Assumption, New Haven To Compete In NCAA D2 Playoffs

Connor Degenhardt and the University of New Haven football team secured a spot in this year’s NCAA D-II Tournament. (PHOTO COURTESY: Clarus Studios)

By NoontimeSports.com

Five years ago, Assumption University captured the Northeast-10 Conference Football Championship.

Five years later, the Greyhounds secured its third NE10 crown since 2015, thanks to a late October victory against the University of New Haven.

With an 8-2 overall record, including a 6-1 mark against NE10 foes, Assumption resume was good enough to secure a spot in this year’s NCAA Division II Tournament, which will begin this Saturday, November 19.

The Greyhounds will begin their quest for a national title in Worcester against Slippery Rock University at 1 p.m.

The Rock is making its fourth-straight trip to the postseason after producing a 9-2 record this fall.

SRU recently fell to Kutztown University on Saturday in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) Championship, snapping a five-game winning streak that began early last month with a 31-17 win over Mercyhurst University.

New Haven will also represent the NE10 in the national postseason – like Assumption, they won eight of 10 games this fall and secured a first-round matchup with Shepherd University.

The Chargers competed in the NCAA D-II Tournament last fall, beating Bentley University in the opening round before falling to Kutztown in the second round.

Kutztown did not qualify for this year’s postseason, despite producing an 8-3 overall record.

The winner of Assumption-SRU will square-off against either New Haven or Shepherd in the second round on Saturday, November 26.

New Haven Picked To Win The NE10; Ranked 16th in the AFCA D-II Top 25

Connor Degenhardt and the University of New Haven football team will be a squad to watch this fall. (PHOTO COURTESY: Clarus Studios

By NoontimeSports.com

It’s been a busy news day for the University of New Haven football team.

For starters, the Chargers were picked to finish atop the Northeast-10 Conference (NE-10) this fall after completing an undefeated season last November. New Haven won all eight of its league tilts before scoring an opening-round NCAA Division II postseason victory against Bentley University.

Seven of the eight NE10 coaches voted for New Haven to secure the top spot in today’s preseason poll while Assumption College collected one first-place vote in the second position.

Bentley, Pace University, and Saint Anselm College rounded out the top five, checking-in third, fourth, and fifth, respectively.

The eight-team poll concluded with Southern Connecticut State University (sixth), American International College (seventh), and Franklin Pierce University (eighth).

In addition to being named the preseason favorite in the NE10, New Haven was slotted 16th in today’s American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) NCAA Division II Coaches’ Top 25 FCS Poll.

Bentley also received attention from the AFCA with the Falcons joining a slew of teams that are currently receiving votes.

New Haven will return some key members of last year’s squad, including quarterback Connor Degenhardt and wide receiver Dev Holmes. Khyon Fitzpatrick will be the player to watch on defense after leading the Blue and Gold with 68 tackles.

New Haven will kick off its 2022 slate with a visit to eighth-ranked Bowie State on Saturday, September 3. The Chargers currently lead the all-time series, 3-1.

Five New England D2 Teams To Watch This Fall

Khyon Fitzpatrick and the New Haven Chargers will once again be a squad to watch in the Northeast-10 this fall. (PHOTO COURTESY: Clarus Studios)

By NoontimeSports.com

Our preseason college football coverage continues by highlighting five New England NCAA Division II teams to watch this fall – all the teams listed below compete in the Northeast-10 Conference (NE10).

In case you missed it, make sure to check out our New England FCS and Division III teams to watch, as well.

American International College (AIC): After beginning their 2021 campaign with three-straight wins, including a dramatic come-from-behind victory against Pace University, the Yellow Jackets’ winning ways vanished with a hard-fought loss to Bentley. AIC would lose its next five contests before ending its season with a 14-7 victory over the Setters.

The hope for the Yellow Jacket is they can use their final contest from 2021 as motivation – perhaps a learning lesson? – for what they must do to contend for a conference title.

AIC was competitive last fall – they certainly provided challenges for the top teams in the league but look for coach Kris Kulzer’s squad to finish with a few more wins this fall.

Wide receivers Jaheim McGuire and Jaxon Ramsay return after combining for 64 catches, 1,079 receiving yards, and nine touchdowns.

Bentley University: A new signal-caller will be spotted under center this fall – quarterback Stephen Sturm graduated following an impressive career with the Falcons, which saw him throw for 7,166 yards and 58 touchdowns in four seasons.

Additionally, Bentley will have a new coach as Alvin Reynolds takes over for Bill Kavanaugh, who stepped down as the head football coach in March. Reynolds has been with the Falcons since 2018 – prior to arriving in Waltham, he spent time with a slew of NFL teams, including the Baltimore Ravens, Denver Broncos, and Jacksonville Jaguars

Reynolds will guide a Falcons squad that finished 9-2 overall last year, as well as secured a bid to the NCAA Division II postseason for the first time since 2004.

Halfback Nathaniel Larkins, who finished second on the team with 558 rushing yards, returns, along with wide receiver Noah Neville (32 catches for 555 yards and six touchdowns). Linebacker Salvatore Lupoli Jr. also returns – he placed second on the team in total tackles with 90.0.

Saint Anselm College: Quarterback Drew Willoughby will be the player to watch on the Hawks this fall.

Named the NE10 Rookie of the Year last November, Willoughby enjoyed an impressive debut with the Royal Blue and White by completing 251 of 431 passing attempts for 2,803 yards and 22 touchdowns. Additionally, he added three scores on the ground.

Willoughby led Saint Anselm’s to three conference wins last year – the hope is he can continue his impressive play this fall, beginning in the opening week against Millersville University.

Halfback Vincent Wagner returns, as well, along with wide receiver Anthony Brown, who led the Hawks with nine touchdown receptions.

Southern Connecticut State University: The Owls won four of 10 contests last fall, including a non-league victory over Central Connecticut State University in the opening week (the Blue Devils, an NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) squad, compete in the Northeast Conference (NEC)).

As a team, SCSU averaged 332.4 yards per game – most of their offensive yards came through the air, thanks to wide receivers Tylon Papallo and Izaiah Sanders, who represented the program on the league’s second team. Papallo and Sanders combined for 10 touchdown receptions to go with 76 catches for 1,196.

The expectation is both student-athletes will return this fall, which will certainly pose problems for opposing defenses.

Linebacker Robert Nunez, who earned NE10 All-Rookie honors, will also be a player to watch on the Owls. He finished second on the team in total tackles

 (63.0) and solo stops (29.0).

University of New Haven: 27 graduate students helped the Chargers not only finish atop the NE10 final standings last fall with 10 victories but also advance to the second round of the NCAA Division II Tournament (UNH beat Bentley in the opening round before falling to Kutztown University).

It’s possible a few of these student-athletes will return this fall, but UNH will return some underclassmen, including defensive back Khyon Fitzpatrick, who finished second on the team with 62.0 total tackles.

Fitzpatrick was recently named a preseason first-teamer by The College Football Network (TCFN) – he, along with Bentley’s Cedie Dashiell II, was the only two student-athletes from the NE10 on the list.  

New Haven has been the team to watch (and follow) these last few years in the NE10 so the expectation is they will once again be in the hunt for a league crown.

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.

New Haven’s Impressive Season Concludes In Kutztown

Connor Degenhardt and the University of New Haven football team matched its win total from 2012 this fall with 10 victories. (PHOTO COURTESY: Clarus Studios)

By Matt Noonan

For the University of New Haven, Saturday’s NCAA Division II second-round setback to Kutztown University was not an ideal way to conclude an impressive season.

New Haven entered their second postseason contest with a great deal of momentum. But their offense, which has been a unit to watch this fall, struggled against a Golden Bears defense that has limited opponents to roughly two touchdowns per game.

The Chargers produced one touchdown on 48 plays and were held to a season-low 59 rushing yards. Quarterback Connor Degenhardt completed 13 of 22 passes for 97 yards and was sacked twice while Jake Conlan registered 24 yards on six carries, including an eight-yard score late in the final session that brought the visitors within three points (10-7) with 3:10 remaining.

Conlan’s lone touchdown did not spark a comeback as Kutztown’s offense picked up two first downs on its final series to clinch their first-ever win against New Haven to secure a date with Shepherd University this Saturday, December 4 in the quarterfinals.

While New Haven’s offense struggled, its defense played well. The unit sacked Kuztown quarterback Eric Nickel five times and limited Jerome Kapp to a season-low 21 receiving yards.

Kutztown concluded the game with 230 yards of total offense.

“They were great the entire day,” said New Haven coach Chris Pincince of his team’s defense.

Indeed, New Haven’s defense looked great against a Kutztown offense that recorded a season-low 10 points, but sadly, the effort did not translate to Chargers’ offense or special teams.

Despite the setback, the Chargers were a great story this fall. The Blue and Gold produced 10 wins in 12 games to match their win total from 2012. Additionally, they captured their fourth Northeast-10 Conference (NE10) crown — their first since 2012 — and beat Bentley University not once, but twice.

New Haven will once again be a team to watch — and yes, follow — next fall, but will lose some key pieces to graduation, especially on the offensive and defensive lines.

“I thought as a group, we accomplished some of our goals,” said Pincince. “I am excited for the future as long as some of these guys are coming back.”