October 4, 2011

Falling through the cracks

More news about: Framingham State
James McCarthy
James McCarthy has caught four TD passes for Framingham State this season.
Framingham photo 

 

Caroline wasn't so sweet after all. And T.S. Eliot had it all wrong: September, not April, is the cruelest month.
 
But even the most diehard of Red Sox fans can find an antidote for the recent disappointment in small college football. There are enough great stories this year within a very cozy radius of Boston. You can look to places like Framingham State, Endicott and Worcester State for ones sure to enthrall the most discerning of sports fans.
 
Framingham State is alive and well in the Bogan Division of the New England Football Conference at 2-0 despite bad luck that has the Rams down to the No 4 quarterback.
 
And there's another story within the team that is pretty amazing. James McCarthy was not even on anyone's radar coming out of high school so he went to Mass-Boston to play lacrosse.
 
So how is it that he led the nation in scoring last year in football?
 
"He was a kid who fell through the cracks," Framingham coach Tom Kelley said.  "They had some very good football players at Newton North his senior year of high school and he had a broken collarbone."
 
Unnoticed, he turned to Mass-Boston and lacrosse.
 
But he loved football and Mass-Boston doesn't play it any longer. He had an uncle who played at Framingham State in the 1980s and that seemed a natural place to turn.
 
Last year he caught 22 touchdowns passes on the way to leading the nation in points as Framingham put together a 9-2 season that included a win over Norwich in an ECAC bowl game.
 
"He is a very good athlete and runs very good routes," Kelley said. 
 
He was so good that some pro teams worked him out.
 
One thing that came out of the pro workouts is that he has deceptive speed. His time in the 40 gets remarkably faster as he goes along.
 
"And he has great hands," Kelley said.
 
He also had a great quarterback throwing at him last year. Rich Leone, a transfer from Division II Merrimack, had a record-setting season for the Rams. But there was a technicality when it came to eligibility. It was found that Leone had gotten into a game for a couple of plays as a freshman at Merrimack and did not have a year of eligibility remaining for 2011.
 
There was an appeal and Leone was allowed to be with the Rams for the preseason. "In retrospect that was not a good thing," Kelley said.
 
The appeal was denied, but sophomore quarterback Matt Silva ascended to the top spot on the depth chart and things were looking good. Silva earned the Gold Helmet award this year from the Gridiron Club of Greater Boston after throwing for five touchdowns with no interceptions while completing 14 of 15 passes for 234 yards in a 54-13 victory over Nichols.
 
McCarthy had another guy to get him the ball. But before the past week's game with Mass. Maritime, Silva broke his foot. Out for the season.
 
Kelley admits McCarthy was getting a little frustrated.
 
Al Krasco would take the controls.
 
"He's fine. He just hasn't had any snaps," Kelley said.
 
He became a caretaker in his first outing. And he was a good one. He threw the ball 21 times for a modest 64 yards. There were no touchdowns to show for his throws, but there were no interceptions either.
 
The ground game became the centerpiece of the attack with Melikke Van Alstyne getting a whopping 39 carries and using them to pile up 233 yards and all four of the Rams touchdowns in a 26-0 victory over the Bucs.
 
The Rams are going through quarterbacks, but they have a bruising back in Van Alstyne. And there is always the threat of last year's leading scorer as Krasco and McCarthy begin to build chemistry. 
 
And at Endicott and Worcester State the beat goes on. The Gulls and Lancers are 5-0. Endicott stayed that way in surprisingly easy fashion, whipping a good Curry team on the road 55-7.
 
They did it in record-breaking style. Phil Konopka threw for five touchdowns and 385 yards, eclipsing his own school record of 297 yards. Mike Murphy caught seven passes for 202 yards and one of the touchdowns.
 
The Gulls had a 28-0 lead before the end of the first quarter.
 
They even set an NEFC record, courtesy of Dylan Rushe's 55-yard field goal. The previous long in the league was 52 yards. He got his chance to set the mark after the Gulls lined up for a 50-yard field goal only to have an offensive lineman jump too early.
 
"He's got a hell of a leg," Endicott coach JB Wells said.
 
"It was a game where everything went our way, Knopka broke all our passing records by halftime.
 
"The guys did a good job of not being complacent. They kept their foot on the gas pedal."
 
Curry was a big game as the Colonels were also unbeaten in the league and against Division III competition overall.
 
"Our players were very, very motivated," Wells said.  "The theme of the week was that Curry is a very emotional game, but not to have our emotions play with what we were trying to do."
 
There was a ground game to complement Konopka's aerial show led by Mike Lane's 162 rushing yards as Gulls amassed 652 yards of total offense. And at Worcester State, the Lancers stayed unbeaten by taking down Maine Maritime, 39-22.
 
The Mariners don't lose very often, but they ran into Worcester quarterback Tony Tokarz. He threw for three scores and ran for two more. Marcus Price rushed for 148 yards, his fifth straight 100-yard game.
 
Bears defense is Golden
Western New England carved out a huge win and did it with defense against a Salve Regina team whose own defense is its calling card. The defensive struggle saw Western New England win 12-9 with Bryce Brown scoring the game's only touchdown from a yard out.
 
The honor roll is long for the WNE defense but Todd Krolikowski was a leader with nine tackles, including three for a loss with a sack. He also forced a fumble.
 
It was a big win because it has the Golden Bears at 2-0 in the Boyd Division of the NEFC.
  
Things were pretty defensive when Westfield State and Bridgewater State got together, too. Kennan Startzell booted a 34-yard field goal to give Westfield a 3-0 lead and it proved to be the difference.
 
A field goal also proved to be the difference for Mass-Dartmouth in a 31-29 victory over MIT. It was a 45-yarder provided by Edgar Osols with 21 seconds left that rescued the Corsairs.
 
Patrick Orlando rushed for 123 yards for UMD and MIT's Jak Laux had 16 tackles and broke up a pass.
 
Mulcahy Does It All
Christian Mulcahy did a little of everything for Plymouth State in its 27-14 victory over Nichols. He had two interceptions, four pass breakups, nailed four of five PATs, took a kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown and did the kicking and punting for the Panthers.
 
Andrew Foglia rushed for 134 yards and a touchdown for the Panthers and Mike Rubalcaba had 16 tackles for the Bison.
 
Brian McDonald also did plenty for Fitchburg State. He threw two TD passes, both to Jeremy Kimber, and ran for another in a 28-21 victory over Coast Guard.
 
Bantams Proctect the Barnyard
Nobody wins at home quite like Trinity. When the Bantams beat Williams 21-13 it marked their 40th straight victory at Jessee Miller Field, tying Mount Union for the longest home winning streak in the nation.
 
But the game was a lot more significant than extending that impressive win streak. Most often it is the winner of the Trinity-Williams game that goes on to win the New England Small College Athletic Conference crown.
 
Evan Bunker led the way by running for 132 yards and a touchdown and Hedley Jennings tossed two touchdown passes.
 
Euphoria at Hamilton
Being 2-0 at places like Amherst, Williams and Trinity is pretty much business as usual. Those programs breathe that air all the time.
 
When Hamilton edged Wesleyan 7-6, it marked the first time since 1992 that the Continentals have been 2-0.
 
"I think it's safe to say that there's some excitement and interest on campus that hasn't been there," Hamilton coach Steve Stetson said.
 
Quarterback Jordan Eck has been a big part of the start.
 
"He hasn't turned the ball over yet," Stetson said. "He held onto it a little too long a  few times and took the sack when he should have thrown it away. Other than that, he's been wonderful."
 
Mike McDonald had a staggering 21 tackles for the Continentals.
 
LaDarius Drew was a workhorse for Wesleyan with 146 yards on 36 carries.
 
Oh Lord, 600!
The Amherst Lord Jeffs reached a milestone, beating Bowdoin 20-3 for the program's 600th victory.
 
Jimmy Garvey's field goal gave the Polar Bears a 3-0 lead, but the rest of the day belonged to the Jeffs. Eric Bunker rushed for 134 yards and Matt Pieterse, Kevin Heller and Greg Kutzin each had an interception for Amherst.
 
Bates downsizes Jumbos
Bates got a combined 167 yards rushing from Patrick George and Trevor Smith. Each also scored a touchdown in helping the Bobcats to a 28-9 win over Tufts.  Smith also passed for two scores.
 
Bates' NESCAC Maine brethren Colby did not fare as well as the White Mules ran into Middlebury quarterback McCallum Foote. He gave the Panther faithful plenty to yell about in the home opener by throwing for 380 yards and four touchdowns. Billy Chapman was his prime target with 10 catches for 139 yards and a touchdown. Remi Ashkar complemented the pass game by rushing for 119 yards and a score.
 
0-23 and plenty of respect
After Castleton outgunned Anna Maria 56-52 the previous week, Castleton coach Marc Klatt gathered his Spartans at midfield and told them, "That's a good football team over there. They just came up a little bit short."
 
Anna Maria, which began football in 2009, is 0-23 and still looking for its first win. And again, they came up just short, falling to Gallaudet 48-40 in three overtimes.
 
This loss was maybe more excruciating than the one to Castleton that saw the Spartans score the winning touchdown with 15 seconds left.
 
This time the AmCats had a 34-13 lead only to see Gallaudet fashion an incredible comeback.
 
Then, Tony Tatum had to make an interception in the end zone in the final overtime to preserve the win.
 
Gallaudet's Gabriel Paulone passed for 114 yards and a touchdown and ran for two more scores. Tom Pangia was immense on defense for the Bison with 15 tackles and an interception that he returned for 61 yards.
 
SUNY-Maritime ran over Castleton, 56-14 as Jamie Spanopoulos rushed for 102 yards and a touchdown.
 
The Privateers, 10-0 in the regular season in 2010, were opening the ECFC campaign.
 
Also in the ECFC, Mike Lichten got his first win at Becker as the Hawks beat Husson 20-14 behind Tyler Lafelice who ran for 151 yards and two touchdowns.
 
Norwich, the preseason favorite along with SUNY-Maritime in the league, had a big win against Mount Ida to go to 2-0 in the conference.
 
The Big Games
Trinity guns for its 41st straight home victory, but most importantly it is a matchup of 2-0 teams. The surprise here is that Hamilton is one of them.
 
"We think if we don't turn the ball over that we can play with anybody," Stetson said.
 
Norwich risks its 2-0 ECFC record at Castleton's Spartan Stadium in the battle for the Maple Sap Bucket.
 
This trophy game might be young in its third year, but it doesn't feel that way to everybody. Many view it as an extension of the 100-year-old rivalry between Norwich and Middlebury that ceased in 1991 when the NESCAC no longer allowed nonconference games.
 
The Norwich-Middlebury game drew huge crowds every November with deer hunters literally coming out of the woods to attend.
 
The rivalry was missed and the new version of Vermont's football squabble is appreciated.
 
Quick kicks: Framingham head coach Tom Kelley's son Michael is on the staff at Mass. Maritime. They were named honorary captains and met at midfield for the coin toss. ... This is the 51st season that Middlebury  athletes are picking up Butch Varno and bringing him to football games. Varno has cerebral palsy and the tradition began in 1961 when his grandmother was wheeling him home from a football game and was unable to push him all the way home because it began snowing. A student named Roger Ralph picked them up and brought them home and Butch has been transported to Panther games my students ever since.

 

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