The Ninth Games: Weekend Preview 9/16

Here we are, NESCAC football fans. Not only is this opening weekend (always exciting) but it is also the first opening weekend of the Ninth Game era, something that fans and players have wanted for a while. I would caution you to take your excitement with a grain of salt, however. This season starts a week earlier than usual. That means a week less practice time for teams to get ready for game play. I would expect these games to be somewhat sloppy, and potentially fairly low scoring. Some grizzled, older fans like my father would like that “smash-mouth football style,” but I like offense. We will see how well teams have adjusted to this new schedule. However, if it means we get to watch football earlier, I’ll gladly accept some sloppiness.

Bowdoin @ Williams, 12:00 PM, Williamstown, MA

The first kickoff of the season features two teams that are looking to put 2016 in their rearview mirror. This can only happen with a good start in 2017, so both sides should be very motivated. All eyes will be on who starts at quarterback for Williams, although sources are telling us that it will most likely be John Gannon ‘18, who is returning from missing last year with a torn ACL. A fair amount of rust is to be expected (from everyone, not just Gannon,) but if he can get into a rhythm then he has the weapons to really explode. TE Tyler Patterson ‘19 is a beast when healthy, and experienced receivers Adam Regensberg ‘’18 and Kellen Hatheway ‘19 give him a lot of options to throw to. Bowdoin’s defense wasn’t exactly world-beating last year, allowing the most rushing yards AND passing yards per game last year, but they return two stellar linebackers Latif Armiyaw ‘18 and Joe Gowetski ‘18 and will be looking to make a statement. However, I think Williams is ready to start trending upwards, and this game is the start of that.

Final Score Prediction: Williams 27, Bowdoin 10

GAME OF THE WEEK: Wesleyan @ Middlebury, 1:00 PM, Middlebury, VT

Jared Lebowitz ’18 is the most dangerous offensive force in the league, but needs a good o-line performance to top Wesleyan.
(Courtesy of

It’s not every year that a Week One game could have championship implications, but this game might. Wesleyan and Middlebury both have the returning talent to make a run at the championship, but one of them is also starting off the season 0-1. With Trinity’s level of talent and easier opening matchup, one loss might be too many to win the league outright. Therefore, we can expect both teams to be extra-fired up entering this one. Middlebury has been excellent at home over the last few years, but Wesleyan is well equipped to attack the dynamic Panther offense. The only way to beat Middlebury is to get pressure on QB Jared Lebowitz ‘18. If he has enough time, he will pick your defense apart. But when under pressure, he is prone to rushed throws and turnovers. Wesleyan’s defense is certainly athletic enough to get through the young Middlebury offensive line.

However, the Cardinals offense can be inconsistent. They lost two of the major weapons from their running attack last year in WR/RB Devin Carillo and RB Lou Stevens. Therefore, they either have to use Dario Highsmith ‘19, the new starting RB, in a much larger role or reinvent themselves as a more pass-heavy offense. If their offense struggles, Middlebury’s no-huddle offense will wear down the defense, and eventually Lebowitz will get the time he needs. And at that point, it’s game over.

Score Prediction: Middlebury 31, Wesleyan 28

Hamilton @ Tufts, 1:00 PM, Medford, MA

This game has by far the highest upset potential of any this weekend, and I’m jumping on it. Hamilton returns a great deal of their much-improved offense from last year, including quarterback Kenny Gray ‘20, who impressed many with his poise as a first year last season. The defense is far newer, but they benefit this week from facing a Tufts team that graduated most of their offense from last year. Of course, that offense came in the form of one man, RB Chance Brady, who dominated the league like Tecmo Bo Jackson last year. It will take a great deal of work for Tufts to adjust to life without Brady. I think they’re up to the task, but the shortened preseason will cost them here in Week One.

Final Score Prediction: Hamilton 17, Tufts 14

Bates @ Amherst, 1:00 PM, Amherst, MA

Jack Hickey ’19 might well be the next star NESCAC running back in Amherst’s renewed offense.
(Courtesy of Amherst Athletics)

This game features the return of Amherst QB and POY candidate Reece Foy ‘18, who missed all of last season with a knee injury. And not only do the Mammoths get Foy back, they return red zone weapon Jack Hickey ‘19 at running back. Hickey scored seven touchdowns last year, and seems poised to break out as a star this year in a wide open race for First Team RB. Amherst also returns star WR Bo Berluti ‘20. The Mammoth’s offense is ready to break out after struggling at times last season, and a strong defense puts Amherst back towards the top of the preseason rankings. Bates returns a great deal of talent as well. QB Sandy Plaschkes ‘18 has been solid for years, but has to raise his game in this game, and this season, if Bates wants to compete with teams like Amherst. Bates has the talent to make it a game, but Amherst is back and there’s nothing the Bobcats can do about it.

Final Score Prediction: Amherst 28, Bates 17

Colby @ Trinity, 1:00 PM, Hartford, CT

There are teams that have a chance to take Trinity down this season, and games in which they could struggle. Colby is not that team, and this is not that game. Trinity brings back QB Sonny Puzzo 18, RB Max Chipouras ‘19 and WR Bryan Viera ‘18. In other words, they bring back arguably the best in the league at three skill positions. This bodes well for Trinity’s offense. Colby, on the other hand, lost their biggest weapon in Sebastian Ferrall ‘19. They do return a great deal of talent on defense, especially in the secondary and at linebacker. If everything goes perfectly for the Mules, they put up a great performance on defense and only lose by one touchdown. Unfortunately, the team that beats Trinity this season will have to beat them in a shootout, not a defensive battle.

Final Score Prediction: Trinity 40, Colby 10.


Clash of the Titans: Week 4 Game of the Week

(Courtesy of Tufts Athletics)
(Courtesy of Tufts Athletics)

Tufts (3-0) at Trinity (3-0), 1:30 PM, Hartford, CT

It’s Week 4 and the Bantams are finally facing a foe of comparable talent. After three blowout wins by 31, 25, and 31 in Weeks 1, 2, and 3 respectively, Trinity will host Tufts in what will without a doubt be the most highly anticipated game this weekend. Both squads come into this game undefeated, and after Saturday, the NESCAC will have at most 2 teams standing at 4-0 (assuming Middlebury handles their business in Williamstown). Tufts and Trinity are actually pretty similar teams. Both rely heavily on their running game to move the ball, and both rely on their defenses to keep them in games. Additionally, each team has very reliable special teams units. At face value, the two sides are pretty evenly matched. Let’s look at what happened last time these two met.


Last Time They Met: October 17th, 2015, Somerville, MA. Trinity defeats Tufts 34-37(OT)

When these two met last year in Week 4, the situation was eerily similar. Both sides were 3-0, but Amherst had just beat Middlebury as opposed to Middlebury beating Amherst. The difference in 2015 was that Tufts was coming off a .500 season instead of a .750 season, so the Bantams were more heavily favored. Well, the Jumbos did everything right until they got the ball with about 7 minutes remaining. With a 27-24 lead, Tufts was only able to run 2:46 off the clock before being forced to punt the ball back to Trinity, and their inability to get a single first down proved costly. Trinity used every bit of the time that Tufts gave them, and was able to drive down the field to nail a field goal with just 6 seconds left, sending the game to overtime. Then, in overtime, Sonny Puzzo ‘18 threw a quick strike to Bryan Vieira ‘18 for a touchdown on Trinity’s first play. Down 7, the Jumbos needed a TD and a PAT to second it to double-OT, but the big-game experience of the Bantams proved to be crucial, as the Trinity defense buckled down and stopped Tufts without allowing a yard. This game was an instant classic, and I’m sure the Jumbos have been waiting for this rematch for the entire year since then.


Tufts X-Factor: Linebacker Greg Holt ‘20

(Courtesy of Tufts Athletics)
(Courtesy of Tufts Athletics)

Really, Rory? A freshman is going to be the X-Factor against debatably the best team in the league? Yes, absolutely. Trinity averages an incredible 272.7 YPG on the ground, and between the duo of tailbacks Max Chipouras ‘19 and Lucas Golon ‘19, there is really no break for opposing defenses. Enter stage left: Greg Holt. The freshman linebacker is an absolute ball hawk, and he comes into this game ranking third in tackles with an average of 12.3 per game. Though Holt had a down week against Bowdoin, in his first college football game he racked up a game-high 14 tackles, followed by 20 tackles in Week 2 against Bates! The kid knows what to do once the ball is snapped, and with Steve DiCienzo ‘18 (averaging 10.3 TKL/G of his own) flanking him in the Tufts linebacking corps, Holt can be super aggressive when Trinity runs the football. If Holt has a big game for the Jumbos, Tufts will be in a good spot as the game nears the end.


Trinity X-Factor: Quarterback Sonny Puzzo ‘18

Sonny Puzzo '18 (Courtesy of Trinity Athletics).
(Courtesy of Trinity Athletics).

Puzzo is second in the league in passing behind Middlebury’s Jared Lebowitz ‘18, but to me, Puzzo’s stats are actually much more impressive. On a team that rushes for 272.5 YPG, Puzzo still throws for 201.0 YPG, demonstrating just how good this guy is. The Bantams only throw on 36.6% of their plays, and Puzzo still amasses 201 YPG! The most important thing for the Trinity offense is going to be mixing between the pass and the run for equal effectiveness. If the Bantams can keep the Jumbo defense on their heels, Coach Civetti’s players will have a tough(t) time stopping Puzzo and company. Luckily for Trinity, they have a handful of receiving weapons for Puzzo to look to including Darrien Myers ‘17, who has been spectacular so far in 2016. Puzzo still hasn’t thrown an interception this season, and if he can continue to play efficient, mistake-free football, the Bantams will find their rhythm early on.


Everything Else

Like I noted above, Trinity is the top offense in the league, and that is largely due to Max Chipouras’ 126.0 YPG on the ground so far. Though his scoring pace has declined compared to last year (he has just 2 touchdowns so far), the reigning ROY is an integral part of the Trinity offense, and he will be a crucial component of Trinity’s game plan this weekend. The Bantams are gaining 487.3 YPG through three games, but their opponents are just 1-8 and have allowed an average of 27.5 PPG, so I don’t know how good a barometer their offensive output is. Against a solid Tufts defense, things may be a little more difficult for Coach Devanney’s offense.

As a whole, Trinity is allowing just 227.0YPG through the first three weeks; on the other side of the field, the Tufts defense is allowing 285.0 YPG. This is a game where I expect defense will rule, and I’d honestly be surprised if there are more than 10 total points on the board at the end of the first quarter. Against a pretty even opponent, Tufts allowed just 14 points, all of which were scored in the second quarter. For the other three quarters, the Jumbos shut out a Cardinals offense that has since scored 34 and 37 points in Weeks 2 and 3. Meanwhile, the Jumbo offense is facing a defensive unit that has allowed just 8.7 PPG, but again, the teams Trinity has played have not produced much offensively, so it’s hard to judge the Trinity defense in this regard. It would be easy to point to the 21 points that Tufts allowed to Bowdoin as a sign of weakness, but the second defensive unit played most of the second half for Tufts in that game, so I would not be so critical of Coach Civetti’s defense.

I think the biggest edge Trinity is going to have is their ability to stop Tufts’ offense on third down. I mentioned this in the Power Rankings yesterday, but Tufts is just converting just 28% of the time on 3rd down this year. The two other 3-0 teams are converting on 3rd down as follows: Middlebury – 41%, Trinity – 44%. That is a HUGE difference, and I think Week 4 is when it will finally come back to bite the Jumbos. Chance Brady ‘17 is going to have to have a huge game in order to alleviate the pressure on whichever quarterback Coach Civetti throws out there. If I were to guess, Ryan McDonald ‘19 will start. His ability to run (he ranks 3rd in rushing in the league) has been a great weapon offensively for Tufts, but McDonald also went 9-9 for 92 yards and a TD through the air last week, so it seems that he will at least get a shot to prove himself in Tufts’ biggest game of the year to this point.

As I mentioned above, however, Puzzo’s ability to throw effectively will be of enormous significance in this one. The Jumbos may be able to slow down Chipouras, but they can’t stop him completely if Trinity’s aerial attack presents just as much of a threat. As you may have noticed in my POY Race article, Trinity was the only team with two players in the Top 5 on offense; those two players were Puzzo and Chipouras. So far, both have done exactly as expected, and I don’t think there is a defense in this league that can effectively neutralize both threats. Each player compliments the other, and I think as the game wears on, both of the guys will start to figure out the Tufts defense. Though I don’t think they’ll ever fully pull away, the Trinity defense will hold things down until the offense finds a way to put some points on the board and win this game.

It’s Not Your Imagination, Passing Is Up in the NESCAC: Part One

There was a time when we never thought we’d see statistics like those put up by Mac Foote ’14 again. Now it seems like every team is airing the ball out more than ever, but is that true? (Courtesy of the Middlebury Campus)

From 2011 to 2014, only 25 percent of teams finished the season throwing for more than 200 yards per game. If you take out Middlebury, that number becomes 16.6 percent.  This year, there has been a noticeable departure from that norm. Through six weeks of the 2015-2016 season, seven of the ten teams are averaging over 200 yards through the air, and Tufts is just off that mark with 199.7 YPG. As usual, Middlebury is pacing the league with 332.8 passing yards per game. Bowdoin, a team that finished eighth in the NESCAC in passing just one year ago, showcases a new and improved aerial attack under new Head Coach JB Wells that ranks third.

Other teams like Amherst and Williams have seen large upticks in their numbers in part because of strong quarterback play. The league’s higher passing numbers point to the possibility that the NESCAC is moving away from the ground heavy attacks they have long featured. Are defensive lines closing gaps like never before causing teams to turn to the pass? Are teams starting to envy Middlebury’s capacity to consistently throw up 300 passing yards a game? The reason is unclear, but there is no doubt that change is happening. The best way to answer this is to examine the numbers and go team-by-team to see whether the change is temporary or systematic.

2015 Passing numbers through Week 5 in below graph. All other stats are through Week 6.

overallchart  Middlebury

middleburyPeople who follow NESCAC football understand the prestige of the Middlebury Panthers passing attack. Its program employs the pass-heavy offense, which is made explicit by the impressive passing numbers it has put up in recent years. In each of the past four seasons, Middlebury has finished with a commanding lead in passing yards per game, and you would have to go back to 2007 to see Middlebury not finishing toward the top. The 2014 season marks the only time that Middlebury has dipped under 300 yards in the last five. Still, in 2014 QB Matt Milano ’16 threw for over 24 touchdowns, which was good for fourth in the last 23 years for which the NESCAC has records, with only three interceptions.

Despite graduating top WR Brendan Rankowitz ’15 (36 receptions, seven touchdowns), Milano’s offense hasn’t missed a beat in 2015. Through six games, Milano has thrown for an average of 317.3 yards per game with 17 touchdowns. He has already thrown nine interceptions, but he connects with his receivers roughly 60 percent of the time. Milano continues to connect with WR Matt Minno ’16 at an impressive rate. Last season, Minno lead the Panthers with nine receiving touchdowns, and he has remained one of Milano’s top targets. Ryan Rizzo ’17 had also picked up where he left off last season, hauling in 23 receptions and two for touchdowns, before succumbing to a season-ending knee injury on the first drive against Trinity. When Milano graduates, Jared Lebowitz ’18 will inherit the offense, and any betting man would predict that Middlebury will still rely on the pass heavily with him.

Verdict: Enduring. Middlebury will continue to throw the ball all over the place.


bowdoinAfter finishing eighth in the NESCAC in passing yards per game in 2014, it may be surprising for some to see Bowdoin close to the top of the pass rankings. Under new head coach JB Wells, the Polar Bears’ new offensive approach is a complete 180 from the one it displayed last fall. Last season, Tyler Grant ’17 was a workhorse for Bowdoin, rushing the ball 226 times for 893 yards and eight touchdowns. This season, after the implementation of Wells’ offensive scheme, the Bears’ have become one of the most pass-heavy in the league. Last season, Bowdoin scored ten touchdowns, nine of which came on the ground. This season the Polar Bears have found their way into the end zone 12 times, but 10 of those scores have been through the air. Last fall, the Bears only threw the ball 244 times in eight games, and they have thrown the ball 241 times through six games.

In the three starts he has had, Week 4 POW QB Noah Nelson ’19 has done an admirable job in replacement of Tim Drakeley ’17, averaging 196.5 pass yards per game and firing seven touchdowns. WR Nick Vailas ’17 has emerged as a top threat in Bowdoin’s aerial attack, leading the team in receptions (34) and yards per game (67.2). TE Bryan Porter ’17 has become a crucial part of the offense, accounting for 26 receptions and four touchdowns. There has been a renaissance in the Bears passing offense

Verdict: Enduring. With a new coach, Bowdoin is committed to throwing the ball.


trinityTrinity is passing the ball at a rate higher than any of its past four seasons. Having not exceeded an average of 188.5 since 2011, the Bantams are averaging 243 through the air in 2015. Due to the success of emerging RB Max Chipouras ’19, only 5 of Trinity’s 19 touchdowns on the season have been receiving, but make no mistake that the Bantams are moving the ball through the air much more. QB Sonny Puzzo ’18 has burst back onto the scene and found immediate chemistry with his receiving core.

In 2014, only four Trinity receivers reached double digits in receptions. This season, Darrien Myers ’17 (27 receptions, two TDs), Ian Dugger ’16 (22 receptions, 296 yards), and Bryan Vieira ’18 (21 receptions, three TDs) are evidence of a deep and consistent passing attack. Through eight games last season, the Bantams only threw the pigskin 173 times; through six in 2015, that number is already more with 176 attempts. The return of Puzzo is the clear catalyst of the uptick in passing, and he has two more seasons after 2015. However, the Bantams still want to be known as a smash-mouth physical team, and they are likely to retain that philosophy.

Verdict: Enduring-ish. Puzzo has two more years of eligibility, but after that…


williamsAveraging 247.2 passing yards per game, Williams’ passing game is the most prolific it has been in the last five seasons, but the Ephs have had very successful quarterbacks in the past. Coming off a season in which he threw for an average of 181.4 yards per game with seven touchdowns, QB Austin Lommen ’16 has improved upon his success through the air. This season, that average jumps up to 248.8. Going up against two top five pass defenses in the NESCAC to close out the season (Wesleyan and Amherst), it’ll be interesting to see if Lommen can maintain the numbers he has put up thus far.

Since 2011, Williams has employed a balanced offense, passing and running the ball at a similar rate. That has not been the case this year with the Ephs passing much more. Going into this Saturday, the Ephs have already almost matched their receiving touchdown count from last season with six. Williams showcases an experienced receiving arsenal which includes Darrias Sime ’16 (29 receptions, 2 TDs), converted-QB Mark Pomella ’16 (23 receptions, 1 TD), Alex Way ’16 (18 receptions), and Colin Brown ’16 (15 receptions). With the exception of Way, each of the highlighted receivers has topped their numbers from last year, and Way is three catches away from doing the same.

Verdict: Temporary. Lommen and all those receiving threats are graduating.


hamiltonHamilton is another team whose passing numbers are the highest they’ve been since 2011. As the above graph indicates, the passing game has steadily been on the rise. Despite an 0-5 start to this season, QB Chase Rosenberg ’17 started the season under center but has since lost the starting spot to Cole Freeman ’18. As opposed to Rosenberg’s 115.8 passing yards per game and 4:3 touchdown to interception ratio, Freeman has averaged 190.8 yards through the air with a 4:1 ratio in two fewer appearances.

Last season, Hamilton threw for only seven touchdowns; this season, 10 of their 13 scores have been via pass. RB LaShawn Ware ’18 is replicating his production from last year but the receiving core is producing at a higher level than in the past. Pat Donahoe ’16 and Charles Ensley ’17 each are enjoying great seasons. With the team’s expanding trust in its passing game, and Bates’ last place pass defense left on their schedule, Hamilton may finish with four players having 20+ catches.

Verdict: Enduring. No matter who’s playing QB next year, they will throw the ball.


amherstAmherst’s 214.7 passing yards per game in 2015 is impressive in that the Lord Jeffs also boast the NESCAC’s best running attack (209.3). With the exception of the 2014 season, Amherst’s passing numbers have seen jumps in each of the past five seasons. In 2014, a dynamic duo made up of sophomore running backs Nick Kelly ‘17 and Raheem Jackson ‘17 gave Amherst incentive to take advantage of its success on the ground. This season, the emphasis has returned to Amherst’s passing game. Kenny Adinkra ’16 has assumed leading running back duties because of an injury to Kelly.

The offense for Amherst has morphed into one more than happy to take chances down the field. Wide receivers Devin Boehm ’17 and Jackson McGonagle ‘16 have paced the Amherst receiving core with 30 and 26 receptions respectively, both averaging nearly 70 yards a game. Foy has also connected with WR Nick Widen ’17 and TE Rob Thoma ’17 regularly, despite them being non-factors just a year ago. Amherst’s 282 passing yards through the air in Week 1 against Bates may be skewing the data, but their passing numbers are no fluke. With his arsenal of receivers, Foy is primed to terrorize Trinity and Williams.

Verdict: Enduring. Foy will be around for two more years.

Check back tomorrow for the final four teams and a conclusion about what this means for the NESCAC.

They Are Who We Thought They Were (Pretty Much): Stock Report 10/19

Trinity QB Sonny Puzzo and the Bantams barely escaped from Medford with a win. Robert LeBel/Trinity Athletics)
Trinity QB Sonny Puzzo ’18 and the Bantams barely escaped from Medford with a win. (Robert LeBel/Trinity Athletics)

We’re halfway through the season, and for the most part the league leaders are who we thought they were. Yet, there have been a few surprises this season that are keeping things interesting.

After last year’s 4-4 finish, and a 3-0 start this season, it was clear that Tufts had escaped the dungeons of the NESCAC that they had been trapped in for the past four years. This week they took on the Bantams, one of the two remaining undefeated teams in the league, and pushed them to the limit, eventually losing 34-27 in overtime. Up north, Bowdoin captured their first win of the season, beating the still winless Continentals 30-20, while Amherst took care of business as usual, granting Colby their fourth loss, 31-13. Bates’ struggles continued this week with a 24-16 loss to Wesleyan in a game where they led 9-7 late in the first second quarter, and Middlebury erupted in the second half for 27 straight unanswered points.

The biggest story of the day was Tufts threatening the NESCAC hierarchy. The Big Four that have dominated the lower six teams for the past few seasons may have to make room for a developing Tufts team that nearly knocked off one of the league’s top programs. Besides the Tufts/Trinity game, there were few surprises this week as far as results went, and a few players whose stock went up in our portfolio.

Stock Up

Quarterback Noah Nelson ’19 (Bowdoin)

After throwing for 134 yards and a touchdown last week against Tufts when starting QB Tim Drakeley ’17 went down with a concussion, Noah Nelson was named the starter for the Hamilton game two days later. On Saturday’s homecoming game against the Continentals, the first-year was 28-43 for 328 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions – a stat line that granted him co-NESCAC Player of the Week laurels. While one game cannot be the end all be all for quarterbacks in this league, Nelson had complete control of this offense that had been struggling to find some consistence this year. Following this game, it’s more than likely that he will get the start again next week, this time against one of the league’s best in the Trinity Bantams.

Tufts Jumbos

As alluded to earlier, the Jumbos came into this week against Trinity sitting pretty at 3-0, but their legitimacy was questioned given that their three wins came against Hamilton, Bates, and Bowdoin who are a combined 1-11. While Tufts was able to push the game into overtime, they did end up losing on a touchdown pass from Puzzo to Bryan Vieira ’18. Although they couldn’t knock off the undefeated, the way in which Tufts was able to respond after being down 21-13 in the 3rd quarter shows the fight that this team has. They are done finishing at the bottom of the league, and this week showed us that they are close to bridging the long-standing gap that has divided the NESCAC elite from the lower half of the league.

Quarterback Sonny Puzzo ’18 (Trinity)

We’ll stick with the theme of the quarterback for our third pick for stock up this week – Sonny Puzzo, who proved once again that he is the league’s best dual threat QB. He broke the 0-0 tie with a 57-yard rushing touchdown, while going 22-39 with four passing touchdowns and another rushing touchdown, leading his team passed a tenacious Jumbo squad. While ball security has been a problem for Puzzo the last two weeks, throwing two interceptions in both games, his ability to run in the open field along with his strong arm gives him a significant advantage against opposing defenses.

Stock Down

Bates’ Confidence

After going 4-4 last season, it’s almost unimaginable that the Bobcats would be in this bad of a position after four weeks of football. Though they tied with the Jumbos in the standings a year ago, Bates has found none of the magic in close games that Tufts has conjured up. Besides the Amherst game, in which Amherst was the heavy favorite, Bates has lost its other three games by a combined 11 points. The story was similar this week when, after leading Wesleyan 9-7 with a little over three minutes left in the first half, they let up 17 unanswered points, making their comeback too little too late down in Middletown. While some could point fingers and say the play of their QB Pat Dugan ’16 has not helped the team in the passing attack, turnovers have been a problem for the whole crew, and the offensive line has also struggled, giving up 11 sacks in four games.

Hamilton Quarterback Situation

Chase Rosenberg ’17 started the season with an electric 301 passing yards and three touchdowns in the 24-21 loss against Tufts, but since then has been on the steady decline. His low point came this Saturday against a Bowdoin defense that had been unable to stop anyone thus far this season. In his first two drives Rosenberg threw an interception, and was taken out of the game and replaced by Cole Freeman ’18, ending the day 2 -10 for two yards. Hamilton, who has played in close games as of late, now finds themselves in the midst of a renewed QB controversy, one that originally involved Rosenberg and the now-injured Brandon Tobin ’18. It’s been a gut-wrenching start to the season for Head Coach Dave Murray, who still is looking for his first win as the general of the Continentals team.

Trinity’s Defense

Going into Week 4, the Bantams had the No. 1-ranked defense, allowing zero offensive points over the course of three games. That all changed when they marched into Medford and found themselves in a 27-27 tie at the end of the fourth quarter. After Saturday, they still stop the defensive charts, allowing a stingy 7.8 points per game, but something was clearly out of sync against Tufts, especially in the fourth quarter where they gave up 14 straight points. While their stock lowered a little in our book, their defense is clearly still the best in the league, and it would be rash to look too much into this one game. The real test comes in Weeks 6-8, when Trinity runs the gauntlet at Middlebury, at Amherst and home against Wesleyan.

Contenders All Survive – Saturday Wrap-up

Well, we watched a good twelve hours of sports yesterday that made us remember why we love October so much (how was your Saturday?). The first five hours were spent with a NESCAC game (or a few) streaming on a computer. We said it would be a somewhat boring day so of course two of the crazier games this year happened. Here is your wrap-up.

Bowdoin (2-2) 30, Hamilton (0-4) 24

The first game of the day was a wild one at the end. The teams scored 22 points in the final 2:24 with three attempted onside kicks and a Hail Mary to boot. The craziness started when, after a Hamilton TD made it 22-17,  the Continentals recovered an onside kick, only to see it erased by an offsides penalty. Bowdoin managed to recover the next attempt and Tyler Grant ’17 scored two plays later to put Bowdoin up 30-17 with 2:06. Then Amman Weaver ’18 took the ensuing kickoff back to the house, but Bowdoin once again recovered the onside kick attempt. Bowdoin had to punt with under 30 seconds left and saw Hamilton block it to take over at the Bowdoin 27 yard line with nine seconds left. Bowdoin finally clinched it when Dan Johnson ’15 intercepted Chase Rosenberg ’17 in the end zone with three seconds left.

Bowdoin has a complete game recap or you can watch the entire game on the Hamilton stream. Start it at the 2:48:00 mark to see the end of game craziness.

Wesleyan (4-0) 24, Bates (1-3) 10

The Cardinals sweated this game out as the Bobcats proved to be worthy adversaries despite playing without their starting quarterback Matt Cannone. Wesleyan struggled to move the ball on the ground except in the wildcat as Devon Carillo ’17 gained 92 of their 143 yards as the wildcat quarterback. This was a 17-10 game in the fourth quarter before Wesleyan converted a short field off of a fumble recovery into a touchdown on a screen from Jesse Warren ’15 to Jay Fabien ’15. The Bates website has a full recap and photos from the game.

Amherst (4-0) 35, Colby (0-4) 10

This was a 3-0 game in favor of Colby after one half, but quarterback Max Lippe ’15 entered the game for his first appearance of the season and changed the Amherst offense. After a Jimmy Fairfield-Sonn ’16 interception, Lippe entered and on his first attempt completed a 68 yard pass to Brian Ragone ’16 to set up the first Amherst touchdown. From that point on Amherst rolled with a Ned Deane ’15 interception return for a touchdown to make it 28-10 on the first play of the fourth quarter essentially ending it. For Colby, the game was like a broken record of their entire first half where they stayed close for a while before fading late. Amherst has a complete game recap or you can watch highlights featuring analysis from Head Coach EJ Mills below.

Trinity (4-0) 35, Tufts (2-2) 14

We came within one point of exactly nailing this score (we had Trinity 34-Tufts 14), as the Bantams used a big second quarter to move past Tufts. The Jumbos took the lead after another long Zack Trause ’15 punt return led to a short touchdown, but after that Trinity’s run game took over. Chudi Iregbulem ’15 led the way with 184 yards and four touchdowns. The home winning streak for Trinity now stands at 53 games. A fake punt pass from Michael Budness ’15 to Bryan Vieira ’18 helped give Trinity their second touchdown and the lead they would never relinquish.

Here is the full game recap.

Middlebury (2-2) 23, Williams (1-3) 20

The last game of the afternoon was also the closest as it took overtime to decide this one. The first half was a defensive battle with another 3-0 score, this one in favor of Williams. The Panther defense, like they have done all year, got Middlebury going with a fumble recovery for a touchdown by Will Bain ’15. Williams was up a touchdown late in the fourth quarter but could not close the game out on offense giving the Panthers back the ball with a little over two minutes remaining. That was all the time Matt Milano ’16 and company needed to tie up the game. In overtime Williams got the ball first and stalled inside the five yard line before settling for a field goal. A beautiful pass from Milano to Brendan Rankowitz ’15 won it for Middlebury and sent the entire Panthers team into the end zone in celebration.

Complete game recap and photos can be found if you follow the link.