|Salve Regina will meet
Framingham State with a playoff bid on the line.
Salve Regina athletics photo
Everyone wants to be playing late in November. Holiday dreams dance under helmets at Salve Regina, Framingham State, Mount Ida and Castleton State. Those are the teams in the New England Football Conference and the Eastern Collegiate Football Conference that still have that dream.
There are other teams in other places that even dare dream of playing in December. But in the NEFC and ECFC the realistic goal is getting to the national playoffs and trying to win a first-round game, striking a blow for a conference seeking respect.
Salve Regina goes to Framingham State to play in the final NEFC Championship Game where the prize is a spot in the playoffs. Castleton hosts Ida where the prize is also the playoff berth.
Castleton will be without quarterback Shane Brozowski who fractured his fibula on Saturday against Husson. Brozowski is among the statistical leaders in several NCAA categories and has been mentioned as a Gagliardi candidate.
There is one NEFC performer whose season will extend into December. MIT offensive lineman Ethan Peterson will be one of the 15 finalists for the William V. Campbell Trophy at the Waldorf Astoria in New York City on Dec. 4. Peterson will be on the big stage with such luminaries as USC's Matt Barkley, Nebraska's Ryan Burkhead and Notre Dame's Manti Te'o. Peterson will be one of two Division III players among the 15 finalists, the other being Mount Union safety Nick Driskill.
The Campbell Trophy is sponsored by the National Football Foundation and goes to the nation's top Scholar-Athlete across all divisions.
Peterson, a three-year starter and two-year captain for the Engineers, carries a 3.83 grade point average in the double majors of nuclear engineering and physics.
MIT coach Chad Martinovich was recruiting Peterson for RPI when he was an assistant coach there.
He and Peterson wound up at MIT at the same time. Peterson's final three choices were RPI, MIT and Cornell. He visited Cornell and found that most football players were not engineering majors. They were in the programs of communications or political science.
"Almost all the players at MIT were engineering majors. The culture at MIT was a lot more conducive to me," Peterson said. "I wanted to play football, but I didn't want to commit to it at the level at Cornell."
MIT finished the season at 5-4 and Peterson sees the future of the program as a bright one.
"I am the only senior on offense and there is only one on the defensive side of the ball," Peterson said.
The Ida-Castleton matchup pits the Mustangs with one conference loss against a Castleton team that is unbeaten in the league. The winner will get the big prize as the result of the head-to-head tiebreaker.
The big story of the game, of course, is the absence of Brozowski.
The job of trying to fill the void falls to freshman George Busharis. He came on when Brozowski was injured with the score 14-14. Busharis quickly threw a 50-yard scoring pass to Brandon Boyle to put the Spartans in front on the way to a 34-14 victory at Husson.
"I feel bad for Shane. It's a terrible way for him to end his career," Castleton coach Marc Klatt said.
"But our players have a lot of confidence in George. When he got in he showed us a lot of the same things we saw in him when we recruited him. He was very composed."
Busharis completed seven of his 10 passes.
Klatt said Brozowski's role will now be to mentor the other quarterbacks.
"Our kids now have to step up and play bigger roles. This is all part of it," Klatt said. "We feel very confident in George."
"Our philosophy is to run the football first and be physical in our play," Mount Ida coach Mike Landers said.
He calls Scott Drosendahl "a complete quarterback" and he has hurt defenses with his arm and legs this season.
"Castleton's defense has really improved," Landers said. "They play with tremendous effort and energy and that shows up on film."
Landers said the Mustangs will take the approach that has got them this far and not get too far ahead of themselves.
"There is a big prize at the end of this week, but we need to just stay focused on our job," he said.
Going into Spartan Stadium is another piece of the challenge.
"We would love to be home in Mustang City," Landers said. "It has been a great environment for us. We have won three games at home this year basically in the last minute. We have great support there.
"But our fan base travels well. We are going to have a good contingent there."
There is also a big crowd expected at the last NEFC Championship game in Framingham. That is why the Rams are moving the game against Salve Regina from their Maple Street Field with its capacity of 1,000 to Bowditch Field with its 5,000 capacity. The larger stadium could become the Rams' permanent home as soon as next year.
"It's beautiful. It's all been redone," Framingham coach Tom Kelley said.
But Kelley had bigger concerns than stadium aesthetics as he broke down film on Salve Regina on Sunday morning.
"We are definitely the underdog," Kelley said.
But the Rams do have a nine-game winning streak, reeling off wins in every game since the season-opening loss to Endicott.
Kelley debated between resting players and "going after it" last week against Worcester State since the Rams had already clinched the spot in the title game.
He felt resting the players last year in the same situation backfired so he decided to play it like any other game in an attempt to keep the momentum. The Rams won 65-21 and set a school record with 642 yards of offense. Melikke Van Alstyne also set a school record with 262 career points and also 43 career touchdowns, accomplishing all that in three seasons.
Salve did its part in tuning up by whipping Nichols 45-7 as Steven Wilken threw three touchdown passes.
"We are going to have to play our 'A' game. We have a lot of respect for what coach (Bob) Chesney, his staff and players are doing down there," Kelley said.
"This is the last game ever in the New England Football Conference as we know it," Kelley said. "It would be nice to have your name on that trophy."
Bates is enjoying its best season in years and the Bobcats won the CBB (Colby-Bates-Bowdoin) Trophy by beating Bowdoin 14-6. The Bobcats are 4-3 and guaranteed their first .500 season since 1999.
The other Maine team in the New England Football Conference also won. Colby defeated Tufts 21-14 and the Mules did it with some Gordie Lockbaum impersonations. Ryan Veillete, better known as the NESCAC sack leader, lined up at running back on the 3-yard line in overtime and threw a touchdown pass to Derrick Beasley, an All-NESCAC defensive end. It was the third TD pass Beasley has caught this fall.
Trinity extended the nation's best home regular-season winning streak to 47 games by beating Amherst 32-20 as Evan Bunker rushed for 207 yards and two touchdowns.
Middlebury quarterback McCallum Foote continued his record assault. He set a school and NESCAC record by reaching 27 touchdown passes this season. Foote threw five touchdown passes in the 50-14 win over Hamilton in the battle for the Rocking Chair. He ran for a sixth score. Foote went 40-for-58 for 456 yards.
Zach Driscoll was on the receiving end of 14 of Foote's completions and became the all-time program leader in single-season receptions with 73.
Freshman Tim Patricia continued to be a tackling machine. He had 12 of them.
Williams toppled Wesleyan 19-7 in a Little Three contest as Alex Scyocurka rushed for 207 yards with a touchdown.
Coast Guard quarterback Jon Resch got another school standard by throwing six touchdown passes in a 42-13 victory over Maine Maritime.
Robert Baker tossed three TD passes as Becker won its ECFC rivalry game with Anna Maria 27-7. But the Hawks really did it with defense as Christopher McCarthy had 14 tackles and Melvin Booker another 13. They had two sacks apiece.
Gallaudet defeated Mount Ida 29-22 as the Bison intercepted Drosendahl four times. Ryan Bonheyo rushed for two touchdowns for Gallaudet.
"There was tremendous disappointment," Landers said. "We went down there to win that game. We weren't thinking about Castleton yet on the way home."
Bridgewater State won the Cranberry Bowl against Mass. Maritime as Mike McCarthy took home the game's Lee Harrington MVP Award for the second straight year. McCarthy had 254 yards of total offense for the 9-1 Bears.
Western New England's winningest senior class enjoyed a 38-12 victory over UMass-Dartmouth. Those seniors went 31-12 during their time in Springfield.
The Ida-Castleton and Salve Regina-Framingham games have the big prize attached to them, but how can it get any bigger than the Biggest Little Game in America. This year the 12,000 fans or so will flock to Amherst for the Williams-Amherst clash.
Trinity has its own big prize to claim: an undefeated season. That is what the Bantams will be trying for when they travel to in-state rival Wesleyan.
And while Bates has already put the CBB hardware in the trophy case, a NESCAC game between any of the Maine rivals is always special. Bowdoin travels to Colby.