After a thrilling first weekend of games a week ago, everyone is pumped for Week 2 of NESCAC football. We saw some big blowouts and some thrilling finishes — will we see more great action tomorrow? Fingers crossed. Colby Morris has provided some insight into the first four games below, while Sid Warrenbrand has previewed this week’s game of the week: Hamilton @ Wesleyan. Read below so you know what to keep an eye out for this weekend!
Additionally, below each game preview, we have included a new feature that we will become an integral piece of the game previews this season. Seven of our writers have provided their predictions for this weekend’s games. We will be keeping a tally of correct and incorrect predictions for the remaining 7 games of the season, and whoever has the most correct predictions at the end wins eternal bragging rights. We’ve all included our score predictions, so if someone nails the score on any of the games we’ll make a note of that as well. If you want to matchup against the NBN staff, tweet your predictions to us @CACSportsBlog !
Now, for the preview…enjoy!
Middlebury (1-0) vs. Colby (1-0), 1:00 PM, Waterville, ME
Colby is coming off of a thrilling end result, but only found themselves in the win column after an ugly game against a weak Williams team. Jabari Hurdle-Price ’19 was perhaps the lone bright spot for the Mules’ offense, and will likely be the only way that the home squad can take the ball to the house against the Panthers. Their defense held up well last weekend, and will surely be put to the test against what looks to be a title contending Middlebury team. Middlebury looks to be one of the top dogs in the NESCAC after first year starter Jared Lebowitz ’18 led the team with 6 total touchdowns last week, spreading the love to his receivers Ryan Rizzo ’17 (who was hampered by a knee injury last year, but is a dynamic playmaker) and the speedy Conrado Banky ’19 (who is on my personal 2016 breakout player watch list). After allowing only 3 points last weekend, it’s easy to say the Panthers’ only potential weakness is their special teams with a relative lack of a kicking game – this is likely the only facet of the game that Colby will have the advantage in. Kicking shouldn’t be an issue, however, so long as the Panthers keep getting into the end zone.
Look for Middlebury to roll to 2-0.
Rory Ziomek: Middlebury – 38, Colby – 7
Pete Lindholm: Middlebury – 26, Colby – 10
Liam O’Neil: Middlebury – 35, Colby – 7
Colby Morris: Middlebury – 33, Colby – 10
Colin Tiernan: Middlebury – 30, Colby – 10
Sid Warrenbrand: Middlebury – 37, Colby – 6
Nick DiBenedetto: Middlebury – 13, Colby – 7
Bowdoin (0-1) vs. Amherst (1-0), 1:00 PM, Amherst, MA
This game might end up being Amherst’s 2nd stringers vs. Bowdoin in the second half, considering the walloping that the Polar Bears took last weekend. The only real bright spot for the Bears was a solid showing from their special teams with three blocked kicks and a field goal of their own, considering their offense and defense didn’t do much else. Amherst isn’t likely to throw Bowdoin any bones, and they will come out firing, shooting for their 21st straight win after posting a shutout against Hamilton last week. QB Alex Berluti ’17 showed that he was more than an average backup and is at least a competitive signal caller in the NESCAC, comparable to Brock Osweiler circa 2015. Berluti may well end up receiving several D1 offers after this game, and maybe even an invitation to play for the Texans if all goes as planned. Berluti and goal line back Jack Hickey ’19 will find themselves racking up the touchdowns this Saturday.
Amherst wins their 21st in a row.
RZ: Amherst – 31, Bowdoin – 3
PL: Amherst – 45, Bowdoin – 0
LO: Amherst – 54, Bowdoin – 10
CM: Amherst – 31, Bowdoin – 6
CT: Amherst – 21, Bowdoin – 16
SW: Amherst – 31, Bowdoin – 0
ND: Amherst – 40, Bowdoin – 7
Bates (0-1) vs. Tufts (1-0), 1:00 PM, Somerville, MA
Tufts played pretty evenly with the visiting Cardinals last weekend, giving up 84 yards rushing and a TD to QB Mark Piccirillo of Wesleyan before staging a dramatic fourth quarter comeback. Alex Snyder ’18 had a weak passing game for the Jumbos, but Chance Brady ’17 picked up the slack with a huge day on the ground, rushing for the final two scores of the day. In Connecticut, Bates started surprisingly strongly against powerhouse Trinity, but faded quickly after their short lived 7-3 lead through the first quarter. Bates seems to be a pretty one-dimensional rushing team as Sandy Plashkes ’19 managed only 36 yards in the air. However, if they can manage to mix up their game plan, and break off some big rushes, Tufts’ defense could find themselves guessing and end up in trouble. Plashkes could (but probably won’t given the difficulty in maintaining that pace) continue to break off huge 57 yard runs every week, channelling his inner LaDainian Tomlinson from under center.
This has the makings of a potential trap game for the Jumbos if they sleep on the lurking Bobcats, but Tufts is still heavily favored.
RZ: Bates – 10, Tufts – 31
PL: Bates – 13, Tufts – 27
LO: Bates – 7, Tufts – 31
CM: Bates – 21, Tufts – 20
CT: Bates – 14, Tufts – 27
SW: Bates – 9, Tufts – 28
ND: Bates – 20, Tufts – 21
Williams (0-1) vs. Trinity (1-0), 1:30 PM, Hartford, CT
Williams put forth a close game last weekend, but a dismal effort. Their offense combined for just 308 yards of total offense, but included a solid rushing game with 188 yards at an average of 3.9 yards/carry. The Ephs’ secondary was the highlight of their game as Ben Anthony ’20 picked Colby off in his first game and Amyhr Barber ’19 added one of his own. We are speculating that Jansen Durham ’20 will get the starting nod after his efforts in the fourth quarter against Colby, and if he can start off strong this weekend then Williams could make strides in the right direction. Unfortunately for the Ephs, they won’t be able to work out their problems so easily as they take on Trinity, who absolutely demolished Bates to a tune of 38-7. Unsurprisingly, Max Chipouras ’19 continued his dominance with 144 yards rushing, but Lucas Golon ’19 also emerged out of the backfield with a huge day of his own in the backfield, rushing for 126 yards and two scores. Sonny Puzzo ’18 also shined, flashing maturity demonstrated by his efficiency (17-26 passing), finding Darrien Myers ’16 three times in the end zone. Trinity’s secondary is sure to intimidate Durham in his first game in Hartford, as Spencer Donahue ’16 will be lurking, hungry to find the end zone this game after his 88 yard interception return against Bates.
Williams might not be as bad as they seemed in week one, but Trinity is just as good as they appear. Bantams roll.
RZ: Trinity – 35, Williams – 10
PL: Trinity – 30, Williams – 3
LO: Trinity – 30, Williams – 0
CM: Trinity – 35, Williams – 13
CT: Trinity – 45, Williams – 0
SW: Trinity – 24, Williams – 10
ND: Trinity – 31, Williams – 14
Game of the Week:
Hamilton (0-1) at Wesleyan (0-1), 12:00 PM, Middletown, CT
Normally, there wouldn’t be two winless teams chosen as the game of the week, but this game has a lot of meaning for both programs. First, there is Wesleyan, who dominated the first three quarters against Tufts in a hostile Somerville atmosphere. The Cardinals collapsed in the 4th quarter and Tufts pulled off a stunning victory. The pressure is now on Wesleyan, who in the last three seasons have a record of 19-5. Everyone expects them to be a top dog in the NESCAC and this week’s game against Hamilton will let the whole league know how good they really are. Hamilton, on the other hand has not recorded a winning season since 1996 and looks to flush their 34-0 beatdown by Amherst by actually showing up against Wesleyan. If Wesleyan has a slow start against Hamilton, there is potential for a good ball game, but that seems highly unlikely in this matchup.
Wesleyan X-Factor: Quarterback Mark Piccirillo ’19
Marky football had himself a ballgame against Tufts as he was 20-32 with 187 yards in the air and ran for 84 yards on 18 carries on the ground. Although Wesleyan did not end up on top, this was an encouraging effort by Piccirillo as he did not record a single turnover against one of the better defenses in the NESCAC. His dual-threat abilities will be a nightmare for the Hamilton defense this upcoming Saturday. Expect Piccirillo to find the end zone multiple times in Wesleyan’s home opener.
Hamilton X-Factor: Running Back Trevor Pinkham ’19
Another sophomore, Pinkham had a tough first college start at running back as he was limited to just 16 yards on 8 carries against Amherst. Given that he was going up against arguably the best team in the NESCAC, week 2 will dictate the type of player he is. Tufts Senior running back Chance Brady was able to rush for over 100 yards in the 4th quarter alone against the Cardinals. Pinkham, like Brady, is a powerful running back, and given the opportunities he may just wear down the Cardinals defense like Brady did in the 4th quarter of last weekend’s game.
Hamilton would love nothing more than to shock the Cardinals in the Wesleyan home opener on Saturday. Everyone expects Wesleyan to win big, but Hamilton is still playing for something bigger than themselves. They are on the verge of not having had a winning season in 20 years and are working to turn things around. Think about that, most of the guys on this Hamilton team were not even alive for their last winning season. This game means a lot to them. Not to mention, Hamilton hosts Trinity next weekend, and if they can pull off one win in their first three games against these tough opponents, then they are in a good place.
On the other hand, Wesleyan needs this victory more than anything right now. They are coming off a devastating loss to Tufts and want to reestablish themselves towards the top of the NESCAC power rankings. The Cardinals are aware of their missed opportunity last weekend and will look to win big against Hamilton. Like I said earlier, I believe that Piccirillo will have a monster game both in the air and on the ground. He will be a huge reason why Wesleyan’s offense is going to have success. On defense I expect Shane Kaminski ’18 to establish himself as one of the league’s best linebackers. He is coming off a 50-tackle sophomore campaign and is fully capable of putting up even better numbers this season.
This matchup will come down to whether or not Wesleyan dominates Hamilton from the opening kickoff. They are far more talented on both offense and defense, but also have the ability to lose their rhythm as we saw in the 4th quarter of their opener against Tufts. Wesleyan is at home which gives them an even bigger reason to want to win. The last time they lost to Hamilton was in 2011 when they lost in a 7-6 shootout which happened to be their only loss in their first four games of that season. Hamilton has what it takes to steal a victory like this and even spoil a season, but I think that is doubtful. I believe that Wesleyan will win big in front of their Cardinal faithful.
RZ: Hamilton – 10, Wesleyan 24
PL: Hamilton – 14, Wesleyan – 10
LO: Hamilton – 10, Wesleyan 24
CM: Hamilton – 17, Wesleyan 21
CT: Hamilton – 13, Wesleyan 35
SW: Hamilton – 9, Wesleyan 32
ND: Hamilton – 31, Wesleyan 45