QB: Gabe Harrington ’17* RB: Jabari Hurdle-Price ’17* WR: Ryder Arsenault ’17 WR: Alex Kramer ’17*
WR: Mark Snyder ’18 TE: Braden Wilson ’17 LT: Shane Normandeau ’19 LG: Will Julich ’17 C: Mike Roberts ’17* RG: Anthony Cappellino ’17* RT: Larry Patrizio ’17*
Defensive Starters(*Seven returning)
DE: Ben Hartford ’18 DT: Chris Marano ’17* DT: Sam Gomez ’18 DE: Henry Wallrapp ’17* OLB: Justin Lamere ’17* MLB: Sam Friedman ’19 OLB: Bryan Mcadams ’18* CB: Adam Balaban ’18* SS: Will Caffey ’19* FS: Ian Dickey ’18*
CB: Patrick Yale ’19*
Offensive MVP: Running Back Jabari Hurdle-Price ’17
Colby’s offense is led by 2015 First Team All-NESCAC running back, Jabari Hurdle-Price. Hurdle-Price had a monster year in 2015 leading the mules in rushing, receiving and returns on special teams. The only factor preventing Hurdle-Price from these numbers in 2016 is the left side of the offensive line, which remains a big question mark for Colby. With consistency on the offensive line for the Mules, expect Hurdle-Price to put up even bigger numbers than he did last season. It will be interesting to see how opposing defenses prepare for the ground attack against Colby, as they were able to find the end zone ten times on the ground and only two times in the air.
Defensive MVP: Safety/Linebacker Ian Dickey ’18
Ian Dickey had a breakout season in 2015 and was second on the team with forty-three tackles. With leading tackler, Stephen O’Grady graduated, the Mules will depend upon Dickey to make even bigger plays for them. Last season, Dickey anchored a secondary that consisted of two freshmen. Having a full season of experience under his belt expect Dickey to have a breakout year for Colby.
Biggest Surprise of Camp:Injury Bug nowhere to be found.
In 2015, Colby lost many valuable players throughout the season via injuries. Losing players to injury coupled with a lack of both depth and experience resulted in a 1-7 season which put them dead last in the NESCAC. This past Saturday, Colby had a joint practice with Bates, and arguably the biggest positive coming out of this is that there were no injuries. Coach Michaeles remains optimistic about his program and knows the capability they have if they remain healthy in 2016.
Biggest Game: Bowdoin at Colby, 12:30 PM November 12, Waterville, Maine (Maine’s Super Bowl)
Colby starts their 2016 season in a hectic fashion. Normally, opening at Williams would be a good thing, but Williams recently hired the former St. Lawrence head coach, Mark Raymond. Raymond is one of the better division three football coaches and is known for his success in turning St. Lawrence into a winning football program. This will not be an easy opener for the Mules. Things do not get easier for Colby as they play Middlebury, Wesleyan and then Amherst in weeks two, three and four.
Fast Forward to week eight: A home CBB rivalry finale against Bowdoin. This game does not only mean a lot to the Colby football program, but it is one of the most highly anticipated events in Maine. In 2015 both teams were 1-6 going into this game and Bowdoin ended up winning 35-13. Colby was unable to score until late in the 3rd which summed up their lack of offense the entire season. Having the home field advantage and experience in both the offense and defense, expect this week eight battle to go down to the wire.
I believe the saying goes: “Red sky at night, sailor’s delight. Red sky in the morning, Colby opponents take warning.”
Summary: Colby’s 1-7 season in 2015 was attributed to their inability to find the end zone. They were struck with the injury bug early on and were unable to adjust from there. In order to improve from their disappointing season, Colby will need more production and consistency from their offense as well as to remain healthy throughout. They have the talent to win some quality NESCAC football games, but they need their offense to produce. Although his 2015 numbers are discouraging, coach Michaeles has full faith in senior Gabe Harrington to lead the offense. Harrington had a solid season in 2014 and his performance will determine whether or not the Mules’ offense will succeed. Michaeles also has the option of junior Christian Sparacio who gained some experience in 2015 and will definitely compete for snaps. The one position that has been locked in since the end of 2015 is the starting running back position. Jabari Hurdle-Price looks to continue where he left off last season as he was arguably one of the best athletes in the NESCAC. Hurdle-Price was the only consistent spark in the Mules’ offense a year ago. Behind Hurdle-Price is running back Carl Lipani. Lipani provides Colby with plenty of depth at running back. A big asset for the Mules offense this season is the return of wide receiver Ryder Arsenault. Arsenault missed major time in 2015 due to injury and has been a consistent target for them in the past, leading the team in receptions in2014. Alex Kramer and Mark Snyder will look to compete for reps at wide receiver. Braden Wilson will be at tight end for the Mules after starting the final four games of last season. With improvements in the air attack, Colby could be a dangerous football team on offense.
On defensive, Colby will look to fill the void of leading tackler and captain Stephan O’Grady as well as All-NESCAC defensive end Ryan Ruiz and defensive tackle Harry Nicholas. Replacing the graduated O’Grady will be Sophomore Sam Friedman. As a Freshman in 2015, Friedman recorded nineteen tackles in six games. Additionally, the Mules will look towards senior Bryan McAdams and junior Justin Lamere to produce for them at linebacker. Senior Henry Wallrapp provides experience on the defensive line at strong side defensive end. Replacing Ruiz and Nicholas will be Gerry Nvule, Chris Marano, Sam Gomez and Ben Hartford. Colby’s secondary was filled with underclassmen in 2015. Ian Dickey started all eight games at safety as a sophomore and was second on the team in tackles behind O’Grady. The youngest part of their secondary was Will Caffey and Patrick Yale who started at both cornerback positions as freshmen. These three are locks for starting jobs this season but the other safety position is up for grabs. John Baron will be the place kicker and punter for the mules in 2016. Last season, Baron went four for five in field goal opportunities, including a thirty-seven yarder against Tufts. He was seven for eleven in extra point opportunities. With a more productive offense in 2016, Baron will have more opportunities to put points on the board for Colby.
Well, the best that can be said about this weekend’s match ups is that three of the following four games feature teams within one game of each other in the standings. I know, I’m supposed to be a salesman and get you excited for the rest of the article, but I’ve already got your click, so I really don’t care….
I do care, of course, and even though none of the game’s below will factor into the Championship race (barring the upset of the millenium – and I mean that), there’s still a lot of intrigue around these games, and it definitely means something to all of the senior playing their last game of football on Saturday.
No more clichés need be wrought about the sentimental value of this weekend’s games, so let’s get into the meat of the matter.
Four to Watch: Senior Edition
Bates Defensive Lineman Tucker Oniskey ’16
Oniskey has been possibly the Bobcats’ best lineman three years running. The big man has gone from 23 tackles and nine pass break ups in seven games in 2013 to 26 tackles and five break ups in seven games a year ago to 37 tackles and four break ups in his first seven games this year.
Oniskey’s ability to get in the face of the opposing quarterback will be important against Hamilton, which likes to air the ball out downfield. We saw last week how a good secondary can take advantage of Hamilton QB Cole Freeman ’19, who was picked off four times by Middlebury last Saturday. The Bates secondary has been exploited at times this year, although CB Trevor Lyons ’17 has had a pick-six in two straight games. If Oniskey can get pressure on Freeman, Lyons might just get his third INT TD of the season.
Williams WR Mark Pomella ’16
Pomella had been exclusively a quarterback in his first three years in Williamstown. He had hoped to be the team’s starter last season until BC-transfer Austin Lommen ’16 beat him out for the gig. Head Coach Aaron Kelton hinted in the preseason that Pomella could switch roles because of his athleticism, but it took three games for Pomella to finally make the switch. Between Weeks 3-7, Pomella has 33 catches (6.6/game) for 421 yards (84.2/game) and one TD. Pomella has been the team’s clear top option since Week 3. He’s also served as the team’s punt returner, especially with RB Connor Harris ’18 out. He will need a monster game in Week 8 to help the Ephs upset Amherst.
Colby D-Linemen Ryan Ruiz ’16 and Harry Nicholas ’16
Bowdoin’s top three running backs are out for the year, and the Polar Bears rushed for negative six yards last week. They’ve broken 63 yards rushing just once this year. By default, Bowdoin has to throw the ball. Ruiz and Nicholas have a combined eight sacks this year. Bowdoin QB Tim Drakeley ’17 is back in starting lineup, but he hasn’t really played since Week 3, which will provide Ruiz and Nicholas a chance to capitalize and have one of their best games.
Tufts RT Justin Roberts ’16 and LT Akene Farmer-Michos ’16
I’m not sure about this, but I think Roberts and Farmer-Michos are the only offensive linemen we’ve ever featured as players to watch or X-factors, and now we’ve done it twice. Apologies to all the other great O-linemen out there around the league.
Roberts and Farmer-Michos are big reasons why RB Chance Brady ’17 is running his way towards history, and the Jumbos need to run well on Saturday to beat Middlebury. The Panthers have been very hit or miss against the run defensively, surrendering 301 yards on 59 carries (5.1 ypc) against Wesleyan, 190 yards on 49 (3.8 ypc) against Amherst and 204 yards on 61 carries (3.3 ypc) at Bates, while also allowing just 33 yards on 31 carries (1.1 ypc) against the vaunted Trinity attack. Inside LB Tim Patricia ’16 will have to make a lot of stops this weekend, and per usual he is leading Middlebury in tackles. If he can’t, Roberts and Farmer-Michos will be opening up some wide lanes for Brady to bounce through.
Maybe you’ve never heard of Elo Ratings. I hadn’t until very recently. But recently a little NbN fairy whispered sweet nothings in my ear, and now we have Elo Ratings. If you want the history of what Elo Ratings are, read here. If you want to know about the mainstream sports applications that inspired this fairy to do some great statistical work on NESCAC football, check out FiveThirtyEight.com. If you are averse to clinking on links that may take you to strange places, I’ll give you the rundown here.
Elo Ratings are a system that quantify the gains and losses to each team after each contest. Wins produce gains in ratings, and losses produce reductions in ratings. In our system (again, I can’t take any personal credit for this work), margins of victory compared to expected winning margin also effect the changes in Elo Ratings. At the end of each season, team ratings are regressed towards the mean, which makes sense because in college athletics there is often a lot of turnover between seasons, so teams have to prove it both on the field and in the Elo Ratings.
Our timeline currently stretches back to 2005. In our ratings, all teams begin with an “average” rating of 1500, meaning that at the beginning of our timeline, teams were very closely clustered together. I’ll spare you the math – because I don’t want my brain to start hurting – but trust me when I say that there is a way to convert each team’s Elo Rating into their probability of winning their next game, and by comparing two teams’ win probabilities and putting them into some kind of magical/mathematical cauldron, you can conjure up a spread for every game. It’s also important to note that home teams are allotted a four-point advantage throughout the spreads.
Below is a graph that depicts each team’s Elo Rating from the beginning of the 2005 season through Week 7 of the 2015 season. This should give you some idea of how each team’s stock has risen and fallen over the past decade.
What’s the point of showing you this? Well, if you’re a stat nerd, the value is obvious. This is pretty cool. Secondly, though, this week we are sharing the spreads for each game in our predictions and discuss the spread a little bit. In the information you will see which team is giving points this week.
Bates (2-5) (-10) at Hamilton (1-6), Clinton, NY, 12:00 PM
Despite the ugly records, both of these teams are on the upswing. Bates is coming off of two straight wins and a CBB title, the program’s third in the past four years, making the 2016 class the first since 1900 to claim three outright CBB titles in its tenure. A win will also make the 2016 class 16-16, which would tie last year’s class as the winningest since 1983. Finally, Hamilton is the only program which Bates holds the series advantage over, with the Bobcats currently in the lead 19-18.
Hamilton, meanwhile, has returned to relevance this year. Not only did the Conts get their first win in over three years at Williams, but they’ve been very competitive, losing to Tufts by three in double OT, Wesleyan by five, Bowdoin by 10, Colby by five and Middlebury by five. With a lot of young players making impacts, specifically on defense and at QB Cole Freeman, there is a lot of hope for this program next year.
As for this year, though, the focus for both teams is finishing on a high note and giving its seniors a great last memory. When analyzing a Bates game, the first thing to ask for its opponent is whether they can stop the run. In Hamilton’s case, they’ve done a pretty good job of that this season. Tufts, Wesleyan and Trinity put up big rushing totals, but they also ran the ball around 50 times against Hamilton, and on the season the Continentals are allowing 3.28 yards per rush. Not exactly 1980’s Steelers, but passable, and I actually think that practicing against Hamilton’s new Wildcat read option will actually have prepared the Continentals to stop the Bates attack. If Hamilton can force QB Pat Dugan ’16 to the air, it will be a long day for Bates. No one besides Bats WR Mark Riley ’16 scares you in the passing game.
The Bobcats, meanwhile, need to step up their pass defense. Hamilton, as a team, has the highest yards per completion average. They don’t necessarily complete that many passes, though. Freeman and Chase Rosenberg ’17 have combined for a 43.9 percent completion rate. DB Brandon Williams ’17 will be on alert and trying to add to his league-best five interceptions.
The Continentals won a big game two weeks ago, and are still feeling good about themselves after taking Middlebury to the wire. They’ll be good enough to cover the spread, but the final decision goes to Bates.
Prediction: Bates 24 – Hamilton 21
Amherst (7-0) (-22.5) at Williams (2-5), Williamstown, MA, 12:00 PM
If you take a peek at the Elo Rating chart above, you might notice that Amherst is currently at the highest it’s ever been, and Williams is at the lowest. The spread of (-22.5) is actually lower than last year’s (-24), but it definitely feels like more of a lopsided matchup this year. That’s what I meant when I said it would take the upset of the millennium for the championship hunt to be impacted this weekend. Williams would have to cover a 22.5 point spread and beat Amherst in order to give Trinity a shot at sharing the title.
On paper, this game is clearly a blowout. The Jeffs have played some competitive games, but none have really ended up that close besides the 16-7 win over Trinity a week ago. The next closest margin was a nine-point win over Wesleyan in Week 5 in which Amherst needed a five-plus minute drive late in the fourth to clinch the win. The only question for Amherst is which QB Reece Foy ’18 will show up? The efficient, dual-threat Foy, or the clumsy turnover-prone Foy? He’s had five picks the last three games after having one pick in the first four. All he has to do is get the ball near his awesome receivers, including WR Jackson McGonagle ’16, who is a big play threat when Foy is able to hit him downfield, and rely on the bruising rushing attack lead by Kenny Adinkra ’16. As an entire team, Amherst is averaging 4.7 yards per rush. Enough said.
If Williams has one thing going for them, it’s experience. Five starters on offense and five on defense are all seniors, so they won’t shy away from the daunting task ahead of them. DE James Howe ’16 has had massive expectations heaped on him the past couple of seasons, but teams have been able to neutralize him much of the time by scheming for him, but he’s been productive this season with two sacks, and has opened the door for fellow D-lineman Jack Ryan ’16 to get 3.5 sacks of his own.
Despite Williams’ significant series lead (71-53-5), Amherst is expected to win its fifth straight contest against their rivals and clinch not only the NESCAC title, but also its 32nd Little Three title, which we’ve barely even talked about because it’s seemed like a formality for awhile now. And yes, I think they cover that massive spread.
Prediction: Amherst 35 – Williams 7
Colby (1-6) (-0.5) at Bowdoin (1-6), Brunswick, ME, 12:30 PM
This game is basically a pick ’em, and that’s all I can do, because I don’t know what to think about either team. For the most part, it’s been a lot of meaningless second halfs for these teams this season. Bowdoin has no running game right now, and Colby is afraid to throw the ball and might have a QB battle in camp next season.
The Mules’ rushing attack has been solid after a slow start though, thanks to RB Jabari Hurdle-Price ’17 and the heavy lifting of FB Robert Murray ’16. They just can’t do anything through the air. QB Gabe Harrington ’17 has one touchdown and 11 interceptions, and Christian Sparacio ’18 has gotten time in spurts, but he’s completed less than half of his attempts and is more like a Wildcat QB with the ability to throw right now. Defensively, LB Stephen O’Grady ’16 has been a workhorse, leading the team in tackles.
It’s going to be a challenge for Tim Drakeley to be effective in the passing game for Bowdoin with no rushing threat. He’ll be looking to find WR Dan Barone ’16 early and often, and there will be a lot of pressure on All-NESCAC C Matt Netto ’16 and his squad to keep Drakeley upright. On the defense, it will have to be a big day for LB Branden Morin ’16 and companion LB Phillipe Archambault ’19, who’s stepped right in and tallied 49 tackles in six games.
It’s going to be low-scoring, with neither team able to move the ball quickly. With that being the case, I have to tip the scales in favor of Colby, who will be able to move the ball on the ground and get after the passer on third and longs. It’s going to be a sad Senior Day in Brunswick.
Prediction: Colby 23 – Bowdoin 17
Middlebury (5-2) (-6) at Tufts (5-2), Medford, MA, 12:30 PM
When was the last time this game was relevant? Probably 2008, when the Panthers beat Tufts 38-24 to finish 5-3, ahead of the 4-4 Jumbos. Tufts hasn’t beaten Middlebury since Nov. 10, 2001. That’s 5,116 days. However, for the first time in a long time, Tufts and Middlebury come into the game with the same record, and in all honesty, I’m not sure Middlebury deserves to be favored in this game.
We’ve talked a lot about the injuries to the Panthers, and that is a big reason why they’ve played some close games recently and I’m feeling like Tufts can pull this off. Early in the week, though, Head Coach Bob Ritter was hopeful that some of his offensive linemen would be healthy by Saturday, which was probably directed at C James Wang ’16, though Ritter didn’t say for sure. Wang’s been dealing with a lingering leg injury all season, which is pretty much par for the Panthers’ course.
I still think the Middlebury passing attack will be productive. In the finale of two brilliant careers for QB Matt Milano ’16 and WR Matt Minno ’16, don’t be surprised to see those two connect early and often. Very often. Minno is chasing history, needing two touchdowns to become the all-time TD reception leader in Middlebury history and 40 yards to reach second in receiving yards for a career. Those two milestones are pretty much a lock. Elsewhere, TE-turned-slot receiver Trevor Miletich ’16 should have a big game, too. When he’s been healthy this season he’s been a favorite target for Milano.
I’ve already discussed the need for Tufts to run the football, but will they be able to move the pigskin through the air? If so, they’ll need to attack the corner opposite boundary CB Nate Leedy ’17. PSA to NESCAC teams: Don’t throw at this kid. Leedy picked off two balls a week ago, and if every team challenged him like Hamilton did he’d have two picks per game. He is also probably the hardest hitter on the Panther defense. Sometimes his shoulder-first launches result in missed tackles because he doesn’t wrap up, but it actually happens less than you’d think. When he connects, the ball carrier goes down. Hard. So, if Tufts QB Alex Snyder ’17 is smart, he’ll try the other side of the field, putting pressure on CB Andrew McGrath ’18 if he’s healthy, but more likely CB Matt Daniel ’19. Safety Dan Pierce ’16 will be a huge factor in plugging up the run, as well.
Maybe it’s just too hard to pick against my team in the last game of my classmates’ careers, or maybe I’m jaded because I’ve watched the Panthers trash Tufts for the last three seasons, but in either case, I’m taking Middlebury even though they’re (-6). There are a lot of Midd haters out there right now because they’ve played some close games against teams that they “should” have blown out. But they’ve still won those games. And that kind of resiliency and winning attitude will play the difference in this one-touchdown game.
The Lord Jeffs enjoyed (proverbial) champagne showers following their victory over the Bantams. It will likely be their sixth NESCAC title since 2000, sharing the reigns with Trinity on the modern-era All-Time Championships list. There was no better way for the 2016 class to go out on Senior Day than by earning their third consecutive ring. Besides Amherst, the rest of the NESCAC has an opportunity to move up the ladder as the final week is filled with exciting rivalry games dating back to the 1800s. Should be a beautiful week of football, and it will be thrilling to see where teams end up.
1. Amherst Lord Jeffs (7-0; Last Week: 1)
Amherst essentially walked away with their third consecutive NESCAC title Saturday as they took down Trinity. The Lord Jeffs took advantage of Trinity’s mistakes, and that seemed to be the biggest difference between these two teams Saturday. They controlled the second half, running all over the Bantams, with Reece Foy ’18, Kenny Adinkra ’16, Nick Kelly ’17, Jack Hickey ’19, and Jackson McGonagle ’16 all averaging at least 3.6 yards per carry. Amherst SS Jimmy Fairfield-Sonn ’16 went out with a bang with two interceptions and a crucial blocked field goal to end the first half. Amherst will wrap up their season against the Ephs in Williamstown, Mass for the Biggest Little Game In America — a game that dates back to 1884, and is the most-played Division-III game in the country.
Trinity Bantams (6-1; Last Week: 2)
Despite analyst Joe MacDonald’s bold prediction of a Bantam victory, Trinity was unable to get it done down the stretch. Amherst did a good job depriving kick and punt returner Darrien Myers ’17 in the forms of pooching and squibbing, which put a lot of pressure on the offense to move the ball up the field. The Trinity faithful felt some home cooking involved between a questionable touchdown catch and the Bantams racking up 12 penalties resulting in 98 yards opposed to Amherst’s three penalties.
Despite edging Amherst’s 247 offensive yards with 314 of their own and possessing the ball for 38 minutes of the game, Trinity had too many blunders. A fatal sideline pass intercepted at the Trinity 37 yardline resulted in Amherst taking the lead and never looking back. Trinity’s Max Chipouras ’19, Sonny Puzzo ’18, and Myers averaged 3.8 yards per rush, but the Amherst running game was even more efficient. Trinity still has life to live as they take on long-time rivals Wesleyan in the homecoming game that will be featured on CPTV Sports.
3. Middlebury (5-2; Last Week: 3)
Middlebury took care of business Saturday against Hamilton, but their stock dropped with such a tight game. They were able to keep their spot at No. 3 for Week 7, but that could change as they take on the Jumbos this weekend.
Middlebury trailed late in the first half, when QB Matt Milano ’16 and WR Matt Minno ’16 connected to even the score pending a QB Jared Lebowitz ’18 two-point conversion rush. Milano threw for 273 yards and three touchdowns with one pick, while Diego Meritus ’19 picked up 75 of the Panthers’ 89 rushing yards. Minno leaped out of the water catching a season-high three touchdowns on six catches for 171 yards. Naples native and CB Nate Leedy ’17 picked off Hamilton’s Cole Freeman ’19 twice. S Kevin Hopsticker ’18 also added an interception and 10 tackles in what was probably his best game as a Panther.
4. Tufts (5-2; Last Week: 5)
Tufts outscored Colby 28-10, and QB Alex Snyder ’17 only passed 13 times for one touchdown caught by WR Mike Miller ’18. Chance Brady ’17 averaged 7.9 yards on 27 attempts scoring two touchdowns. His longest run was 49 yards. Brady also was the Jumbos’ leading receiver, with two catches for 49 yards, en route to being named NESCAC Offensive POTW and the second NESCAC player this season to be dubbed the New England Football Writers’ Gold Helmet winner. Colby was able to move the ball on Tufts, nearly gaining more offensive yards than the Jumbos. Tufts return man Mike Rando ’17 ran one kick back 85 yards for a touchdown, and he took a second one back for 37 yards. The Jumbos’ Zach Thomas ’18 racked up 3.5 sacks. It is tough to say how Tufts will fair with Middlebury next week; I could see either team taking that game. A Tufts upset could stir up rival tensions between the two foes.
5. Wesleyan (5-2; Last Week: 4)
Wesleyan will have a chance to move up the ranks next week when they take on Trinity for the rivalry game that dates back to 1885. The Cardinals took on Williams Saturday in a convincing win. QB Mark Piccirillo ’19 stepped up and completed 11-14 passes with one touchdown for 105 yards, and he continues to show off his accurate arm. It was just the freshman’s second game playing a pivotal role, as Gernald Hawkins ’18 threw just 12 times and only completing six. They will likely continue to keep with their dual quarterback threat to keep the Bantams off balance, so it will be interesting to see how Trinity is able to respond. S Justin Sanchez ’17 picked a ball off and forced a fumble with six tackles. K Ike Fuchs’17 missed a short field goal wide right, and also missed an extra-point that was pushed back five yards due to a penalty, and things have just not been right with the formerly reliable Fuchs. If Wesleyan is going to win next week, they will probably need Fuchs at his best.
6. Hamilton (1-6; Last Week: 8)
The Continentals gave Middlebury a run for their money, something they have done to every team besides Trinity this year. They proved they can hang with the big dogs which has pushed them up to the No. 6 spot, a big jump from where they began the season. Yes, QB Cole Freeman threw four interceptions, but none of them resulted in a Panther score, and it seems like Coach Dave Murray is fine with Freeman taking shots down field as part of his learning process. The Continental defense did a good job containing the run game, keeping Middlebury to 2.6 yards per rush, but Matt Milano’s 14 completions were too deadly. RB LaShawn Ware ’18 played well – especially in the first quarter – picking up 77 yards on 21 carries, and WR Charles Ensley ’17 caught a 78-yard touchdown pass. Hamilton did not lay down easy as they posted a safety in the fourth quarter on Sean Tolton’s ’19 blocked punt. The whole league has been impressed with the Continentals this year, and is excited as it raises the competition. Hamilton has a chance to earn their second win of the season as they take on a rolling Bates.
7. Bates (2-5; Last Week: 6)
CBB Champions. Bates shellacked Bowdoin, shutting them out 31-0, waltzing their way to a killer recruiting tool in the CBB —Bates has won three of the last four CBB Titles. The Bobcats are on the cusp of – in the words of the great Lou Brown – a winning streak.
They have a chance to end on a high note at Hamilton and make up for all those closes losses earlier this year. The Bobcats outplayed Bowdoin last week in all facets, tackling the Polar Bears for a loss five times for 29 yards including three sacks. CB Trevor Lyons ’17 had a pick-six that he took 50 yards all the way back. QB Pat Dugan ’16 put on a show, running and throwing for a touchdown as he piled up 252 of Bates’ total 380 offensive yards. Another big win will vault the Bobcats back over the Continentals in the ranks.
8. Williams (2-5; Last Week: 9)
After a scoreless first 23 minutes, the Ephs let up a 21-yard touchdown pass to Wesleyan’s Eric Meyreles ’18. Williams’ lone touchdown came on a last minute, three-yard pass by Austin Lommen ’16, who threw for 150 yards including an interception. RB Noah Sorrento ’19 got his first crack as the starter and ran for 105 yards on 21 carries, including one for 45 yards. This weekend’s rivalry game will not have as much hype as most years due to the fact that Amherst is a heavy, heavy favorite. Williams moves up from last week, like Colby, more by virtue of the lackluster performance that Bowdoin put on last weekend.
9. Colby (1-6; Last Week: 10)
Colby lost to the better team Saturday when they hosted Tufts. Colby’s QB Gabe Harrington ’17 continued to struggle, throwing two interceptions while completing 53 percent of his passes. RB Jabari Hurdle-Price ’17 got his touches and scored a touchdown on 21 attempts, though only averaging 2.1 yards per carry. John Baron ’18 kicked a 37-yard field goal and an extra point. Despite a crooked score, Colby compiled 320 yards compared to Tufts’ 325.
The consolation game of the CBB will happen this week, and it is a chance for each Colby and Bowdoin to rid themselves of the shame of being part of a one-win program.
10. Bowdoin (1-6; Last Week: 7)
Not to take away from Bates, but that game shouldn’t have gotten out of hand like it did. It was a sad sight to see for Polar Bear fans Saturday as they rushed for negative six yards. Negative six. When they did have the ball in their hands, they fumbled three times, only making it into Bobcat territory four times. The Polar Bears were closest to a score when QB Noah Nelson ’19 threw an interception from the Bates 25-yardline. Bowdoin let Bates run right over them, as they let up 12 rushing first downs. Bowdoin will take on Colby for the runner-up of the CBB this weekend.
Yes, the game between Trinity and Amherst is very important. Yada, yada, yada. Joe has you covered there if you want to read about that. Spoiler alert, it’s a bold prediction. Elsewhere, it’s rivalry season in the NESCAC with the second leg of the CBB and Little Three taking place this weekend. Bowdoin makes the quick jaunt up to Lewiston to face off against Bates who just won the first leg of the CBB against Colby, and Williams visits Wesleyan in the Little Three. For the Ephs, this is the first of back-to-back games against Wesleyan and Amherst, and the final two weeks might be the last two for Coach Aaron Kelton. Since going to 2-1, Williams has lost three in a row with last week’s loss to Hamilton a particularly stinging loss because it broke the long losing streak for the Continentals. Last year the Ephs managed just 123 yards of offense and no points in a 22-0 loss that would have been even more lopsided if Wesleyan hadn’t had to kick five short field goals. Unless the loss last week galvanized the team, expect this year’s result to be similar.
Meanwhile Bates can complete the salvaging of their year if they beat Bowdoin on Saturday. After going 13-11 over the past three seasons, the Bobcats have lost a good deal of close games and are just 1-5. A win over Bowdoin seals the fifth consecutive year of the CBB for Bates and means the graduating Bobcats will have never lost to the Polar Bears. Bates certainly isn’t happy to have the record they do, but their final two games against Bowdoin and Hamilton are both winnable ones. If they can finish at 3-5 with a three-game winning streak and an uncontested CBB title, things would look drastically different than they did just a week ago. However, that is still a ways away.
Four to Watch
Running Back Jabari Hurdle-Price ’17 (Colby): Despite a disappointing season for the Mules overall, Hurdle-Price has been fabulous. A slow start to this season is long in the past as he has had four straight games of over 100 yards rushing, including 202 yard, two TD performance against Wesleyan in Week 3 that served as the tone setter. What has really made him so valuable though is his receiving as he has 19 receptions for 146 yards. Then you add in his kickoff returns and in total you get the NESCAC leader for all-purpose yards at 171.7 per game, well above the next highest total of 144.7 from Darrien Myers ’17. The Mules are a heavy underdog at home against Tufts, but regardless of what happens, Hurdle-Price is going to get his yards.
Linebacker Branden Morin ’16 (Bowdoin): After having just two tackles in the season opener, Morin has been a tackling machine averaging 10.8 per game, and he now leads the league. Last week he had a sack to go along with his 11 tackles. The Bowdoin defense has been bad overall against the run, allowing 209.5 yards per game, 54.2 more yards per game than anybody else. That stat is probably the biggest reason why Bates is feeling confident entering tomorrow. Morin has to be able to make another dozen or so tackles in order to keep Bates from marching up and down the field all day long. Some of the other linebackers for Bowdoin are very inexperienced and have not played against Bates, and the coaching staff is relying on him to be a steadying force up front.
Defensive End Jordan Stone ’17 (Wesleyan): It’s a given that Williams is going to throw all the time, and that is exactly what Stone wants to hear. He leads the Cardinals with 5.5 sacks, and he has three in the past two weeks. Williams has been decent at keeping QB Austin Lommen ’16 upright, but Stone will be one of their hardest challenges yet. The Ephs are unlikely to get much going on the ground which will allow Stone to pin his ears back and rush the passer. Stone isn’t quite a sack specialist as he is important for Wesleyan’s run defense also, but he is definitely one of the best pass rushers in the league.
Wide Receiver Charles Ensley ’17 (Hamilton): My goodness, Ensley has turned on the jets recently. His statistics from the past three games: 19 receptions for 376 yards and four touchdowns. Those numbers coincide with Cole Freeman ’18 becoming the starting QB midway through the game against Bowdoin. Ensley was in this spot two weeks ago, but I don’t feel bad putting him here again because of how well he has done. Freeman also deserves credit for his job coming in after starting the season as the third string QB. Freeman only has one pick in 124 pass attempts. If Hamilton wants to get their second straight win, Ensley must have a big day against the Middlebury secondary.
Hamilton (1-5) at Middlebury (4-2): 12:30 PM
The Continentals got on the right side of the win-loss column last week in part by taking advantage of mistakes by Williams. They also were able to run the ball more effectively than usual as they broke 100 yards rushing for the first time all year. They still averaged just 2.9 yards per carry (amazingly, Hamilton has not had a game this year where they average at least 3.0 yards per carry). They will have a harder time on the ground against the Middlebury run defense led by Tim Patricia ’16 and, if he’s active, Addison Pierce ’17. Even if Pierce is out, Aaron Slodowitz ’18 is more than capable fill-in.
One advantage for the Continentals is how banged up Middlebury is at receiver. Of course, Matt Minno ’16 is still relatively healthy which should cause problems. Every team has injuries, especially at this point of the season, and they really hurt when grouped together in a particular position group. This will be closer than the 37-9 blowout last season, but it won’t be that close. The only worry I have for Middlebury is that they come out flat after last week’s physical loss.
Prediction: Middlebury over Hamilton 26-13
Bowdoin (1-5) at Bates (1-5): 12:30 PM
I already talked about the stakes for Bates. The win against Colby was a huge confidence booster, but they can’t be that confident as the offense took a huge step backwards after the big day they had two weeks ago against Middlebury. Passing for only 43 yards against Colby is not going to cut it versus a Bowdoin team that is weak against the pass. The matchup of corner Jibrail Coy ’16 vs. wide receiver Mark Riley ’16 will be a fun one to keep an eye on. The Bobcats are dealing with injuries to some of their skill players which has hurt them.
Speaking of injuries, Bowdoin will not have its top two running backs, Tyler Grant ’17 or Andrew Tichy ’19 tomorrow. Given how much they have been throwing the ball, one wouldn’t expect that to be too big of an issue. The team that scores first will put a lot of pressure on their opponent as this could be another low-scoring CBB affair.
Prediction: Bowdoin over Bates 17-13
Tufts (4-2) at Colby (1-5): 1:00 PM
So the Jumbos didn’t managed to put much of a scare into Amherst last weekend. It happens. Running against Amherst was never going to be easy, and allowing a defensive touchdown to the Jeffs made things pretty much impossible. The Jumbos will have to go to the air in order to beat Colby because the Mules strength of defense is the defensive line. This is the game that Tufts really wants in order to get to five wins.
The Mules are in a little bit of disarray on offense as Christian Sparacio ’18 got significant playing time at quarterback against Bates and scored the Mules’ one touchdown. Gabe Harrington ’17 had looked better in the previous two weeks, but he regressed back to his early season form vs. the Bobcats. The offense has really been the downfall of Colby this year, and there is no magic formula in Week 7.
Prediction: Tufts over Colby 24-17
Williams (2-4) at Wesleyan (4-2): 1:00 PM
As mentioned above, Hamilton was able to run against the Ephs, and that does not bode well at all for this weekend. Watching Wesleyan last week, I thought that the Cardinals were trying to get too fancy on offense instead of relying on that bulldozing offensive line to get easy yards on the ground. Against Williams, Wesleyan is probably going to keep things pretty simple for whomever ends up starting at QB, Gernald Hawkins ’18 or Mark Piccirillo ’19. The Cardinals still feel like they have plenty to play for in the last two weeks even if they are out of the conference race.
I don’t know what to expect from Williams. They have in the past shown up in rivalry games more so than other games. The Ephs have almost completely given up on running the ball, and the defense is soft against the run. On paper Wesleyan should win this game relatively easily.
Saturday’s games were fuming with excitement across the NESCAC, from the Hamilton Continentals earning their first win in over three years to Bates getting their first win of the season in triumphant fashion. With just two games left to play the standings are wide open throughout most of the league. Bates, Bowdoin, Colby, and Hamilton are all tied for last place with one win a piece, then there is Williams with two wins trailing Middlebury, Tufts, and Wesleyan, who share third place with four wins each. It will be a Championship atmosphere (and literally, the de facto championship) this weekend for the Lord Jeffs and the Bantams as Amherst hosts Trinity. That’s where they are in the official standings, but where are they in the all important Power Rankings?
1. Amherst Lord Jeffs (6-0; Last Week: 1)
Coming off a strong win against Tufts, the Amherst team looked good as a whole. The defense compiled eight points with a pick six and a safety; Charlie Wall ’17 connected on his only field goal attempt, making him 7-8 on the year and 21-23 on extra points; and they ran for three touchdowns going on to beat the Jumbos 32-7. The one man who seemed to struggle was Reece Foy ’18, who threw for 170 yards while connecting on 18 of 27 passes including an interception. The past two games he has been inconsistent, and don’t expect the Trinity defense to be any easier a task for him. With that being said the Amherst defense was stellar holding Tufts to 161 offensive yards, and just 19 rushing yards. An Amherst win this weekend would crown them NESCAC Champions and they would tie Trinity for the modern era NESCAC Championships record with six.
2. Trinity Bantams (6-0; Last Week: 2)
Still undefeated, the Bantams have survived two scares against top ranked teams. This Halloween, the Trinity defense was Superman and picked up Sonny Puzzo ’18 and a struggling running game as they took down Middlebury in a late game comeback. Trailing by a point with just over four minutes to go, Trinity’s Paul McCarthy ’16 recovered a fumble forced by Lyle Baker ’16, which led to a Max Chipouras ’19 touchdown with under three minutes to play. Then interceptions in Trinity territory by Spencer Donahue ’17 and a picks-six from Archi Jerome ’17 put the nail in the Panthers’ coffin. Trinity has their biggest test of the season on Saturday, and Puzzo and the running game must be efficient. With the way things looked against Middlebury, the Bantams are in rough shape, but if Trinity can find their mojo, there is no reason they can’t take down the Lord Jeffs.
3. Middlebury Panthers (4-2; Last Week: 3)
Though they earned their second loss of the season, they are not far behind Trinity. They completely outplayed the Bantams, but crumbled at the end of the game when they fumbled the ball and threw two interceptions. The Panthers offense racked up 449 yards, and nearly doubled Trinity in first downs with 27. The Middlebury defense sacked Puzzo five times, with Gil Araujo ’16 getting 2.5 sacks for 20 yards; Araujo also had 3.5 tackles for a loss of 23 yards. Middlebury lost its chance at a NESCAC Championship, but they are still playing for runner-up as they take on Hamilton this Saturday and then Tufts the following week.
4. Wesleyan Cardinals (4-2; Last Week: 5)
Though it was a close win against Bowdoin last Saturday, Wesleyan outplayed the Polar Bears, outweighing their total offense by 429 yards to 223 yards. Lou Stevens ’16 did a good job punching the ball through for two touchdowns on 12 carries. Cornerback Zac Cuzner ’17 had Noah Nelson’s ’19 number all day picking him off three times and breaking up three passes. One thing to keep an eye on is the starting quarterback position. Starter Gernald Hawkins ’18 is less than 100 percent right now, and back-up Mark Piccirillo ’19, who was already too talented to keep off the field completely, was 16-21 when he took over for Hawkins against Wesleyan. The Cardinals look to improve to five wins as they take on Williams this weekend.
5. Tufts Jumbos (4-2; Last Week: 4)
Tufts suffered a disappointing loss to Amherst where they were outscored 32-7. The Jumbos could only compile 161 offensive yards with little success in their rushing game. QB Alex Snyder ’17 was shut down by the LJ’s as he threw a pick and was sacked three times losing a total of 36 yards. The Tufts lone touchdown came on a one-yard run by Chance Brady ’17. We would have hoped this game was much closer, but Amherst was too dominant. Tufts can end the season on a high note though if they are able to take it to Colby and Middlebury. Beating one of them would secure an above .500 season and show improvement from last season.
6. Bates Bobcats (1-5; Last Week: 7)
Though the Bobcats avoid Trinity in their schedule, they have looked good against the rest of the league, losing some close games. Saturday Bates pulled off a 10-9 win against Colby for the first leg of the CBB. Colby had a chance to tie the game with an extra point, but Collin Richardson ’18 stepped up and blocked the kick to preserve the one-point lead. With Patrick Dugan ’16 passing for just 43 yards on four completions, Bates was able to grind out a win. Bates can win the CBB title with a win vs. Bowdoin this weekend.
7. Bowdoin (1-5; Last Week: 8)
While being outmatched by 206 total yards of offense by Wesleyan, Bowdoin was able to keep it close and lose this game by just six points. Nelson had a tough game where he threw three interceptions and one touchdown on 36 pass attempts. The Polar Bears will wash this loss because they have the CBB to play in their final two games. All three teams seem equal, and it would be no surprise to see a three-way tie for the title.
8. Hamilton (1-5; Last Week: 10)
They finally did it. Hamilton beat the Ephs at Williams for the first time in 19 years and the first time in Williamstown in 29 years, and it was Hamilton’s first win in over three years. They competed well and took advantage of Williams’ penalties and mistakes. Hamilton’s Cole Freeman ’19 tossed two touchdowns while compiling 180 yards completing 13 of 27 attempts. Charles Ensley ’17 was on the receiving end bringing in two touchdowns on four catches for 84 yards. Hamilton takes on Middlebury this weekend in Vermont, which will likely send the Continentals back down to earth.
9. Williams (2-4; Last Week: 6)
Losing at home against Hamilton for the first time in 29 years was a low point for Williams this season. They committed 11 penalties that tallied 104 yards, and five of the penalties granted Hamilton a first down. It is hard to win playing like that. Williams will face Wesleyan and Amherst in the final two games of the season. Darrias Sime ’16 was able to add a pair of touchdowns on seven catches. The Eph win column will likely stay at two the remainder of the season.
10. Colby (1-5; Last Week: 9)
Colby will hold down the No. 10 spot for this week. A disappointing loss to Bates leaves them bitter. They can redeem themselves in the final game when they travel to Bowdoin and have a shot at tying up the CBB. The Mules gained just under 100 more yards than Bates, but Gabe Harrington ’17 was less than spectacular throwing an interception and just 82 yards on 11 passes. The bottom of the table has a lot of opportunity for movement with four of the five teams with just one win.
If you missed Part One yesterday, here you go. Otherwise, read on.
Ranked seventh in passing yards per game, Tufts is one of the few teams that isn’t passing the ball more this season. QB Alex Snyder ’17 doesn’t have the completion percentage of his predecessor, Jack Doll ’15 (who completed 70 percent of his passes), but he’s averaging more passing yards per game (191.7 to Doll’s 186.5). Snyder’s advantage in this regard can be explained by the fact that the Jumbos are averaging more than 50 yards per game this season than they did the last. All things considered, their passing game isn’t seeing the volume it has in recent years. Considering Snyder’s 173 pass attempts thus far in 2015, Tufts offensive scheme is very unlike the one that encouraged QB John Dodds ’13 to throw the ball nearly 350 times in 2012. Averaging close to 13 receiving touchdowns over the previous four seasons, the Jumbos offense is on pace to fall short of that average this fall, having found the end zone through the air only six times through week six.
Instead, RB Chance Brady ’17 has become the pinnacle of the offense. Averaging 104.2 ground yards per game, Brady has rushed for nine touchdowns. Despite Tufts dynamic ground game, its receivers are still producing. WR Mike Rando ’17 leads the team in receiving with 28 receptions. Ben Berey ’17, while not reproducing at the same clip that he did last year (38 receptions, one TD), is contributing to Tufts’ pass production with 13 receptions for 166 yards and a touchdown. The Tufts passing game is clearly not the same threat that it has been in recent years, but it remains a large part of its offensive production. The Jumbos feel that the way to success in the NESCAC is predicated by running the ball first and foremost. They will retain the ability to throw the ball a lot, but the rushing game will become more and more important.
Verdict: Enduring. But not likely to increase in the near future.
Wesleyan is like Amherst in that its running game is just as valuable as its passing game. Through Week 6, the Cardinals are averaging basically the same amount of yards through the air and ground. QB Gernald Hawkins ’18 has averaged 157.0 passing yards per game but has thrown more interceptions than touchdowns. Unlike QB Jesse Warren ’15, who threw for 190 yards per game while firing 15 touchdowns, Hawkins’ arm is not what makes him a dangerous offensive weapon. Simply put, Warren wasn’t a threat on the ground; Hawkins is. He led the Cardinals in rushing through five weeks, until he was held out of most of the Bowdoin game because of health concerns.
Wesleyan’s running attack is paced by Jaylen Berry ’18, who has managed 59.5 yards per game and two touchdowns. WR Devon Carillo ’17 leads the team in touchdowns (five) and poses a significant threat as a productive pass-catcher (10 receptions). WR Mike Breuler ’16, who had only two receptions in 2014, has emerged as Hawkins’ top target. He has hauled in 29 receptions, making him the only player other than Carillo to break the double digit plateau. The ability of Hawkins and Mark Piccirillo ’19 to run the ball helps keep the defense honest and opens up the passing game, but the Cardinals are a team that ideally wants to be running the ball the majority of the time.
Verdict: Temporary. The Cardinals want to run the ball first and foremost.
Colby threw the ball nearly 300 times last fall, which accounted for over half of their plays. Through six weeks, the Mules have let the ball fly just 42.4 percent of the time. With an average of 150 passing yards per game, Colby is averaging fewer yards through the air than they have in three of their previous four seasons. QB Gabe Harrington ’17 has struggled to find consistency with his receivers, throwing for only one touchdown with nine interceptions. He is completing nearly 52.7 percent of his passes, but almost a fifth of them are short passes to RB Jabari Hurdle-Price ’17. Last season, WR Ryder Arsenault ’17 emerged as a leader of the WR core with 25 receptions for 263 yards and four touchdowns. As Arsenault has dealt with an injury that he sustained during Week 2 at Middlebury, Mark Snyder ’18 has stepped up in a big way. Snyder has been Harrington’s go-to guy in Colby’s passing attack, recording 25 receptions for 229 yards and a score. Colby has incorporated running backs into their passing game more this season, as Hurdle-Price is already converging on his receptions total from last year.
On the ground, the junior running back is averaging 101.8 yards per game while accounting for half of the Mules’ eight touchdowns. In 2014, 11 of the 17 touchdowns Colby scored were passing, but this year only one of the nine has been. Against Bates and Bowdoin, Colby should have better luck and improve their passing numbers. Even so, the passing offense has taken a step back from where it was, and it is unclear if a quality quarterback is on the roster right now.
Verdict: Temporary. This dip won’t last as they will get back to passing the ball.
I’ve heard it said that a rising tide lifts all ships. This fall, Bates is challenging that claim. After averaging only 116 passing yards per game over the past three seasons, Bates has thrown the ball with more efficiency at 130 yards per game, but the volume has essentially stayed the same. Bates has not topped 170 pass attempts in the last five seasons, and it’s unlikely that QB Patrick Dugan ’16 is going to change that this year. Dugan has attempted 122 passes thus far, which is similar to the pace QB Matt Cannone ’15 set last fall. When Dugan throws the ball in the air, it’s extremely likely that WR Mark Riley ’16 is going to be on the receiving end of the play. Riley has carried the receiving core with 33 receptions and 382 yards, which is nearly half of the team’s receiving yards.
Like Colby, Bates much prefers to run the ball, but the schemes the two teams run are of course very different. RB Ivan Reese ’17 has handled the bulk of the carries, and slot back Frank Williams ’18 has run the ball for an average of 40.7 yards per game and a team high three touchdowns. Seven of the team’s eleven scores have come on the ground, and the Reese/Williams combination has accounted for six of them. Obviously since Bates runs the triple option, they are not going to suddenly start airing it out.
Verdict: Enduring. The Bobcats are not about to start the throwing the ball more.
Teams throwing the ball more: Seven (All but Tufts, Colby, and Bates)
Number of teams throwing the ball more which are expected to continue doing so: Five (Trinity and Wesleyan are temporary in our minds)
Despite the graduation of two successful quarterbacks last season in Jack Doll and Jesse Warren, names like Sonny Puzzo and Reece Foy have filled the void. Multiple receivers have burst onto the scene in 2015 and quarterbacks are taking full advantage of big play opportunities through the air. Whereas only six receivers averaged over 50 yards per game last season, there are 14 topping that mark this fall. Only one NESCAC receiver, Mark Riley, managed over 70 receiving yards in 2014, with 71.5. That number has been topped by six receivers thus far, with Middlebury’s Matt Minno leading the group at 98.0
Teams’ receiving arsenals are becoming the focus on offense, and secondaries are being exploited like never before. Middlebury has long been the only NESCAC team worthy of high praise for its aerial attack, but 2015 has created a different narrative. An outlier in much of recent history, the Panthers passing game is being converged upon. Smash mouth football has receded as the norm in the NESCAC and more exciting offenses have emerged. This isn’t just a short-term uptick either. Yes, there are some younger secondaries that are being exploited, but the vast majority of QBs will be back next year. They will have another year of experience. New NESCAC coaches are more willing to throw the ball than their predecessors. Buckle up because this trend is not going to stop.
This is a week full of intrigue for NESCAC teams and loyal ‘CAC fans alike. There’s something for everyone in Week 6. For the championship hopefuls, two games have major implications. The Game of the Week features Amherst traveling to Tufts and trying to extend the 16-game winning streak. Up in Middlebury, the undefeated Bantams will fight to avoid another late-season slide like the one suffered years ago. For other teams not fighting for a title there is still plenty to play for. Bates and Colby open up CBB play this weekend, always a point of pride for these football programs. Elsewhere in Maine, Wesleyan still has a lot to prove. They’ve played to the level of their competition all season long, and the Cards would like to do some damage against what should be a weaker team in Bowdoin. Bowdoin will also be dealing with a question mark at quarterback, as Tim Drakeley ’17 is expected to be healthy, but there’s no guarantee that he’ll take the reins from impressive first-year Noah Nelson ’19. Hamilton heads to Williamstown for the final game of the weekend. Hamilton is, yet again, trying to get off the schneid and get its first win since 2012. The streak has stretched to 25 games now, and is coming up on the Tufts’ record of 31 straight losses. Meanwhile, the home team might be playing to save the boss’ job. There is widespread discontent over a program that has gone from an 8-0 season in 2010 to 5-3 in 2011, 4-4 in 2012 and 2-6 the past two seasons. It’s hard to say which team needs this win more.
Players to Watch
Middlebury RB Diego Meritus ’19
The Panthers are rushing for 2.1 yards per carry. Not good. It’s not all Meritus’ fault, of course. He’s actually a good runner, and has shown his ability to make guys miss in the screen game. He’s a big body and fast, so it’s surprising that Middlebury hasn’t had more success on the ground. Head Coach Bob Ritter seems committed to the first-year, though, and no one else has gotten significant carries since Week 1. Especially with WR Conrado Banky ’19 out now, the rushing game will take on more importance for Middlebury.
Bowdoin TE Bryan Porter ’18
With the first-year Nelson under QB, Porter needs to play a big role to help out the youngster. Two weeks ago, when Nelson had a phenomenal debut, Porter caught five balls and a touchdown, and last week his one catch was a 37-yard TD. Don’t expect there to be a lot of room downfield for the Bowdoin wideouts, meaning that Nelson is going to have to rely on Porter. It’s going to be huge for Bowdoin to convert on third downs in order to keep the ball out of the Cardinals’ hands. If Wesleyan is able to milk the clock with the running game, this will be over early.
Colby DE Ryan Ruiz ’16
When playing the triple-option, it’s imperative for the defense to keep to its assignments and not fly up field. Therefore, the impetus is on Ruiz, the Mules’ best defensive lineman, to lead the charge. He needs to keep the Bates slot backs from breaking out wide by getting outside leverage on the guy blocking him and allowing his teammates to make plays. If Colby can get a sizeable lead, though, then Ruiz will have a chance to pressure Pat Dugan ’16 and improve on his team-leading 2.5 sacks.
Hamilton RB LaShawn Ware ’18
I could essentially copy and paste the summary for Meritus from above, except that Hamilton Head Coach Dave Murray has shown a willingness to give some carries to Jason Nastovski ’18. Any time a team is having as much trouble running the ball as Middlebury and Hamilton are, a lot of that comes down to offensive line play. Running backs need holes to run through. The problem is exaggerated for Hamilton, though, because they aren’t having much success in the passing game, either. Ware averaged 3.9 yards per carry a year ago with 3/5 of the same offensive line. Things won’t change around for the Conts until Hamilton can get the ground game going.
Five weeks ago, we had no idea what to think about the Wesleyan Cardinals. A year removed from a senior class that brought the program back to relevance and competed for a championship three years in a row – earning a shared title in 2013 – Wesleyan had a plethora of questions coming into 2015. They’ve performed admirably, scaring Middlebury at home in Week 1 and putting up a good fight and outplaying the Lord Jeffs in every aspect but points scored a week ago in Amherst. Now the Cardinals are 3-2 and if they want to even have a minuscule shot at sharing a NESCAC title this year – and they’ll need a lot of help – they can’t lose again. I think this is a case of an inexperienced team coming into its own, and things are just looking up for them.
As for Bowdoin, the 30-20 win two weeks ago over Hamilton and the debut of Nelson gave hope to Polar Bear fans, but it now appears that it was false hope. No first-year should be expected to put up the kind of eye-popping numbers every week that Nelson posted against Hamilton, but without that kind of play Bowdoin doesn’t have enough fire power to topple the Cardinals. Losing their top two running backs has really hurt Bowdoin, which has only 58.4 rushing yards per game this season.
With that in mind, Bowdoin is forced to drop back and throw the football more often than not, which has to have Wesleyan DE Jordan Stone ’17 salivating as he wakes up this morning. Stone is one of the most physically-talented defensive players in this league and doesn’t get talked about too much on this blog, but that’s not because of his play, and more so because we just don’t talk about line play a ton. But Stone has 4.5 sacks, which is tied for second in the NESCAC with Micah Adickes ’18 of Tufts. Tufts teammate Zach Thomas ’18 leads the NESCAC with 5.5 sacks. Here’s the kicker, though. The Wesleyan defense has faced 150 pass plays. Tufts? 188 pass plays.
With the Cardinals starting to figure things out as a team and still a bevy of concerns for the Polar Bears, it’s going to be a frightful Halloween for Bowdoin.
A year ago this week the championship-hopeful Bantams were stunned in the Coop by Middlebury, breaking a more than decade-old home winning streak of 53 games. That loss sent the Bantams spiraling to three losses to end the year. Once again, these teams meet with Trinity undefeated and Middlebury with an outside shot at a shared title. The ramifications will be large no matter which way the result ends up.
This matchup bodes well for the Bantams. The Middlebury run defense, expected to be stout this season, has bent pretty considerably against some top rushing attacks. The Panthers allowed 5.1 yards per carry to Wesleyan in Week 1 and 3.9 per carry to Amherst in Week 3. They’ve effectively shut down the rushing games of Colby, Williams and Bates, but Trinity’s freshman tailback Max Chipouras ’19 will provide a stiff challenge. What’s more, the Panthers have to be prepared for the dual-threat at QB that Sonny Puzzo ’18 provides.
The key for Middlebury, as always, is to score early and force teams to throw the football – something that they haven’t done particularly well this year. Their halftime scores so far this season: 7-13 at Wesleyan, 21-2 vs. Colby, 7-10 at Amherst, 9-7 vs. Williams and 14-10 at Bates. In all but one game, Middlebury was within four points at halftime. When they’ve started to get the offense rolling in the second half and forced teams to throw, the Panthers defense has responded with some big takeaways and shut down the opposition. That strategy could be particularly effective this week given Puzzo’s recent struggles – he had two picks at Tufts and only completed 10 of 20 passes last week vs. Bowdoin.
Offensively for Middlebury, the rushing attack has been bad, plain and simple. Only once, in the Panthers’ blowout victory over Williams, has the running game been effective. But, frankly, Middlebury has proven that they don’t need to run the ball in order to be successful. It would be nice, but Middlebury makes up for its rushing deficiency with short passes and running back screens. With Banky apparently out for the season with an ankle injury, the impetus now falls on slot-turned wideout Ryan Rizzo ’17, slot receiver Tanner Contois ’18 and All-League player Matt Minno ’16 on the other side to make some big plays in the receiving game for Matt Milano ’16. I think they do just enough to squeak by the Bants.
The CBB is under way, and with both of these teams populating the bottom of the standings, the Maine championship becomes the primary focus. This game turned into a high-scoring OT affair a season ago at Bates, but I don’t see the same thing happening this time around. Though RB Jabari Hurdle-Price ’17 has really turned it on for Colby as of late, the offense still ranks last in the ‘CAC with 13.4 points per game. Gabe Harrington ’17 has really struggled with eight interceptions in five games, but he’s also been sacked 10 times and his receivers aren’t exactly running free all over the field. It’s hard to tell who’s to blame on the Colby offense because nothing is going right at the moment, but if they are going to break out – particularly throwing the ball – this could be their chance.
The Bates defense has been only slightly better than Colby, allowing 27.0 points per game, and is last in the league with 305.6 passing yards per game allowed. Wideouts Mark Snyder ’17 and Mbasa Mayikana ’18 are big targets on the Colby offense even if they haven’t been that productive so far, and could be found on a couple of deep balls for big plays.
The Bates offense, as we know, relies on misdirection and the running game. The loss of slotback Shaun Carroll ’16, who had been averaging 5.3 yards per carry, really hurts, but the Bobcats hope to offset that loss with the return of Sean Peterson ’18 to the lineup. His debut a week ago against Middlebury was not very impressive in the running game, but he caught a few passes and was able to show off his athleticism in open space. That he garnered 14 carries despite averaging just a yard per rush shows that he is expected to be a big part of the offense down the stretch. Peterson and crew will need to have a big-time day on the ground in order to get their second win. I think Colby will land the first punch in the CBB battle but hitting on a couple of deep throws and burning clock with Hurdle-Price, and as long as that defensive line stays disciplined the back seven can make enough plays to continue Bates on offense.
Things are not good in Clinton and Williamstown these days. For the Continentals part, there has been a lot of moral victories, including an OT loss against Tufts and two close games with Wesleyan and Colby. The defense has really stood on its head at times despite playing some younguns, and Cole Freeman ’19 stepped into the limelight two weeks ago at QB and would have lead Hamilton to a victory if not for Nelson’s Godly performance for Bowdoin. At the end of the day though, you can’t argue with the scoreboard, and Hamilton is still 0-5. The Ephs, meanwhile, amidst some rumblings of discontent from people around the program (nothing concrete), started off well with two wins sandwiched around a handy and expected beatdown against Trinity. However, the last two weeks have been disastrous for Williams, and with a roadtrip to Wesleyan in Week 7 and a rivalry game with Amherst in Week 8 looming, this might be the Ephs’ last shot at a victory to move to 3-5 and avoid a third straight 2-6 record, something that seems impossible for such a storied program.
Williams has allowed just 198.0 yards per game through the air, but they’ve also been behind for considerable amounts of a few games and have faced Bates, so coincidentally they rank eighth in rushing yards allowed per game. Nevertheless, I think that Williams is better against the pass than the run, which is good when matching up with Hamilton, who hasn’t been able to get a sputtering running attack going whatsoever. LaShawn Ware ’18, a talented runner who showed some potential a season ago, is averaging just 3.1 yards per carry, and subsequently Jason “Bane” Nastovski, previously cast as a fullback, led the squad with 12 carries last week to Ware’s nine. Combined, the pair had just 62 yards rushing on 21 carries. Clearly, a lot of pressure will be placed on Freeman and his receivers, particularly Charles Ensley ’17, a dynamic playmaker who just needs to get the ball in his hands, and the reliable Pat Donahoe ’16.
So do the Conts finally get the monkey off their back this week, or do the Ephs get mad and pull out a victory? I’m expecting an ugly game, with, as usual, a turnover being the difference. That Williams is at home I think benefits them, and Hamilton has been much worse on the road, losing 29-4 at Trinity and 30-20 at Bowdoin. Williams gets its third win of the season.
I’m eager for the final three weeks of the season where a lot of teams will bounce around the rankings. There was not too much movement this week due to predictable outcomes to Saturday’s games. Just Amherst and Trinity remain undefeated, though any of the top five teams could be crowned or co-crowned NESCAC champions. This week is particularly interesting with the two undefeated big dogs traveling to take on the league’s 2nd tier as Middlebury hosts Trinity and Tufts hosts Amherst. A win from the Panthers and Jumbos would create a four-way tie for 1st place going into the last two games of the season.
1. Amherst Lord Jeffs (5-0; Last Week: 1)
The Lord Jeffs looked shaky against Wesleyan. Reece Foy ’18 was not on his A-game in the first half as he threw three interceptions on the first four drives. He picked it up after that point and lead Amherst to a come-from-behind win. On Foy’s nine completions he passed for 202 yards and three touchdowns. A lapse in the Amherst running game this week should be credited to Wesleyan as they possessed the ball for the greater portion of the game (38:46). Amherst will take on Tufts this weekend in a prelude to the awaited Trinity game. The Jumbos pose a serious threat as they nearly knocked off undefeated Trinity last week in their first loss of the season. Foy will likely pass for a ton of yards Saturday because the Jumbos contain the running game well.
2. Trinity Bantams (5-0; Last Week: 2)
Despite allowing a last second touchdown pass to put Bowdoin on the board, the Bantams looked up to speed this week. The Bowdoin game should be seen as a tune-up, though. Trinity will take their talents to Middlebury, Vermont this Saturday to face the first of three teams eyeing a NESCAC championship ring. Trinity can control this game on the ground especially with RB Max Chipouras ’19 coming off of a three touchdown game Saturday. Trinity needs to limit their penalties this week, and the secondary needs to stay strong because the Panthers will continue to throw the ball.
3. Middlebury Panthers (4-1; Last Week: 3)
Coming off a win against Bates, the Panthers have solidified their spot on the totem pole. Matt Milano ’16 accumulated five touchdowns and 3 picks on 405 passing yards, completing 31 of 53 passes at Bates. However, Diego Meritus ’19 only averaged 2.2 yards on 16 carries. The Panther defense held Bates to 3.3 yards per carry while letting up 204 yards, nine first downs, and one touchdown on Bates’ 61 rushing attempts. Middlebury needs to be ever better in defending the run if they want to stick it to the Bantams for the third straight year.
4. Tufts Jumbos (4-1; Last Week: 5)
The Jumbos looked good shutting down the Williams running game. Chance Brady ’17 played a huge role, running in two touchdowns on 27 carries. Alex Snyder ’17 threw the ball well despite a pick on the third play of the game. Tufts proved they could play with the top-tier teams when they took on Trinity, and now they are looking to show they can beat the elite in Amherst this Saturday. A win puts them in great position to bring a ring back to the city of champions. They finish the season off against Middlebury, which could end up being a championship game – crazy, considering that that game has been a cake walk for the Panthers the past few seasons.
5. Wesleyan Cardinals (3-2; Last Week: 4)
At this point, the Wesleyan Cardinals may find themselves depending too much on the results of other teams for a chance at a NESCAC title. Despite losing to Amherst this week, Wesleyan looked strong ousting Amherst in total offense. Gernald Hawkins ’18 caught a touchdown pass from Devon Carrillo ’16, but he was unable to get enough going behind center to upset the Lord Jeffs. They held Amherst to just 320 offensive yards, but the yards they did get were lethal. Wesleyan should slide by Bowdoin with ease this week.
6. Williams Ephs (2-3; Last Week: 6)
Williams’ running game was weaker than usual only compiling 35 yards against Tufts. Austin Lommen ’16 threw the ball 53 times, passing for 363 yards and two touchdowns on 33 completions. Darrias Sime ’16 and Mark Pomella ’16 served as receiving targets for Lommen all game, as they both picked up a touchdown and 100-plus yards. The Ephs played from behind the whole game and never really had a chance of winning. Williams takes on Hamilton this week and they are hoping to expunge their losing record.
7. Bates Bobcats (0-5; Last Week: 7)
While their Week 3 loss to Williams left them bitter, Bates has put up a fight the past two weeks against Wesleyan and Middlebury. Look for Bates to push themselves through to the top of the bottom half of the NESCAC in the coming weeks. Bates gets the easier part of its schedule down the stretch, and has a chance to win out and take home the CBB crown. The Bobcats competed well with Middlebury, holding them to 68 rushing yards and possessing the ball for 38 minutes. With Shaun Carroll ’16 out with an injury, the Bobcats need to find a new lead back. That could turn out to be Mickoy Nichol ’18, who ran well last week but only tallied three carries, or Sean Peterson ’18, who returned to the backfield this week and took 14 handoffs, but only racked up 14 yards.
8. Bowdoin Polar Pears (1-4; Last Week: 8)
The Polar Bears struggled against Trinity, only scoring in the dying embers of the game which cut the deficit to 28-7. They only had 220 total offensive yards. Bowdoin shouldn’t argue with being left in the eight spot this week considering their display against the Bantams. Their season can be salvaged starting with a win against Wesleyan this week, then taking down Bates and Colby.
9. Colby Mules (1-4; Last week: 9)
Colby left Hamilton to dust with Bates as the two winless teams by defeating the Continentals this week. Jabari Hurdle-Price ’17 had consistent runs the whole game. Colby takes on Bates this week, and plans to keep them winless. Gabe Harrington ’17, who threw his first touchdown pass Saturday, will need to play well in order to keep the Bobcats on their heels. This is going to be a tough game for Colby.
10. Hamilton Continentals (0-5; Last week: 10)
“Losing is a disease … as contagious as polio,” at least that’s what the Doc from The Natural theorized. We all hope the Continentals losing plague ends soon. Cole Freeman ’18 came up short Saturday against the Mules. He passed 42 times, throwing for 256 yards and two touchdowns while completing just 40.5 percent of his passes. That will not do the job against Williams, Middlebury, or Bates in the final three games. It was just his second game as the primary QB, but he needs to sharpen up if the Conts want to snatch a win.
Usual rank-man Nick DiBenedetto is on vacation this week (probably sipping mai tais in Cabo San Lucas … just kidding, he just had mid-terms), so I, Joe MacDonald, am taking over. So after today you can stop heckling me for ranks that aren’t even mine, and can start telling me how stupid I am while actually knowing what you’re talking about.
1. Amherst Lord Jeffs (4-0; Last Week: 2)
The LJ’s are the defending champs, 4-0, looking for their 16th straight win, and are better than the 2014 title team. That’s because besides having a great defense and a great rushing attack, Amherst actually has a passing threat this season. The Lord Jeffs have averaged 7.3 yards per pass attempt, third in the NESCAC, all thanks to Reece Foy ’18 (and some talented receivers and great blocking). They’re still a rush first team (953 yards on the ground, 5.3 YPC and 10 TDs, all 1st in the NESCAC), but the aerial threat is a scary new dimension.
2. Trinity Bantams (4-0; Last Week: 1)
Tufts be damned. No team gets through a season without a scare or two. The Bantams defense still looks great, and by the way, the Bants have the No. 2 scoring offense in the league. If anything, I’m a little concerned about the run game. Maybe that’s silly for a team averaging 4.4 yards per carry, but I think there will be a lot of pressure put on Max Chipouras ’19 as he develops into a feature back, and I worry about him wearing down and about how a first-year hangs in there when Trinity meets the big boys in Middlebury, Amherst and Wesleyan.
3. Middlebury Panthers (3-1; Last Week: 3)
Is that a running game I see? Yeah, it was only one game, but we all knew that Diego Meritus ’19 had the physical ability to do what he did to Williams. He’s really good with a head of steam. It’s just hard to get going when you’re taking handoffs standing still in the shotgun next to the QB. He’s also been effective in the screen game, so more of that is in order. But defensively, what’s going on with the rush defense? The Panthers have allowed 301, 100, 190 and 95 yards rushing so far, and that’s not with teams running out the clock against them. This was the 4th-best rush defense in the ‘CAC a year ago. Time to get it together.
4. Wesleyan Cardinals (3-1; Last Week: 4)
Now it gets interesting, but I’m giving Wesleyan the slightest of edges over Tufts. Wesleyan has just been there before. And, even without LaDarius Drew ’15, the run game is scary and multi-faceted. I know they’re young, but it’s a winning culture, and that appears to have carried over. At least, that’s how I choose to look at it, rather than a team that plays down or up to the level of its competition. Can they match Amherst’s level, though? We’ll find out tomorrow.
5. Tufts Jumbos (3-1; Last Week: 6)
Another team with a few questionable close calls, but an equally eye-opening close loss. Formerly a high-flying, pass-happy team with no defense, the Jumbos are actually relying on their D to carry the load. They’ve given up a lot of yards, but only 116.8 per game on the ground (4th-best) and have 12 takeaways (1st) and 14 sacks (T-1st). The defense stalled the Continentals’ offense in the OT period in Week 1 and then forced interception, fumble recover, 4th-and-out on Bates’ final three possessions in Week 2. This week the Jumbos try to prove they are in the top half to stay.
6. Williams Ephs (2-2; Last Week: 5)
Watch out for that cliff … sorry, guys, I couldn’t resist. I know what it feels like to be looking up at something that seems to be further than the moon, but for everyone between 6-10, competing for a NESCAC title is a fantasy right now. So it goes in the NESCAC where “parity” has not been the name of the game. However, the Ephs earn this spot by virtue of their Week 1 trouncing of the Polar Bears. Aside from that, they have a close win over Bates and two uninspiring performances against Trinity and Middlebury. What do they do well? Pass defense, having only allowed 201.3 YPG. Then again, Trinity and Middlebury had big leads and they’ve also played the triple-option Bobcats. Still, they’ve got some playmakers there, and they’ll be needed this week against Tufts.
7. Bates Bobcats (0-4; Last Week: 7)
Playing close games earns the ‘Cats some respect, but they’d really prefer a W. Some head-scratching calls have directly led to a couple L’s – plays that make one look like a genius when they go right. In any case, the’ve got to move the ball better. Thirty pass attempts from Pat Dugan ’16 a week ago seems confusing, until you realize that 20 of those came in the fourth quarter with the Bobcats down big. The fact is that they aren’t tricking teams with the triple-option anymore, and opponents have started to bottle up Mark Riley ’16, the league’s leading receiver a year ago. This could quickly get ugly if the offense doesn’t start rolling.
8. Bowdoin Polar Bears (1-3; Last Week: 10)
They have a W, which is better than can be said for the teams below them in the ranks, but I so nearly put them ninth, because I just don’t buy the supernova debut from Noah Nelson ’19. I’m happy for him, but nothing about his game or practice play in the preseason or first three weeks screamed ‘immediate star.’ With a really tough second start against Trinity this week, I expect to see Bowdoin drop a spot next week. But for now, they’re on a winning streak, and so we have them eighth.
9. Colby Mules (0-4; Last Week: 9)
Not much good going on in Maine right now. The defense is playing okay for Colby, and the D-line specifically has shown me some flashes of penetration. But seven interceptions from starting QB Gabe Harrington ’17 just isn’t getting it done. He’s not getting much help, though. Top target Mark Snyder ’18 provides a lot of size and good hands, but he’s not blowing away any DBs. They don’t even have a passing TD yet … hopefully the resurgence of Jabari Hurdle-Price ’17 starts opening up some throwing lanes.
10. Hamilton Continentals (0-10; Last Week: 10)
The Continentals have been competitive, so good times seem to be ahead. However, they’re not right around the corner. There’s far too much confusion at quarterback, and no rushing attack to speak of. After looking very respectable in the first two games, allowing 17 points to Tufts in regulation before surrendering a TD on the overtime drive and just 15 to points to Wesleyan, Trinity and Bowdoin have torn up the Continentals’ defense. There are some youngsters on the Hamilton defense making plays, which is encouraging, but there are still more questions than answers.
Amherst got the most impressive win of the season on Saturday over Middlebury, but that doesn’t change the top of the rankings. Things played out generally as expected, especially down the bottom half of this list. Therefore there isn’t a lot of movement this week.
Trinity (3-0; Last Week: 1)
Still yet to let up a point on defense, the Bantams steam rolled past the Hamilton Continentals for a 29-4 win. Trinity has dominated all season, making easy work of their opponents so far. Safety Paul McCarthy ’16 had yet another pick to make it four for the season, a year after seeing the field for only short spurts. I’m not expecting much to change this week, even against undefeated Tufts.
Amherst (3-0; Last Week: 3)
Why not put Amherst first, given that they haven’t lost in forever, it seems? Well, last year doesn’t matter, and I think Trinity has been the most impressive team. Amherst proved they belong at 1b) in the polls as they put a beating on Middlebury. The Amherst defense held Middlebury to 21 net rushing yards and sacked Matt Milano ’16 five times for a total loss of 40 yards. Amherst should stroll to 4-0 as they take on Colby on Saturday. This team could very well end being better than last year’s edition.
Middlebury (2-1): (Last Week: 2)
It was just a matter of time before this team got knocked down given their issues. A lackluster rushing game plagued them vs. Amherst, just as it has all season. The difference was that the Jeffs closed down the passing game the further the game went along. One indication of how bad the Panthers have been running the ball is that they have only four first downs from running the ball, compared to 41 first downs through the air. An intriguing game against Williams looms, a matchup that went to overtime last year.
Wesleyan (2-1; Last Week: 4)
Wesleyan kept its fans on their feet (and caused them to grow some gray hairs) as they pulled off a 24-21 win over Colby. Gernald Hawkins ’18 drove down the field from the Wesleyan 34-yard line with four minutes to play, eventually connecting with Devon Carrillo ’16 for a game winning 35-yard touchdown pass. That the running defense all of a sudden was porous raised plenty of eyebrows. The young Cardinals are still figuring out how to put that talent to good use. Wesleyan takes on Bates next week, which could be close given that the average margin of victory in the Cardinals’ three games so far is just 3.3 points.
Williams (2-1; Last Week: 5)
After an excruciating loss to Trinity in Week 2, the Ephs were able to put up enough points to beat Bates 16-14. They weren’t to get much going on the ground, but Austin Lommen ’16 threw for 309 yards, albeit with two interceptions. The Ephs ran the ball 26 times in order to milk up the clock, but were largely ineffective. More balance will be needed to keep the aggressive Middlebury defense at bay.
Tufts (3-0; Last Week 6)
Yes they are undefeated, but the combined records for the teams they have beaten is 0-9 (Bowdoin, Bates and Hamilton). They looked much stronger against Bowdoin, but they still barely escaped from the Bobcats and Continentals. This week will test how close the Jumbos are to competing on both sides of the line of scrimmage against an elite team. From here on out, the Jumbos will have a tough schedule as they face Trinity, Williams, Amherst, Colby and Middlebury. The Jumbos have a lot to prove.
Bates (0-3; Last Week: 7)
Bates picked up 232 rushing yards of a total 298 yards and averaged 4.1 yards per carry in a heartbreaking loss to Williams. For the first time, the rushing attack gained some traction with quarterback Patrick Dugan ’16 leading the way with 74 yards. With six fumbles (two lost) on the day, the Bobcats have shown they can run, they just need to hang on to the damn football. It isn’t often that Bates loses the time of possession battle by 8:56 like they did against Williams. The schedule doesn’t get easier as the Bobcats go on the road at Wesleyan in Week 4.
Hamilton (0-3; Last week: 8)
It is hard for a team to move up in the power rankings when they face off against Trinity, but the Continentals do deserve credit for scoring on the Bantams, even if it wasn’t on offense. Look for this to be Hamilton’s final week in the eight spot. They take on Bowdoin this week and are looking for their first win in over three years. This is a team that is going to come out very hungry, sensing a beatable and beaten-down Bowdoin squad.
Colby (0-3; Last Week: 9)
The Mules finally showed some fight Saturday against Wesleyan as they lost on a late fourth quarter touchdown. The continued struggles of quarterback Gabe Harrington ’17 are becoming harder and harder to ignore. In all three games he has averaged less than 4.0 yards per attempt and has zero passing touchdowns with five interceptions. Even with the running game having success against Wesleyan, he went 15-34. The hard stretch to open the season concludes against Amherst.
Bowdoin (0-3; Last Week: 10)
The Polar Bears trailed the whole game, and ended up losing 43-24 against Tufts. Their inability to run the ball and stop the run hurt them again. The old adage that football games are won at the line of scrimmage is true in the NESCAC. Coach JB Wells is still looking for his first win, and as the weeks go by, the possibility that it won’t come until 2016 is becoming more and more distinct.