Jumbos vs. Jeffs: Week 6 Game of the Week

Amherst has quite the streak going ... will it continue when they travel to Medford this weekend? (Photo by Joe MacDonald)
Amherst has quite the streak going … will it continue when they travel to Medford this weekend? (Photo by Joe MacDonald)

Game Info: Amherst (5-0) vs. Tufts (4-1): 1:00 PM, Medford MA

There are two big games this week, and we will have plenty of talk about the big Trinity at Middlebury game. For now, let’s focus on Tufts vs. Amherst for two reasons. One, Amherst is the reigning champion and owner of a 16-game winning streak; until they lose, any game involving them where there is at least any chance of them losing is the biggest game of the week. Two, Tufts might be making a mini-leap in season.

Let’s talk about the second point a little more. I’ll admit that I have been very wrong about my predictions for Tufts the past two weeks. I thought they would get blown out by Trinity and lose to Williams in a close game. Instead they lost in overtime to Trinity and blew out Williams 30-15. In making my predictions I fixated on Tufts’ results from the first two weeks when they sneaked by Hamilton and Bates. That was a mistake. Tufts still can’t be considered equal to the top four in the NESCAC until they beat one of those four (Tufts and Wesleyan miss each other on the schedule, unfortunately). However, they are closer to the elite than the bottom half of the conference and a better team than they were a few weeks ago.

Tufts X-Factor: Linebacker Matt McCormack ’16

Yes, Amherst is throwing the ball more than they have in the past, but they still run the ball on 59.3 percent of plays, compared to 61.6 percent of the time last year. McCormack returned to the lineup last week after a three week absence because of injury, and the leading tackler for Tufts from 2014 had just one solo tackles (five assisted).  His 88 tackles last season were best in the NESCAC, and he has to be more at full speed to pair with outside linebacker Patrick Williams ’16 to keep Amherst from gashing the Jumbos. The Tufts run defense has been hit or miss; they held both Hamilton and Williams to less than 50 yards but allowed an average of 197.5 yards against Bates and Trinity. Amherst still has the best run offense in the league, even after a subpar week running the ball against Wesleyan.

Amherst X-Factor: Wide Receiver Jackson McGonagle ’16

I’m not going to overthink this one. Tufts struggles against the pass, and Darrias Sime ’16 had a career day with 10 catches for 131 yards and a touchdown last week. McGonagle is another big, physical wide receiver who can take the top off a defense and is playing better every week. He won two jump balls last week for touchdowns against Wesleyan because the Amherst offense needed a spark. He can do more than just haul in jump balls, but that is where he is most deadly. He has caught all four of his touchdowns in the last three weeks, and most of those came on contested throws. The Jumbos are allowing a jaw-dropping 304.6 yards per game through the air. That is not going to cut it against McGonagle and fellow receiver Devin Boehm ’17.

Everything Else

Long known for their spread offense that tried to make up for their lack of size on the offensive line by getting the ball out in space quickly, Tufts has transformed into a run-first offense because of their experienced offensive line (two seniors and three juniors). The scheme hasn’t changed; they still spread you out and work out of the shot gun, but the play-calling is focused now on getting the ball in the hands of Chance Brady ’17 or backup Dominic Borelli ’19. Their commitment to the run is real: they have the third most rushes in the league, trailing just very run-heavy Bates and Wesleyan.

The problem is that running against Amherst is usually a losing proposition. On the surface, Amherst has not been as good against the run, allowing 114.8 yards per game on the ground, the fourth best mark. However, when you change those stats to yards allowed per carry (this was done by hand as it’s not available on the NESCAC website), that mark changes to 2.46 yards per carry. (That still isn’t the best in the NESCAC as Trinity allows 2.37 yards per carry.) Middle linebacker Thomas Kleyn ’16 had a casual 13 tackles in the FIRST half of last week, finishing with 18 for the game. The linebacking group altogether has not dropped off at all from last season, more than answering one of the big worries heading into the season. Yes, Tufts might have some success completing short passes, but good luck getting many yards after the catch because the linebackers and secondary prides itself on their tackling ability.

The past two weeks have seen Amherst dominated in the box score but still win comfortably. Now, obviously you play the scoreboard, not the box score, and so simply saying that Amherst is getting lucky is wrong. I don’t think there is anything wrong with this Amherst team, and they are still the best team in the NESCAC until somebody beats them. Nick Kelly ’17 was back at least somewhat healthy last week carrying the ball seven times for 62 yards. He is unlikely to carry that heavy a load, even if he does prove to be fully healthy just because of all the other talented running backs like Kenny Adinkra ’16 and Jack Hickey ’19.

Tufts is coming into this game confident after last week, and Amherst had to endure a physical battle last week, so one could make the argument that this is a body blow game for Amherst, especially since it comes sandwiched between Wesleyan and Trinity. However, it’s not like a 4-1 team is going to sneak up on Amherst. They will come ready to play. Coach EJ Mills will make the right adjustments as the game goes along, and Amherst will pull away in Medford.

Prediction: Amherst 28- Tufts 13

No Tricks Here: Weekend Preview 10/31

The Trinity O-line hopes to enforce its will against Middlebury on Halloween Saturday. (Courtesy of Trinity Athletics)
The Trinity O-line hopes to enforce its will against Middlebury on Halloween Saturday. (Courtesy of Trinity Athletics)

This is a week full of intrigue for NESCAC teams and loyal ‘CAC fans alike. There’s something for everyone in Week 6. For the championship hopefuls, two games have major implications. The Game of the Week features Amherst traveling to Tufts and trying to extend the 16-game winning streak. Up in Middlebury, the undefeated Bantams will fight to avoid another late-season slide like the one suffered years ago. For other teams not fighting for a title there is still plenty to play for. Bates and Colby open up CBB play this weekend, always a point of pride for these football programs. Elsewhere in Maine, Wesleyan still has a lot to prove. They’ve played to the level of their competition all season long, and the Cards would like to do some damage against what should be a weaker team in Bowdoin. Bowdoin will also be dealing with a question mark at quarterback, as Tim Drakeley ’17 is expected to be healthy, but there’s no guarantee that he’ll take the reins from impressive first-year Noah Nelson ’19. Hamilton heads to Williamstown for the final game of the weekend. Hamilton is, yet again, trying to get off the schneid and get its first win since 2012. The streak has stretched to 25 games now, and is coming up on the Tufts’ record of 31 straight losses. Meanwhile, the home team might be playing to save the boss’ job. There is widespread discontent over a program that has gone from an 8-0 season in 2010 to 5-3 in 2011, 4-4 in 2012 and 2-6 the past two seasons. It’s hard to say which team needs this win more.

Players to Watch

Middlebury RB Diego Meritus ’19

The Panthers are rushing for 2.1 yards per carry. Not good. It’s not all Meritus’ fault, of course. He’s actually a good runner, and has shown his ability to make guys miss in the screen game. He’s a big body and fast, so it’s surprising that Middlebury hasn’t had more success on the ground. Head Coach Bob Ritter seems committed to the first-year, though, and no one else has gotten significant carries since Week 1. Especially with WR Conrado Banky ’19 out now, the rushing game will take on more importance for Middlebury.

Bowdoin TE Bryan Porter ’18

With the first-year Nelson under QB, Porter needs to play a big role to help out the youngster. Two weeks ago, when Nelson had a phenomenal debut, Porter caught five balls and a touchdown, and last week his one catch was a 37-yard TD. Don’t expect there to be a lot of room downfield for the Bowdoin wideouts, meaning that Nelson is going to have to rely on Porter. It’s going to be huge for Bowdoin to convert on third downs in order to keep the ball out of the Cardinals’ hands. If Wesleyan is able to milk the clock with the running game, this will be over early.

Colby DE Ryan Ruiz ’16

When playing the triple-option, it’s imperative for the defense to keep to its assignments and not fly up field. Therefore, the impetus is on Ruiz, the Mules’ best defensive lineman, to lead the charge. He needs to keep the Bates slot backs from breaking out wide by getting outside leverage on the guy blocking him and allowing his teammates to make plays. If Colby can get a sizeable lead, though, then Ruiz will have a chance to pressure Pat Dugan ’16 and improve on his team-leading 2.5 sacks.

Hamilton RB LaShawn Ware ’18

I could essentially copy and paste the summary for Meritus from above, except that Hamilton Head Coach Dave Murray has shown a willingness to give some carries to Jason Nastovski ’18. Any time a team is having as much trouble running the ball as Middlebury and Hamilton are, a lot of that comes down to offensive line play. Running backs need holes to run through. The problem is exaggerated for Hamilton, though, because they aren’t having much success in the passing game, either. Ware averaged 3.9 yards per carry a year ago with 3/5 of the same offensive line. Things won’t change around for the Conts until Hamilton can get the ground game going.

Game Previews

Wesleyan at Bowdoin, 12:30 PM, Brunswick, ME

Live Stats  Video

Five weeks ago, we had no idea what to think about the Wesleyan Cardinals. A year removed from a senior class that brought the program back to relevance and competed for a championship three years in a row – earning a shared title in 2013 – Wesleyan had a plethora of questions coming into 2015. They’ve performed admirably, scaring Middlebury at home in Week 1 and putting up a good fight and outplaying the Lord Jeffs in every aspect but points scored a week ago in Amherst. Now the Cardinals are 3-2 and if they want to even have a minuscule shot at sharing a NESCAC title this year – and they’ll need a lot of help – they can’t lose again. I think this is a case of an inexperienced team coming into its own, and things are just looking up for them.

As for Bowdoin, the 30-20 win two weeks ago over Hamilton and the debut of Nelson gave hope to Polar Bear fans, but it now appears that it was false hope. No first-year should be expected to put up the kind of eye-popping numbers every week that Nelson posted against Hamilton, but without that kind of play Bowdoin doesn’t have enough fire power to topple the Cardinals. Losing their top two running backs has really hurt Bowdoin, which has only 58.4 rushing yards per game this season.

With that in mind, Bowdoin is forced to drop back and throw the football more often than not, which has to have Wesleyan DE Jordan Stone ’17 salivating as he wakes up this morning. Stone is one of the most physically-talented defensive players in this league and doesn’t get talked about too much on this blog, but that’s not because of his play, and more so because we just don’t talk about line play a ton. But Stone has 4.5 sacks, which is tied for second in the NESCAC with Micah Adickes ’18 of Tufts. Tufts teammate Zach Thomas ’18 leads the NESCAC with 5.5 sacks. Here’s the kicker, though. The Wesleyan defense has faced 150 pass plays. Tufts? 188 pass plays.

With the Cardinals starting to figure things out as a team and still a bevy of concerns for the Polar Bears, it’s going to be a frightful Halloween for Bowdoin.

Prediction: Wesleyan 35 – Bowdoin 14

Trinity at Middlebury, 12:30 PM, Middlebury, VT

Live Stats  Video

A year ago this week the championship-hopeful Bantams were stunned in the Coop by Middlebury, breaking a more than decade-old home winning streak of 53 games. That loss sent the Bantams spiraling to three losses to end the year. Once again, these teams meet with Trinity undefeated and Middlebury with an outside shot at a shared title. The ramifications will be large no matter which way the result ends up.

This matchup bodes well for the Bantams. The Middlebury run defense, expected to be stout this season, has bent pretty considerably against some top rushing attacks. The Panthers allowed 5.1 yards per carry to Wesleyan in Week 1 and 3.9 per carry to Amherst in Week 3. They’ve effectively shut down the rushing games of Colby, Williams and Bates, but Trinity’s freshman tailback Max Chipouras ’19 will provide a stiff challenge. What’s more, the Panthers have to be prepared for the dual-threat at QB that Sonny Puzzo ’18 provides.

The key for Middlebury, as always, is to score early and force teams to throw the football – something that they haven’t done particularly well this year. Their halftime scores so far this season: 7-13 at Wesleyan, 21-2 vs. Colby, 7-10 at Amherst, 9-7 vs. Williams and 14-10 at Bates. In all but one game, Middlebury was within four points at halftime. When they’ve started to get the offense rolling in the second half and forced teams to throw, the Panthers defense has responded with some big takeaways and shut down the opposition. That strategy could be particularly effective this week given Puzzo’s recent struggles – he had two picks at Tufts and only completed 10 of 20 passes last week vs. Bowdoin.

Offensively for Middlebury, the rushing attack has been bad, plain and simple. Only once, in the Panthers’ blowout victory over Williams, has the running game been effective. But, frankly, Middlebury has proven that they don’t need to run the ball in order to be successful. It would be nice, but Middlebury makes up for its rushing deficiency with short passes and running back screens. With Banky apparently out for the season with an ankle injury, the impetus now falls on slot-turned wideout Ryan Rizzo ’17, slot receiver Tanner Contois ’18 and All-League player Matt Minno ’16 on the other side to make some big plays in the receiving game for Matt Milano ’16. I think they do just enough to squeak by the Bants.

Prediction: Middlebury 28 – Trinity 21

Bates at Colby, 1:00 PM, Waterville, ME


The CBB is under way, and with both of these teams populating the bottom of the standings, the Maine championship becomes the primary focus. This game turned into a high-scoring OT affair a season ago at Bates, but I don’t see the same thing happening this time around. Though RB Jabari Hurdle-Price ’17 has really turned it on for Colby as of late, the offense still ranks last in the ‘CAC with 13.4 points per game. Gabe Harrington ’17 has really struggled with eight interceptions in five games, but he’s also been sacked 10 times and his receivers aren’t exactly running free all over the field. It’s hard to tell who’s to blame on the Colby offense because nothing is going right at the moment, but if they are going to break out – particularly throwing the ball – this could be their chance.

The Bates defense has been only slightly better than Colby, allowing 27.0 points per game, and is last in the league with 305.6 passing yards per game allowed. Wideouts Mark Snyder ’17 and Mbasa Mayikana ’18 are big targets on the Colby offense even if they haven’t been that productive so far, and could be found on a couple of deep balls for big plays.

The Bates offense, as we know, relies on misdirection and the running game. The loss of slotback Shaun Carroll ’16, who had been averaging 5.3 yards per carry, really hurts, but the Bobcats hope to offset that loss with the return of Sean Peterson ’18 to the lineup. His debut a week ago against Middlebury was not very impressive in the running game, but he caught a few passes and was able to show off his athleticism in open space. That he garnered 14 carries despite averaging just a yard per rush shows that he is expected to be a big part of the offense down the stretch. Peterson and crew will need to have a big-time day on the ground in order to get their second win. I think Colby will land the first punch in the CBB battle but hitting on a couple of deep throws and burning clock with Hurdle-Price, and as long as that defensive line stays disciplined the back seven can make enough plays to continue Bates on offense.

Prediction: Colby 21 – Bates 17

Hamilton at Williams, 1:30 PM, Williamstown, MA

Live Stats  Video

Things are not good in Clinton and Williamstown these days. For the Continentals part, there has been a lot of moral victories, including an OT loss against Tufts and two close games with Wesleyan and Colby. The defense has really stood on its head at times despite playing some younguns, and Cole Freeman ’19 stepped into the limelight two weeks ago at QB and would have lead Hamilton to a victory if not for Nelson’s Godly performance for Bowdoin. At the end of the day though, you can’t argue with the scoreboard, and Hamilton is still 0-5. The Ephs, meanwhile, amidst some rumblings of discontent from people around the program (nothing concrete), started off well with two wins sandwiched around a handy and expected beatdown against Trinity. However, the last two weeks have been disastrous for Williams, and with a roadtrip to Wesleyan in Week 7 and a rivalry game with Amherst in Week 8 looming, this might be the Ephs’ last shot at a victory to move to 3-5 and avoid a third straight 2-6 record, something that seems impossible for such a storied program.

Williams has allowed just 198.0 yards per game through the air, but they’ve also been behind for considerable amounts of a few games and have faced Bates, so coincidentally they rank eighth in rushing yards allowed per game. Nevertheless, I think that Williams is better against the pass than the run, which is good when matching up with Hamilton, who hasn’t been able to get a sputtering running attack going whatsoever. LaShawn Ware ’18, a talented runner who showed some potential a season ago, is averaging just 3.1 yards per carry, and subsequently Jason “Bane” Nastovski, previously cast as a fullback, led the squad with 12 carries last week to Ware’s nine. Combined, the pair had just 62 yards rushing on 21 carries. Clearly, a lot of pressure will be placed on Freeman and his receivers, particularly Charles Ensley ’17, a dynamic playmaker who just needs to get the ball in his hands, and the reliable Pat Donahoe ’16.

So do the Conts finally get the monkey off their back this week, or do the Ephs get mad and pull out a victory? I’m expecting an ugly game, with, as usual, a turnover being the difference. That Williams is at home I think benefits them, and Hamilton has been much worse on the road, losing 29-4 at Trinity and 30-20 at Bowdoin. Williams gets its third win of the season.

Prediction: Williams 21 – Hamilton 14

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.

The Biggest Fantasy Day of the Year: Fantasy Report 10/27

Matt Milano 16 continues to dominate the fantasy world. Courtesy of Middlebury Athletics)
Matt Milano ’16 continues to dominate the fantasy world. (Courtesy of Middlebury Athletics)

NESCAC teams put up a lot of points and yards this week, and so fantasy scores were up almost universally. The one exception to that was Nick DiBenedetto who had almost no points this week. His entire team had 38 points (including his bench which had 0). That allowed me to cruise to an easy win and get to 2-3 for the year. Matt Milano ’16 had 42 points just by himself this week. Joe put up a big number of 150 points because of that outburst from Milano. So far this season, Joe has gotten a profitable return on the No. 1 overall pick.

Adam vs. Nick 

Adam Lamont Nick DiBenedetto
QB Austin Lommen 28 QB Gabe Harrington 9
QB Reece Foy 22 QB Tim Drakeley 0
RB Jack Hickey 0 RB Diego Meritus 5
RB Chance Brady 31 RB Connor Harris 5
WR Pat Donahoe 12 WR Darrien Myers 2
WR Mike Rando 9 WR Dan Barone 1
TE Alex Way 1 TE Trevor MIletich 2
FLEX Nick Vailas 6 FLEX Ben Kurtz 0
FLEX Jackson McGonagle 21 FLEX Jaylen Berry 3
D/ST Wesleyan 10 D/ST Trinity 11
K Ike Fuchs 3 K Eric Sachse 0
 Total 143  Total 38
BE Gernald Hawkins 21   BE Matt Hirshman 0
BE Ryder Arsenault 0   BE Jordan Jenkins 0
BE Shaun Carroll 0   BE Raheem Jackson 0

Both quarterbacks showed up for me and neither really did for Nick. That quarterback position has long been an Achilles heel for him, and it is starting to get exposed now. Then Nick got unlucky with some solid contributors like Darrien Myers ’17 and Dan Barone ’16 having substandard weeks. My team still has some flaws to it, but I’m liking them more and more every week. Chance Brady ’17 is becoming a certified stud every week, and if I can figure out another running back, I might actually have something.

Joe vs. Carson

Joe Carson Kenney
QB Matt Milano 44 QB Sonny Puzzo 8
QB Alex Snyder 19 QB Jared Lebowitz 10
RB Kenny Adinkra 2 RB Frank Williams 11
RB LaShawn Ware 3 RB Max Chipouras 33
WR Devin Boehm 12 WR Matt Minno 25
WR Devon Carrillo 16 WR Mark Riley 17
TE Bryan Porter 9 TE Rob Thoma 1
FLEX Jabari Hurdle-Price 12 FLEX Ian Dugger 2
FLEX Conrado Banky 17 FLEX Jack Cooleen 4
D/ST Middlebury 10 D/ST Amherst 4
K Charlie Wall 6 K Charlie Gordon 2
 Total 150  Total 117
BE Lou Stevens 2   BE Neil O’Connor 0
BE Ryan Rizzo 12   BE LaDarius Drew 0
BE Tyler Grant 0   BE Nick Gaynor 9

Having Milano isn’t really fair when he can throw for 405 yards and five TDs like it’s nothing. People have gotten so used to it that he was passed over for NESCAC POTW Honors in favor of Max Chipouras ’19. That Chipouras pickup might win Carson the Fantasy Championship before it’s all said and done, but it wasn’t enough for him this week. Joe, who takes these proceedings much too seriously, is scary good and is only going to get better.


Joe: 4-1
Nick: 3-2
Adam: 2-3
Carson: 1-4

Sometimes the Box Score Lies: Stock Report 10/26

This picture is awesome. (Courtesy of Brewster Burns/Bates College)
This picture is awesome. (Courtesy of Brewster Burns/Bates College)

Another week down in the NESCAC, and we’re 62.5 percent of the way through the season. With nearly 2/3 of the NESCAC schedule behind us, you’d think that the championship picture would be fairly clear by now. On the contrary, things have only gotten murkier. While Amherst has impressed more than anyone else so far, they’re not out of the woods yet. Both the LJs and Trinity are 5-0, and Middlebury and Tufts are lurking at 4-1, just waiting for one of the top teams to slip up. Even Wesleyan, despite a heartbreaking loss this weekend to Amherst, is still barely alive at 3-2. And let’s not forget about the micro championships that are still up for grabs. The Little Three is under way and the CBB will get going this coming weekend, plus there are still a couple of huge rivalry match ups coming in Week 8 that always provide intrigue regardless of the standings.

As mentioned, the Little Three has begun with Amherst pushing their winning streak to 16 games, meaning they have beat every opponent in the NESCAC both at home and away since their last loss (they don’t play Hamilton). The win over Wesleyan didn’t come easy with the Jeffs down 9-0 in the first half mostly because of three first half interceptions by Reece Foy ’18. The score at halftime was 12-7 Wesleyan, but the Cardinals should have been up more as they had those three turnovers, a blocked punt, and more than 200 yards of offense in the first half. Wesleyan ended five of their six first half possessions in Amherst territory, four of which got inside the Amherst 30 yard line. To get only 12 points from those drives was a killer for Wesleyan.

On the other side, Amherst made up for their offensive deficiencies with big plays with Foy’s three touchdown passes coming on 33 and 40 yard strikes to Jackson McGonagle ’16 and a 65 yard bomb in the second half to Devin Boehm ’17 where Boehm was wide open. The only drive that Amherst really sustained was their final touchdown drive that took 5:08 and essentially ended the game putting them up 27-18 with 3:05 left.

For the second straight week, Amherst was dominated in the box score but won relatively easily. Wesleyan had 10 more first downs, 73 more yards, and held the ball for 38:46. The turnover margin was +2 for Wesleyan, and to boot Amherst had 101 penalty yards.

Didn’t matter.

Stock Up

Trinity RB Max Chipouras ’19

This is an easy one, as the emerging frosh tailback garnered NESCAC Offensive POTW honors for his impressive performance. The rookie went for 155 yards on 18 carries (8.6 YPC) and three touchdowns. His longest jaunt was 28 yards, which goes to show that he was consistently productive all day long. Chipouras is big but still shifty, and after getting only eight carries for 64 yards in the first two games, he now ranks third in the league in rush yards per game and leads the NESCAC with 6.8 per carry.

Tufts Running Backs

Week 5 was an important statement game for Tufts, who, by handling Williams 30-15, further solidified its standing in the upper tier of the league. Leading the charge were Chance Brady ’17 and Dom Borelli ’19. Their talent has changed what used to be a pass-heavy offense into a run-first team. Brady is the workhorse of the pair and a known commodity, which begs the question how his stock could be “up”? Well, he’s increased his rushing total each of the past four weeks and has six touchdowns in the past three games. I’d say things are trending upwards for Brady and the Jumbos.

Trinity Defensive Line

After the Bantams surrendered 27 points to Tufts a week ago, questions began to circulate about just how good the Trinity defense was. The Bants answered those questions in resounding fashion, and the front absolutely dominated the Bowdoin O-line. The experienced Trinity D-line, anchored by nose tackle Matt D’Andrea ’17, surrendered only 63 rushing yards to the Polar Bears and helped force four sacks, two of which came from D-linemen. Of course, Trinity gets its toughest tests in the final three weeks of the season. The Bantams have started out 5-0 for five consecutive seasons, but everyone in Hartford is very aware of how the season quickly skidded to a half and a 5-3 finish a year ago. Time will tell if the Bantams’ defense can step up and be dominant against the better teams.

Jackson McGonagle '16 hauls in one of his two touchdown catches. (Courtesy of Amherst Athletics)
Jackson McGonagle ’16 hauls in one of his two touchdown catches. (Courtesy of Amherst Athletics)

Stock Down

Bates Defense

Though the Bobcats are 0-5, they have been in some tight games this year and the defense had been stepping up as of late, even holdings Tufts to 17 points in Week 2. And then Saturday happened, when the Panthers went off for 41 points. Like most games in the NESCAC, the score was not indicative of how tough of a football game it was, as Middlebury led just 14-10 at halftime, and Bates had four takeaways – three interceptions and a fumble recovery. But in the end, the pass defense was porous. The Bobcats stopped the run very well, not allowing a run over seven yards until the Panthers’ final drive when QB Jared Lebowitz ’17 snuck through for a 40-yard TD dash off of a read option. In the passing game, though, Middlebury receivers just beat the Bobcats’ defenders one-on-one on multiple occasions. One long TD pass to Conrado Banky ’19 came on a simple go route down the left sideline where Banky just outran and out-jumped his defender. Overall, Middlebury had 6.3 yards per offensive play.

Wesleyan QB Gernald Hawkins ’18

We knew it was going to be tough for Hawkins to adjust and become an efficient passer, but his inability to move the ball downfield was exposed against Amherst. Hawkins only completed four passes of over 10 yards, the longest being 18 yards on the Cardinals’ final drive with Amherst laying off defensively. While he’s done a good job taking care of the ball, Hawkins’ limitations are hindering the Wesleyan offense. They’re happy to rely on their talented running backs, and the trick plays with Devon Carrillo ’16 throwing the ball and the change of pace with Mark Piccirillo ’19 lining up behind center are great, but you need to be able to threaten through the air on every down, and right now Wesleyan can’t do that.

Middlebury Passing Offense

How can Bates’ pass defense and Middlebury’s passing offense both be trending downward when the two faced off this week? Let me explain. It’s all relative, remember, so keep in mind that the Panthers’ passing attack is still elite when it comes to the NESCAC. But, interceptions have been somewhat of an issue this season for QB Matt Milano ’16, and they’ve really come in bunches, with two each against Colby and Amherst and three against Bates. Some are poor decisions, some are misplays by receivers, but considering that Milano had three picks all of last season, two of which came in Week 1, there’s some reason for concern. What really concerns me, though, is that Conrado Banky went down with an injury against Bates, and his status is unknown. Middlebury has some talented receivers who have barely seen the field waiting for an opportunity, but Banky was quickly turning into a star and seemed to have a solid connection with Milano, and losing him could prove costly.

Amherst vs. Amherst – I Mean, Wesleyan: Week 5 Game of the Week

Kenny Adinkra '16 is ready to rumble. (Courtesy of Amherst Athletics)
Kenny Adinkra ’16 is ready to rumble. (Courtesy of Amherst Athletics)

Game Information: Saturday, Oct. 24, 1:00 PM at Pratt Field in Amherst, MA (Homecoming)

The Little Three is on, boys and girls. And Wesleyan is mad, oh, so mad. The Lord Jeffs gave the Cardinals their only loss of 2014, robbing Wesleyan of its second Little Three title in three years, its first sole NESCAC title, and its first undefeated season since 1969. This Cardinals team is much different, though, as we know. Still, their game plan is the same. Run, run, run. And Amherst is much the same. They’re almost the same team (get the title now?) If you like old school football (with one little twist), you’ve come to the right place.

What is that twist, you ask? Both QBs might be the fastest runners on their teams. If you really get down to it, of course, running quarterbacks are really old school (I’m talking original, no-throwing football), but the flexibility to line up under center one play and play smashmouth, run a read option the next, and roll out for a 15-yard pass on the third is still a rare commodity. But that’s what we have on both sides this weekend, with Amherst’s Reece Foy ’18 and Wesleyan’s Gernald Hawkins ’18. You’re watching the crown jewel of NESCAC quarterbacks for the next two-plus seasons face off live and in color this weekend.

Amherst X-factor: Linebackers Parker Chapman ’17, Jack Drew ’16 and Tom Kleyn ’16

Aside from the obvious intrigue at QB this week, this trio of ‘backers will be huge for Amherst for two reasons. One, Evan Boynton ’17 has clearly turned into a star, which means that teams are going to start planning for him, especially coming hard up the middle. I don’t think that will be a huge part of Amherst’s defensive strategy playing a run-heavy team and one that sweeps quite often, but it has to be in there at times because Boynton has so much success attacking the middle of the line. Wesleyan’s O-line and backs will be ready for it, and so Boynton’s linebacker mates are going to be shouldering a lot of responsibility this week. They need to be ready for Hawkins to take off, Jaylen Berry ’18 or Lou Stevens ’16 to come right at them, or for Devon Carrillo ’16 to break one out wide, while also keeping Hawkins from dumping an easy ball over their heads. The Cardinals’ offense is a tough one to game plan for.

Wesleyan X-factor: WR Mike Breuler ’16

Breuler had a career game last week with nine catches and a TD. And speaking of what other teams are looking out for, well … Breuler’s not it. As mentioned, Amherst will be expecting a lot of runs from different ball carriers, so Hawkins needs to keep them honest, and Breuler seems to be his main target with 19 receptions on the year. The second-leading receiver, Carrillo, had four of his seven catches in one game, and is more likely to have 20 rushes than five receptions. Hawkins hasn’t shown an ability to consistently take care of the ball and move the offense with his arm. Time to prove that by connecting with Breuler.

Prediction: Amherst 33 – Wesleyan 15

I’m sorry, but I think this game lacks drama. The Lord Jeffs have allowed 13 points at home in two games, and it’s Homecoming Weekend, which should provide a boost. I think a fiery Wesleyan team will make it interesting for a half, and then Head Coach EJ Mills makes enough adjustments to shut down the Cardinals’ rushing attack. That means more pressure on Hawkins’ arm, and that’s never, ever good against the Amherst secondary. A couple turnovers in the third quarter and this game gets out of reach quickly before Amherst starts milking clock with its own multi-faceted running game.

The only way I see Wesleyan flipping the script is if someone breaks a big run or two, preferably Hawkins, as that would draw the linebackers in next time he rolls out. It’s going to take an A+ game, though for the Cards to go home victorious. What’s worse, the LJs are the league’s best at forcing pressure on the quarterback. For a young gunslinger, that spells trouble.

When the Boss Takes over the Ranks: Power Rankings 10/23

Williams is the "Best of the Rest" right now - can they get over that hump? (Courtesy of Williams Athletics)
Williams is the “Best of the Rest” right now – can they get over that hump? (Courtesy of Williams Athletics)

Usual rank-man Nick DiBenedetto is on vacation this week (probably sipping mai tais in Cabo San Lucas … just kidding, he just had mid-terms), so I, Joe MacDonald, am taking over. So after today you can stop heckling me for ranks that aren’t even mine, and can start telling me how stupid I am while actually knowing what you’re talking about.

1. Amherst Lord Jeffs (4-0; Last Week: 2)

The LJ’s are the defending champs, 4-0, looking for their 16th straight win, and are better than the 2014 title team. That’s because besides having a great defense and a great rushing attack, Amherst actually has a passing threat this season. The Lord Jeffs have averaged 7.3 yards per pass attempt, third in the NESCAC, all thanks to Reece Foy ’18 (and some talented receivers and great blocking). They’re still a rush first team (953 yards on the ground, 5.3 YPC and 10 TDs, all 1st in the NESCAC), but the aerial threat is a scary new dimension.

2. Trinity Bantams (4-0; Last Week: 1)

Tufts be damned. No team gets through a season without a scare or two. The Bantams defense still looks great, and by the way, the Bants have the No. 2 scoring offense in the league. If anything, I’m a little concerned about the run game. Maybe that’s silly for a team averaging 4.4 yards per carry, but I think there will be a lot of pressure put on Max Chipouras ’19 as he develops into a feature back, and I worry about him wearing down and about how a first-year hangs in there when Trinity meets the big boys in Middlebury, Amherst and Wesleyan.

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

Is that a running game I see? Yeah, it was only one game, but we all knew that Diego Meritus ’19 had the physical ability to do what he did to Williams. He’s really good with a head of steam. It’s just hard to get going when you’re taking handoffs standing still in the shotgun next to the QB. He’s also been effective in the screen game, so more of that is in order. But defensively, what’s going on with the rush defense? The Panthers have allowed 301, 100, 190 and 95 yards rushing so far, and that’s not with teams running out the clock against them. This was the 4th-best rush defense in the ‘CAC a year ago. Time to get it together.

4. Wesleyan Cardinals (3-1; Last Week: 4)

Now it gets interesting, but I’m giving Wesleyan the slightest of edges over Tufts. Wesleyan has just been there before. And, even without LaDarius Drew ’15, the run game is scary and multi-faceted. I know they’re young, but it’s a winning culture, and that appears to have carried over. At least, that’s how I choose to look at it, rather than a team that plays down or up to the level of its competition. Can they match Amherst’s level, though? We’ll find out tomorrow.

5. Tufts Jumbos (3-1; Last Week: 6)

Another team with a few questionable close calls, but an equally eye-opening close loss. Formerly a high-flying, pass-happy team with no defense, the Jumbos are actually relying on their D to carry the load. They’ve given up a lot of yards, but only 116.8 per game on the ground (4th-best) and have 12 takeaways (1st) and 14 sacks (T-1st). The defense stalled the Continentals’ offense in the OT period in Week 1 and then forced interception, fumble recover, 4th-and-out on Bates’ final three possessions in Week 2. This week the Jumbos try to prove they are in the top half to stay.

6. Williams Ephs (2-2; Last Week: 5)

Watch out for that cliff … sorry, guys, I couldn’t resist. I know what it feels like to be looking up at something that seems to be further than the moon, but for everyone between 6-10, competing for a NESCAC title is a fantasy right now. So it goes in the NESCAC where “parity” has not been the name of the game. However, the Ephs earn this spot by virtue of their Week 1 trouncing of the Polar Bears. Aside from that, they have a close win over Bates and two uninspiring performances against Trinity and Middlebury. What do they do well? Pass defense, having only allowed 201.3 YPG. Then again, Trinity and Middlebury had big leads and they’ve also played the triple-option Bobcats. Still, they’ve got some playmakers there, and they’ll be needed this week against Tufts.

7. Bates Bobcats (0-4; Last Week: 7)

Playing close games earns the ‘Cats some respect, but they’d really prefer a W. Some head-scratching calls have directly led to a couple L’s – plays that make one look like a genius when they go right. In any case, the’ve got to move the ball better. Thirty pass attempts from Pat Dugan ’16 a week ago seems confusing, until you realize that 20 of those came in the fourth quarter with the Bobcats down big. The fact is that they aren’t tricking teams with the triple-option anymore, and opponents have started to bottle up Mark Riley ’16, the league’s leading receiver a year ago. This could quickly get ugly if the offense doesn’t start rolling.

8. Bowdoin Polar Bears (1-3; Last Week: 10)

The Polar Bears dispatched the Continentals in Week 4 thanks to the emergence of a fresh-faced frosh. (CI Photography)
The Polar Bears dispatched the Continentals in Week 4 thanks to the emergence of a fresh-faced frosh. (CI Photography)

They have a W, which is better than can be said for the teams below them in the ranks, but I so nearly put them ninth, because I just don’t buy the supernova debut from Noah Nelson ’19. I’m happy for him, but nothing about his game or practice play in the preseason or first three weeks screamed ‘immediate star.’ With a really tough second start against Trinity this week, I expect to see Bowdoin drop a spot next week. But for now, they’re on a winning streak, and so we have them eighth.

9. Colby Mules (0-4; Last Week: 9)

Not much good going on in Maine right now. The defense is playing okay for Colby, and the D-line specifically has shown me some flashes of penetration. But seven interceptions from starting QB Gabe Harrington ’17 just isn’t getting it done. He’s not getting much help, though. Top target Mark Snyder ’18 provides a lot of size and good hands, but he’s not blowing away any DBs. They don’t even have a passing TD yet … hopefully the resurgence of Jabari Hurdle-Price ’17 starts opening up some throwing lanes.

10. Hamilton Continentals (0-10; Last Week: 10)

The Continentals have been competitive, so good times seem to be ahead. However, they’re not right around the corner. There’s far too much confusion at quarterback, and no rushing attack to speak of. After looking very respectable in the first two games, allowing 17 points to Tufts in regulation before surrendering a TD on the overtime drive and just 15 to points to Wesleyan, Trinity and Bowdoin have torn up the Continentals’ defense. There are some youngsters on the Hamilton defense making plays, which is encouraging, but there are still more questions than answers.

The Treaty of Westphalia (and NESCAC Football): Weekend Preview 10/24

DB Cameron Rondeau '19 and the Polar Bears are flying high after a 30-20 win a week ago. (CIPhotography.com/Bowdoin Athletics)
DB Cameron Rondeau ’19 and the Polar Bears are flying high after a 30-20 win a week ago. (CIPhotography.com/Bowdoin Athletics)

On October 24 in 1648, the Treaty of Westphalia was signed, ending the 30 Years’ War. More importantly, the treaty established the principle known as Westphalian Sovereignty, which means that all countries are equal in international law and all countries have sovereignty over all affairs within their own borders. It is widely regarded as crucial in developing the system of nation-states in Europe for the rest of the millennium.

That has nothing to do with NESCAC football, but I include it in the article to remind you that nothing done on Saturday during a NESCAC football game will be remembered in 377 years like the Treaty of Westphalia. In 377 years people will look at football the same way we look at Renaissance Fairs. Not that the games don’t matter – of course they do. Enjoy them, imbibe in them, and tell all your friends at the game to read Nothing but NESCAC. Enough with the rambling, onto the actual analysis.

Four to Watch

  1. Wide Receiver Charles Ensley ’17 (Hamilton): I was able to see Ensley close up last Saturday against Bowdoin. Obviously, I came away impressed as he had eight catches for 139 yards and a touchdown. Honestly he could have had even more yards than that, but the Hamilton QBs missed him on a couple of throws down the field. Ensley regularly got behind Bowdoin’s defensive secondary. Ensley seems to be a favorite of Cole Freeman ’18,  who came on to replace Chase Rosenberg ’17, at the end of the second quarter: all of his catches came after Freeman entered the game.
  2. Cornerback Tim Preston ’19 (Tufts): Despite not playing in the opening game, Preston (whom I incorrectly called a linebacker last week) is tied for the league lead in interceptions with four. Every week his statistics and play-making has become better and better. Last week was his official coming out party with two interceptions which he returned for 55 total yards. An even 6’0″, he is taller than most NESCAC cornerbacks, and this picture shows perfectly how he uses that height to his advantage. Preston will get plenty of action against the pass-happy Ephs.
  3. Linebacker Philippe Archambault ’19 (Bowdoin): Another freshman defensive player making a big impact after a slow start is Archambault. He entered the starting lineup against Tufts in Week 3, and in the two games since he has 19 tackles. More impressive is that he has three sacks in two games. Archambault plays middle linebacker, and both of his sacks against Hamilton came on delayed stunts where he came free. Trinity’s offensive line gives the French-Canadian another new challenge to take on.
  4. Quarterback Patrick Dugan ’16 (Bates): Dugan had a game to forget against Williams two weeks ago going 1-14, but he bounced back against Wesleyan throwing for 204 yards on 14-30 passing. I would still like Bates to be more unpredictable in throwing the ball on early downs, but allowing Dugan to throw the ball 30 times is still encouraging. He is never going to be a high completion percentage type, and the offense is never going to revolve around him throwing the ball. Still, getting the ball downfield in order to gain big chunks is a must.

Game Previews

Colby (0-4) at Hamilton (0-4): 12:00 PM, Clinton, NY

Live Stats  Video

A winless team will get on the board. Assuming Freeman starts at QB, the Continentals will have their third different starting QB this season, and the running game for Hamilton has not gotten going. Against the experienced defensive line led by Ryan Ruiz ’16, that won’t change very much. I was expecting more from the Continentals last week frankly, but they were dominated for three of the four quarters by the Polar Bears.

The statistics for Colby last week against Amherst are truly shocking. The Mules outgained the Jeffs 400-307 and also had the advantage in first downs 23-15. Most unbelievable, Colby held the ball for 36:48. Even though they never seriously threatened Amherst, for the second straight week they showed that they are capable of playing quality football. Jabari Hurdle-Price ’17 has cemented himself as one of the best running backs in the league. The long drive to Hamilton scares me, but I’m going with the Mules

Prediction: Colby over Hamilton 13-10

Bowdoin (1-3) at Trinity (4-0): 1:00 PM, Hartford, CT

Live Stats  Video

The Bantams looked oh so mortal last week, in large part because of their own mistakes. They had five turnovers and a crazy 13 penalties for 144 yards. They also somehow went 2-12 on third down even though they had 523 yards of total offense. Those are all fixable things, and the Bantams didn’t come into the game doing any of those things particularly poorly. Linebacker Liam Kenneally ’18 is quickly taking up the mantle of Bantam linebackers, finishing with 11 tackles last week. Even though the defense gave up 323 yards, they still held Alex Snyder ’17 to 11-30 throwing the ball. Through four games, opposing QBs have a completion percentage of 41.7 percent (53-127) and are averaging 138.5 YPG through the air.

Quarterback Noah Nelson ’19 had as fine a debut as one could have hoped for, but the sequel will have trouble matching that success. Nelson did a great job finding the open receiver and trusting his guys to make plays in one-on-one match-ups. The windows in the defense will be smaller and the jump balls might not be completed, and he won’t have as much time in the pocket as he did last week. Of course, Nelson can play loose as a daisy: nobody is expecting him to beat Trinity in the Coop in his second college start. Tim Drakeley ’17 will be back healthy next week, and the Polar Bears will reevaluate their QB situation then. Nelson could win the job permanently if he plays well, but he won’t necessarily lose it if he has a sub-par performance.

As for the game Saturday, Trinity plays better at home than they do on the road, the Bantams need to get everything working right before they begin their tough three-game final stretch. Still, remember that Bowdoin led Trinity 10-3 entering the 4th quarter last year…

Prediction: Trinity over Bowdoin 28-14


Middlebury (3-1) at Bates (0-4): 1:00 PM

Can Matt Minno '16 (88) keep up his current hot streak? (Photo by Joe MacDonald)
Can Matt Minno ’16 (88) keep up his current hot streak? (Photo by Joe MacDonald)

Live Stats  Video

Bates has now lost three games in a row by single digits. That sucks, plain and simple. The defense has been decent at not giving up points, but they still allowed 447 yards last week and are giving up an average of 424.5 per game. Even though some players like Brandon Williams ’17 and Sam Francis ’17 have quickly become important pieces of the puzzle, there is still enough inexperience that the defense has difficulty getting stops.

Matt Milano ’16 is going to put up big numbers this week, I can bet that, but how efficient will he be doing it? He was 20-41 against Williams, but he also was below 50 percent against Williams last year. He then used the Bates game as a springboard to his eye-popping second half. The Panthers can still grab a share of the NESCAC title. As long as their run defense, the second-worst in the league giving up an average of 171.5 YPG, isn’t completely exposed, they will pull this one out.

Prediction: Middlebury over Bates 24-13


Tufts (3-1) at Williams (2-2): 2:00 PM, Williamstown, MA

Live Stats  Video

These two have had three common opponents: both beat Bowdoin handily, squeaked by Bates, and lost to Trinity. Tufts obviously played the Bantams closer (Williams lost 24-0 compared to the 34-27 overtime loss for Tufts). Playing the comparative opponent’s game can be tricky, so I’m going to mostly disregard it. The Ephs defense completely ran out of a gas in the second half against Middlebury, allowing 27 straight points to finish the game after Williams went up 14-9 in the third quarter. Things get a little easier against Tufts. Not that much, though, with Chance Brady ’17, the leading rusher in the NESCAC, transforming the Jumbos into a more ground-heavy attack.

The Jumbos defense’s greatest weakness is against the pass; Williams loves to throw the ball, so advantage Ephs there. Austin Lommen ’16 just has to stop throwing bad interceptions; he has six, the second the most in the league. The Ephs defense doesn’t scare you with any player in particular, as impact players have missed time with injury. They are still a good defense though, so long as you don’t put them on the same scale as a Amherst or Trinity. This is the hardest game to predict this week. One potential difference-maker for Tufts is if they can break a long return since the Ephs have allowed two crucial returns for touchdowns. When in doubt, go with the home team.

Prediction: Williams over Tufts 22-19

NbN Last Week: 4-1
NbN on the Season: 17-3

Mid-Year Report: 5 Biggest Surprises So Far

Quarterback Noah Nelson '19 came out of nowhere to win NESCAC POTW Honors. (Courtesy of Bowdoin Athletics)
Quarterback Noah Nelson ’19 came out of nowhere to win NESCAC POTW Honors. (Courtesy of Bowdoin Athletics)

The NESCAC football season has brought us all of the drama and excitement that we could have asked. And while the standings are largely where we thought they’d be at season’s beginning, and many of last year’s standouts have built upon their impressive resumes, nevertheless there have been a myriad of surprises, as well.

Like the ending of the Departed – wait, maybe that’s a bad example. Like the big reveal of Darth Vader’s true identity in The Empire Strikes Back – do anyone of the younguns playing in the NESCAC today even know what I’m talking about – some things we just never see coming. And with that in mind, below are the five biggest surprises of the 2015 NESCAC football season, in order from “Oh no, someone ate the last Oreo” to “My car is gone, my girlfriend broke up with me and my house burnt down – I just saw it on Facebook”.

5. There Are Freshmen All over the Leaderboards

And that doesn’t even count last week’s Co-Offensive Player of the Week, Bowdoin QB Noah Nelson ’19, who isn’t eligible for the leaderboards despite a 328-yard, four-touchdown performance in Week 4. Amherst (Jack Hickey ’19) and Middlebury (Diego Meritus ’19) both have ball carriers in the top-10 in rushing yards per game, and Tufts’ Dom Borelli ’19 has shown some flashes of talent. On the receiving end, Middlebury’s Conrado Banky ’19 has turned a couple big plays into 64.8 YPG receiving, good for ninth in the NESCAC. On the defensive end, LB Phillippe Archambault ’19 (Bowdoin), LBs Ryan Neville ’19 (Colby) and Sam Friedman ’19 (Colby), DL Tyler Hudson ’19 (Hamilton) and DB Colby Jones ’19 (Hamilton), LBs Dagon Picon-Roura ’19 (Trinity) and Shane Libby ’19 (Trinity), and DB Alexander LaPiana ’19 (Tufts) are all making immediate impacts for their new squads. Every year some first-years make their mark right away, but it’s always impressive to see, and the number of contributors this year has been particularly large

4. The Tufts Jumbos Are 3-1, with a 34-27 OT Loss vs. Trinity

Sure, we predicted a 4-4 season for Tufts and they’ve won the games we expected them to. They also scraped by Hamilton and Bates by a total of four points. So we shouldn’t really be surprised by where Tufts stands right now. But then again, they did almost beat a 3-0 Trinity team that had yet to allow a point on defense. Maybe, just maybe, this team is getting better. And better yet, they’re starting to believe that they belong. For a team that hadn’t won a football game since Sept. 15, 2010 before last season, they seem to have arrived and become relevant at last.

3. The Wesleyan Rushing Attack

The Cardinals’ returned All-NESCAC running back Lou Stevens ’17 and brought back the formerly-injured LaDarius Drew ’15 to the backfield for this season. I would have bet my entire bank account (that probably sounds more impressive than it is) that at least one of those two would be running roughshod over the NESCAC already.

And yet, in Week 1 Jaylen Berry ’18 led the Cards’ attack with 122 rushing yards on 21 carries (5.8 YPC) and Drew and Stevens combined for just eight carries. On the season, Berry, quarterback Gernald Hawkins ’18 and slot receiver/Wildcat QB Devon Carrillo ’16 have all rushed for more yards than Stevens and Drew, and Drew has only played in two games this season, meaning that he is not recovered from his injury in 2014. Stevens finally got it going a week ago, running for 117 yards on just 12 carries including a 40-yard rumble, but it’s fairly obvious that we’re not going to see a workhorse emerge in the Cardinals’ backfield this season, with Head Coach Dan DiCenzo electing to spread out the carries.

2. The Maine Schools are a Combined 1-11

We had all three projected for either two or three wins, so the CBB was expected to be weak this season – but not this weak. If not for an offensive explosion from a newcomer at QB, Bowdoin could easily be 0-4 and the CBB would be 0-12. Something needs to change, because this kind of disparity is not good for the Maine schools or the league as a whole. Of those 11 losses, only three have really been close. Hopefully things turn around down the stretch, but that remains to be seen.

1. Passing Is up in the ‘CAC – and by a lot.

Last year, only two teams finished the season with over 200 YPG through the air – Middlebury (265.0) and Tufts (234.5). This season, through four games, EIGHT teams have at least 200 YPG passing, led by the Panthers (314.0) and capped with the Wesleyan Cardinals (200.8). From where is this difference coming? We thought, with the graduation of some top passers in Jesse Warren ’15 and Jack Doll ’15, that passing might be down this season. But on the contrary, passing is way up. The top-five passing defenses from a year ago are the same, and Trinity, Middlebury, Amherst, Williams and Wesleyan are performing similarly to a year ago. But Hamilton, Bates and Tufts, in particular, are relinquishing too many yards through the air. Even though Bates only threw for 110 yards against Tufts in Week 2, the Jumbos are allowing 290.0 YPG through the air. But it’s not just the lackluster performance of the Jumbos defense against the pass, but the arrival of some impressive QBs. Sonny Puzzo ’18 and Reece Foy ’18 are the league’s No. 2 and No. 3 passes to-date.

For awhile now the theme has been three-yards-and-a-cloud-of-dust in the NESCAC, but that appears to be changing.



The Cream Continues to Rise: Fantasy Report Week 4

Matt Minno '16 had a career-best 171 receiving yards. (Courtesy of Middlebury Athletics)
Matt Minno ’16 had a career-best 171 receiving yards – and 29 fantasy points. (Courtesy of Middlebury Athletics)

Much like the “real life NESCAC,” the fantasy world has provided us with a clear delineation between the elite and the bottom feeders, and in Week 4 the heavyweights faced off. As expected, I asserted my dominance, wiping the floor with DiBenedetto, buoyed by another strong performance from Matt Milano ’16. DiBo was definitely hurt by the fact that he didn’t have a replacement QB to sub in for Tim Drakeley ’17, but even if he did, the 50+ point spread would have been too much to overcome.

Matchup 1: Joe over Nick, 137-83

Joe Nick
Pos. Player Pts Pos. Player Pts
QB Matt Milano 33 QB Gabe Harrington 7
QB Alex Snyder 18 QB Tim Drakeley 0
RB Kenny Adinkra 12 RB Diego Meritus 26
RB LaShawn Ware 7 RB Connor Harris 15
WR Devin Boehm 9 WR Darrien Myers 8
WR Devon Carrillo 8 WR Dan Barone 9
TE Bryan Porter 9 TE Trevor MIletich 5
FLEX Jabari Hurdle-Price 16 FLEX Ben Kurtz 0
FLEX Conrado Banky 5 FLEX Jaylen Berry 4
D/ST Middlebury 13 D/ST Trinity 7
K Charlie Wall 7 K Eric Sachse 2
BE Lou Stevens 11   BE Matt Hirshman 3
BE Ryan Rizzo 0   BE Jordan Jenkins 1
BE Tyler Grant 0   BE Raheem Jackson 0
137 83

In this week’s JV tilt, Adam completely embarrassed himself. And that’s really where the story ends. Aside from that, Sonny Puzzo’18 led all scorers with a ridiculous 38 points this week thanks to four touchdowns on Saturday.

Matchup 2: Carson over Adam 122-54

Carson Adam
Pos. Player Pts Pos. Player Pts
QB Sonny Puzzo 38 QB Austin Lommen 5
QB Jared Lebowitz 1 QB Reece Foy 21
RB Frank Williams 10 RB Jack Hickey 2
RB Max Chipouras 7 RB Chance Brady 18
WR Matt Minno 29 WR Pat Donahoe 6
WR Mark Riley 5 WR Mike Rando 5
TE Rob Thoma 1 TE Alex Way 2
FLEX Ian Dugger 8 FLEX Nick Vailas 8
FLEX Jack Cooleen 3 FLEX Jackson McGonagle 13
D/ST Amherst 16 D/ST Wesleyan 8
K Charlie Gordon 4 K Ike Fuchs 6
BE Neil O’Connor 2   BE Gernald Hawkins 19
BE LaDarius Drew 0   BE Ryder Arsenault 0
BE Nick Gaynor 1   BE Shaun Carroll 0
122 54

Only two weeks left in the fantasy regular season, and barring any shockers, Nick and I will be the favorites heading into the postseason.

Current Standings:

Joe: 3-1
Nick: 3-1
Carson: 1-3
Adam: 1-3