September 9th, 2019 3:00am
What had happened…
It was a disastrous start of the season for the NE-10. They went 1-8 in out of conference games with Stonehill grabbing the lone victory. They were close in some games and overmatched in others.
The opening weekend is always a measuring stick for the rest of the season and very important with the regional rankings. It shows if the league is able to compete at the regional level and after Week 1, it doesn’t look so good for the league.
It started Thursday night as both Pace and Southern Connecticut deserved a better fate. They had their chances to win their respective games but were not able to come out on the right side of the scoreboard.
And Saturday was even more frustrating. Bentley was the team that looked like they were going to pull off the major upset. A late touchdown in the final minute by West Chester sealed the fate for the Falcons as they were looking to avenge several years of losses to the Golden Rams.
New Haven spotted IUP an early lead but was not able to overcome that deficit. The Chargers were able to generate a bunch of turnovers but like Bentley, they were held out of the end zone and just not able to capitalize on the other team’s mistakes.
All is not lost for the league in terms of the playoffs. A team or two could make a run and be in contention for a playoff run over the final weeks of the season. It has happened before, but someone will need to make a run starting this weekend.
Welcome to the League?
Stonehill was the only team to emerge victorious on the weekend as they defeated Bloomsburg 33-14. The Skyhawks used the arm and legs of quarterback Greg Powell. He transferred from LIU Post and finally has a chance to show off his ability.
He split time with Anton Stoneking and the duo was solid. Powell threw two touchdown passes and then ran for another one. Stoneking held his own by going 8 for 11 and throwing a touchdown pass.
Both quarterbacks benefited from wideout Andrew Jamiel. The senior receiver finished with nine catches for 129 yards and two trips to the end zone. He is now tied for the school record for touchdowns in a career and should definitely break the record in the near future.
The Skyhawks’ defense was also strong. They allowed a mere 168 yards of offense and just seven first downs. Stonehill has won their last three trips to Bloomsburg.
Stonehill will host New Haven this weekend.
The toughest defeat of the weekend goes to Bentley. They caused five turnovers out of the West Chester offense but were not able to capitalize and lost 14-7. The Golden Rams scored in the final 23 seconds of the game to escape with the improbable victory.
The Falcon offense was strong in the midfield of the field but struggled inside the 30-yard line. Two missed field goals and just one for three on fourth down attempts. The West Chester defense tightened up in the red zone and didn’t allow the same space and gaps as the beginning of those drives.
Bentley is happy to have all of their offensive weapons back as Austin Ryan and Drew Mahoney both hauled in six passes in the game to lead the team. It will not be long before they are putting up points with ease as the season progresses if the duo stays healthy.
Bentley travels to American International next weekend.
Thursday Night Frustration
Both teams were picked to finish high in the coaches’ preseason poll. But both had losses on Thursday as Pace and Southern Connecticut wanted to start the season with a bang.
Pace fell to Millersville in a game of streaks. Pace scored 17 straight points in the middle of the game after an early Marauder touchdown. Millersville responded with 14 straight points of their own and enough to sneak out of town with the win.
Down the street in Connecticut, the Owl defense was very good. They were holding Gannon off the scoreboard as the offense worked out the kinks. Gannon did breakthrough in the third quarter for a couple of touchdowns and a lead that Southern Connecticut would not be able to overcome.
Southern Connecticut travels to Pace this Friday night so the frustration will continue for one of these teams.
Franklin Pierce played their first Division II game this past weekend. They fell to Wesley 69-0 and it was not the result that the Ravens had hoped for.
They struggled to move the ball on offense and their defense spent way too much time on the field. Head coach Russell Gaskamp knew that this team is very young and that they need to improve this week.
The performance was not what he envisioned when he drew up the game plan. He figured that the team would struggle early and then overcome the first-game butterflies.
Franklin Pierce will be at home again this weekend when they host Curry College.
The most visible position for a football team is their quarterback. Several solid quarterbacks finished their eligibility last year, so it is time for a new batch of signal-callers.
It started Friday night when St. Anselm sent Phillip Tran out to run the offense. The California native transferred from East Los Angeles Community College to the Hawks. He finished the night with 285 yards passing and completing 61% of his passes. The downside was four picks and a couple of fumbles. Eric Fairweather had been the quarterback the past several years and lined up as a receiver for the St Anselm offense.
New Haven has big shoes to fill and Nick Robins is their man. He played well at times with 171 yards and a touchdown. But three picks and scrambling around in the midst of consistent pressure were tough to overcome on Week 1 in his first collegiate start.
Assumption called Easton Turner’s number to be the signal-caller. He threw for 169 yards but was picked twice and just never got the offense going.
As mentioned earlier, Greg Powell and Anton Stoneking split time in Stonehill’s victory. The duo combined for three touchdown passes, one running score and nearly 300 yards in the air.
The other thing to point out is that all of the quarterbacks mentioned played high school football outside of the New England area. It shows the reach of the recruiting for NE-10 teams. They are finding talent outside of their traditional recruiting areas and that is one reason why the league has improved over the years.
Out of Conference
For the first time since 2008, the NE-10 will play each other during the regular season and count the games as non-conference. That year, Bryant moved up to Division 1 FCS and teams didn’t have a chance to find another opponent to get the number of games to be eligible for the playoffs.
The championship weekend from 2012 from 2016 was the same but a different concept as you didn’t know until the final weekend of the season who you were going to play twice. Just like in 2008, you play the opponent earlier in the season and then again in the final weekend. That year, the first game counted in the league and the final game was non-conference.
The league has had to get creative over the years as teams have come and gone. It started with Bryant, then CW Post left for the PSAC, New Haven restarted their program, LIU Post rejoined the league, Merrimack and LIU Post left the league and Franklin Pierce joined the league.
It has been quite the ride and now with the rumors that New Haven is looking at Division I with the hiring of a new athletic director, the ride is far from over.