Down to the Wire: Week 7 Weekend Preview, 11/5

Alex Waugh '18 and Hamilton hope to pull off the upset as they host Middlebury this weekend in Clinton (Courtesy of Hamilton Athletics)
Alex Waugh ’18 and Hamilton hope to pull off the upset as they host Middlebury this weekend in Clinton (Courtesy of Hamilton Athletics)

Honestly speaking, this has been the most exciting NESCAC season that I have witnessed in my college career. Looking over the schedule for the final two weeks of season, I am drawn to game after game after game. There are games with championship hopes on the line (both NESCAC and CBB championship hopes); there are games with endless pride at stake; there are in-state rivalry games, conference rivalry games, grudge matches…there’s even some little school in Connecticut that’s trying to finish out an undefeated season. 2016 has given us the rise of a historically less relevant team in terms of championship contention (Tufts), and it has also presented us with an epic fall from grace (Amherst). All in all, it’s hard to objectively look at the 2016 NESCAC Football season and be upset — the competition has been good, great, phenomenal…I can’t wait to see what type of upsets are in store for us over these next two weeks.

Hold your horses though, folks. Before we can get to the decisive Week 8 games, we need to get through this weekend. Good news! There are a number of very important games tomorrow, games that will set the stage for a thrilling final week. The most obvious is Amherst-Trinity, a matchup that features an undefeated group of Bantams looking to win the sole title of 2016 NESCAC champion. Amherst has been on quite the slide as of late, but if they can put together a little Western Mass magic like we remember from the good old days, then Week 8 will be VERY interesting. Elsewhere, Middlebury, Tufts, and Wesleyan all have one loss, and all need to win-out in order to have a shot at taking home at least a share of the title (I’d be unbelievably surprised if there was a sole champion that didn’t hail from Hartford, CT, but I suppose it is possible). The good news for all three of the 5-1 squads is that they play Hamilton, Colby, and Williams respectively. The bad news? Hamilton, Colby, and Williams are ALL looking to spoil some championship dreams. So check out Saturday’s action below – this should be an awesome weekend.

(Per usual, Pete and I split up this weekend’s preview. I wrote about the Colby-Tufts and Wesleyan-Williams games, while Pete wrote the Middlebury-Hamilton, Amherst-Trinity, and Bates-Bowdoin games)

Colby (2-4) at Tufts (5-1), Medford, MA, 1:00 PM

Sebastian Farrell '19 debatably leapfrogged this defender (Courtesy of Colby Athletics)
Sebastian Ferrell ’19 debatably leapfrogged this defender (Courtesy of Colby Athletics)

Well, Pete moved Tufts into the #2 slot in this week’s power rankings, so it’s time for the Jumbos to show everyone that they deserve that nod. While the Trinitys, Middleburys, and Wesleyans of the world have been able to blow out some inferior opponents by ~30 points somewhat often, Tufts has not done so, but that doesn’t mean they’re any worse of a team for it. Scoring 40 or 50 points is not their M.O. – playing solid defense and wearing down opposing defenses is. That’s why Tufts has the lowest point differential per game, an average of just +9.33 per game compared to Trinity (27.00), Middlebury (11.33), and Wesleyan (21.00). It’s also why I think that this weekend’s game could be closer than many people are anticipating. Colby is fresh off a devastating loss to Bates, but the fight they showed in the second half of that game is a testament to their willpower. The Mules are clearly not going to roll over, and whether or not Jabari Hurdle-Price ‘17 is back from injury this week, Colby is going to be ready to play. Expect Coach Michaeles to stick with what’s working – lots of plays drawn up  for Christian Sparacio ‘18 to feed Sebastian Ferrell ‘19. Lockdown Jumbo cornerback Tim Preston ‘19 is back to his old ways – once again he leads the NESCAC in interceptions (4), so expect him to line up against Ferrell. The main question, as always, will be whether the opposing D can shut down Chance Brady ‘17… I somehow doubt it.

Rory Ziomek: Colby 17, Tufts 24

Pete Lindholm: Colby 10, Tufts 13

Liam O’Neil: Colby 10, Tufts 40

Colin Tiernan: Colby 13, Tufts 31

Colby Morris: Colby 7, Tufts 35

Sid Warrenbrand: Colby 7, Tufts 41

Nick DiBenedetto: Colby 7, Tufts 21


Wesleyan (5-1) at Williams (0-6), Williamstown, MA, 1:00 PM

I have tried to be pretty optimistic about Williams all season long, and they have shown some instances of competitive football in 2016, but overall, I think that Williams’ defense has been their downfall. The Ephs are allowing 29.3 OPPG, largely in part because of the nearly 400 YPG that they allow (381.5). Conceding a league-worst 199.2 YPG on the ground is not a recipe for success against Wesleyan, the third-best rushing attack in the NESCAC (180.5 YPG). And it’s not that the Cardinals can’t pass either! Quarterback Mark Piccirillo ‘19 can pass, he can run, and above all else, he can facilitate offensive flow. If Williams wants to win this game, they are going to need to score the football…unfortunately, I think that could be an issue for them. Though Williams ranks 6th in scoring in the NESCAC, they are a hop, skip and a jump below Amherst’s scoring average, once again highlighting the “league of two tiers” that we have often alluded to this fall. Wesleyan still boasts the best defense in the league, allowing just 7.7 OPPG, one that has only gotten better as the season has gone on. If the rest of the 2016 season is an accurate barometer, Wesleyan should head to Trinity at 6-1.

Rory: Wesleyan 42, Williams 7

Pete: Wesleyan 35, Williams 7

Liam: Wesleyan 27, Williams 10

Colin: Wesleyan 27, Williams 10

Colby: Wesleyan 28, Williams 13

Sid: Wesleyan 38, Williams 6

Nick: Wesleyan 38, Williams 14


Middlebury (5-1) at Hamilton (2-4), Clinton, NY, 1:00 PM

Contrary to the apparent mismatch, this is a crucial game for the Panthers.  Last weekend, Trinity Sonny Corleone-d the Panthers to the tune of a 49-13 drubbing that may not even have been that close.  The Panthers now must win out (and get a little help from Amherst this weekend) in order to have a shot at sharing the league title.  Their biggest obstacle on paper is a home game against Tufts to close the year, but Middlebury would be wise to not discount the Continentals this weekend.  Hamilton is a long drive from Middlebury, and the Panthers have had a tendency to start slowly, particularly on the road.  Also, Hamilton is truly not that bad.  Quarterback Kenny Gray ‘20 has had some impressive connections with receiver Charles Ensley ‘18, and the defense features certified studs Mickey Keating ‘18 and Tyler Hudson ‘19, who are excellent at pressuring the quarterback.  The struggling Middlebury offensive line will have to step up their game in order to give Jared Lebowitz time to get back into POY form after a very tough week against Trinity.  This should be a tune-up game for Middlebury in preparation for Tufts, but it would be very dangerous for the Panthers to think like that.

Rory: Middlebury 20, Hamilton 23

Pete: Middlebury 23, Hamilton 14

Liam: Middlebury 34, Hamilton 10

Colin: Middlebury 27, Hamilton 10

Colby: Middlebury 38, Hamilton 14

Sid: Middlebury 24, Hamilton 6

Nick: Middlebury 42, Hamilton 0


Amherst (3-3) at Trinity (6-0), Hartford, CT, 12:30 PM

Look, did I expect Amherst to be 3-3 heading into Week Seven?  No.  Am I happy about it?  No, (holding back gleeful laughter) okay maybe a bit, but just because it makes for more interesting #content for us to write about here at NBN.  Amherst has lost three of their last four games, with turnovers out of quarterbacks Alex Berluti and Nick Morales being the main culprit.  Additionally, running back Jack Hickey ‘19, who was looking like a darkhorse All-League team candidate early in the season, has pretty much disappeared from the offense, posting only 97 yards and one TD over the last three games after 6 touchdowns in the first three games.  Amherst simply has no offensive firepower right now, and that doesn’t bode well for a matchup with Trinity’s vaunted defense.  However, Amherst still has one weapon left in their arsenal: pride.  This is a team that won 21 in a row just a short time ago, and the attitude that makes the rest of the league hate them is still there.  If they can summon that attitude, take care of the ball and let their still-excellent defense match up with Trinity’s dominant offense, this could be a classic.

Rory: Amherst 13, Trinity 31

Pete: Amherst 10, Trinity 28

Liam: Amherst 13, Trinity 28

Colin: Amherst 24, Trinity 33

Colby: Amherst 13, Trinity 27

Sid: Amherst 14, Trinity 21

Nick: Amherst 17, Trinity 38


Bates (2-4) at Bowdoin (0-6), Lewiston, ME, 12:30 PM

There’s a battle for Maine brewing in Lewiston this weekend, as well as a battle for Bates to have one of their best seasons in the last ten years.  The second game of the CBB (Colby-Bates-Bowdoin) series features Bates coming off a hard fought 21-19 win over Colby, and Bowdoin coming off a shellacking at the hands of Wesleyan. Bates has a great opportunity in the next few weeks to finish at .500, as they play Hamilton in Week Eight.  Bowdoin, on the other hand, has an opportunity against Bates or Colby to leave 2016 with a win, potentially two, which would be a tremendous moral victory in a season that was doomed from the start.  The key for the Polar Bears will be keeping Bates QB Sandy Plaschkes from breaking away for big plays.  Plaschkes 42% completion percentage looks bad on paper (and honestly is pretty bad,) but he has eight touchdowns and only four interceptions on the year, and has a knack for coming up with big throws when the team needs it.  The stakes in this game are not high rankings-wise, but they are for the teams involved, making for a hard fought game.

Rory: Bates 27, Bowdoin 21

Pete: Bates 24, Bowdoin 7

Liam: Bates 26, Bowdoin 8

Colin: Bates 17, Bowdoin 20

Colby: Bates 17, Bowdoin 13

Sid: Bates 16, Bowdoin 9

Nick: Bates 28, Bowdoin 14

Everyone’s Watching the Scoreboard in Hartford: Week 7 Game of the Week

It's going to take a full-team effort for Amherst to take down the Bantams tomorrow (Courtesy of Amherst Athletics)
It’s going to take a full-team effort for Amherst to take down the Bantams tomorrow (Courtesy of Amherst Athletics)

Amherst (3-3) at Trinity (6-0), 12:30 PM, Hartford, CT

This matchup doesn’t have quite as much on the line as last weekend, but the eyes of every team still in the running for the crown will be glancing towards this game’s scoreboard. So while this game carries tremendous implications for Trinity, Tufts, Wesleyan, and Middlebury, it’s like this is the NLCS series and the World Series happened last week. I’m not trying to discount Amherst, but there isn’t quite as much excitement here. Now, optimistically, could Amherst be like the Cubs and make an improbable comeback into the NESCAC race? Or could they play the role of spoiler and really spice up the race to the top as the season winds down? Well, we thought that last weekend could’ve been the quasi-championship game, but who knows what could happen if Amherst tops the favored Bantams. Amherst won’t win the NESCAC and comeback from a 3-1-esque deficit like Chicago, but they do certainly have a strong enough team and rush defense to give Trinity a good run for their money and mess with their plans of bringing the title back to Hartford. Let’s dive into it.

November 7th, 2015, Amherst Defeats Trinity 16-7 in Amherst, MA

Last year, Trinity scored first on a Max Chipouras ’19 touchdown but didn’t find the end zone again. Amherst successfully shut down Chipouras for most of the game and held him to just 3.4 yards per carry, not even close to his 2016 average of 6.1 yds/carry. In this defensively dominated game, Sonny Puzzo ’18 got picked off twice, however it is clear that he made great strides to improve his accuracy this year. His TD: INT ratio of 13:2 is worlds better than last year’s 5:8 tally, and he has been nearly perfect through 3/4 of this season. Wide receiver David Boehm ’17 is the only big contributor on offense from Amherst that remains since Reece Foy hasn’t played all year, and unfortunately for the Purple and White, both Alex Berluti ‘17 and Nick Morales ’19 are significant downgrades from the standout Foy. These teams are both different animals from last year, and this season there’s no question that Trinity is more of a beast. However, if Amherst can pull off the upset and stop Chipouras, then Middlebury, Tufts and Wesleyan may yet have hope.

Trinity X-Factor: RB Max Chipouras ‘19

#22 Max Chipouras '19 will be an integral part of Trinity's gameplay this weekend, per usual (Courtesy of Trinity Athletics).
#22 Max Chipouras ’19 will be an integral part of Trinity’s gameplay this weekend, per usual (Courtesy of Trinity Athletics).

Chipouras usually would be left off one of my X-Factor lists just because he would be an obvious force and leader during the game. Now, this week is no different – he will be a force- but since each team has a shutdown defense, these teams likely won’t be scoring upwards of 40 points as Trinity usually does. Chipouras rushes for 124.3 yds/game at 6.1 yds/carry and over a TD per game (seven on the year). Without him, Trinity would probably still be 6-0 since the only game that they played that was remotely close was against Tufts, who scored a lot of garbage time points. With that being said, however, since Trinity’s ground game is their main offensive threat, if Amherst can shut down Chipouras and hold him to their average 63 rushing yards allowed per game, then things will get very interesting in Hartford. If Chipouras slows down this weekend, Puzzo will need to find more than his usual 194.7 yds/game. If Chipouras does find some running room, however, this game might not stay close for long.

Amherst X-Factor: QB Alex Berluti ‘19

Alex Berluti '17 hopes to lead Amherst to an upset victory on Saturday (Courtesy of Amherst Athletics)
Alex Berluti ’17 hopes to lead Amherst to an upset victory on Saturday (Courtesy of Amherst Athletics)

You might be expecting a couple linebackers here, since I just mentioned how important stopping the dominant Chipouras will be for Amherst, however, it’s pretty plain and simple: Trinity is going to beat Amherst if Chipouras runs all over them. The Amherst rush defense has been solid all year, so it will just come down to who is better: Trinity’s rushing attack or Amherst’s rush defense. Alex Berluti is another big question mark heading into the game for the visitors. A second stringer last year, Berluti finds himself in the lime light for a storied football program, heading to Connecticut to face the big bad wolf in the ‘Coop. Yikes. It’s safe to say Berluti isn’t living the Alex Moran lifestyle anymore, and hasn’t had a lot of luck come his way this year. He fared well against Hamilton, respectably against Bowdoin until he got injured, and returned in what was a mediocre performance last weekend in the loss to Tufts. He did complete 20 of 43 passes, but Berluti didn’t find the end zone at all, he threw two picks and he got sacked four times. Amherst is going to rely on Berluti tomorrow, and for him to take them from the henhouse to the promised land, a lot is going to have to improve from last weekend.

Everything Else

Amherst got absolutely dominated against Wesleyan two weeks ago, however, a change in QB left them a little closer to victory against Tufts. Wesleyan’s defense is statistically the best in the league, and they picked off Nick Morales ’19 five times, but Berluti didn’t fare much better last weekend. All in all, Amherst’s QBs have 0 TDs and 7 INTs in the past two weeks. Ouch. Trinity’s monster defense, including Spencer Donahue ’17 and Archi Jerome ’17, is not going to let the Purple and White walk all over them. The ‘Coop should be a madhouse this weekend as it’s senior day for the graduating Bantams and their undefeated record is on the line. The Amherst signal caller has a lot to be weary of and a great challenge ahead of him.

Regardless of opposing quarterback play, Trinity really seems to be firing on all cylinders right now. Their win against Middlebury last weekend was a nod to how much more dominant they are than any other team. Midd looked like they were primed to come into Hartford and knock the Bantams down, but what a cold world it is for Panther fans. Trinity didn’t bat an eye last weekend, and it wasn’t a fluke. Trinity was better from start to finish, and they never let up – maybe they learned to keep the pedal to the metal after Tufts’  late comeback attempt. Looking ahead, the real NESCAC championship could be next weekend between the Connecticut squads, but the Bantams have to take care of business first. Amherst was the favorite going into the year, but they have fallen mightily these past few weeks and are teetering into the second tier of teams in the league if they get blown out this weekend. The Purple and White have a tough road ahead of them and I have no reason to believe that this is the week for Amherst to turn it around. This game reminds me less of a 2016 Cubs vs. Indians world series and more of a Yankees vs. Padres world series circa 1998 (Yeah, I was one year old when that happened and am still salty about it). Is this game in Hartford or Titletown?

There’s a New Sheriff In Town: Power Rankings 10/13

After dethroning the reigning champs, what is next for the Panthers? (Courtesy of Middlebury Athletics).
After dethroning the reigning champs, what is next for the Panthers? (Courtesy of Middlebury Athletics).

Heading into this past weekend, we knew one of the title contenders would end up having to add a tally to the L column, but I truly didn’t think the streak would end for Amherst on Saturday. Well, I was wrong, and so were other Panther doubters – Middlebury is for real (like, for real for real), and Trinity better watch their back, because Coach Ritter’s squad is gunning for the throne. If everything happens as expected between now and Week 6 (which is never a certainty in NESCAC football), Trinity and Middlebury will face off as the two remaining undefeated teams, which could very well be the title match. However, 25% of the NESCAC season stands between now and Week 6, so let’s focus on the here and now.

Elsewhere in the conference, things have started to shake out a bit more, and we have four current groups of teams at this point: Class A, the undefeated teams – Middlebury, Trinity, and Tufts; Class B, the defeatable title contenders – Amherst and Wesleyan, who both stand at 2-1; Class C, the middle of the pack contenders – Bates and Colby, both 1-2 with their sights set on winning the CBB Title, and potentially 4 to 6 win seasons if they can pull off an upset or two; and finally, Class D – the winless group, who are still hoping to climb out of the basement into Class C. There is plenty of time left for teams to shift between these groups, but as of now, this is where we stand:


1.) Middlebury (3-0)

A rightfully earned top spot for the Panthers after ending Amherst’s win streak this past weekend. Without a doubt, this is the most impressive win of any 3-0 team; the only other W in the conversation is Tufts’ solid win against Wesleyan. I found Jared Lebowitz ‘18 to be decently impressive through two weeks, but I am not swayed by the stats of quarterbacks running up the score. This weekend, Lebowitz threw for 261 yards against the league’s best defense, adding 3 touchdowns and just one interception. Not only did he have three TDs, but each was thrown to a different Panther, highlighting Lebowitz’ field vision and the receiving corps’ depth. Additionally, Carter Massengill ‘20 maintained his perfect kicking accuracy on the season, nailing 3 extra points and 2 field goals. If Massengill continues to be this consistent for the Panthers, it will be that much easier for them to hold off their opponents until the likely championship game in Week 6 against Trinity.


2.) Trinity (3-0)

Trinity did what they had to do this weekend as they remained unbeaten against Hamilton. The Bantams are now scoring at a league-best 37.7 PPG clip, but that number will surely be bumped down this weekend against a pretty solid Tufts defense. I’d be foolish to omit the fact that Trinity’s opponents after three weeks are a combined 1-8 on the season. With that being said, Trinity leads the league not only in scoring, but also in points allowed, so they are clearly asserting their dominance over inferior teams. This weekend will be the first true test for Coach Jeff Devanney’s team as they host Tufts in The Coop, and I don’t think I’m really surprising anyone here by noting that the Bantams will be focused on limiting the damage that Chance Brady ‘17 can do on offense. Getting penetration is one of Trinity’s strengths, however, especially when their opponents drop back to pass, evidenced by their league leading 5.0 sacks per game. We know Trinity is good, but like Middlebury had to, the Bantams have to beat another top team if they want Week 6 to be the battle for the championship belt.


3.) Amherst (2-1)

Sure they lost, but Amherst lost to one of the best teams in the league in a game that went down to the wire and was ultimately decided by a single point. The last thing Coach Mills’ team should be doing is panicking right now. For one thing, we’re still under halfway through our season, and Amherst is allowing just 12.3 PPG. THEY ARE ALSO ONLY ALLOWING 0.7 RUSHING YPG AFTER WEEK 3. That’s not a typo. Less than one rushing yard per game. This defense is going to win them games, not to mention that Amherst has an absolutely studly offense. The Purple and White have just had pretty tough luck with injuries at the quarterback position this year; Amherst lost Reece Foy ‘18 in preseason to a knee injury, and Alex Berluti ‘17 hurt his knee in Week 2 with his time table TBD. So what did Nick Morales ‘19, the next QB in line, do on Saturday? He stepped in for his first career start against Middlebury. How’d he do? Oh, he was just 27-38 for 269 yards, a touchdown, and just one interception. His longest pass was a simple 71 yard gain. Maybe I throw too many New England Patriots references in my blogs, but my good friend Bill Belichick likes to emphasize the “next man up” mentality that his team abides by. Maybe Coach Mills is deploying the same mentality in the Amherst locker room? Regardless, Amherst will be just fine, especially once Morales gains comfort and confidence in the pocket.


4.) Tufts (3-0)

Tufts dropped below Wesleyan in last week’s power rankings after a less than stellar win against Bates at home. Thus began the gossip that Tufts lucked out against Wesleyan, and that it showed in their underwhelming performance against a Bates team that they should theoretically have blown out. Even I, a self-proclaimed homer (after Pete shamed me into admitting it), was beginning to doubt Tufts’ ability to put up points. How’d the Jumbos respond? They responded exactly like a title contender should and scored 41 points against Bowdoin this weekend. After Week 3, it’s clear that the Bates game was the fluke, not the Wesleyan game. I am still skeptical of the offense, as they seem to rack up way more three and outs than normal for a 3-0 team (13-47, or 28%, on 3rd down conversions), but as of now it hasn’t hurt them. They’re going to need to show some grit against Trinity this weekend to continue climbing in the power rankings, and more importantly, to continue adding to the win column.


5.) Wesleyan (2-1)

Wesleyan will feel slighted by this drop from #4 back to #5. They have won by 28 and 31 in Weeks 2 and 3 respectively, while Tufts had a slip up against Bates. So why the drop? As I mentioned above, Tufts showed that they do in fact know how to handle the bottom tier teams. To be honest, these big wins against the league’s weaker teams just don’t speak as loudly to me as wins against teams of similar talent. What keeps coming to mind is the opener, and specifically, the way that Wesleyan absolutely fell apart in the 4th quarter against Tufts. Holding onto a late lead is not really applicable in blowouts, so Wesleyan has not been tested again in this regard. The ability to stay composed in a close game with a late lead is an area that I see as a weakness for the Cardinals at this point, and I will continue to see it as such until they prove me wrong. I will say that Mark Piccirillo ‘19 has really impressed me so far this year, and the fact that he can pass and run equally effectively is one of Wesleyan’s biggest weapons. If the Cardinals can lean on Piccirillo late in close games, I don’t think they’ll have another disappointing blown lead.


6.) Bates (1-2)

A blowout loss, a close loss to a top tier team, and a good win against a team of similar skill level. Bates is improving each week, and their upward-trending level of play is in large part due to the performance of quarterback Sandy Plashkes ‘19. Bates has a total of 6 touchdowns this year – guess how many of those touchdowns Plashkes was involved in? You got it, all 6. Plashkes has thrown for 5 TDs and he ran in the remaining score. It’s as simple as this: as Plashkes goes, Bates goes, and if he is dialed in like he was on Saturday against Williams, Bates can stick right with anyone in this league. Tread lightly, Wesleyan. NESCAC Football is about momentum, and the Bobcats are hot right now.


7.) Colby (1-2)

After a last second win in Week 1, the Mules have lost their steam. The Colby defense allowed 35+ points in consecutive weeks on their way to 21 and 31 point losses – not a good sign for a team that heads to Amherst this week. What has hurt Colby thus far is their mediocre aerial attack. The Mules are only throwing for 136.3 YPG, which has made them pretty one-dimensional as a whole. As a result, they have struggled to score the ball, evidenced by their 9.7 PPG total, which qualifies for second worst in the NESCAC. The Fieldston School alum Jabari Hurdle-Price ‘17 is doing all he can, but he is finding less room to work in 2016 as defenses have honed in on him after his breakout season last year. Colby’s workhorse back is most effective when Coach Michaeles engineers a high-volume gameplan for him, so if Colby can open up the field a bit through their passing game, it will create opportunities for a more efficient Hurdle-Price.


8.) Williams (0-3)

Connor Harris '18 has been a consistent workhorse for the Ephs so far (Courtesy of Williams Athletics)
Connor Harris ’18 (left) has been a consistent workhorse for the Ephs so far (Courtesy of Williams Athletics)

A tough spot to be after a tough start for Williams in 2016, but look at the bright side, guys: you’re the highest ranked 0-3 team! That’s no accident on our part, and it’s not just because I’m from Western Mass either. No, Williams has played a grittier brand of football than the other winless teams, but unfortunately for the Ephs things have bounced the wrong way time and again. One word to describe Week 1 for Williams: devastating. After allowing an early score, the Williams D buckled down long enough for the offense to put together a late drive which gave the Ephs the lead with 1:46 remaining. The lead lasted all of 1:41 until Colby won on a last second field goal. Week 2 was just rubbing salt in the wound for Williams as they had to play Trinity in a game that ended in a beating, but it should definitely be noted that Williams played the Bantams the toughest of Trinity’s three opponents thus far. Week 3 was another good game for Williams, but they just couldn’t put together any complete drives in the 4th quarter, ending in a well-fought defeat. Connor Harris ‘18 has been a bright spot for the Williams offense for the tailback spot, and he will be looked to increasingly if he keeps up his 66.3 rushing YPG average, which currently qualifies him for the fourth highest average in the ‘CAC.


9.) Bowdoin (0-3)

I guess if there is a positive for Bowdoin it’s that each game has gotten closer than the previous one, with scoring differentials descending from games one through three. The negative is that the Polar Bears lost by 20 in their closest loss of the season this weekend against Tufts. Bowdoin has the league’s worst defense, a result of their porous secondary allowing 309.7 YPG through the air. To put that in perspective, the second worst pass defense in the league, Hamilton, allows 236.0 YPG. Part of this issue is that Bowdoin is not getting penetration in the backfield consistently, a fact that certainly plays into their poor defense. Offensively, Bowdoin ranks second to last in YPG on the ground. This may not be for lack of running talent, but rather that, like the Jacksonville Jaguars, Bowdoin is constantly playing from behind and so they have to air the ball out to try to catch up (there’s a reason Blake Bortles is my fantasy quarterback). Bowdoin faces off with fellow winless team Hamilton this weekend, and I suspect they will have more success moving the ball in a better matchup for them than Middlebury, Amherst, or Tufts was.


10.) Hamilton (0-3)

Someone had to be last, and Hamilton’s 4.0 PPG average kind of makes them a front runner for this undesirable title. I will say that Hamilton rivals Bowdoin for toughest opening schedule, as the Continentals traveled to Amherst and then Wesleyan before finally getting a home game against Trinity, but they’ve only scored two times in three games. That’s no bueno. Looking ahead, Hamilton has a chance to make a run here as they face Bowdoin, Colby, and Williams in the coming weeks, but they are going to have to improve on both their highly permeable defense and their abysmal ability to move the football. Again, Hamilton’s rushing attack could be suffering from the Jacksonville Jaguars effect, but it’s hard to excuse a 39.7 rushing YPG average. The Continentals have a prime opportunity this weekend to turn their ship around, but they have to take advantage or they may find themselves in a hole they can’t dig themselves out of.

An Ode to the Streak

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

As the old saying goes, all good things must come to an end.  This past Saturday, the Middlebury Panthers ended one of the more impressive streaks in NESCAC history, Amherst’s 21 game win streak.  The last time Amherst College football lost a game was October 19th, 2013.  To put that in perspective, the price of gas was $3.28 a gallon, Donald Trump had not begun his political career, and the Red Sox were 11 days from winning David Ortiz’ 3rd World Series ring.  Spanning four seasons, the streak included three NESCAC championships, two of which featured undefeated campaigns.  Prior to Saturday, the 2018 class at Amherst had never lost.  Amherst’s ultimate goals for the 2016 season are by no means out of reach, but the loss to Middlebury offers a chance to look back at some of the best moments from the team’s impressive win streak…


The beginning…

The run began on October 26th, 2013 with Amherst taking down the Jumbos; a team that was in the midst of their own, more infamous streak.  Game number two saw Coach Mills capture his hundredth career win after a missed PAT doomed Trinity 17-16.  The 2013 season ended with a resounding 20-7 victory against rival Williams, a share of the NESCAC title, and the foundation for the run ahead.



The 8-0 record that the team finished with belies just how tough the road was for this version of Amherst College football.  Five of the games came down to one score including a 3-point overtime win at Wesleyan and 1-point win on the road at Trinity.  These games stick out as examples for the season and streak as a whole.  The win over Wesleyan came in large part due to the kicking performance of Philip Nwosu.  He went 4-4 on field goals including a clutch 41-yarder to tie it in the final minute, and 35-yarder to win it 33-30 in overtime.  Mind you, this was on the road, in the rain, against a team that was also undefeated at the time.  The Trinity game showed that Amherst was a multidimensional team.  After scoring 30+ points each of the previous three games, the Purple and White were only able to muster seven against the Bantams.  But seven points were all the defense needed, stymying the Bantam offense and holding them to six points.  The Trinity game also sticks out because it shows that no matter how talented a team is, to get to 21 straight wins requires a little bit of luck.  Trinity missed both an extra point and a late 23-yard field goal to keep the Purple and White undefeated.  The 2014 season ended with a win over Williams in the “Biggest Little Game in America,” which was played under the lights for the first time.  For the second year in a row, Amherst was crowned the NESCAC football champions and the streak moved to 11 in a row.



The 2015 Amherst College football team picked up right where the previous team left off, beginning the year with four straight blowout wins.  Reece Foy’s emergence at QB offered stability at a position that saw three different people under center the year prior.  The added offensive might meshed with the consistently dominant defense to make the team even better than previous iterations.  Wesleyan offered the first real test for the Purple and White dealing them a halftime deficit of 12-7.  But once again Amherst was up to the task scoring 20 2nd half points to defeat the rival Cardinals 27-18.  After another blowout win over Tufts, the defense buckled down holding both Trinity and Williams to seven points over the final two contests.  The offense did their part as well en route to a third straight NESCAC title and back-to-back undefeated seasons.  

Nothing but smiles across the board for Amherst after their 2015 NESCAC Championship (Courtesy of Amherst Athletics)
Nothing but smiles across the board for Amherst after their 2015 NESCAC Championship (Courtesy of Amherst Athletics)

The End

After adding two more wins to the streak, it finally came to an end with a one- point loss to a Middlebury team that was a favorite to compete for the NESCAC championship.  Amherst was down to its third quarterback after a preseason injury to the aforementioned Foy and an injury to the opening day starter, Alex Berluti ‘17.  Despite a valiant effort from Nick Morales ‘19, the football just did not bounce the Purple and White’s way.  Looking back, the streak could have ended a number of times but as Thomas Jefferson said, “The harder you work, the luckier you get.”  There are so many factors that go into winning a football game that it is hard enough to get just one W.  Winning 21 in a row is a testament to the hard work, preparation, and will to win of both the players and coaching staff.  Achieving excellence is hard but maintaining excellence the way Amherst College football has is even harder.  And while the streak may be over, the season is far from lost.  Don’t cry because it’s over Amherst fans, smile because it happened.

The First Test at the Top: Weekend Preview 10/8

Dario Highsmith '20 looks to run through Colby this weekend on the way to a 2-1 record for the Cardinals (Courtesy of Wesleyan Athletics).
Dario Highsmith ’20 looks to run through Colby this weekend on the way to a 2-1 record for the Cardinals (Courtesy of Wesleyan Athletics).

Hear ye, hear ye, Week 3 NESCAC action is in order! What’s almost as good as watching NESCAC football on Saturdays? National polls suggest that NBN’s Weekend Previews come in a close second place. Quite a weekend we’ve got in store: Williams and Bates will battle it out to see who can avoid an 0-3 start, Tufts tries to prove that their close game against the Bobcats was a fluke, Trinity will attempt to put up 38 points for the third week in a row, and Colby will try to upset Wesleyan in a battle between two 1-1 squads. Oh and ho-hum, Amherst and Middlebury will battle for the top spot in the conference. Pete and I tag-teamed this weekend’s preview, so if you are looking to skip through Pete’s overly poetic analysis, I wrote the Trinity-Hamilton and Tufts-Bowdoin previews. Check it out below:

Amherst @ Middlebury, 1:30 PM, Middlebury, VT

For a more expansive preview of this one, check out Colby Morris’ excellent piece that went up yesterday.  This game is on the short list for the most important game of the year, with Middlebury and Amherst both coming in undefeated after impressive blowouts in each of their respective games. It’s not too much of a stretch to say that this game may well decide the league championship, although Trinity, Tufts and Wesleyan certainly have something to say in that regard.

The Panthers are led by quarterback Jared Lebowitz ‘18, who has 11 total touchdowns (10 passing, 1 rushing) and just one interception thus far this season.  However, Amherst’s staunch defense will pose a very tough test to the first year starter.  In contrast to the Panthers, Amherst comes in with quarterback uncertainty, with starter Alex Berluti ‘17  suffering a knee injury last week, forcing third-stringer Nick Morales ‘18 into action. Berluti may very well play, but either way, Amherst’s strong defense and powerful running game led by Jack Hickey ‘19 should mitigate any issues under center. This game may well come down to which offense can break through first, or it could be a shootout that comes down to one crucial stop. In any event, it’s shaping up to be a classic.


PS: Look how unbiased that was, Rory!  I did it!

PPS:  Go Panthers

Rory Ziomek (5-0): Amherst – 24, Middlebury – 21

Pete Lindholm (5-0): Amherst – 28, Middlebury – 31

Liam O’Neil (5-0): Amherst – 24, Middlebury – 17

Colin Tiernan (5-0): Amherst – 24, Middlebury – 20

Colby Morris (4-1): Amherst – 21, Middlebury – 28 (OT)

Sid Warrenbrand (5-0): Amherst – 31, Middlebury – 14

Nick DiBenedetto (5-0): Amherst – 30, Middlebury – 31


Williams @ Bates, 1:00 PM, Lewiston, ME

Look, every game can’t be Amherst vs. Middlebury.  This is maybe the least sexy match-up of the weekend, with both teams struggling mightily so far.  However, the game offers a golden opportunity for either of these teams to pick up a win, so it’s still an intriguing matchup to check the score of while you’re waiting in line for the bathroom at the Middlebury-Amherst game.

Bates put up a very good fight against Tufts last week, losing 12-7 and throwing a shutout for the entire second half.  They showed a very strong defense, limiting explosive Jumbos running back Chance Brady ‘17 to 140 yards and no touchdowns.  Unfortunately, they had some pretty severe offensive struggles of their own, totaling only 220 total yards of offense. Williams is coming off a shellacking at home against Trinity, in which they gave up 517 total yards of offense and only gained 201. This should be a tight one, with Bates getting the edge because they’re at home and my younger sister goes to college there.

RZ: Williams – 13, Bates – 20

PL: Williams – 10, Bates – 13

LO: Williams – 7, Bates – 16

CT: Williams – 10, Bates – 17

CM: Williams – 7, Bates – 14

SW: Williams – 17, Bates 21

ND: Williams – 14, Bates – 10


Wesleyan @ Colby, 1:00 PM, Waterville, ME

If you ask me, this game has serious upset potential.  Colby is a long trip for Wesleyan, and the Mules already have a road win under their belt in Williamstown.  Wesleyan, on the other hand, lost a tough early season game to Tufts in which they blew a double digit lead in the second half.  Throwing history and reputation aside, both these teams are 1-1 right now, and numbers never lie (except when they do).

At their best, Wesleyan uses an explosive running attack led by electric freshman Dario Highsmith to march down the field. They punctuate those runs with safe, cagey passes from quarterback Mark Piccirillo ‘19. However, as Tufts showed in Week One, the Wesleyan offense can be stalled by the same kind of stout defense that Colby showed at Williams. It would be surprising if Colby pulled this one off, but the possibility is there.

RZ: Wesleyan – 24, Colby – 17

PL: Wesleyan – 20, Colby – 10

LO: Wesleyan – 31, Colby – 7

CT: Wesleyan – 30, Colby – 10

CM: Wesleyan – 24, Colby – 10

SW: Wesleyan – 35, Colby – 14

ND: Wesleyan – 35, Colby – 7


Trinity @ Hamilton, 1:00 PM, Clinton, NY

It took me three clicks on the NESCAC website to find the most glaring disparity between the Bantams and the Continentals: their offensive outputs. While Trinity has absolutely annihilated teams so far, putting up 38 points in each of their games thus far, the Continentals are averaging a mere 3 PPG. I don’t think anybody expected Hamilton to make it through their opening stretch unscathed, but frankly, they have been obliterated by Amherst and Wesleyan in consecutive games. Liam mentioned this in his Top 10 Games of 2016 article a few weeks ago, but the scheduling gods certainly didn’t spare Hamilton this year, and Week 3 looks to be another opportunity for a powerhouse to dismember the Continentals’ defense.

Chipouras looks to continue his insane pace against Hamilton tomorrow (Courtesy of Trinity Athletics).
Chipouras looks to continue his insane pace against Hamilton tomorrow (Courtesy of Trinity Athletics).

Hamilton is tied with Williams for the second-worst clip of rushing YPG allowed in the league, giving up 221.5 YPG on the ground to their opponents. Meanwhile, Trinity just runs, runs, and runs more, and is averaging 305 YPG on the ground through the first two weeks! Max Chipouras ‘19 was one of my early picks for player of the year for a reason; he has shown flashes of Boobie Miles with his 154.5 rush YPG rate that has placed him atop the conference. I’d be surprised if Trinity doesn’t run away with this one.

RZ: Trinity – 38, Hamilton – 10

PL: Trinity – 45, Hamilton – 6

LO: Trinity – 36, Hamilton – 10

CT: Trinity – 40, Hamilton – 0

CM: Trinity – 34, Hamilton 7

SW: Trinity – 42, Hamilton – 9

ND: Trinity – 40, Hamilton – 6


Tufts @ Bowdoin, 2:00 PM, Brunswick, ME

Speaking of dominant running backs, Smash Williams, aka Chance Brady, is heading up to Bowdoin this weekend to try to dethrone Chipouras as the NESCAC’s leading rusher. Brady trails Chipouras, but just barely, accumulating 145.5 YPG on the ground so far. The issue for the Jumbos at this point is that they can’t decide who they want to throw the ball. Is it going to be JD McCoy or Matt Saracen? Alex Snyder ‘17 and Ryan McDonald ‘19 have both seen plenty of snaps thus far, but neither has excelled, and Coach Civetti has had to lean on Brady to shoulder the load offensively. If Tufts wants to compete for the title this year, it’s crucial that they demonstrate the ability to attack through the air effectively. The Jumbos only rank ahead of Bates in passing yards…the Bobcats run the option…see what I’m getting at?

Bowdoin hopes to get on the phone with Matt Patricia before Saturday's game to talk defensive strategy.
Bowdoin hopes to get on the phone with Matt Patricia before Saturday’s game to talk defensive strategy.

“So, Rory, when are you going to start talking about the game?” Here’s how my tangent becomes relevant: if Bowdoin can stop the run, they have a pretty good chance to win this game. Because of how reliant Tufts is on their ground game, the Polar Bears may be tempted to stack the box and force the Jumbos to throw. This strategy worked decently well for Bates, right? I mean, there was a minor tsunami in Somerville last Saturday, but still, the Bobcats played a “bend don’t break” style of defense à la Matt Patricia and the New England Patriots, and they found themselves right in it until the end of the game. However, aside from stopping the run, Bowdoin needs to score, which is arguably their biggest challenge of the weekend. Coming off of games against Middlebury and Amherst, it’s not surprising that Bowdoin has struggled offensively to begin the 2016 season, but if their defense can keep them in the game, Bowdoin may only need a couple good drives to find themselves victorious. That being said, I don’t think anything will slow down Brady tomorrow (insert Pete’s comment about me being biased here).

RZ: Tufts – 28, Bowdoin – 13

PL: Tufts – 17, Bowdoin 14

LO: Tufts – 34, Bowdoin – 6

CT: Tufts – 24, Bowdoin – 13

CM: Tufts – 21, Bowdoin – 6

SW: Tufts – 28, Bowdoin – 6

ND: Tufts – 20, Bowdoin – 10

Goliath, Meet Goliath: Week 3 Game of the Week


The Panthers will rely heavily on Leibowitz this weekend in a battle of two of the four remaining undefeated teams (Courtesy of Middlebury Athletics)
The Panthers will rely heavily on Leibowitz this weekend in a battle of two of the four remaining undefeated teams (Courtesy of Middlebury Athletics)

Editor’s Note: The writers’ predictions will come out in tomorrow’s weekend preview blog. For now, enjoy the below analysis of the Amherst-Middlebury game this weekend.

Amherst (2-0) at Middlebury (2-0),1:30 PM, Middlebury, VT

Amherst vs. Middlebury—two undefeated teams squaring off in front of the Green Mountains— the Panthers vs. the Perennial champs (for lack of a mascot)—Jared Lebowitz against Donnie Mckillop? Yes, fans, you heard that right. Mckillop will be on the other sideline this weekend, coaching for the Purple & White against his beloved Panthers. So this game includes not one, but two Middlebury Quarterback greats—or soon to be greats. The visiting Amherst team isn’t going to care about the nostalgia for the home Middlebury crowd though, as they still have their 21 game winning streak on the line. 21 games—that is almost three seasons’ worth of wins in a row, and Middlebury rolls into this home game locked in after walloping both of their opponents thus far. This game has shades of a legendary matchup. Both sides are coming to play.


Amherst X-Factor: Quarterback Alex Berluti ’17/Nick Morales ’19

Alex Berluti '17 (Courtesy of Amherst Athletics)
Alex Berluti ’17 (Courtesy of Amherst Athletics)
Nick Morales '19 (Courtesy of Amherst Athletics)
Nick Morales ’19 (Courtesy of Amherst Athletics)

Berluti has been an admirable replacement for Reece Foy ’18, however, depending on last week’s knee injury, Nick Morales ’18 may have to try his hand at QB for Amherst in a Jacoby Brisset-like situation. If this occurs, the Purple & White would be onto their third string QB, facing off against a tough Middlebury pass rush. Morales did have a great end to the game against Bowdoin, going 7/10 for 102 yards passing and a TD, so Amherst shouldn’t be too worried. While either quarterback can hold his own, their pocket presence and ability to get the ball into the hands of David Boehm ’17 and Bo Berluti ’18, who have all four of the team’s receiving TD’s, is going to determine Amherst’s success passing the pigskin. Luckily for Amherst’s signal callers, they can lean on Jack Hickey ‘19 and the handful of other talented backs that Amherst mixes into their rushing attack to shoulder the load offensively. Berluti/Morales just need to be efficient and composed when they drop back to pass.


Middlebury X-Factor: Wide Receiver Conrado Banky ’19

Conrado Banky '19 (Courtesy of Middlebury Athletics).
Conrado Banky ’19 (Courtesy of Middlebury Athletics).

The only reason Jared Lebowitz isn’t the X-Factor is that I’m bank(y)ing on him having another great game – Middlebury certainly is too. The real uncertainty in this game is whether Banky can rattle off another incredible game against a defense that has only allowed 5 points per game and 150 total yards. The sophomore wideout had a breakout game last weekend with 198 yards and two TD’s, and should be heavily targeted this weekend, but Amherst knows that, and will be keeping a close eye on him when Lebowitz drops back to pass. Bottom line is, if he ends up in the end zone, the Panthers have a good shot with their running game supplementing Banky and Ryan Rizzo ’17 in the air. Then again, Middlebury ranks 7th in rushing, and really hasn’t found someone that can give them a huge boost on the ground. That hasn’t hurt the Panthers so far, however, nor has it affected Banky’s ability to get open. I’m sticking with him as my surprise breakout player of the year.


Everything Else

Nothing would be sweeter for the Panthers than winning against their rivals, ending their losing streak at home, and taking the top spot in the conference, all on parents weekend in what is sure to be a loud and rowdy crowd. Emotions will be flying high as last week’s “Gold Helmet” winner, given weekly to the top DII/DIII performer (Lebowitz), will be in front of familiar faces in what is sure to be one of his biggest starts as a Middlebury QB. While Middlebury has played weak opponents thus far, drawing some speculation as to how good Lebowitz and his squad really are, he duly pointed out that they “were the hardest teams we had to play those respective weeks.” Amherst has no right to talk about strength of schedule since they have also faced two struggling 0-2 teams.

Since the combined scores from each team’s early season are 140-27, it is still tough to argue that either has been tested thus far. This is the first game involving one of the contending four teams (Midd, Amherst, Trinity, and Tufts) who are still 2-0, and will surely tell who is really coming to play this season.

This tilt showcases two high powered offenses facing off, although it looks like the healthy Middlebury side may have a slight edge going in. The Panthers finally looked to figure out some of their kicking troubles last weekend, as Carter Massengill ’20 went 5/5 on XP’s, although they should still hope the game doesn’t come down to a last second field goal. Amherst uses more of a running back by committee approach as three RB’s have nine carries or more, but none have really racked off any huge games. Jack Hickey ’19 might need to be more of a horse on Saturday as he has only averaged 15 carries per game, although he has still found the end zone five times. Frankly, if Hickey gets going, it could be tough to stop the Amherst offense, which has proven to be pretty deadly in the past when they can mix the pass and the run equally effectively.

Let’s hope for the sake of a good football game that Amherst doesn’t have to go deeper into their QB depth charts this weekend and use their Julian Edelman. After all, there are only so many marquee match ups each year in the NESCAC, and this is geared up to be a barn burning classic. The game might even come down to a little extra distance per punt out of the leg of Amherst’s Andrew Ferrero ’19, doing his best impersonation of the 49ers’ Andy Lee. Unless you are heavily invested in another NESCAC game this weekend, your eyes should be on the action up in Middlebury, VT. Casual NESCAC fans: you DO NOT want to miss this one.

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.

Breakout Players of 2016

Plenty of last year’s stars are back and ready to repeat their performances last season, but there will without a doubt be a number of a breakout players in 2016, just like there are every year. For some guys, it takes a little extra time to adjust to the college game. For others, it is a matter of waiting for an older player to graduate. Whatever the reason, it is always a certainty that a handful of players will splash onto the scene each year, just one of the many facets of college athletics that makes them so fun to watch. Below is a list of some guys to look out for as breakout players in 2016, compiled through talking to coaches, word of mouth and far too much time looking at the website.


Running Back Jack Hickey ‘19, Amherst

Confidence: High

Hickey was part of a three-back r

ushing committee in 2015, and he still managed to run 319 yards. However, that’s not the most impressive part: Hickey averaged a savage 6.8 yards per carry as a freshman last year. That’s absolute craziness. The 6’1”, 218 lb. tailback is a force,and with leading rusher Kenny Adinkra ‘16 gone this year, Hickey should blow up. Expect Coach Mills to pound the ball on the ground with Hickey early one while quarterback Alex Berluti ‘17 gets his feet wet.

Outside Linebacker Dago Picon-Roura ‘19, Trinity

Confidence: Medium-High

Pulling down interceptions from the linebacker position is not the most common thing in the world, but in just 7 games last year Dago Picon-Roura grabbed two of them. Now a sophomore, Picon-Roura is a big, physical, hard-hitting player. Expect a big boost in tackle numbers now that he has gotten his feet wet in the collegiate style of play. Trinity lost a key piece in linebacker Frank Leyva ‘16, opening the door for Picon-Roura to become an integral part of what is shaping up to be one of the toughest defenses in the NESCAC.

Quarterback Jared Lebowitz ’18, Middlebury

Confidence: Medium

Last year Lebowitz sat behind 2014 Co-Offensive Player of the Year and 2015 First Teamer Matt Milano after transferring from D-1 UNLV. Lebowitz was named the No. 40 pro style QB in the 2012 high school class, and redshirted in his first year for the Rebels before playing in a limited capacity in 2014. Middlebury is likely to stick to their style of play and rely

Lebowitz will be looking to continue the tradition of stellar Panther quarterbacks.
Lebowitz will be looking to continue the tradition of stellar Panther quarterbacks.

heavily on the pass, although Lebowitz is an athletic signal caller who even lined up at receiver last year for the Panthers. He is a good runner—representing Middlebury’s first dual threat QB since Donnie McKillop ’11.

Quarterback Alex Berluti ‘17, Amherst

Confidence: Medium

With last year’s starter Reece Foy ‘18 succumbing to a season-ending knee injury in August, Berluti steps in with the pressure of extending a 19-game win streak. While his predecessor certainly set the bar high for Berluti, the senior has the advantage of an extra few inches over Foy, which will certainly help him read the defense. Amherst plays best when they can mix between run and pass plays pretty evenly, so Coach Mills will certainly be relying on Berluti to help this offense maintain the fluidity that has won it three straight NESCAC titles.

Wide Receiver Ben Berey ‘17, Tufts:

Confidence: Medium-Low

My confidence isn’t medium low in Berey because of anything he does, but rather because of Tufts’ system. Relying heavily on the combination of Chance Brady ‘17’s rushing attack and screen passes to wideout Mike Rando ‘17, Berey hasn’t been the primary option throughout his college career. However, with the loss of Jack Cooleen ‘16, it may just be time for Berey to step into a huge role for the Jumbos. On a team where the leading receiver (Cooleen) had three touchdowns, Berey had two, and I think that quarterback Alex Snyder ‘17 and Berey will hit their stride this season as opposing defenses focus most of their efforts on shutting down the Tufts ground game.

Running Back Peter Boyer ‘19, Bates

Confidence: Low

In a very run-heavy offense, Peter Boyer looks like he is going to get the nod as the starting tailback on opening day. While Boyer has limited in-game experience during his collegiate career, he did average 4.3 yards per carry last season. However, the lack of confidence stems from Boyer’s small sample size: he had just 10 rushing attempts in 2015. The nature of an offense that utilizes the option is that lots of different guys get touches, but if Boyer can keep up the efficiency he showed a spark of last season, he could emerge as Bates’ number one option.


Road Teams Rule Week One: Football Stock Report 9/28

After what seemed like an eternity, NESCAC football returned in triumphant glory on Saturday, and a lot of what we anticipated came to fruition, but there were many surprises, as well.

Today we give you the risers and fallers in our estimation, as well as a few game notes from each contest.

Stock Up:

Hamilton Offense

Tufts isn’t the most stout defense in the NESCAC, but you still have to be impressed with how the Continentals moved the ball and the play of QB Chase Rosenberg ’17 and WR Charles Ensley ’17. After starter Brandon Tobin ’18 succumbed to an injury early in the first half, Rosenberg (the starter for the past two seasons) came on and proceeded to go 14-23 (69.9%) for 301 yards, three touchdowns and no picks. Ensley was on the opposite end of 107 of those yards, and displayed some top-notch athleticism with some of his grabs. His teammate, Pat Donahoe ’16, actually tallied even more yards – 174, to lead the NESCAC – so there may yet be some life in this Continental offense. We’ll wait and see whether or not Tobin returns, and how that might shake up the QB situation.

Connecticut Schools

Despite the loss, the Cardinals proved on Saturday that they still belong to the league’s upper echelon. The Cards ran all over Middlebury, and newly-minted QB Gernald Hawkins ’18 flashed potential throwing the ball, though the results were subpar on Saturday. The defense looks like it barely dropped off, and when you can control the clock and move the ball on the ground as effectively as Wesleyan, you always have a chance to win. Panthers players returned from this one bearing rave reviews of the Wesleyan team as a whole.

Meanwhile, the Bantams looked like they were playing a Pop Warner team on Saturday. A 34-0 win on the road, 439 yards of total offense and only 159 yards allowed. Enough said.

Williams QB Austin Lommen ’16

Expectations are great for former D-I players that transfer down to D-III, and that was true for Lommen last year. The BC transfer was about average last year, completing 60.1 percent of his passes and racking up seven touchdowns against nine picks, but it might be time to buy in on the righty. Lommen went 20-30 (66.7%) for 288 yards, two touchdowns and one pick. Lommen managed the offense well, and the Ephs went 6-8 on third downs in the first half, most of them courtesy of throws by Lommen.

Stock Down:

Bates O-line

Yes, the Bobcats were matched up against an elite D-line from Amherst, but still, their performance in the trenches does not bode well for the rest of the season. Bates needs to churn up yards on the ground in order to win (with the occasional shot downfield to Mark Riley ’16). The Bobcats’ backs gathered 199 yards on the ground on Saturday, but 80 of those came on one Shaun Carroll ’16 scamper. Take that out, and the Bobcats rushed for 119 yards on 45 attempts – a 2.6 YPC average.

Colby Backs

Along the same lines as the above, the Mules were unable to consistently move the ball on the ground. QB Christian Sparacio ’18 had the most success of any ball carrier, racking up 30 yards on seven carries. We are still expecting big things from classmates Jabari Hurdle-Price ’17 and Carl Lipani ’17, but it looked like Colby just ran headfirst into a brick wall against Trinity.


Just to complete the Maine college trifecta, Bowdoin has to go in this spot. The offense was stagnant, and Tyler Grant ’16 didn’t get many opportunities with the Polar Bears trailing for much of their game against Williams. The loss of RB Trey Brown ’16 to injury will prove to be costly, as the Bowdoin coaches were hoping to be able to spell Grant far more this year than last – but alas, it was not to be. It was not a good opener for anyone in the black and white.

Game Notes:

Middlebury 28 at Wesleyan 25

Well, it wasn’t easy, but the Panthers hung on to go 1-0. Matt Milano ’16 wasn’t at his best early on, but was still very, very good. It was interesting that Jared Lebowitz ’18 got just one series. His entry into the game was pre-determined, but we don’t know what went into the decision to not use him for the rest of the game. Regardless, the passing game wasn’t the issue for Middlebury. The running game, however, was not effective. Somehow, the Panthers need to figure out a way to become a multi-dimensional team. They like to use screens to substitute for old-fashioned hand offs, but you still have to be able to give it to your back and let him work once in awhile.

On the other side of the field, Wesleyan competed until the very last. Hawkins has loads of potential at QB, despite his struggles throwing. He’s a fantastic athlete, and when he took off for one 17-yard dash up the gut my jaw physically dropped. Obviously, he’ll need to work on throwing the ball – sort of important for a quarterback. As for the running game, I was really shocked that Jaylen Berry ’18 was used as the feature back, carrying the ball 21 times to LaDarius Drew’s ’15 six carries and Lou Stevens’ ’17 two – not because I doubt the youngster’s ability, but because he supplanted two former All-NESCAC First Teamers as the go-to guy on Saturday. That being said, I would not be surprised if next week Drew ran the ball 25 times for 150 yards, and the same can be said about Stevens. Furthermore, Devon Carrillo ’16 continues to be a threat with his legs in many ways – out of the Wildcat, multiple back sets and on sweeps. Defensively, I have to give a shout out to DE Jordan Stone ’16. He’s a physical beast and had a great game and it showed on the stat sheet as Stone gathered 2.5 sacks.

Amherst 37 at Bates 14

Amherst WR Nick Widen '17 and the LJs took care of Bates with ease. (Courtesy of Bates Athletics/Phyllis Graber Jensen)
Amherst WR Nick Widen ’17 and the LJs took care of Bates with ease. (Courtesy of Bates Athletics/Phyllis Graber Jensen)

I didn’t watch any game as closely as I did Middlebury-Wesleyan, but nonetheless there was much to be learned from every contest. Reece Foy ’18 got the start for Amherst, and – this is the surprising part – played every snap at QB. Last season Foy and Alex Berluti ’17 opened the season in a time-share until Max Lippe ’15 came back from an injury. That Foy was able to do enough in camp to completely takeover the gig says something in and of itself. Also of note, Kenny Adinkra ’16 got the lion’s share of the carries and was more productive than Nick Kelly ’17. Will that last, or will Kelly return to 2014 form and takeover the feature role as he was expected to do. OR, will the super-talented Jack Hickey ’19 start stealing away more carries?

For Bates, I know that the triple-option is the staple of their offense, but Mark Riley is just incredible. The Bobcats completed 11 passes for 117 yards, and seven of those catches went to Riley for 87 yards. I don’t think that if you put a prime-age Randy Moss on any team in the NESCAC he would take as large of a proportion of the catches as Riley does.

Williams 27 at Bowdoin 7

For the second straight year the Ephs stomped on the Polar Bears. (Courtesy of Bowdoin Athletics/
For the second straight year the Ephs stomped on the Polar Bears. (Courtesy of Bowdoin Athletics/

Not much went right for the Polar Bears in Week 1. I don’t know whether to credit Lommen or crucify the Bowdoin secondary for the Ephs’ success through the air. Overall, I’m reserving judgement on the Polar Bears.

For Williams, though, you have to feel good about this start. Maybe they’ve put something together in Williamstown right under our noses. Although, I vaguely remember writing something to the same effect one year ago after Williams’ 36-0 beatdown of Bowdoin in Week 1. Maybe Coach Aaron Kelton just has the Polar Bears’ numbers. Maybe he’s taping opposing coaches’ signals with a cell phone camera, and 15 years from now, when Coach is getting fitted for his fourth NESCAC Championship ring, and the twilight is setting on a decorated career, NESCAC officials will bust down the door and point a finger at him and call him a cheater for doing exactly what every other team in the league was doing…

I’m sorry, I wasn’t planning that. (And there’s definitely no illegal filming going on anywhere in the NESCAC.)

Trinity 34 at Colby 0

With Joe Moreno ’19, sadly, out yet again with a torn ACL, Nick Gaynor ’17 has become the team’s top back. From a fantasy perspective though, this is a tricky situation, as Gaynor, Ethan Suraci ’18 or QB Sonny Puzzo ’18 could be the team’s leading rusher any given week. I particularly don’t think Gaynor will see many goal line touches. Gaynor is a converted wideout, and Suraci is a much bigger body. Max Chipouras ’19 – who had just two touches – got a goal line TD on Saturday instead of Gaynor. No matter who’s behind him, the return of Puzzo under center is going to be huge for Trinity. Henry Foye ’16 did a great job when healthy last year, but I think that Puzzo brings elite talent to the QB position.

Tufts 24 at Hamilton 21

The best game of the day came between two perennial doormats that look to be rising from the ashes. Tufts already took the first step a year ago by going 4-4, but with the Jumbos still 0-infinity in their last infinity chances on the road, the Continentals were feeling really good about their chances. And with newly-transferred QB Tobin at the helm, it appeared that Chapter 1 of the fairytale was under way.

Then Tobin left the game with an ankle injury, and everything fell into the hands of Rosenberg, the beleaguered vet. And boy, did he respond.

Rosenberg matched a career-high with his 301 passing yards, the program’s fifth-highest single-game mark. His 21.5 yards per completion and 13.1 yards per attempt were Hamilton records. He threw three TD passes, all in the span of 12 plays in the second half. His receivers, namely Donahoe and Ensley, made some spectacular plays, but let’s give all the credit in the world to Rosenberg for his stellar performance.

Alas, the Hamilton offense could not punch it in with the first possession of overtime. K Zach Altneu ’18 boomed his field goal attempt through the uprights, but Tufts Head Coach Jay Civetti was able to call a timeout just in time, forcing Altneu to kick again, and this time he pushed it wide left.

The Jumbos were conservative on their possession, moving the ball to the six-yard line before Snyder took a five-yard loss to position the football right in the middle of the field. K Willie Holmquist ’17 came up clutch for the Jumbos, who celebrated their first road victory since Oct. 3, 2009.

Aside from Rosenberg, CB Jimmy Giattino ’17 was a beast defensively for Hamilton and DL Tyler Hudson ’19 had an impressive debut. Last year’s tackle-leader John Phelan ’16 saw limited action, rotating with Mickey Keating ’17 at linebacker. We believe Head Coach Dave Murray is trying to protect Phelan who was banged up considerably during camp, but only time will tell if this timeshare continues. And lastly, Tobin’s ankle injury appears to be minor, which keeps the QB conversation in Clinton very intriguing. However, after a performance like that, how Rosenberg could not get the keys to the car for at least one more week is a mystery to me.

And in case you missed it, every road team won! Can you believe it? I don’t know how long it’s been since that happened in the NESCAC. Maybe between the 47 assignments I have this week and the job search I’ll try to procure that information.

It’s good to be back.

First Impressions Matter: The Weekend Preview

The best time of year is back. Football returns to the NESCAC tomorrow. (Courtesy of Bates Athletics)

The first week of the season is a special time. After 10 long months of waiting, NESCAC football is back to fill up our early Saturday afternoons for eight weeks. Yet, one can’t help but feel like right now is almost a better time to be a NESCAC football fan. After all, by Saturday night half of the teams will be 0-1. The expectations that every team and fanbase has can’t possibly all be met, and so for some, times are better before those expectations come crashing down.

This is the point where my friends tell me that I’m way too cynical. That football games are one of the best events ever created, and we should welcome them like a crying baby does the embrace of a parent. They are right of course. Enjoy tomorrow, and if at all possible get yourself to a game in person. Thanks to the Northeast Sports Network and improvements in technology, watching a NESCAC football game at home is now a great alternative, but nothing beats the ability to watch a game in person. Alright, enough of me rambling: on to the analysis.

Five to Watch

  1. Quarterback Reece Foy ’18 (Amherst): Coach EJ Mills has been loathe to disclose who his starting QB is, but the game preview on the Amherst website and one source have tipped us off to the fact that Foy is getting the nod for the start. Foy has talent, as he actually played at the University of San Diego (DI-AA) for a year before transferring to Amherst before last season. Foy battled for the starting position early in the year before Max Lippe ’15 retook control of the position down the stretch. At only 5’9″, Foye can have trouble seeing all of his reads. He is a good athlete though we didn’t see him run much last year. Even though Foy might start, I still think we see Alex Berluti ’17 play quarterback at some point, also.
  2. Safety Justin Sanchez ’17 (Wesleyan): As one of the two returners on defense for the Cardinals, Sanchez has to be spectacular against Matt Milano ’16 and Middlebury. Stars Donnie Cimino ’15 and Jake Bussani ’14 helped allow Sanchez to roam free and make plays in the run game (he led the Cardinals in tackles last season with 58), but Coach Dan DiCenzo will ask him to do more in pass defense this game. The Wesleyan defense might struggle to stop Middlebury, but if they get a couple of turnovers, that would also be huge. A noted ball-hawk, Sanchez is their best bet to make that happen.
  3. Defensive End James Howe ’16 (Williams): Does dominant 2013 James Howe return or are teams still able to scheme and stop him like in 2014? That question is one Ephs fans are hoping to see answered on Saturday. Top level talent like what Howe displayed in 2013 is rare in the NESCAC, and it can swing games. The defensive line besides Howe is young, but that is no excuse for him as a senior now. I will be watching Howe in person at Bowdoin while (shameless personal plug alert) I am doing the color commentary for NSN, so rest assured that I will keep a close eye on him.
  4. Outside Linebacker Patrick Williams ’16 (Tufts): This is a name you might not know right now, but I have a feeling that Williams is going to have a big senior year. He had 43 tackles and an interception a year ago; solid numbers but nothing special for sure. However, at 6’2″ and 220 he has exceptional size for his position and he moves pretty well. He was only moved to linebacker last season, and he has a better understanding of the position this year. Also, his dream job is to see the world while making money. Me too, Patrick, me too.
  5. Wide Receiver Darrien Myers ’17 (Trinity): Myers has a lot of hype around him after being selected fifth in our Fantasy Draft. Not actually, but Myers is important to watch because he could help create big plays in the passing game for Trinity. That was something the Bantams struggled with last year after relying on AJ Jones ’14 to be a game breaker for them for a long time. In 2014, Myers was targeted on a lot of short passes near the line of scrimmage in order to get him the ball in space and make plays, but it really makes more sense to allow him to use his speed and get behind the defense for big plays.

Game Previews

Editors Note: We are going to cover Wesleyan vs. Middlebury in depth this afternoon. Just sit tight on that one.

Amherst at Bates: Lewiston, Maine, 1:00 PM.

So Foy is the QB, but that doesn’t change much about the Jeffs. Nick Kelly ’17 is going to get the ball a lot, and Kenny Adinkra ’16 and Raheem Jackson ’17 should also get nearly 10 carries apiece. That offensive line had trouble creating holes in 2014 as the Jeffs ran for only 126 yards on 37 carries (42 yards came on one run too). Look out for any tweaks to the Amherst scheme like them rolling Foy out of the pocket or using the read option more because they knew whomever won the starting job would be better suited for that type of offense. A major concern for Foy is just limiting mistakes and taking care of the ball.

#2 Jackson McGonagle '16 is hoping the Amherst passing attack can break out this year. (Courtesy of Amherst Athletics)
#2 Jackson McGonagle ’16 is hoping the Amherst passing attack can break out this year. (Courtesy of Amherst Athletics)

Outside of Wesleyan, nobody lost more from its roster than Bates so I am not quite sure what to expect from them. The game last year was touch and go to the end, but the defense for Bates will have difficulty keeping this one low-scoring. The best hope for a Bates victory comes from being able to control the clock and hit Mark Riley ’16 on a lot of third downs. The Jeffs of course get the benefit of playing the Bobcats first and have had ample time to get ready defensively to defend the triple option. The 3-4 defense that Amherst runs is already well-suited to stopping it, and the Jeffs have more than enough athleticism in the front seven to make plays. This one won’t be as close as it was last year, but Amherst doesn’t blow many teams out either.

Prediction: Amherst 23 – Bates 7

Williams at Bowdoin: Brunswick, Maine, 1:00 PM

The first game for JB Wells is a chance for Bowdoin to wipe the slate clean and put last year’s 36-0 blowout loss to Williams in the rear mirror. That moment turned out to be the high moment of the year for Williams who face a lot of questions entering the season.

The loss of safety Justin Harris ’17 for the season is a tough one especially since the Ephs also lost Tom Cabarle ’15 to graduation. Corners Taysean Scott ’17 and Mike Davis ’17 are still very good, but the Ephs will really have to hope that their front seven can handle Bowdoin’s running attack without having to bring one of the inexperienced safeties into the box. That running attack is led by Tyler Grant ’17, who didn’t do much in this game last year. The new Bowdoin offense will look similar when they line up, but the action after the snap will be very different. The Polar Bears want to throw the ball more than they did last year, and Dan Barone ’16 will be targeted in the passing game early and often. Because he works out of the slot a lot, I’m not sure how Williams will matchup with him, but he could give the outside linebackers fits.

I’m higher on Austin Lommen ’16 in his senior year than most, and he needs to prove in this game that he can lead the offense even if the running game isn’t working. The Williams receivers will have a large height advantage in at least one of their match ups, but that has often been the case, and they haven’t found a way to exploit it.

As a reminder, I (Adam) played for Bowdoin my freshman year and do not pick their games because of that. So the prediction is from Joe.

Prediction: Bowdoin 17 – Williams 13

Trinity at Colby: Waterville, Maine, 1:00 PM

In case you forgot, Trinity comes into the season with a three-game losing streak. They are going to come ready to play. Sonny Puzzo ’18 is the QB with Henry Foye ’16 ready to play, also. The big battle is in the trenches between the inexperienced Trinity offensive line and the veteran Colby defensive line. The Bantams ended up running all over Colby in the second half last year, but that was after the front seven had been worn down. Chris Marano ’17, Ryan Ruiz ’16 and the rest of that defensive line have to get penetration and stop those big Trinity running backs before they get a head of steam going. When Puzzo does go to throw the ball, he should have great success with all of his talented receivers back against the very inexperienced Colby secondary.

Jabari Hurdle-Price '17 become the team's feature back once Carl Lipani '17 went down with an injury last season and proved that he can carry the load, averaging 4.1 YPC. (Dustin Satloff/Colby College Athletics)
Jabari Hurdle-Price ’17 become the team’s feature back once Carl Lipani ’17 went down with an injury last season and proved that he can carry the load, averaging 4.1 YPC. (Dustin Satloff/Colby College Athletics)

Running back Carl Lipani ’17 had great success running against the Trinity front seven last year, and the Mules have to keep that level of commitment to running the ball in order to not have their defense tired at the end of the game. That also means quarterback Gabe Harrington ’17 has to complete above 60 percent of his passes. The entire linebacking group for Trinity is new, and so Harrington should put pressure on them to make tackles in space by getting the ball to either his running backs or receivers in the flats. Trying to throw the deep ball against Trinity safety Spencer Donahue ’17 is not a winning proposition. The Mules keep it close again for a while, but the strength of Trinity wins out over four quarters

Prediction: Trinity 22 – Colby 16

Tufts at Hamilton: Clinton, New York, 1:00 PM

Year two of Dave Murray’s tenure begins with a Tufts team coming to town eager to prove they are a better team than the one that beat Hamilton a year ago and that they can win on the road. The key for Hamilton is improvement on defense. They held opponents to under 30 points just three times all season in 2014. The good news is that most of the defense is back, and they had to fend off competition for their spots. The offense should be decent overall, but I don’t like the way that things matchup for Hamilton against Tufts. The Continentals had over 400 yards of offense last year, but they didn’t finish drives.

Tufts will run the bubble screen until the Continentals prove they can stop it, and that isn’t easier given the skills of the Tufts slot receivers. I am worried about the quarterback play for Tufts, though. Alex Snyder ’17 has not grabbed the job in the fashion that the coaches were hoping he would, and the Tufts offense will have to be more effective than it was last year when they relied heavily on their defense and special teams to create points. I’ve actually gone back and forth on this one a little because I do like what Murray is selling at Hamilton, but I don’t think his first win comes in this one.

Prediction: Tufts 19 – Hamilton 13