION: Dean 29, Fitchburg State 26

Springfield College at Western New England (Saturday, September 4 @ 1 p.m.): Bragging rights for the City of Springfield are on the lines when these two local rivals square off on Saturday. The Golden Bears return some key pieces from its 2019 squad, including wide receivers Steven Fedorchak and Adam Razza while Bailey Devine-Scott and Erich Keutmann are back to oversee a defensive unit that limited the Pride to 17 points in their previous meeting. Prediction: WNE 30, Springfield 16

Bridgewater State at Ithaca College (Saturday, September 4 @ 1 p.m.): The Bears are one of four teams — maybe five? — that we expect will be in the mix for the conference crown. And the same could be said for the Bombers of Ithaca, who compete in the Liberty League (LL). Both squads welcome some new members to their offense, defense, and special teams, which makes this contest a toss-up. Prediction: Ithaca 29, Bridgewater State 24

UMass Dartmouth at Husson (Saturday, September 4 @ 1 p.m.): On paper, this has the making for a really intriguing non-conference clash that should result in a back and forth affair. We believe the Corsairs have the edge in this one, but don’t be surprised if the Eagles score an exciting opening day victory. Prediction: UMass Dartmouth 30, Husson 28

The Early Outlook: MASCAC

Stephen Gacioch will be spotted under center this fall for the UMass Dartmouth football team. (PHOTO COURTESY: UMass Dartmouth Athletics)

By Matt Noonan

Our preseason New England college football coverage rolls on with some early thoughts on the Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC), which certainly has the making of a multi-team race for the top spot.

In case you missed it, make sure to read our previous early-season outlooks for the Eastern Collegiate Football Conference (ECFC), New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC), and Commonwealth Coast Football (CCC).

MASCAC Teams

  • Bridgewater State
  • Fitchburg State
  • Framingham State
  • Massachusetts Maritime Academy
  • Plymouth State
  • UMass Dartmouth
  • Western Connecticut
  • Westfield State
  • Worcester State

2019 Conference Refresh: For the sixth time in seven seasons, Framingham State secured the top spot with an 8-2 overall record, including an 8-0 league record. The Rams advanced to the opening round of the NCAA Division III Tournament but saw their championship hopes dashed to Wesley College by a score of 58-21.

Western Connecticut also finished its 2019 campaign with an identical 8-2 record — the Colonials, who finished tied for second in the conference with Bridgewater State with a 6-2 record, ended their season against WPI in the New England Bowl (the Engineers won the game by a score of 35-6).

The biggest surprise of the 2019 season was UMass Dartmouth — the Corsairs posted seven wins for the first time since 2004 when they represented the conference in the ECAC Northwest Bowl. Quarterback Stephen Gacioch was named the MASCAC Offensive Player of the Year — the junior signal-caller finished second in the conference in efficiency (143.2) while completing 59.2 percent of his passes.

Additionally, Gacioch competed in eight games and recorded career-highs in passing touchdowns (20), passing yards per game (277.6), rushing yards (356), and rushing touchdowns (six).

Massachusetts Maritime ended its season with six wins, which is the most the Buccaneers have tallied since posting an 8-2 record in 1999.

New Coaches at Fitchburg State and Worcester State: The MASCAC will feature two new coaches at Fitchburg State and Worcester State this fall — Adam Peloquin will lead the Lancers (he was a three-year offensive guard for the blue and gold) while Scott Sperone will lead the Falcons after spending three seasons as a defensive coordinator with WPI.

New Signal-Callers: A majority of the quarterbacks from 2019 have graduated, so the expectation is we will see some new signal-callers this fall for some of the “usual” contenders.

Stephen Gacioch is the only starting quarterback returning (that I know of at this time), but it is expected that we’ll see someone new running the offense at Bridgewater, Fitchburg, and Framingham this fall.

Westfield State excited to be back on the field: Like many teams in our region, getting back to the gridiron after a year away due to the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic is certainly something the Owls of Westfield State were happy to do a few days ago, despite a mini-heatwave. But with cooler weather now arriving to the area, the Blue and White will use this time, as well as the next few days and weeks to prepare for their season-opener against Nichols College on Friday, September 3 at 6 p.m.

Nichols and Westfield last met in the opening week of the 2018 season when the Owls topped the Bison, 25-14, thanks to 205 rushing yards and two touchdowns from halfback R.J. Darby.

Early-Season Favorite(s): It might be easy to pick the Rams of Framingham State, but the Black and Gold enter the upcoming season with some question marks on both sides of the ball, including who will be their starting quarterback. Adam Wojenski has graduated, so it will be interesting to see who coach Tom Kelley selects to lead his offense.

While Framingham State will certainly be a team to watch, the same could be said for these three squads: Bridgewater State, UMass Dartmouth, and Western Connecticut. Like Framingham, all three have some question marks heading into their respective 2021 campaign, but the Colonials will welcome back some key members of its 2019 squad, including wide receiver Will Daniels and cornerback Jarius Bailey.

Don’t rule out Plymouth State, which finished its 2019 campaign with a 6-4 record. The Panthers concluded their 2019 campaign by winning one of their final four contests, but I expect the Green and White to be in the mix this fall.

Football Friday: Revisiting Framingham State’s 2012 Campaign

Endicott Football
Framingham State’s Melikke Van Alstyne chases Endicott College’s PJ Bandini after an interception in the second half. (Photo Credit: Matt Noonan/NoontimeSports.com)

By Matt Noonan 

Happy Friday, everyone!

And welcome to our second installment of ‘Football Friday,’ a post where we revisit stories, teams, coaches, and student-athletes that we have covered over the past decade.

Today, we’re jumping back to 2012 to highlight a Framingham State University football team that not only won the New England Football Conference (NEFC) championship against Salve Regina University but also advanced to its first-ever NCAA D-III Tournament.

The Rams’ run toward a national championship, unfortunately, concluded in the opening round against SUNY Cortland – the Red Dragons edged Framingham State, 20-19, despite a fourth-quarter rally by the Black and Gold.

Yet, despite a one-point setback in the national tournament, the 2012 season was quite a memorable one for the Rams, which captured the program’s first and only NEFC title, while four members of the squad, including coach Tom Kelley, garnered major postseason awards from the conference. Additionally, Framingham State won 10 games for the first time in program history and only lost once in the regular season to Endicott College, which defeated the 2011 NEFC Bogan Division and Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) champions on the opening day of the 2012 season.

Endicott’s defense shined in its week one victory against the Rams as the unit finished the contest with five interceptions, five tackles for a loss, one fumble recovery, and a trio of pass break-ups.

“We stuffed them on first down (and) forced them (into) long second downs (and) that really got them out of their groove,” Endicott’s Andrew Holfinger said following his team’s initial win of its 2012 campaign.

Luckily, the loss to the Gulls was quickly forgotten six days later when Framingham State scored its first win of the 2012 season against Nichols College.

The Rams, who defeated the Bison by a score of 34-6, leaned on its ground game as both Matthew Mangano and Melikke Van Alstyne combined for four touchdowns and 393 rushing yards.

The victory over the Bison seemed to provide the Rams with a ton of momentum as they would go onto capture its next nine contests, including a 16-0 win over rival Bridgewater State University followed by an exciting overtime victory against Massachusetts Maritime Academy.

Not only did the Framingham State offense shine throughout the 2012 season, but so did  the defense, which limited its numerous foes to 12.8 points per game, along with 63.0 rushing yards per contest.

After registering just seven points in the opening week, the Rams concluded seven contests with 30 points or more. But during the team’s final regular-season contest against Worcester State University, all three units – offense, defense, and special teams – collaborated to produce a season-high 65 points.

The 65-21 win over the Lancers allowed the Rams to clinch its second-straight NEFC Bogan Division crown, as well as secure a spot in the conference’s championship round one week later against Salve Regina.

“We’re certainly going to be tested,” Kelley said when previewing his team’s contest against the Seahawks at the New England Football Writers’ Gridiron Club of Greater Boston luncheon, which was held at Harvard University.

Salve Regina entered the contest with an identical 9-1 record. The Seahawks averaged nearly 400 yards of offense while the defense limited opponents to roughly two touchdowns per game.

But despite scoring the first points of the 2012 NEFC title game, Salve Regina struggled to contain both Melikke Van Alstyne and Matthew Silva, who combined for three rushing touchdowns. 

James Muirhead led the Rams defense with eight total tackles, including three stops for a loss of 17 yards and one forced fumble.

Salve Regina, which trailed Framingham State by four points (14-10) at the break, attempted to mount a late comeback during the final minutes of the fourth quarter but saw its rally dashed when the Rams recovered its onside kick.

Moments after the final kickoff of the game was recorded, the Rams celebrated a hard-fought championship, which Muirhead considered “so surreal.”

“All the hard work paid off,” said Muirhead, who was named the Bull Mottola Championship Game Most Valuable Player Award following the final whistle.

“I don’t really have any words to explain it,” he would add.

The 28-16 win over the Seahawks was a culmination of the Rams’ commitment of hard work and determination that was fueled by an overtime setback one year earlier in the same contest to Western New England. And while the victory over the Seahawks did not spark a deep postseason run, it was certainly the beginning of many more conference titles and postseason appearances for a squad that has maintained its success over the past few years.

Watching – and yes, covering – this team truly made me fall in love more with small college football. The 2012 season truly marked the beginning of my tenure of producing content on various New England D-III athletic teams and programs, and I am thankful for the time both Tom Kelley and the players provided me throughout this exciting and historic campaign.

New England Football Offseason Notebook: Sperone Named Fitchburg State Head Coach

10 GAMES WEEK FIVE

By Matt Noonan | @NoontimeNation 

Wednesday was an exciting day for the Fitchburg State University football program as they introduced Scott Sperone as their next head coach.

Sperone, who spent the past three seasons down the road directing the WPI defense, becomes the school’s first full-time head football coach.

“I’m eager to officially step into my role and recruit for our incoming class,” Sperone said in Wednesday’s release. “I’m excited to work with our student-athletes this spring, both on and off the field. I believe that a team working towards a unified goal can achieve great things and I’m looking forward to getting the Falcons ready to fly for the 2020 season.”

Sperone’s path to Fitchburg has featured multiple stops throughout New England over the past two decades with teams in all three divisions, including his alma mater Springfield College. He also spent time as the defensive coordinator with Fairleigh Dickinson University from 2011-17.

Under Sperone’s watch, the WPI defense was a unit to watch, especially this past season as the Engineers concluded their 11-game slate by yielding an average of 14.7 points per game. WPI limited opponents to 277.9 yards per game, including 89.5 rushing yards.

Fitchburg State concluded its 2019 campaign with a 2-8 record, including 1-7 mark against Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) opponents.

Sperone isn’t the only new coach in the MASCAC as Framingham State University announced last week that Aynsley Rosenbaum had been named the new coach of the Rams, as announced by former head coach and Director of Athletics Tom Kelley.

Rosenbaum, who is an alum of the Framingham State football program, has been the Rams’ offensive coordinator for the past 12 seasons. He has helped the program win nine conference titles, make five appearances in the NCAA Tournament and win four bowl games, including the inaugural New England Bowl against Salve Regina University in 2016.

Additionally, Rosenbaum’s offenses have been units to watch, especially last fall as the Rams led all MASCAC offenses in points, rushing yards, total offense, and touchdowns.

“I’m honored to take over at my alma mater as its head football coach and follow in the footsteps of Tom Kelley, my mentor, and friend,” Rosenbaum said via last Tuesday’s release on the Framingham State athletics website. “Framingham is a special place with people I truly care about and I look forward to continuing relationships with players, administration, and alumni.”

Framingham State finished 8-3 last fall – they posted an 8-0 mark in conference play and advanced to the opening round of the NCAA Tournament.

Prior to the announcements of Rosenbaum and Sperone, Worcester State University‘s Adam Peloquin was elevated to the interim head football coach. As noted in the release from last November, ” (Adam) will assume the role through the 2020 fall playing season.”