October 28th, 2019 3:00am
American International has struggled since they lost in the 2014 NE10 championship game. They have not had a winning season since, but things are starting to a little look better in Springfield.
The Yellow Jackets used a swarming defense to defeat Franklin Pierce 34-12 last Saturday afternoon. It improves their record to 3-4, 2-3 NE10.
American International had won a total of three games over the course of the 2017 and 2018 campaigns so it is a big step forward for the program.
Samad Davila was the offense catalyst for the Yellow Jackets as he rushed for 132 yards and three scores. Fellow back Chase Speller chipped in with 107 yards.
But it was the American International defense that was the story. They limited Franklin Pierce to just 106 yards of offense on the day including 0 for 13 on third down. They spent a lot of time in the opposing backfield with 13 tackles for a loss and four sacks in the victory.
Isiah Tolbert and Cyriacus Ibezim were all over the field as the duo combined for 17 tackles, a sack and 5.5 tackles for a loss.
American International will look to keep the momentum going next weekend when they travel to Pace.
First place was on the line and both teams did not give up an inch to their opponents. And then it took two overtimes before the game was decided.
Assumption intercepted a Stonehill pass in the second overtime to secure a thrilling 40-37 victory. The Greyhounds now have sole possession of first place in the NE10 with a 5-1 league record and are 6-2 overall.
Stonehill was the better team in the opening 30 minutes. They marched the field with ease and took a halftime lead. But the Greyhounds responded in the second half as they were able to overcome numerous double-digit deficits to force overtime.
Freshman quarterback Jordan McAfee has played better and better each week for Assumption. He threw for a career-high 231 yards and found Kyle Sonnie twice for scoring strikes. And when his arm needed a rest, he found the end zone twice with his legs.
McAfee also benefited from the contributions of Doug Santos and Khaleed Exum-Strong as the duo combined for 123 yards on the ground and a score.
But it was the timely takeaways by the defense that set up the offense to excel. Carlins Platel picked off a pass late in the third quarter that eventually led to the tying score by the Assumption offense.
Then in the second overtime, Mac-Brian Nkongchu picked off a pass on Stonehill's first play of the second overtime to seal the victory and set off the celebration on the Greyhound sideline.
Assumption gets a much-needed bye week this weekend and will rest up for their matchup with New Haven in two weeks.
Three in a Row
For the first time in five years, St. Anselm has a three-game winning streak. It was courtesy of a 25-24 victory over Southern Connecticut and they are suddenly the hottest team in the league at the moment.
Eric Fairweather was once again the catalyst for the Hawk offense. He tossed three touchdowns and ran for another to become the all-time leader in touchdowns at the quarterback position in program history.
His favorite target to get the ball into the end zone once again was Shawn Donovan. The senior wideout caught four passes on the afternoon and three of them ended up in the end zone. It is the second consecutive home game that he has scored multiple touchdowns. Three weeks ago, he scored twice against New Haven and five of his last nine receptions have resulted in points for the Hawks.
You can’t overlook the St. Anselm defense as they forced a couple of turnovers at key points in the ball game. At the end of the first half, Southern Connecticut was driving when CJ Miller picked off a pass in the red zone to stop a potential scoring drive.
And then on the final Owl possession, they moved the ball across midfield when a completed pass was knocked out of the hands of Jaylynn Cundiff and recovered by Ryan Morris to seal the victory with 41 seconds on the clock.
It is also the second time in school history that they have completed the New Haven sweep. That is beating New Haven and Southern Connecticut in the same season. The other time was 2014 when they defeated both of them on the road.
St. Anselm will look to make it four in a row when they travel to Bentley.
The Bentley football team has spent a lot of Saturdays away from their Waltham campus. They have logged a lot of miles on buses but definitely have enjoyed their past two trips.
For the second weekend in a row, the Falcons used a late score to defeat Pace 28-21. The final score was closer than the game really was. Bentley was the dominant team on the field for all but about six minutes of the game.
Pace scored on their opening drive and then the Bentley defense turned it up a notch. They allowed a mere 36 yards after that scoring drive for the rest of the opening half. At the same time, the offense scored 20 consecutive points.
Stephen Sturm hooked up with Noah Neville on a 71-yard scoring strike as Neville just ran past the defender and never looked back. Grant Buchanan chipped in with a couple of field goals and Bentley was off to the races.
In the fourth quarter, the Pace special teams ignited the Pace offense. On fourth down, they ran a fake and by the length of an eye lash got the first down. On the next play, Carlton Aiken found Darius Jones for a 79-yard touchdown strike and the Setters were right back in the game.
On their next possession, the duo were in sync and hooked up for a 24-yard touchdown to give Pace the lead for the first time since the opening quarter. But the Bentley offense would have the final say.
Sturm drove them down the field and found Neville once again to take the lead for good. 120 of 199 yards from the arm of Sturm went to Neville on the afternoon.
The defense did their job on the next two possessions and Bentley would win their second straight close game on the road.
Bentley will return home this weekend to face St. Anselm.
One Hour Window of Excitement
If you were watching any of the three 1 PM games last Saturday between 3 and 4 PM, the excitement level was off the charts. And if you were watching all three games like myself, the action was coming fast and furious.
You had a double-overtime game between Assumption and Stonehill. You had a furious comeback by Pace that Bentley was able to overcome themselves. And then you have a touchdown showdown between Brandon Swain-Price and Shawn Donovan up in Manchester, NH.
At one point on Saturday afternoon, all three games were separated by two points. All six teams were playing at a high level and all of the coaching staffs were trying to push the right buttons for their teams.
This is what is making the NE10 a very competitive league. Any team is capable of winning each week and you need to watch 60 minutes of football to see who is going to win. I can remember plenty of Saturdays when all of the games were decided by 30 or more points and the excitement level was very low except if your team was up big.
In order to get top recruits to play for these nine NE10 teams, we need more Saturday afternoons like this past one. Three games decided in the final minute and teams that were not expected to win to be winning.
St. Anselm is on a three-game winning streak. Bentley has won consecutive road games in thrilling fashion. Assumption seems to be able to pull out victories when they are not supposed to.
Kudos to all of the players and coaches in the NE10. Win or lose, you are putting on a great show.