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.

Noontime’s Senior Salute: Grace Gamache (Framingham State)

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Framingham State senior Grace Gamache recorded 283 points in four seasons for the Rams. (PHOTO COURTESY: Framingham State Athletics)

By NoontimeSports.com

Since her initial season with the Framingham State University women’s lacrosse program, Grace Gamache has been a player to watch on offense.

The Dartmouth, Massachusetts native tallied 283 points in four seasons, including 22 points on 15 goals and seven assists in just four games this spring.

After registering 54 points in 13 games as a first-year in 2017, Gamache enjoyed a very successful sophomore season, recording career-highs in goals (55), assists (56), and points (111). Additionally, she snatched a career-best 114 draws while firing 114 shots, including 86 on net.

Gamache earned a trio of first-team honors with the Rams from the Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) while leading her team to its first-ever regular-season title last April with a 17-5 win over Worcester State University.

We recently spoke with Grace Gamache about her four years with the Rams, as well as her future plans beyond graduation later this spring.


What will you remember most about your final season with the Rams? 

The friendships my teammates and I made these past few years. Getting to do what you love with your best friends every day has been an amazing experience. I have made lifelong friends here at Framingham State, and although we didn’t get to end our four-year career the way we wanted to, I couldn’t have asked for a better experience.

Was there a game (or two) that you will remember most from either your senior season or the past three years? If so, which game(s) are they? 

I would say there were two games specifically that I’ll never forget. The first was my sophomore year against Bridgewater State. The Bears have always been tough competition and one of the top teams in our conference. We won by one goal and it was the program’s first win against Bridgewater State in ten meetings. Our hard work and preparation paid off and it was such a good feeling.

The second game was our overtime win against Westfield State my junior year. We had lost to them the prior year in our conference tournament championship so to be able to beat them, especially in overtime, was amazing.

What have you enjoyed most about competing for your team (and program) these past four years? What will you miss most after graduation? 

I think what I have enjoyed most about playing and competing for Framingham was being able to see the growth we made as a program. This program has come so far and to make an impact on the future of the team is something I feel is really exciting. I am definitely going to miss putting on that uniform every week and getting to play alongside such an amazing group of young women while playing for a great coaching staff. We have become family over these last four years and that is something I’ll cherish forever.

Do you hope to stay involved with your sport in the future? Any interest in being a coach? 

I definitely plan on staying involved with lacrosse after I graduate. I started a summer camp two years ago for local middle school and high school players and it has been a huge success. I have also had the opportunity to coach for a club team during the summer, as well, so I hope to continue doing that with the hope of eventually coaching a high school program.

Tell me about your major. How did you choose it and what do you plan to do with it after graduation? 

I am majoring in sociology with a minor in psychology. I have always enjoyed working with people and learning about different parts of society and how they all interact and work together. After graduation, I hope to get my master’s in special education.

Noontime’s Senior Salute: Ryan Jones (Coast Guard Academy)

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Coast Guard Academy quarterback Ryan Jones guided the Bears to a 5-5 record this past season, including a pair of overtime wins. (PHOTO COURTESY: Coast Guard Academy)

By NoontimeSports.com

Coast Guard Academy quarterback Ryan Jones enjoyed a successful final season with the Bears, throwing for a career-high 13 touchdowns while recording a career-best 1,930 passing yards.

Jones, who competed in all 10 contests last season, became the fourth signal-caller in program history to throw for more than 4,000 yards when he guided the Bears to a 33-8 victory over Maine Maritime Academy. He also led the Bears to a pair of overtime victories last fall, too, including an early-season one-point win over Nichols College. The win against Nichols was the team’s first extra session victory since Coast Guard Academy edged Worcester State University in 2012.

In 2018, Jones and the Bears celebrated their first win over archrival Merchant Marine since 1996 to cap their campaign with seven wins. The seven wins were the most any Coast Guard Academy team has won in a single-season since winning the New England Football Conference (NEFC) Bogan Division in 2007 with an 8-2 record.

We recently spoke with Ryan Jones about his final season with the Bears, but also his future plans beyond graduation.


What will you remember most about your senior year? 

Our double-overtime win against Catholic University on homecoming. 10,000 people went (in attendance and went) nuts. It was an awesome atmosphere.

Looking back on the 2019 season, what game (or games) will you remember most? Why these particular games? 

Both of our overtime wins were really exciting, but beyond that, our win over Maine Maritime sticks in my mind. That day, I (recorded) 4,000 passing yards (in my career) while Justin Moffatt broke a school’s single-game receiving record with 256 yards. That was a fun day.

What have you enjoyed most about competing for the Coast Guard Academy football team these past four years?

The people here at Coast Guard Academy are just different. They’re the best kind of friends and teammates. I’ll miss the camaraderie more than anything, on and off the field.

Once you officially graduate later this spring, do you plan (or hope) to stay involved with the sport of football in some capacity? Any interest in coaching in the future?

Definitely. Maybe not right away as my career will likely demand quite a bit of my time for the first few years (beyond graduation), but I can definitely see myself coaching middle school or high school ball in the future.

Tell me about your major – how did you choose it? – and what are your future plans beyond graduation?  

I’m a marine and environmental science major. I chose it because I want to get into the medical field someday, most likely the physician’s assistant route. MES was the only major here at the Coast Guard Academy that gave me a solid background in advanced chemistry and other sciences that will be important for allowing me to continue my education in a medical graduate program.

After graduation, I’m headed to Mississippi for my first assignment as an officer, but hope to one day be selected for either a

Down the road, I hope to be selected for one of our Tactical Law Enforcement or Counter-Terrorism team.

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.”

D3 Football: 10 Games To Watch (Oct. 11th & 12th)

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By Matt Noonan | @MattyNoonz11

Happy Friday, everyone!

The sixth week of the New England Division III football season is set to commence this evening when Bridgewater State visits Worcester State for an important conference clash. That game, along with nine other intriguing match-ups are highlighted below in a brand new edition of 10 Games to Watch.

Last week, I picked eight of ten contests correctly to bump my overall picks record to 32-18. Let’s see if I can keep my recent prediction momentum going this week – fingers crossed!

As usual, make sure to stay connected with @Noontime_FB for updates, news, scores, and more, and don’t forget to subscribe to our podcast on iTunes to hear my weekly Sunday breakdown.

Have a great weekend, everyone!


New England D-III Football | Games to Watch (Week Six) 

Rankings based off this week’s Noontime Sports Top 20 Poll 

Bridgewater State at Worcester State (Friday, Oct. 11th at 7 p.m.): The Bears have bounced back after losing to Western Connecticut a few weeks ago. They need to win this game to keep their conference championship hopes alive. PREDICTION: Bridgewater State 30, Worcester State 21 

Merchant Marine at No. 7 Norwich University (Saturday, Oct. 12th at 1 p.m.): The Mariners pulled out an important extra session win one week ago against MIT, while Norwich suffered its initial setback of the season to Springfield College. Merchant Marine may have the edge in this one – since losing in week one, the Mariners offense has been tough to stop and could provide challenges for the Cadets defense. PREDICTION: Merchant Marine 30, Norwich 22 

No. 20 Curry College at Husson University (Saturday, Oct. 12th at 1 p.m.): Both teams enter this contest with identical 1-0 conference marks. It is an important game for both teams as they need a win to keep pace with Endicott College and Western New England. Something tells me the Eagles will make a few more plays down the stretch to secure their second conference win. PREDICTION: Husson 28, Curry 21 

SUNY Maritime at Dean College (Saturday, Oct. 12th at 1 p.m.): On paper, this has the potential to be a shootout. Both teams have offenses that can put up points, but in the end, look for the Bulldogs defense to make few plays to secure an important conference win. PREDICTION: Dean 28, SUNY Maritime 24 

No. 13 Trinity College at Bates College (Saturday, Oct. 12th at 1 p.m.): The Bantams will attempt to win back-to-back games for the first time this season against a Bobcats squad that provided Tufts University with some challenges last weekend. Look for some second-half adjustments to help Trinity score its third win of the season. PREDICTION: Trinity 30, Bates 18 

Colby College at No. 5 Middlebury College (Saturday, Oct. 12th at 1 p.m.): This has the feel of a possible let-down game, but don’t expect the Panthers to lose their momentum from a week ago when they snuck past Amherst College in overtime. PREDICTION: Middlebury 28, Colby 14 

Bowdoin College at No. 6 Amherst College (Saturday, Oct. 12th at 1 p.m.): The Polar Bears did not make things easy for the Cardinals of Wesleyan last week, so look for Bowdoin to provide similar challenges to Amherst. PREDICTION: Amherst 28, Bowdoin 14 

No. 12 Springfield College at No. 8 Coast Guard Academy (Saturday, Oct. 12th at 1 p.m.): The Pride kept their conference title hopes alive last week with an important win against Norwich. Look for that momentum to continue this week against Coast Guard Academy. PREDICTION: Springfield 21, Coast Guard 15 

No. 18 Mass. Maritime at No. 4 Western Connecticut (Saturday, Oct. 12th at 5 p.m.): The Buccaneers enter Saturday’s clash with a lot of momentum – their defense has been fun to watch these past few weeks, but this will be their toughest tests of the season. If the defense from one week ago shows up in Danbury, Connecticut then the Colonials offense could be in for a long day. PREDICTION: Mass. Maritime 38, Western Conn. 31 

Tufts University at No. 17 Wesleyan University (Saturday, Oct. 12th at 6 p.m.): I love that this game is being played under the lights – it is a great tradition that these two squads started a few years ago. The Cardinals have been an impressive story thus far, thanks to its seniors, who will once again be counted on to lead Wesleyan to an important conference win. PREDICTION: Wesleyan 23, Tufts 17