All Eyes are Focused at the Top: Week 2 Power Rankings 10/4

(Courtesy of Amherst Athletics).
(Courtesy of Amherst Athletics).

“The crickets still sing in October. And lilly, she’s trying to bloom. Tho she’s resting her head on the shoulder of death, she still shines by the light of the moon.”

― Kevin Dalton

This typically describes NESCAC football this time of year. Its week three and every game is crucial at this point. You’re either undefeated, 1-1, or a goose egg, and you don’t want a goose egg. The undefeated will be the likely candidates of becoming NESCAC Champions. Two undefeated teams face off this week in Amherst and Middlebury, arguably the two best teams in the NESCAC, and one will walk away with the upper edge to being Champions. Remember, both of these teams still have to pass through the Coop, and that’ll be tough considering Trinity’s ability and depth this year. It’s a long season fellas, put the shorts and tank tops away, pull out your sweaters and gear up for the haul of the season. Whether you’re playing for the CBB Title or the NESCAC Title, remember its gonna be cold, so lets enjoy these last few weeks of good weather and tailgating. With that being said, theres really nothing like a super chilly November game with the Title on the line, maybe some hot cocoa in hand… anyways I’m just dreaming ahead, it’s gonna be some kind of season. 

1. Amherst (2-0)

Alex Berluti ’17 has stepped up in place of injured Amherst starting quarterback, and seemingly excelled in Garoppolo-esque ways. The win over Bowdoin is nothing to get hot and heavy over as the Polar Bears are now 0-2 being outscored 71 to 13 in their first two games, but Amherst still looks pretty damn good. At this point, however, Amherst still has a lot to prove, and a better testament to their overall ability will be made Saturday against Middlebury. Berluti will need to continue to play mistake-free football as he will face off against Jared Lebowitz ’18 and the Panthers this week in what will decide the top spot in Week Three’s Power Rankings. Amherst has kept it real clean on defense allowing just 10 points and 150 yd/g, so they deserve to carry the torch again this week.

2. Middlebury (2-0)

The Panthers have been led this season by the horse from Burlington, Jared Lebowitz ’18, who has tossed the most touchdowns in the ‘CAC so far with 10. With that being said, the Panthers are a pass heavy team this year, and on any given Saturday it may take grinding through the trenches, something that Middlebury may not have in their repertoire. They have done nothing to disprove their 2 spot on the list thus far, but this week’s jostle with the Lord Jeffs looks promising as Amherst’s defense is a run-stopping defense. We will get to see how Amherst’s secondary handles a real marksman in Lebowitz. On the other side of the ball, the Panthers’ ability to pressure the quarterback (9 sacks) may be too much for the inexperienced Berluti to handle. Middlebury could easily “take the candy from the baby” Saturday, but Amherst could also easily show Leibowitz why they have been the best for the past three years. This could be an all-time classic this weekend, folks.

3. Trinity (2-0)

Trinity always seems to be creeping behind Amherst and Middlebury at this point in the season. We all know its not about how you start, but rather how you finish. Another Bantams slaughter vs Hamilton Saturday will likely keep them in the 3 spot, with potential to move up to number 2. It comes down to Trinity not capitalizing on all of their opportunities so far. The competition has been weak, as the defense held Williams to -10 rushing yards this week. It’s men amongst boys in these games. They could have easily put up another 20 points on Bates in week 1, but that is neither here nor there. The Bantams need to continue to play quality football behind the veteran, Sonny Puzzo ’18, who has demonstrated some flawless connections with wide-out Darrien Myers ’17 so far resulting in 5 touchdowns. Safety/linebacker Spencer Donahue ’17 picked up his 2nd interception of the season and Archi Jerome ’17 got his hands wet with a pick as well. Coach Devanney’s team has a bright future this season.

4. Wesleyan (1-1)

The Cardinals take the 4 spot right from the Jumbos trunk as Tufts just scathed by Bates. Wesleyan did enough to move up a spot this week by putting up 511 total offensive yards on Hamilton. Wesleyan did a fine job controlling the game with possession over 37 minutes, and Mark Piccirillo ’19 had a nice weekend with a few touchdowns, running one in. The cardinals have an interesting test ahead of them as they travel to Waterville, ME and take on the Colby Mules, a team that has shown some grit.

5. Tufts (2-0)

Ryan McDonald, son of Ronald McDonald (Courtesy of Tufts Athletics).
Ryan McDonald, son of Ronald McDonald (Courtesy of Tufts Athletics).

The Jumbos are sitting in cool water right now after their win against Bates. Sheriff Willie Holmquist ’17 laid down the law hitting two field goals, one being 48 yards, before the half to put his team up 6-0. He played a big role as the punter as well. It was really a sloppy game where they ran the ball a lot and Ryan McDonald ’19 scored the lone Jumbo touchdown. Happy to get by Bates with a 12-7 win, they take on Bowdoin this week, in a game they should win. Still undefeated, Tufts’ season is in the stars. Assuming they get by Bowdoin as they should, the Jumbos will face their toughest test yet when they head to the Coop to take on Trinity.


6. Colby (1-1)

The Mules have done enough to be 1-1 after the first two weeks, but they’re still last of the winners in the power rankings. While they were way overmatched by Middlebury. they showed some heart putting up 14 points in the 4th quarter to escape the shutout. Colby has a grand opportunity this weekend to host a beatable team in Wesleyan, but they will definitely need to play four quarters of quality football to do so. Look for Colby to ride Jabari Hurdle-Price ’17 this weekend, as Wesleyan allowed Chance Brady ’17 to run for 151 yards in week one. For the Mules, the moon still shines bright.

7. Williams (0-2)

Williams has the upper hand in their game against Bates as they have proved they can put a few points on the board (10.0 PPG). However, they also allow the 2nd most rushing yards per game (221.5). The good news? Bates is the only team that allows more, giving up 250 YPG. Williams is tied for the most forced turnovers in the league, having intercepted 2 passes and recovered 4 fumbles. If Williams can get their offense going a little bit, they should remain in the 7 spot come next week’s power rankings.

8. Bates (0-2)

Bates has some serious trouble on offense. They will need to figure out a way to incorporate some passing into their game strategy after only passing the ball 10 times, for just a single completion this past weekend. I know they run the triple option, but their game plan is just a bit too predictable at this point. Sandy Plashkes ’19 is their QB1 and could definitely help open up their running game by mixing in a few completions. Will he come through for the Bobcats in this big game to put a W on the board?

9. Bowdoin (0-2)

The Polar Bears put up a very respectable performance against top ranked Amherst this weekend, losing by just 21 points. Bowdoin will not be lifting the NESCAC Title in 2016, but they are ferociously hunting for the CBB Title. The Polar Bears have a winnable game at home this week against Tufts, and it’s only a matter of time before they find the win column. I would never bet on Bowdoin winning, but any given Saturday could be a win in the CAC, especially when you’re playing at home. Week 4 will feature the bottom of the barrel Continentals against the Polar Bears, which should cause some serious stir if both teams are still winless.

10. Hamilton (0-2)

Winning football games isn’t easy folks. Heck, Hamilton suffered two goose egg seasons in 2013 and 2014. Unfortunately for the Continentals, they likely have another beating ahead of them this week as they welcome Trinity to Clinton, NY. It will be good preparation as they take on Bowdoin, Colby, and Williams weeks 4,5, and 6. Any decent game on Saturday will give high hopes to the Continental faithfuls. For Hamilton, the title they are working towards is purely a victory.

NESCAC Quarterfinal Preview: #8 Colby at #1 Trinity

Trinity is ready to protect its house this season, something it failed to do a year ago. (Courtesy of Trinity Athletics)
Trinity is ready to protect its house this season, something it failed to do a year ago. (Courtesy of Trinity Athletics)

Trinity comes into Saturday’s matchup undefeated in February, winning all four of their conference games by 10 or more points, while Colby is coming off a three-game winning streak. Despite being the top seed, this by no means will be an easy win for Trinity. This is a rematch from last year’s quarterfinal, which proved to be a challenge for Trinity as they scraped by with a 66-63 victory.

Last time they played: Trinity 62 – Colby 60

Colby hosted Trinity on January 22, when they blundered and handed the Bantams their 13th win in a 62-60 final. This came one night after the Mules upset No. 16 Amherst 66-64. This game stayed nick and tuck all the way through, the lead trading nearly 20 times. Trinity’s Shay Ajayi ’16 and Ed Ogundeko ’17 each earned a double-double accounting for 24 points and 21 rebounds. Colby’s Sam Willson ’16 and Patrick Stewart ’16 each had 17 points and five boards. The Mules were outrebounded by a margin of 39-33; this is a result of Colby’s lack of size, which also led to Trinity’s four blocks and Colby’s one. Colby did have some points to build on, as they were efficient with turnovers and personal fouls, turning it over eight times to Trinity’s 12 TO’s and registering 10 fouls as opposed to Trinity’s 15. Off the bench, Eric Gendron ’18 got hot, scoring 16 points on 50 percent shooting. Chris Turnbull ’17 also racked up 25 minutes, five boards and six points coming off the bench, which speaks to the depth of Trinity, whose bench contributed 83 minutes to Colby’s 63 minutes. Colby has some scorers, particularly in Chris Hudnut ’16, Ryan Jann ’16 and Stewart, but Jann was virtually nonexistent in this game, going 0-7 from the field, cracking his goose egg from the free throw line with 1:41 left to go in the game. While giving credit to the Bantam defense, this was a fluke performance from Jann, and he will certainly have a bigger impact on Saturday.

Trinity X-factor: Power Forward Shay Ajayi ’16

Earning a double-double in the past two matchups against Colby, Ajayi led his team to two important victories, the more important of the two coming 364 days ago in the quarterfinal at Trinity. He is one of Trinity’s senior leaders, and knows better than anyone how to perform in this situation. Besides feeling comfortable with the home-court advantage and success against Colby, Ajayi comes into this game with the hot hand shooting 57 percent from the field in February, breaking his season high in points twice; first with 26 points against Tufts, then with 29 points against Hamilton. Expect him to haul in a ton of boards and be effective from the field as the Bantams look to roll through to the semifinal.

Colby X-factor: Center Chris Hudnut ’16

Hudnut played tattered for their meeting in January, so his presence was undermined coming off the bench and accounting for eight points in 13 minutes. At 6’8″, he has the ability to rebound the ball, and is coming off a double-double against Wesleyan where he scored 19 points and had 15 rebounds. Hudnut was not on the playoff roster last year, but he has been an essential piece to the puzzle throughout his career. A healthy Hudnut may have spoiled the Bantams from attaining another #1 seed this season, but that is neither here nor there. With Hudnut in the lineup Saturday, this game becomes a lot closer and screams upset. He will help patch up the Mules hole of rebounding margin, while adding a serious offensive threat as he is 7th in the league in scoring.

Three Questions

  1. Can Ed Ogundeko shut down Chris Hudnut ?

Chris Hudnut can shoot the basketball, and he is crafty and smooth down low with a nice hook. Hudnut, playing hurt, scored eight points in just 13 minutes in their last meeting. Ogundeko will compete with Hudnut, who is bound to make some magic happen. On his home floor, Ogundeko will challenge him with his brute strength and athletic ability. If Hudnut gets a ton of buckets, Ogundeko will make up for it on the boards. It will be a real battle down low on Saturday and expect Ogundeko to rise to the occasion. Ogundeko is at the top of his game right now, while Hudnut is coming off an injury.

  1. Who will show up? Colby’s shooters or Trinity’s defense?

Colby ranks first in the NESCAC in field goal percentage and third in scoring offense, boasting three of the league’s top 17 scorers. Of the starting five, each has gotten hot in the past three games scoring at least 19 points. While this is all important in winning a basketball game, they are taking on Trinity who has the best defense in the league. They rank second in scoring defense and field goal percentage defense and first in rebounding margin. I’ll say it time and time again, DEFENSE WINS CHAMPIONSHIPS. The Bantams depth will keep fresher legs in the game, and the defense will be breathing down Colby’s neck the whole game.

  1. How will Trinity match Colby’s offense?

Colby’s offense clearly has a lot of threats, and if they do show up Saturday, Trinity will need to put up some points of their own. Trinity’s defense will surely limit Colby’s scoring, and they will be looking for offensive support from Jaquann Starks ’16 and Eric Gendron. Ajayi and Ogundeko will need to make their contributions as well. With the help of a healthy Chris Hudnut, it will be that much harder for the Bantams to get points in the paint.

What to Expect

Expect a battle. These two teams have met twice in the past year, and both games have been nail biters. Trinity has gotten the upper-hand each time, but the game changes when you add a healthy, beast of a center. Both teams are going to look really good, and Colby will look more like a top tier team than an eighth-seeded team. With Hudnut filling the center position, it will take away from the effectiveness of Ogundeko, who has been a substantial player all season. Hudnut has the potential to bully Ogundeko with his height, but don’t be surprised if Ogundeko pushes right back.

Trinity held Colby to a 36.4 percent field goal percentage, a far cry from Colby’s 46.8 percentage on the season. With Jann being ice cold in that game and Hudnut banged up, it will be a different Mules team that comes into Hartford on Saturday. Trinity was fortunate to beat Colby in NESCAC play this season, so they will need to be in top form to move on to the semifinal. Stewart will do his best to get in Trinity’s way as he is the best three point shooter in the ‘CAC. Trinity will be ready to fire back with the third- and fourth-best three point shooters in the league, by percentage, in point guard Andrew Hurd ’16 and Gendron.

Trinity coach James Cosgrove and Colby coach Damien Strahorn will have an amplified role in this game as it will likely be tight to the finish. Adjustments are going to be huge, especially for the Bantams who will be facing a much different Colby team than they saw in January. Though Colby flaunts a starting lineup of all seniors, they don’t have near the playoff experience that Trinity has.

Colby might get off to an early lead with Trinity making a push going into the half. The second half will be a back and forth battle that the Bantams get the best of.

Prediction: Trinity 78 – Colby 73





Discord among the Ranks: Basketball Power Rankings 1/15

Amherst Coach Dave Hixon shouldn't look so worried. The Lord Jeffs haven't moved from the top of the ranks. (Courtesy of Mark Box/Clarus Studios)
Amherst Coach Dave Hixon shouldn’t look so worried. The Lord Jeffs haven’t moved from the top of the ranks. (Courtesy of Mark Box/Clarus Studios)

As always, college basketball, and particularly the Little Ivies, will enjoy a number of upsets throughout the season and well into the playoffs, but in the NESCAC this season it’s hard to even know what to consider an upset. Amherst and Tufts seem to have separated themselves from the pack in the early going, and Hamilton has a long way to go to climb out of the cellar, but otherwise it appears that any team could win against anyone on any given day. Spots 3-10 in these rankings are especially close, and will probably look completely different next week.

1. Amherst (11-1, 2-0, Last week: 1)

The Lord Jeffs sit at No. 9 in the national rankings. Thus far they have been outstanding, leading the league with 88.6 ppg while shooting 48.8 percent and have been able to hold teams to a respectable 72.0 ppg. They are atop the leaderboard of the NESCAC Conference, and remain the front runner to win the NESCAC tournament. Their only blunder so far came in a 79-69 loss to Rhodes College (Ky.), who are only .500 so far, but play a tough schedule. Look for Connor Green ’16 to continue to lead the charge with his 15.3 ppg. Swingman Jeff Racy ’17 is shooting 55.3 percent beyond the arc and supplying 14.6 ppg. Last year’s Rookie of the year, guard Johnny McCarthy ’18, is spending the most time on the hardwood and putting up 13.1 ppg.

2. Tufts (11-2, 2-0, Last week: 2)

After rolling over Bowdoin and Colby to open up NESCAC play last week, Tufts climbed the national ranks to No. 17 from No. 22 the week before. They have two losses, coming against a very good MIT team and 12th-ranked WPI. Vinny Pace ’18 continues to power their offense averaging 19.2 ppg. Though still a very young team, they seem unfazed and stick to their fast-paced offense with the lone big man, Tom Palleschi ’17, doing the dirty work down low with 48 blocks on the season. Tufts ranks second in the league in scoring with 86.1 ppg and their starting five all average at least 10.0 ppg. They get to the line more than any NESCAC team and they hit their free throws, sitting atop the ‘CAC at 77.2 percent from the stripe. Tufts will take on Middlebury tonight and Hamilton tomorrow, two games that the Jumbos should win; and two wins that would push their winning streak to 10 games.

3. Wesleyan (12-2, 1-1, Last week: 3)

Their first NESCAC game was a loss to Middlebury, a team that just seems to have the Cardinals’ number. Wesleyan will be put to the test tonight as they travel to western Massachusetts to take on Amherst and then head to Hartford for a game with Trinity tomorrow. Point guard BJ Davis ’16, who has averaged 19.0 ppg, will need to be on if they want to take down the No. 9 team in the nation. Wesleyan will have two chances to down the Jeffs, as they will host Amherst on Monday, but only tonight’s game will count towards the conference standings. Aside from the loss to Middlebury, the Cards were able to fend off Hamilton with an overtime victory and took down Williams in a scrappy non-conference game. Wesleyan plays good defense, keeping teams to 67.8 ppg, second best in the NESCAC. Joseph Kuo ’17 is the man holding it together down low for the Cards scoring 12.1 ppg and pulling in 109 rebounds this season. It is tough to say where Wesleyan will end up this year, but they should certainly be in the playoffs, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see them fighting for a top-four seed as the season wraps up.

4. Trinity (9-4, 1-0, Last week: 8)

Don’t sleep on the Bantams. What’s that old saying? Oh yeah, Defense Wins Championships. The Bantams lead the pack when it comes to defensive statistics – number one in scoring defense (64.7 ppg allowed) and rebounding margin (+10.8). Though they stand at 9-4 on the season with a few weak losses, they opened up NESCAC play with a big one-point victory over Williams. Coach James Cosgrove implements fundamental basketball, and Trinity will grind with the good teams. As 2015 First Team All-NESCAC guard Jaquann Starks ’16 and the Trinity shooters heat up for the long haul of NESCAC games and the playoffs, the Bantams should be in fine shape. Eric Gendron ’18 is leading the league in three point percentage at 59.3 percent. With a frontcourt of Ed Ogundek0 ’17 and Shay Ajayi ’16 that is combining for 26.0 ppg and 19.0 rpg and point man Andrew Hurd ’16 commandeering the floor and leading the league in assists, everything is in place for another wild playoff run.

5. Connecticut College (10-3, 2-0, Last week: 9)

Not taking anything away from their 2-0 NESCAC record, but I will need to see them compete against big dogs of the NESCAC before they can crack the top four. They won close games vs. Hamilton and Middlebury, two very questionable teams this year. Ten wins at this stage is almost unheard of for the Camels, but they will need to continue the hot streak against a gritty Trinity team tonight in Hartford. Look for guards Lee Messier ’18 and Tyler Rowe ’19 to be the point scorers as they have combined for 27.0 ppg thus far this season. Messier can be lethal with his 40.2 percent mark beyond the arc. Conn is a consistent offensive team averaging 82.2 ppg, but their defense will likely not hold up against the bigger and better NESCAC teams. The Camels are last in the league in scoring defense with 76.5 ppg allowed and rebounding margin (+1.3).

6. Williams (9-5, 0-2, Last week: 5)

The Ephs definitely got the toughest opening weekend schedule, traveling to Amherst on Friday and Trinity on Sunday. They lost a heartbreaker to the Bantams, but they competed well given their youth. There are a lot of games still to play. Rookie forward Kyle Scadlock ’19 has been efficient, ranking eighth in the league in field goal percentage, while the Dan Aronowitz ’17 is averaging 16.7 ppg. They are not getting the productivity they would like out of 6’10″ center Edward Flynn ’16, though, who has only been able to pull in 4.9 rbg, which is a glaring hole when one considers the front courts of the league’s best teams. Though their 0-2 conference record doesn’t show it at this point, Williams could be a sleeper pick come playoff time. They to Wesleyan and Trinity by two points or less, so they will be desperate for redemption come playoff time.

7. Bates (8-6, 1-1, Last week: 7)

Bates has played a very tough schedule, but it is fair to say that they are struggling this season. Despite the size of the Delpeche twins, the Bobcats are 10th in the NESCAC in scoring defense. This will prove to be a detriment as the NESCAC season unravels. Mike Boornazian ’16 is the ringleader for the Bobcats posting 15.5 ppg with 2.8 apg, while Shawn Strickland ’18 supplies 3.6 apg and shoots 42.4 percent from three-point land. With a 1-1 NESCAC record going into tonight’s game against Hamilton, I believe Bates has the upperhand, but the Continentals are not to be taken lightly. Bates should be in the playoffs this season, but they are fiddling with the fringe.

8. Bowdoin (8-4, 1-1, Last week: 6)

Bowdoin stands at 1-1 in the NESCAC with an embarrassing loss to Tufts. The Polar Bears have Friday and Saturday off and will travel to Williams on Sunday. Thanks to the way the NESCAC schedule rotates and a postponed game last Tuesday, Bowdoin is in the midst of a 12-day stretch in which they will play just one game (unless the game with Maine-Presque Isle can be rescheduled in that time). Does that rest give Bowdoin the advantage, or will rust hurt them against the Ephs? They will then take on Amherst, Trinity and Colby who they lost to on December 5. Bowdoin has a good all-around team, but they have generally been taken advantage of on the boards. Bowdoin will be outgunned when they have to face real centers and big athletic forwards. Bowdoin does shoot well though, and Lucas Hausman ’16 leads the league (by a lot) with 25.0 ppg, with Jack Simonds ’19 backing him up and averaging 14.8 ppg.

9. Colby (10-3, 0-2, Last week: 4)

Colby looked great coming into last weekend, but will need to earn their stripes in NESCAC action. They did beat Bowdoin and Bates in early December, but those were non-conference games, and Bates got redemption by beating Colby when it mattered. Colby will travel to Massachusetts to challenge a tough Ephs team tonight. The road doesn’t get much easier as they will then have to take on Trinity and Amherst on back-to-back nights, which could make for a chilling weekend in Waterville, Maine as they could potentially fall to 0-5 in NESCAC play. The Mules will be a fringe playoff team this year, and could easily not make the NESCAC tournament. A week ago we were talking about Colby as a potential top-four seed, and now a cold spell could drop them into a battle for a spot in the playoff field. Their weakness, defense, is well-documented, and needs to get fixed if Colby is going to meet their own expectations this year.

10. Middlebury (7-7, 1-1, Last week: 11)

Middlebury earned a great win at Wesleyan to open up their conference schedule, then lost by one point to Conn College the following day. A team with the worst free throw percentage in the league will certainly have trouble down the stretch, and close games like their loss to Conn College could be marked as W’s if they can just figure out their issues from the stripe. Despite their free throw percentage, the Panthers have a very good defense holding teams to 70.8 ppg. Center Matt Daley ’16 leads the team with 8.7 rbg, which has lead to the team’s second-best +8.4 rebounding margin. Matt St. Amour ’17 leads the team with 19.1 ppg, while Daley averages 12.1. These two will need to have impactful games to take down Tufts tonight. The big question is how the heck they are going to stop Palleschi and Pace.

11. Hamilton (7-6, 0-2, Last week: 10)

Hamilton has a very young, inexperienced squad this season with just two seniors. Unsatisfied with being the runt of the NESCAC, Hamilton fought hard in their opening NESCAC games, forcing Wesleyan into overtime to eventually fall by six points and losing to Conn College by just four points. They have a foreseeable win tonight against Bates. Hamilton is just barely outscoring its opponents 71.8 ppg to 71.2 ppg. That does not translate to a good performance against tougher NESCAC teams. Point guard Jack Dwyer ’18 will give Hamilton an opportunity to win averaging while 5.2 apg. Peter Hoffmann ’19 ranks 13th in scoring this season and has made an immediate impact. There is a bright future in Hamilton, even if things aren’t looking to promising in 2015-16.

The Amherst Dynasty: Power Ranks 11/12

SS Jimmy Fairfield-Sonn '16 hauls in one of his two INTs of the day as Amherst pulled away in the NESCAC Championship race. (Courtesy of Greg Sullivan)
SS Jimmy Fairfield-Sonn ’16 hauls in one of his two INTs of the day as Amherst pulled away in the NESCAC Championship race. (Courtesy of Greg Sullivan)

The Lord Jeffs enjoyed (proverbial) champagne showers following their victory over the Bantams. It will likely be their sixth NESCAC title since 2000, sharing the reigns with Trinity on the modern-era All-Time Championships list. There was no better way for the 2016 class to go out on Senior Day than by earning their third consecutive ring. Besides Amherst, the rest of the NESCAC has an opportunity to move up the ladder as the final week is filled with exciting rivalry games dating back to the 1800s. Should be a beautiful week of football, and it will be thrilling to see where teams end up.

1. Amherst Lord Jeffs (7-0; Last Week: 1)

Amherst essentially walked away with their third consecutive NESCAC title Saturday as they took down Trinity. The Lord Jeffs took advantage of Trinity’s mistakes, and that seemed to be the biggest difference between these two teams Saturday. They controlled the second half, running all over the Bantams, with Reece Foy ’18, Kenny Adinkra ’16, Nick Kelly ’17, Jack Hickey ’19, and Jackson McGonagle ’16 all averaging at least 3.6 yards per carry. Amherst SS Jimmy Fairfield-Sonn ’16 went out with a bang with two interceptions and a crucial blocked field goal to end the first half. Amherst will wrap up their season against the Ephs in Williamstown, Mass for the Biggest Little Game In America — a game that dates back to 1884, and is the most-played Division-III game in the country.

Trinity Bantams (6-1; Last Week: 2)

Despite analyst Joe MacDonald’s bold prediction of a Bantam victory, Trinity was unable to get it done down the stretch. Amherst did a good job depriving kick and punt returner Darrien Myers ’17 in the forms of pooching and squibbing, which put a lot of pressure on the offense to move the ball up the field. The Trinity faithful felt some home cooking involved between a questionable touchdown catch and the Bantams racking up 12 penalties resulting in 98 yards opposed to Amherst’s three penalties.

WR Jackson McGonagle '16 incredibly hauled in this twisting grab to help dispatch the Bantams. (Courtesy of Amherst Athletics)
WR Jackson McGonagle ’16 incredibly hauled in this twisting grab to help dispatch the Bantams. (Courtesy of Amherst Athletics)

Despite edging Amherst’s 247 offensive yards with 314 of their own and possessing the ball for 38 minutes of the game, Trinity had too many blunders. A fatal sideline pass intercepted at the Trinity 37 yardline resulted in Amherst taking the lead and never looking back. Trinity’s Max Chipouras ’19, Sonny Puzzo ’18, and Myers averaged 3.8 yards per rush, but the Amherst running game was even more efficient. Trinity still has life to live as they take on long-time rivals Wesleyan in the homecoming game that will be featured on CPTV Sports.

3. Middlebury (5-2; Last Week: 3)

Middlebury took care of business Saturday against Hamilton, but their stock dropped with such a tight game. They were able to keep their spot at No. 3 for Week 7, but that could change as they take on the Jumbos this weekend.

Middlebury trailed late in the first half, when QB Matt Milano ’16 and WR Matt Minno ’16 connected to even the score pending a QB Jared Lebowitz ’18 two-point conversion rush. Milano threw for 273 yards and three touchdowns with one pick, while Diego Meritus ’19 picked up 75 of the Panthers’ 89 rushing yards. Minno leaped out of the water catching a season-high three touchdowns on six catches for 171 yards. Naples native and CB Nate Leedy ’17 picked off Hamilton’s Cole Freeman ’19 twice. S Kevin Hopsticker ’18 also added an interception and 10 tackles in what was probably his best game as a Panther.

4. Tufts (5-2; Last Week: 5)

Tufts outscored Colby 28-10, and QB Alex Snyder ’17 only passed 13 times for one touchdown caught by WR Mike Miller ’18. Chance Brady ’17 averaged 7.9 yards on 27 attempts scoring two touchdowns. His longest run was 49 yards. Brady also was the Jumbos’ leading receiver, with two catches for 49 yards, en route to being named NESCAC Offensive POTW and the second NESCAC player this season to be dubbed the New England Football Writers’ Gold Helmet winner. Colby was able to move the ball on Tufts, nearly gaining more offensive yards than the Jumbos. Tufts return man Mike Rando ’17 ran one kick back 85 yards for a touchdown, and he took a second one back for 37 yards. The Jumbos’ Zach Thomas ’18 racked up 3.5 sacks. It is tough to say how Tufts will fair with Middlebury next week; I could see either team taking that game. A Tufts upset could stir up rival tensions between the two foes.

5. Wesleyan (5-2; Last Week: 4)

Wesleyan will have a chance to move up the ranks next week when they take on Trinity for the rivalry game that dates back to 1885. The Cardinals took on Williams Saturday in a convincing win. QB Mark Piccirillo ’19 stepped up and completed 11-14 passes with one touchdown for 105 yards, and he continues to show off his accurate arm. It was just the freshman’s second game playing a pivotal role, as Gernald Hawkins ’18 threw just 12 times and only completing six. They will likely continue to keep with their dual quarterback threat to keep the Bantams off balance, so it will be interesting to see how Trinity is able to respond. S Justin Sanchez ’17 picked a ball off and forced a fumble with six tackles. K Ike Fuchs’17 missed a short field goal wide right, and also missed an extra-point that was pushed back five yards due to a penalty, and things have just not been right with the formerly reliable Fuchs. If Wesleyan is going to win next week, they will probably need Fuchs at his best.

6. Hamilton (1-6; Last Week: 8)

The Continentals gave Middlebury a run for their money, something they have done to every team besides Trinity this year. They proved they can hang with the big dogs which has pushed them up to the No. 6 spot, a big jump from where they began the season. Yes, QB Cole Freeman threw four interceptions, but none of them resulted in a Panther score, and it seems like Coach Dave Murray is fine with Freeman taking shots down field as part of his learning process. The Continental defense did a good job containing the run game, keeping Middlebury to 2.6 yards per rush, but Matt Milano’s 14 completions were too deadly. RB LaShawn Ware ’18 played well – especially in the first quarter – picking up 77 yards on 21 carries, and WR Charles Ensley ’17 caught a 78-yard touchdown pass. Hamilton did not lay down easy as they posted a safety in the fourth quarter on Sean Tolton’s ’19 blocked punt. The whole league has been impressed with the Continentals this year, and is excited as it raises the competition. Hamilton has a chance to earn their second win of the season as they take on a rolling Bates.

7. Bates (2-5; Last Week: 6)

Slotback Tyler Janssen '17 lays a tender kiss on the CBB trophy. (Courtesy of Phyllis Graber Jensen/Bates College)
Slotback Tyler Janssen ’17 lays a tender kiss on the CBB trophy. (Courtesy of Phyllis Graber Jensen/Bates College)

CBB Champions. Bates shellacked Bowdoin, shutting them out 31-0, waltzing their way to a killer recruiting tool in the CBB —Bates has won three of the last four CBB Titles. The Bobcats are on the cusp of – in the words of the great Lou Brown – a winning streak.

They have a chance to end on a high note at Hamilton and make up for all those closes losses earlier this year. The Bobcats outplayed Bowdoin last week in all facets, tackling the Polar Bears for a loss five times for 29 yards including three sacks. CB Trevor Lyons ’17 had a pick-six that he took 50 yards all the way back. QB Pat Dugan ’16 put on a show, running and throwing for a touchdown as he piled up 252 of Bates’ total 380 offensive yards. Another big win will vault the Bobcats back over the Continentals in the ranks.

8. Williams (2-5; Last Week: 9)

After a scoreless first 23 minutes, the Ephs let up a 21-yard touchdown pass to Wesleyan’s Eric Meyreles ’18. Williams’ lone touchdown came on a last minute, three-yard pass by Austin Lommen ’16, who threw for 150 yards including an interception. RB Noah Sorrento ’19 got his first crack as the starter and ran for 105 yards on 21 carries, including one for 45 yards. This weekend’s rivalry game will not have as much hype as most years due to the fact that Amherst is a heavy, heavy favorite. Williams moves up from last week, like Colby, more by virtue of the lackluster performance that Bowdoin put on last weekend.

9. Colby (1-6; Last Week: 10)

Colby lost to the better team Saturday when they hosted Tufts. Colby’s QB Gabe Harrington ’17 continued to struggle, throwing two interceptions while completing 53 percent of his passes. RB Jabari Hurdle-Price ’17 got his touches and scored a touchdown on 21 attempts, though only averaging 2.1 yards per carry. John Baron ’18 kicked a 37-yard field goal and an extra point. Despite a crooked score, Colby compiled 320 yards compared to Tufts’ 325.

The consolation game of the CBB will happen this week, and it is a chance for each Colby and Bowdoin to rid themselves of the shame of being part of a one-win program.

10. Bowdoin (1-6; Last Week: 7)

Not to take away from Bates, but that game shouldn’t have gotten out of hand like it did. It was a sad sight to see for Polar Bear fans Saturday as they rushed for negative six yards. Negative six. When they did have the ball in their hands, they fumbled three times, only making it into Bobcat territory four times. The Polar Bears were closest to a score when QB Noah Nelson ’19 threw an interception from the Bates 25-yardline. Bowdoin let Bates run right over them, as they let up 12 rushing first downs. Bowdoin will take on Colby for the runner-up of the CBB this weekend.


Marginal Movements: Power Rankings 11/4

The Hamilton Continentals were able to drag down the Ephs in Williamstown for the first time in nearly four decades. (Courtesy of Williams College Athletics)
The Hamilton Continentals were able to drag down the Ephs in Williamstown for the first time in nearly four decades. (Courtesy of Williams College Athletics)

Saturday’s games were fuming with excitement across the NESCAC, from the Hamilton Continentals earning their first win in over three years to Bates getting their first win of the season in triumphant fashion. With just two games left to play the standings are wide open throughout most of the league. Bates, Bowdoin, Colby, and Hamilton are all tied for last place with one win a piece, then there is Williams with two wins trailing Middlebury, Tufts, and Wesleyan, who share third place with four wins each. It will be a Championship atmosphere (and literally, the de facto championship) this weekend for the Lord Jeffs and the Bantams as Amherst hosts Trinity. That’s where they are in the official standings, but where are they in the all important Power Rankings?

1. Amherst Lord Jeffs (6-0; Last Week: 1)

Coming off a strong win against Tufts, the Amherst team looked good as a whole. The defense compiled eight points with a pick six and a safety; Charlie Wall ’17 connected on his only field goal attempt, making him 7-8 on the year and 21-23 on extra points; and they ran for three touchdowns going on to beat the Jumbos 32-7. The one man who seemed to struggle was Reece Foy ’18, who threw for 170 yards while connecting on 18 of 27 passes including an interception. The past two games he has been inconsistent, and don’t expect the Trinity defense to be any easier a task for him. With that being said the Amherst defense was stellar holding Tufts to 161 offensive yards, and just 19 rushing yards. An Amherst win this weekend would crown them NESCAC Champions and they would tie Trinity for the modern era NESCAC Championships record with six.

2. Trinity Bantams (6-0; Last Week: 2)

Still undefeated, the Bantams have survived two scares against top ranked teams. This Halloween, the Trinity defense was Superman and picked up Sonny Puzzo ’18 and a struggling running game as they took down Middlebury in a late game comeback. Trailing by a point with just over four minutes to go, Trinity’s Paul McCarthy ’16 recovered a fumble forced by Lyle Baker ’16, which led to a Max Chipouras ’19 touchdown with under three minutes to play. Then interceptions in Trinity territory by Spencer Donahue ’17 and a picks-six from Archi Jerome ’17 put the nail in the Panthers’ coffin. Trinity has their biggest test of the season on Saturday, and Puzzo and the running game must be efficient. With the way things looked against Middlebury, the Bantams are in rough shape, but if Trinity can find their mojo, there is no reason they can’t take down the Lord Jeffs.

3. Middlebury Panthers (4-2; Last Week: 3)

Though they earned their second loss of the season, they are not far behind Trinity. They completely outplayed the Bantams, but crumbled at the end of the game when they fumbled the ball and threw two interceptions. The Panthers offense racked up 449 yards, and nearly doubled Trinity in first downs with 27. The Middlebury defense sacked Puzzo five times, with Gil Araujo ’16 getting 2.5 sacks for 20 yards; Araujo also had 3.5 tackles for a loss  of 23 yards. Middlebury lost its chance at a NESCAC Championship, but they are still playing for runner-up as they take on Hamilton this Saturday and then Tufts the following week.

4. Wesleyan Cardinals (4-2; Last Week: 5)

Though it was a close win against Bowdoin last Saturday, Wesleyan outplayed the Polar Bears, outweighing their total offense by 429 yards to 223 yards. Lou Stevens ’16 did a good job punching the ball through for two touchdowns on 12 carries. Cornerback Zac Cuzner ’17 had Noah Nelson’s ’19 number all day picking him off three times and breaking up three passes. One thing to keep an eye on is the starting quarterback position. Starter Gernald Hawkins ’18 is less than 100 percent right now, and back-up Mark Piccirillo ’19, who was already too talented to keep off the field completely, was 16-21 when he took over for Hawkins against Wesleyan. The Cardinals look to improve to five wins as they take on Williams this weekend.

5. Tufts Jumbos (4-2; Last Week: 4)

Tufts suffered a disappointing loss to Amherst where they were outscored 32-7. The Jumbos could only compile 161 offensive yards with little success in their rushing game. QB Alex Snyder ’17 was shut down by the LJ’s as he threw a pick and was sacked three times losing a total of 36 yards. The Tufts lone touchdown came on a one-yard run by Chance Brady ’17. We would have hoped this game was much closer, but Amherst was too dominant. Tufts can end the season on a high note though if they are able to take it to Colby and Middlebury. Beating one of them would secure an above .500 season and show improvement from last season.

6. Bates Bobcats (1-5; Last Week: 7)

Though the Bobcats avoid Trinity in their schedule, they have looked good against the rest of the league, losing some close games. Saturday Bates pulled off a 10-9 win against Colby for the first leg of the CBB. Colby had a chance to tie the game with an extra point, but Collin Richardson ’18 stepped up and blocked the kick to preserve the one-point lead. With Patrick Dugan ’16 passing for just 43 yards on four completions, Bates was able to grind out a win. Bates can win the CBB title with a win vs. Bowdoin this weekend.

7. Bowdoin (1-5; Last Week: 8)

While being outmatched by 206 total yards of offense by Wesleyan, Bowdoin was able to keep it close and lose this game by just six points. Nelson had a tough game where he threw three interceptions and one touchdown on 36 pass attempts. The Polar Bears will wash this loss because they have the CBB to play in their final two games. All three teams seem equal, and it would be no surprise to see a three-way tie for the title.

8. Hamilton (1-5; Last Week: 10)

They finally did it. Hamilton beat the Ephs at Williams for the first time in 19 years and the first time in Williamstown in 29 years, and it was Hamilton’s first win in over three years. They competed well and took advantage of Williams’ penalties and mistakes. Hamilton’s Cole Freeman ’19 tossed two touchdowns while compiling 180 yards completing 13 of 27 attempts. Charles Ensley ’17 was on the receiving end bringing in two touchdowns on four catches for 84 yards. Hamilton takes on Middlebury this weekend in Vermont, which will likely send the Continentals back down to earth.

9. Williams (2-4; Last Week: 6)

Losing at home against Hamilton for the first time in 29 years was a low point for Williams this season. They committed 11 penalties that tallied 104 yards, and five of the penalties granted Hamilton a first down. It is hard to win playing like that. Williams will face Wesleyan and Amherst in the final two games of the season. Darrias Sime ’16 was able to add a pair of touchdowns on seven catches. The Eph win column will likely stay at two the remainder of the season.

10. Colby (1-5; Last Week: 9)

Colby will hold down the No. 10 spot for this week. A disappointing loss to Bates leaves them bitter. They can redeem themselves in the final game when they travel to Bowdoin and have a shot at tying up the CBB. The Mules gained just under 100 more yards than Bates, but Gabe Harrington ’17 was less than spectacular throwing an interception and just 82 yards on 11 passes. The bottom of the table has a lot of opportunity for movement with four of the five teams with just one win.

Watch Out for the ‘Bos: Power Rankings 10/28

Alex Snyder '17 and the Jumbos continue to move up the ranks, topping Williams 30-15 in their latest contest. (Courtesy of Williams Athletics)
Alex Snyder ’17 and the Jumbos continue to move up the ranks, topping Williams 30-15 in their latest contest. (Courtesy of Williams Athletics)

I’m eager for the final three weeks of the season where a lot of teams will bounce around the rankings. There was not too much movement this week due to predictable outcomes to Saturday’s games. Just Amherst and Trinity remain undefeated, though any of the top five teams could be crowned or co-crowned NESCAC champions. This week is particularly interesting with the two undefeated big dogs traveling to take on the league’s 2nd tier as Middlebury hosts Trinity and Tufts hosts Amherst. A win from the Panthers and Jumbos would create a four-way tie for 1st place going into the last two games of the season.

1. Amherst Lord Jeffs (5-0; Last Week: 1)

The Lord Jeffs looked shaky against Wesleyan. Reece Foy ’18 was not on his A-game in the first half as he threw three interceptions on the first four drives. He picked it up after that point and lead Amherst to a come-from-behind win. On Foy’s nine completions he passed for 202 yards and three touchdowns. A lapse in the Amherst running game this week should be credited to Wesleyan as they possessed the ball for the greater portion of the game (38:46). Amherst will take on Tufts this weekend in a prelude to the awaited Trinity game. The Jumbos pose a serious threat as they nearly knocked off undefeated Trinity last week in their first loss of the season. Foy will likely pass for a ton of yards Saturday because the Jumbos contain the running game well.

2. Trinity Bantams (5-0; Last Week: 2)

Despite allowing a last second touchdown pass to put Bowdoin on the board, the Bantams looked up to speed this week. The Bowdoin game should be seen as a tune-up, though. Trinity will take their talents to Middlebury, Vermont this Saturday to face the first of three teams eyeing a NESCAC championship ring. Trinity can control this game on the ground especially with RB Max Chipouras ’19 coming off of a three touchdown game Saturday. Trinity needs to limit their penalties this week, and the secondary needs to stay strong because the Panthers will continue to throw the ball.

3. Middlebury Panthers (4-1; Last Week: 3)

Coming off a win against Bates, the Panthers have solidified their spot on the totem pole. Matt Milano ’16 accumulated five touchdowns and 3 picks on 405 passing yards, completing 31 of 53 passes at Bates. However, Diego Meritus ’19 only averaged 2.2 yards on 16 carries. The Panther defense held Bates to 3.3 yards per carry while letting up 204 yards, nine first downs, and one touchdown on Bates’ 61 rushing attempts. Middlebury needs to be ever better in defending the run if they want to stick it to the Bantams for the third straight year.

4. Tufts Jumbos (4-1; Last Week: 5)

The Jumbos looked good shutting down the Williams running game. Chance Brady ’17 played a huge role, running in two touchdowns on 27 carries. Alex Snyder ’17 threw the ball well despite a pick on the third play of the game. Tufts proved they could play with the top-tier teams when they took on Trinity, and now they are looking to show they can beat the elite in Amherst this Saturday. A win puts them in great position to bring a ring back to the city of champions. They finish the season off against Middlebury, which could end up being a championship game – crazy, considering that that game has been a cake walk for the Panthers the past few seasons.

5. Wesleyan Cardinals (3-2; Last Week: 4)

At this point, the Wesleyan Cardinals may find themselves depending too much on the results of other teams for a chance at a NESCAC title. Despite losing to Amherst this week, Wesleyan looked strong ousting Amherst in total offense. Gernald Hawkins ’18 caught a touchdown pass from Devon Carrillo ’16, but he was unable to get enough going behind center to upset the Lord Jeffs. They held Amherst to just 320 offensive yards, but the yards they did get were lethal. Wesleyan should slide by Bowdoin with ease this week.

6. Williams Ephs (2-3; Last Week: 6)

Williams’ running game was weaker than usual only compiling 35 yards against Tufts. Austin Lommen ’16 threw the ball 53 times, passing for 363 yards and two touchdowns on 33 completions. Darrias Sime ’16 and Mark Pomella ’16 served as receiving targets for Lommen all game, as they both picked up a touchdown and 100-plus yards. The Ephs played from behind the whole game and never really had a chance of winning. Williams takes on Hamilton this week and they are hoping to expunge their losing record.

7. Bates Bobcats (0-5; Last Week: 7)

While their Week 3 loss to Williams left them bitter, Bates has put up a fight the past two weeks against Wesleyan and Middlebury. Look for Bates to push themselves through to the top of the bottom half of the NESCAC in the coming weeks. Bates gets the easier part of its schedule down the stretch, and has a chance to win out and take home the CBB crown. The Bobcats competed well with Middlebury, holding them to 68 rushing yards and possessing the ball for 38 minutes. With Shaun Carroll ’16 out with an injury, the Bobcats need to find a new lead back. That could turn out to be Mickoy Nichol ’18, who ran well last week but only tallied three carries, or Sean Peterson ’18, who returned to the backfield this week and took 14 handoffs, but only racked up 14 yards.

8. Bowdoin Polar Pears (1-4; Last Week: 8)

The Polar Bears struggled against Trinity, only scoring in the dying embers of the game which cut the deficit to 28-7. They only had 220 total offensive yards. Bowdoin shouldn’t argue with being left in the eight spot this week considering their display against the Bantams. Their season can be salvaged starting with a win against Wesleyan this week, then taking down Bates and Colby.

9. Colby Mules (1-4; Last week: 9)

Colby left Hamilton to dust with Bates as the two winless teams by defeating the Continentals this week. Jabari Hurdle-Price ’17 had consistent runs the whole game. Colby takes on Bates this week, and plans to keep them winless. Gabe Harrington ’17, who threw his first touchdown pass Saturday, will need to play well in order to keep the Bobcats on their heels. This is going to be a tough game for Colby.

10. Hamilton Continentals (0-5; Last week: 10)

“Losing is a disease … as contagious as polio,” at least that’s what the Doc from The Natural theorized. We all hope the Continentals losing plague ends soon. Cole Freeman ’18 came up short Saturday against the Mules. He passed 42 times, throwing for 256 yards and two touchdowns while completing just 40.5 percent of his passes. That will not do the job against Williams, Middlebury, or Bates in the final three games. It was just his second game as the primary QB, but he needs to sharpen up if the Conts want to snatch a win.

Bantams Cling to the Top: Power Rankings 10/14

Between the marching band and the bursting fall foliage, there were plenty of distractions at the Williams-Bates game. (Courtesy of Williams Athletics)
Between the marching band and the bursting fall foliage, there were plenty of distractions at the Williams-Bates game. (Courtesy of Williams Athletics)

Amherst got the most impressive win of the season on Saturday over Middlebury, but that doesn’t change the top of the rankings. Things played out generally as expected, especially down the bottom half of this list. Therefore there isn’t a lot of movement this week.

  1. Trinity (3-0; Last Week: 1)

Still yet to let up a point on defense, the Bantams steam rolled past the Hamilton Continentals for a 29-4 win. Trinity has dominated all season, making easy work of their opponents so far. Safety Paul McCarthy ’16 had yet another pick to make it four for the season, a year after seeing the field for only short spurts. I’m not expecting much to change this week, even against undefeated Tufts.

  1. Amherst (3-0; Last Week: 3)

Why not put Amherst first, given that they haven’t lost in forever, it seems? Well, last year doesn’t matter, and I think Trinity has been the most impressive team. Amherst proved they belong at 1b) in the polls as they put a beating on Middlebury. The Amherst defense held Middlebury to 21 net rushing yards and sacked Matt Milano ’16 five times for a total loss of 40 yards. Amherst should stroll to 4-0 as they take on Colby on Saturday. This team could very well end being better than last year’s edition.

  1. Middlebury (2-1): (Last Week: 2)

It was just a matter of time before this team got knocked down given their issues. A lackluster rushing game plagued them vs. Amherst, just as it has all season. The difference was that the Jeffs closed down the passing game the further the game went along. One indication of how bad the Panthers have been running the ball is that they have only four first downs from running the ball, compared to 41 first downs through the air. An intriguing game against Williams looms, a matchup that went to overtime last year.

  1. Wesleyan (2-1; Last Week: 4)

Wesleyan kept its fans on their feet (and caused them to grow some gray hairs) as they pulled off a 24-21 win over Colby. Gernald Hawkins ’18 drove down the field from the Wesleyan 34-yard line with four minutes to play, eventually connecting with Devon Carrillo ’16 for a game winning 35-yard touchdown pass. That the running defense all of a sudden was porous raised plenty of eyebrows. The young Cardinals are still figuring out how to put that talent to good use. Wesleyan takes on Bates next week, which could be close given that the average margin of victory in the Cardinals’ three games so far is just 3.3 points.

  1. Williams (2-1; Last Week: 5)

After an excruciating loss to Trinity in Week 2, the Ephs were able to put up enough points to beat Bates 16-14. They weren’t to get much going on the ground, but Austin Lommen ’16 threw for 309 yards, albeit with two interceptions. The Ephs ran the ball 26 times in order to milk up the clock, but were largely ineffective. More balance will be needed to keep the aggressive Middlebury defense at bay.

  1. Tufts (3-0; Last Week 6)

Yes they are undefeated, but the combined records for the teams they have beaten is 0-9 (Bowdoin, Bates and Hamilton). They looked much stronger against Bowdoin, but they still barely escaped from the Bobcats and Continentals. This week will test how close the Jumbos are to competing on both sides of the line of scrimmage against an elite team. From here on out, the Jumbos will have a tough schedule as they face Trinity, Williams, Amherst, Colby and Middlebury. The Jumbos have a lot to prove.

  1. Bates (0-3; Last Week: 7)

Bates picked up 232 rushing yards of a total 298 yards and averaged 4.1 yards per carry in a heartbreaking loss to Williams. For the first time, the rushing attack gained some traction with quarterback Patrick Dugan ’16 leading the way with 74 yards. With six fumbles (two lost) on the day, the Bobcats have shown they can run, they just need to hang on to the damn football. It isn’t often that Bates loses the time of possession battle by 8:56 like they did against Williams. The schedule doesn’t get easier as the Bobcats go on the road at Wesleyan in Week 4.

  1. Hamilton (0-3; Last week: 8)

It is hard for a team to move up in the power rankings when they face off against Trinity, but the Continentals do deserve credit for scoring on the Bantams, even if it wasn’t on offense. Look for this to be Hamilton’s final week in the eight spot. They take on Bowdoin this week and are looking for their first win in over three years. This is a team that is going to come out very hungry, sensing a beatable and beaten-down Bowdoin squad.

  1. Colby (0-3; Last Week: 9)

The Mules finally showed some fight Saturday against Wesleyan as they lost on a late fourth quarter touchdown. The continued struggles of quarterback Gabe Harrington ’17 are becoming harder and harder to ignore. In all three games he has averaged less than 4.0 yards per attempt and has zero passing touchdowns with five interceptions. Even with the running game having success against Wesleyan, he went 15-34. The hard stretch to open the season concludes against Amherst.

  1. Bowdoin (0-3; Last Week: 10)

The Polar Bears trailed the whole game, and ended up losing 43-24 against Tufts. Their inability to run the ball and stop the run hurt them again. The old adage that football games are won at the line of scrimmage is true in the NESCAC. Coach JB Wells is still looking for his first win, and as the weeks go by, the possibility that it won’t come until 2016 is becoming more and more distinct.

Total Dominance near the Top: Power Rankings 10/7

NESCAC Defensive Player of the Week Safety Spencer Donahue '17 celebrates the Bantams' continued dominance. (Courtesy of Greg Sullivan)
NESCAC Defensive Player of the Week Safety Spencer Donahue ’17 celebrates the Bantams’ continued dominance. (Courtesy of Greg Sullivan)

1. Trinity (2-0; Last week: 1)

Another shutout for the Bantams as they rolled over Williams scoring 24 points. Trinity is likely to dominate the NESCAC for the rest of the season, with their only potential scares to be against Middlebury, Amherst, and Wesleyan. They will be back in “The Coop” Saturday to take on Hamilton, which should be a cake walk for them. We will see if they can keep the Continentals’ offense scoreless and become the first NESCAC team to not allow a point through three games.

2. Middlebury (2-0; Last week: 3)

The Panthers shook off their nerve-wracking opener at Wesleyan and put up 28 points on Colby fairly easily. Middlebury’s weakness still falls on their running game as they only accumulated 52 rushing yards last week. Each team picked up a safety in this game, and Colby scored their lone touchdown with 30 seconds left in the game to scrap nine points on the board. Middlebury has a lot of work to do as they take on Amherst this week. Quarterback Matt Milano ’16 will need to be on his A-game if they want to stay undefeated.

3. Amherst (2-0; Last week: 2)

Bowdoin fans, avert your eyes…

This was a tune-up game for the Lord Jeffreys as Bowdoin posed no real threat. Amherst has continued to put points on the board, and I think that is exactly what they will do to Middlebury this week. Amherst will likely run the ball all over Middlebury, proving they belong in the Middlebury’s spot.

4. Wesleyan (1-1; Last week: 4) 

The Cardinals were on the other side of a close game this week as they scored the winning TD to beat Hamilton on a 19-yard run with just over three minutes left in the game. Wesleyan should get another victory this Saturday as they take on a struggling Colby team.

5. Williams (1-1; Last week: 5)

The Ephs were outmatched against the Bantams last weekend. Williams had little to be disappointed about in this game. They take on Bates this week which is a team not to take lightly, and that can always pose some issues because of its unique offense.

6. Tufts (2-0; Last week: 7) 

Tufts will move up a spot as they are the worst of the best – the only undefeated team that has zero shot of winning a NESCAC title this year. Tufts won a thriller against Bates in Maine last Saturday. Tufts kicker Wille Holmquist ’17 saved the day again with a 34-yard field goal that gave the Jumbos a 17-14 lead in what was eventually a one-point victory. Tufts will take on Bowdoin this week.

7. Bates (0-2; Last week: 6)

Another week, another loss - this one a heartbreaker - for slotback Shaun Carroll '16 and the Bobcats. (Courtesy of Josh Kuckens and Bates College)
Another week, another loss – this one a heartbreaker – for slotback Shaun Carroll ’16 and the Bobcats. (Courtesy of Josh Kuckens and Bates College Athletics)

The Bobcats lost a tough one to Tufts so naturally they swapped rankings. Bates will try to get it’s first win of 2015 this week at Williams. The Ephs have actually been solid against the run (104.5 YPG allowed), which could mean a 0-3 start is in the cards for the Bobcats.

8. Hamilton (0-2; Last week: 8)

Hamilton has put together a competitive team that has scrapped in their first two games – a five-point loss to Wesleyan really raised some eyebrows – but they are still plagued by a losing streak that dates back to Oct. 13, 2012. Sadly, Hamilton will more than likely make it three calendar years without a win as they take on Trinity this weekend. At least they’ve climbed out of the cellar of the power rankings, probably for good.

9. Colby (0-2; Last week: 9)

The Mules suffered their second loss of the season, and but for a lucky break on a poorly-snapped punt and a garbage time rushing TD against third-stringers, Colby would still be scoreless. We will see if they can use the momentum from their last touch in the Middlebury game to pose a threat to Wesleyan on Saturday.

10. Bowdoin (0-2; Last week: 10) 

Tim Drakeley ’17 was unable to carry the Polar Bears past Amherst, or really to even compete. Bowdoin was simply overpowered by Amherst who outgained the Bears’ total offense by 369 yards. Within 12 minutes of the opening kick the score was 24-0 Amherst. That’s back-to-back blowouts that have not gone Bowdoin’s way. Bowdoin will play Tufts on Saturday for a chance to move up the ranks.

Puzzo Drives the Bants to No. 1: Power Rankings 10/2

QB Sonny Puzzo '18 (#13) and the Bantams were far too much for Colby to handle last Saturday. (Courtesy of Robert LeBel)
QB Sonny Puzzo ’18 (#13) and the Bantams were far too much for Colby to handle last Saturday. (Courtesy of Robert LeBel)

1. Trinity (1-0; Last week: 3)

As Trinity blew past Colby in the season’s opener in Maine, it became apparent that the loss of running back Joe Moreno ’19 to an ACL tear may not plague the Bantams as much as previously thought. While QB Sonny Puzzo ’18 piled up 278 passing yards, the Bantams also accumulated 161 rushing yards, which gives credit to their depth at running back. Trinity’s defense emerged as a menace shutting out Colby and limiting them to a total of 159 yards while making three sacks and three interceptions. The hype is up – the Bantams are the real deal.

2. Amherst (1-0; Last week: 2)

Amherst had a strong first week accumulating, the most points in the NESCAC. The defense had a hiccup allowing Bates to rush for two touchdowns, one which came on Bates’ first play, an 80-yard run by slotback Shaun Carrol ’16. Their offense looked very balanced, splitting their 556 net yards between rushing and passing. Reece Foy ’18 has a lot of receiving options, and they will continue to mix it up with an array of running backs.

3. Middlebury (1-0; Last week: 1)

The Panthers had a nail-biter last week. Wesleyan could have easily stolen the number three spot in these ranks with a win, but Middlebury got the job done like we all expected. Quarterback Matt Milano ’16 threw for 337 yards and three touchdowns. Middlebury was on their heels all game and averaged a half yard on 22 carries. The Panthers were lucky to come away with a win last week.

4. Wesleyan (0-1; Last week: 4)

Despite losing in Week 1, the Cardinals showed some real promise taking a good Middlebury team to the finish. Despite Gernald Hawkins ’18 throwing two interceptions, he showed flashes of excellence, and if he is able to tune up his passing game, this team could go the distance and win a NESCAC championship. The Wesleyan defense completely shut down the Middlebury running game, but the Cardinals walked away from last week’s game very disappointed.

5. Williams (1-0; Last week: 8)

A good Williams team moves up to the fifth spot this week after a convincing win over Bowdoin. They were able to control the game rushing for 150 yards and holding the ball for 38 of 60 minutes. However, the Ephs manhandled Bowdoin last year in the season-opener, too, and went on to finish 2-6. Williams will be put to the test Saturday as they travel to Hartford to take on the Bantams.

6. Bates (0-1; Last week: 7)

Bates lost to a great team in Amherst, and despite allowing 37 points, they were able to put up 316 total yards on offense and two touchdowns. Still, besides Carroll’s 80-yard touchdown run, he picked up an average of 2.25 yards per carry. Bates will take on Tufts this week, who escaped an overtime win against Hamilton.

7. Tufts (1-0; Last week: 5)

Tufts mixed up the pass and run game to edge out the Continentals by three points in overtime. Chance Brady ’18 racked up 117 rushing yards and two touchdowns, so look for him to help lead the Jumbos to more wins this season.

8. Hamilton (0-1); Last week: 10)

Hamilton put up a great fight against Tufts and showed great passion. Despite being down 21-0 at the half and losing their starting QB to an ankle injury, they were able to force the game into overtime. I am not sure Hamilton will break the losing streak this season, but you must give credit where credit is due, and the Continentals don’t deserve the 10 spot this week.

9. Colby (0-1; Last week: 6)

Colby did not look good in Week 1 – the only team unable to get on the scoreboard. Part of the equation, too, is that Colby ran into an inspired Trinity team on Saturday. The Mules’ Gabe Harrington ’17 was unable to get it done behind center, and wide receiver Ryder Arsenault ’17 needs to make more of an impact at wide receiver.

10. Bowdoin (0-1; Last week: 9)

Last in the ‘CAC is a tough pill to swallow, but it is no surprise as Bowdoin is in a rebuilding season. On the upside, Tim Drakeley ’17 did pass for 248 yards, so there is some hope with his arm if he can sharpen his completion percentage (53.8 percent).

Final Preseason Power Rankings

The Panthers - as expected - top our 2015 Preseason Power Rankings. (Photo by Joe MacDonald
The Panthers – as expected – top our 2015 Preseason Power Rankings. (Photo by Joe MacDonald

Editor’s Note:

Below Contributor Nick DiBendetto gives us the first of our weekly installments of our Power Rankings. DiBo will be our Power Ranker, if you will, for the remainder of the 2015 football season. These rankings are as up-to-the-minute as you get, and could reflect the newest information available and any discussions had among the editors and contributors. Admittedly, though, these preseason ranks do follow our projected records (included in parentheses) fairly closely. Check back weekly to see how each team has moved through the ranks.

1. Middlebury (8-0)

We have projected Middlebury to be the outright NESCAC Champions, something they have not done since 2007. The team looks strong with plenty of returners on both sides of the ball. They will be a very good, physical team. UNLV transfer Jared Lebowitz ’18, a 6’4″ Vermont native, will compete and push an already great senior quarterback in Matt Milano ’16. The Panthers are the safest bet at this point for a NESCAC title.

2. Amherst (7-1)

Amherst is coming off their fifth NESCAC Championship season, and is going to give the title another run. They boast running back Nick Kelly ’17, but they don’t seem to have a go-to guy at quarterback, which should make for two very difficult games against Trinity and Middlebury. Their typically strong offensive line looks nimble as ever this season, which could be big for Kelly.

3. Trinity (6-2)

The Bantams have a refined team this season with the addition of two serious offensive threats in quarterback Sonny Puzzo ’18, and 21 year-old rookie running back Joe Moreno ’19. The All-Time NESCAC Championship tally still belongs to Trinity with six titles, but they are planning to make it seven. This will be no easy task with Middlebury and Amherst right in the way, two teams that Trinity so badly wants redemption against. If Trinity’s anticipative offense can make some magic happen, the defense will grind out games – and the Coop may find itself basked in glory for one last time before Jessee/Miller Field is torn down for a renovation project.

4. Wesleyan (5-3)

This team was runner-up last year, but they are not returning many starters. Running back LaDarius Drew ’15 poses a lethal threat to opposing defenses. The quarterback race is not over, but there seems to be looming promise in quarterback Gernald Hawkins ’18, who comes from a football-rich area in West Park, FL which borders Miami. They kick the season off against Middlebury – which feels like a loss already, but don’t count them out too soon because Hawkins is a wild card and may have the Panthers biting their nails.

5. Tufts (4-4)

Tufts is coming off a .500 season, and does not seem to have any answers for becoming a winning team. There is reason to lack confidence in their quarterback, Alex Snyder ’17, who was average in limited play last season. If he is able to find some mojo within him Tufts could potentially get five wins this season. The defense looks solid, and look for Chance Brady ’17 to be leading the offensive rush. Don’t count the Jumbos completely out, but it does not look like they will display much improvement this season.

6. Colby (2-6)

The only real surprise in this week’s Power Ranks, the Mules are projected for a 2-6 record but could rise to greater heights. QB Gabe Harrington ’17 has potential to make big strides this season, the two-headed monster at running back should be one of the league’s best, and a few of the returners on defense are real difference-makers.

7. Bates (3-5)

The Bobcats have some playmakers this year, but it is a matter of if they can pull it together in time. Quarterback Pat Dugan ’16 hopes to stay healthy this season, and he will have some good receivers to throw to and experience behind him in his running backs. This team has talented players, but it is unlikely they will find themselves with a winning record come the end of November. I think they will give teams a real run for their money and even give a scare to some of the top dogs in the conference, but Bates is likely to crumble in the big moments due to their inexperience.

8. Williams (2-6)

The Williams offense looks solid this season with some weapons at TE, in particular, and a solid O-line to protect Austin Lommen ’16, the Boston College transfer. Their defense is going to be young, so that will really hurt them and their offense is unlikely to put up enough points to cope with the raw defense.

9. Bowdoin (3-5) 

The Polar Bears are hoping for Trey Brown ’16 to come out of hibernation and make a big impact at running back. After three ACL injuries in three years and then spending a year as a student trainer, Brown could spell Tyler Grant ’17 for significant portions of time. Beyond their Boobie Miles project there are many spots up for grabs. The Polar Bears do feature a lot of depth on the O-line, which could allow for Brown and quarterback Tim Drakeley ’17 to do some damage. Bowdoin’s new coach JB Wells is looking to turn this program around, but it will be no walk in the park.

10. Hamilton (0-8)

Last in the ‘CAC a year ago, Hamilton is determined to not go all season without winning a game again. They may be looking at QB Brandon Tobin ’18 to switch up the offensive gears and make gallant decisions. LaShawn Ware ’18 will come back as running back and is expected to have a very good season. In general, the team is more focused than ever and may actually upset a few teams, and a realistic goal for them would to get to .500.