NE10 Week Four Thoughts

September 26th, 2022 6:00am

NE10 Week Four Thoughts

We saw history over the weekend.


First Victory

Congratulations to the Franklin Pierce football program as they defeated American International 7-3 last Saturday for their first victory against a Division II team and in the NE10. 

The Ravens had one other victory back in 2019 but it was against Division III Curry.  You could see this victory coming as Franklin Pierce had been ready close in the past couple of seasons.  They had overtime losses and games that they were in but were not on the right side of the final score.

Head coach Russell Gaskamp and his staff have kept the team focused on the next opponent and trying to learn from their past mistakes.  They have been recruiting players that were ready to make their mark on school history and it finally happened this past Saturday. 

It was the Raven defense that won the game.  They allowed just a late field goal and held American International in check the entire afternoon.    

Gaskamp said online earlier in the week that he needed his offense to show up and put some points on the board.  They only put up one touchdown but when the defense played the way it did, that was more than enough to secure the victory.

Franklin Pierce will look to have consecutive victories for the first time in school history as they host Bentley this Saturday afternoon.

Top Dog

For the past couple of seasons, the Bentley/New Haven matchup has ultimately decided who was going to win the NE10 title.  In 2019, Bentley won and then won the league.  And last year, it was New Haven winning the game and then taking the hardware.

Last Friday night, it was the Chargers that defeated Bentley 21-13 on the road.  New Haven has bragging rights from the next year, and we have plenty of games still to be played to see if it will be the third straight year that the winner of this game will win the league.

“I thought our kids did a nice job,” said New Haven head coach Chris Pincince.  “That turnover was a big play.” 

A fourth-quarter strip sack and a fumble recovery for a touchdown gave New Haven the difference in the game.  Defense end Jack Quander blasted through the Bentley offensive line and forced Mark Waid to fumble the ball.  David Onyemem scooped up the ball and went 34 yards for the score. 

“It was a sack, stripped it, with probably good coverage down the field,” Pincince said about the play.  “David is playing a new position at inside linebacker and doing a great job.”

It was all New Haven in the first 20 minutes of the game.  They have two scoring drives that saw their offensive line control the line of scrimmage and opened some holes for running back Chris Ais. 

Bentley then put together a long drive of their own to make it a game going into the half.  And had a lot of momentum early in the fourth quarter.  The Falcon defense was playing very well and held the Charger offense in check since early in the game.  Bentley had the ball at midfield after a short punt before the fumble.

New Haven has now won three games in a row since falling on the road to Bowie State.  They have a lot of players with plenty of playing experience but have not been together that long.  Pincince likes the way that his team is starting to play well together and is hoping for a repeat of last year’s success.

“I hope that the trend continues like last year.  We started off slow but are putting pieces together now with a lot of new faces in new places with four new offensive linemen and four new defensive linemen. I hope that the trend continues, and we keep moving in the right direction.”

New Haven has another tough road challenge next weekend when they travel north to face undefeated Saint Anselm.

Under the Radar

While all the attention has been on Franklin Pierce and New Haven this weekend for their big victories, there is another team that is flying under the radar.  Assumption won their first NE10 game of the season as they defeated Pace 26-14 last Saturday afternoon.

The Greyhounds have played well in the opening month of the season.  They shut out then nationally Kutztown to open the season and then held their own against Division I FCS member Merrimack.  It has been their defense that has been the most impressive part of the success for Assumption.

The defense has allowed just 14 points in two games against Division II opponents while the offense has found their footings early in the season.  Against Pace, they allowed just 245 yards in the game.  Nearly half of those yards were given up on the Setter’s two scoring drives in the third quarter.

But once Pace had the momentum, Assumption stepped up and took care of business to win the game.  The offense drove the field to score, and the defense continued to quiet the dangerous Pace offense.

Assumption will look to stay undefeated in NE10 play as they make the trip down to Southern Connecticut this Saturday afternoon.

Comeback Kids

It looked like Saint Anselm was going to lose their first game of the season.  The offense was struggling, and the defense couldn’t do anything more than what they were doing.  But then in the fourth quarter, the Hawks finally moved the ball and found the end zone to win the game.

It was capped off by a beautiful diving catch by Anthony Brown with 43 seconds left to defeat Southern Connecticut 21-14.  For the Hawks, they are now 4-0 on the season.  It is the first time since 2014 that they opened the season with four straight wins.

The Saint Anselm offense was not as efficient as it had been in the opening three weeks.  Drew Willoughby threw four interceptions but rallied the troops for 18 straight points in the second half to win the game. 

The defense for the Hawks has been outstanding in the first four weeks of the season.  They have allowed just 31 points and are making key plays when needed.  It is the reason that they are undefeated and will now face the biggest test of the season.

Saint Anselm will host New Haven next Saturday afternoon with first place on the line. 

First Month Thoughts

We have the first month in the books for the league and there are some surprises and some things that we expected.

First, New Haven is the top team in the league.  They defeated Bentley last week and finished the month 3-1, 2-0 NE10.  They should have defeated Bowie State in the opening weekend and would be a nationally ranked team right now.  But they have the experience and talent to win the league.  They have some tough road games in October that will see if they are able to repeat as league champs.

The next level includes some familiar faces and a newcomer.  Saint Anselm has had their best start of the season since 2014 as they have won their first four games of the season.  They have not played the top teams, but they have taken care of business in the games that they have played.  With New Haven in town this week, we will see if they are title contenders.

Bentley and Assumption have had good starts to the season.  They were expected to compete for the league title and are in the mix.  Bentley lost to New Haven but still has plenty of the season to win games.  Assumption has been led by their defense and has a huge month upcoming with games against the iron of the league. 

Pace has grabbed a couple of wins in the first month but has not been consistent enough to contend for the league title.  They still have some tough games in the coming weeks but have an experienced team to win some of those matchups.

The other three teams in the league have not played as well as they expected.  Franklin Pierce grabbed their first victory this past weekend and will continue to be a pain for the rest of the league if their defense continues to play at this level.  They have struggled on the offensive side of the ball and can’t rely on their defense every week to allow single-digit points.

Southern Connecticut and American International have not been good enough yet to win games in 2022.  Both are 0-4 and have struggled on both sides of the ball.  Back in the day, those teams competed for the league title year in and year out.  But in most recent years, they have not been able to duplicate that success. 

The month of October features five weekends of football.  By the end of the month, the contenders will separate themselves from the pack and we will have a good understanding of who will be raising the hardware at the end of the season.