September 27th, 2021 12:00am
Elm City Dominance
The Elm City Trophy will have the same home for the 12th consecutive season. That is because New Haven once again defeated cross-town rival Southern Connecticut on the football field. This time, it was a 38-9 affair on the blue turf of DellaCamera Stadium.
It seems to be new faces on the Charger sideline but the same old result. Connor Degenhardt threw four touchdown passes for New Haven and was really cooking in the seven-minute stretch between the third and fourth quarter.
He found Kevin Foelsch for the short touchdown pass and then didn’t waste a lot of time on the ensuing possessions. First, it was a three-play drive that was finished off with a Dev Holmes 93-yard touchdown reception. And then it was a one-play, 30-yard touchdown score again to Holmes and the game was over.
It was the New Haven defense that kept them in the game early. Southern Connecticut had a couple of trips into the red zone in the opening quarter but only came away with two field goals. And then the Chargers scored on the next possession and never trailed again.
New Haven hits the road for the first time as they travel to Pace. Southern Connecticut returns home as they host American International on Friday night.
Granite State Bragging Rights
This rivalry is only two years ago but once again, it will be St. Anselm that will have the Granite State bragging rights. The Hawks defeated Franklin Pierce 42-7 on their homecoming weekend to win their first league game of the season.
St. Anselm jumped out to an early lead and never looked back. Two touchdowns in the first five minutes of the game, and it was off and running for the Hawks. Drew Willoughby threw two touchdowns in the win as well as rushing for one.
Anthony Brown continues to excel in all phases of the game. First, he is the leading receiver with 101 yards including a 68-yard touchdown reception. He also returned a punt 62 yards to the house in the second half. He is also the holder for extra points for the Hawks, so he finds a way to spend a lot on the field each game.
The St. Anselm defense was also solid. They recorded five sacks, 12 tackles for a loss, one interception, five pass breakups, and four quarterback hurries.
St. Anselm is back home this weekend as they entertain undefeated Bentley. Franklin Pierce is also back home as they will host Assumption for the first time in school history.
It seems like Assumption was in full control after Tre'Sean Bouie took the ball into the end zone on the pick-six. The Greyhounds were up 26-14 with just over 12 minutes to play. That was just enough time for Stonehill to regroup and make a massive comeback.
Stonehill scored 13 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to grab the 27-26 victory and improve to 3-1, 1-1 NE10. The Skyhawks scored with 36 seconds left as they moved the ball 74 yards in just 1:33 of game time.
Anton Stoneking was the catalyst of the drive as he was slinging the ball all over the field, finding open receiver after open receiver. As he was scrambling on the winning touchdown throw, he avoided numerous Assumption defenders and spotted Cameron Alves in the back of the end zone for the victory.
It was a solid win for Stonehill as they fell to Bentley last week and had trouble getting the loss out of their heads in the opening half. Assumption scored the first 14 points and it looked like a game that Stonehill had no chance of winning.
They stormed back to tie the game in the second quarter before Assumption scored 12 straight, capped off with the pick-six. But a solid kickoff return, some Stoneking completions, and a Justin Felder touchdown on fourth down were the right formula for the comeback. That all lead up to the winning drive for the Skyhawks.
Stonehill gets a well-deserved bye this weekend as Assumption is back on the road at Franklin Pierce.
For the second straight week, Bentley was in a matchup of undefeated teams. And for the second straight week, they emerge undefeated. The victim this week was American International with a score of 35-27.
It didn’t look good for Bentley early in the game. They took the opening kickoff down the field, but Stephen Sturm threw an interception and American International was ready to capitalize. On the next drive, the Yellow Jackets drove the field to score and then repeated it again to grab the early 14-0 lead. But Bentley was not phased.
They drove the field including converting a fourth down. Nathaniel Larkins capped the drive off with the first of his two scores of the game. The Falcons had another long drive at the end of the first half as Sturm found Andrew Brazicki on a wheel route to tie the game at 14 at halftime.
It was Larkins again in the third quarter to extend the lead and then a drive that has defined the Bentley offense. With the ball first and goal at eight-yard line, the American International defense stiffened up and forced a fourth down at the five-yard line. Without hesitation, Bentley coach Bill Kavanaugh left the offense on the field with his senior quarterback at the helm.
Sturm watched as receivers crossed in front of him and waited for Chris Varone to get open for the score and the Bentley lead was 28-14. 28 straight points for the offense and the team has supreme confidence in Sturm.
“100% confidence,” Bentley coach Bill Kavanaugh said of his senior quarterback. “When it counts the most, that is what makes him great, his competitive spirit. He is a great leader and when it comes down to crunch time, he is at his best.”
American International cut the lead a couple of times in the final quarter but it was a pick-six by Cole McCubrey that was the difference for the Falcons in the final score. And it was the secondary for Bentley that held AIC in check between the second and fourth quarters.
“When you are able to cover and get to the quarterback with four,” Kavanaugh said of his secondary. “We have really good defensive lineman, but those guys go out and cover for an extra half a second, it is huge.”
A late drive by American International got them into Bentley territory but a fourth-down interception sealed the game for the Falcons and another solid victory on their early resume.
“Every victory is great,” Kavanaugh said. “But when you beat good teams on the road, it is that much better.”
“I am proud of how we fought,” American International coach Kristofer Kulzer said. “It is something that we haven’t had in the past. We fought for the full 60 minutes. We shot ourselves in the foot with turnovers and penalties, but we fought to the end. There is no quit in our team.”
Bentley is back on the road again as they travel north to St. Anselm next Saturday while American International makes the trek down Route 91 to take on Southern Connecticut Friday night.
One Month Done
I didn’t make any predictions in the preseason because teams had not seen the field against other competition in 650 days. But after four weeks of football, we all have a better understanding of which teams are good and which teams will play spoiler for the rest of the season.
The top team in the NE10 right now is Bentley. They have proven that they have good players on both sides of the football. They also have some injuries at key positions but continue to find ways to win.
New Haven is always good, and it looks like 2021 is no different. They have an experienced quarterback and a lot of playmakers on the outside. They will be there at the end of the season in the hunt for the league title.
Stonehill is also a good football team. They have some quality wins including a huge comeback last Saturday night. They have the best running back in the league and if their defense can step up against the top teams, they will be in the mix.
American International is the surprise of the league. They won their first three games and went toe to toe with Bentley this past weekend. The team is much better than anticipated and will be in the mix for the entire season.
Assumption has had one of the tougher schedules in the opening month. They have competed in each of the games despite losing three of them. The schedule will get easier for them and they will have the opportunity to rack up some wins.
Southern Connecticut needs to play all of its games on Friday night in the state of Connecticut. They are 2-0 in that scenario and then 0-2 on Saturday. The good news for the Owls, they play games on Friday nights over the course of the next two weeks.
St. Anselm has played well at times but doesn’t have the wins to show it. They defeated Franklin Pierce but deserved a better fate against Merrimack and Southern Connecticut. They are not a pushover and will be competitive in the final two months.
Pace has struggled and it shows in their record. They could have won the game against American International but late mistakes cost them the game. They could have won the game against Assumption, but injuries and bad luck cost them a chance to win.
Franklin Pierce has shown that they will not be a doormat this year. They might not win a lot of games, but the team continues to improve. They have a dynamic running back and have some size to win battles in the trenches.
After four weeks of the season, I think that four teams have a chance to win the league. The good news is that those teams still must play each other. The bad news, Bentley has already beaten two of those teams and clearly controls their own fate right now. If they keep winning each week while the other teams play each other, it might be tough to catch them.
But we have played only four weeks of football. We have seven weeks to go, and a lot is going to happen between now and November 13th. As I have said for years, win games on the field and don’t rely on others to help you out.