It took a year for Nichols' Division II transfer Jacob Duffrene to take D-III seriously, and this time around he showed up at camp slimmer, stronger and better for it.
By Tom Haley
This Division III football thing is just a walk into the end zone. Nichols coach Dale Olmsted feels that is the attitude Jacob Duffrene might have bought to campus after transferring from Division II St. Anselm last year.
"I think he thought Division III would be an easier time. He didn't come to camp in the best shape, and he found out we've got some players, too," Olmsted said.
This year Duffrene came to camp 20 pounds lighter. The payoff was a 19-13 victory over Westfield State in Friday night's opener, during which ran Duffrene ran for one touchdown and caught a pass for another.
It was the fifth win in a row for Nichols, a program that had been starved for victories before last season when the Bison went 6-4. In fact, this was the first five-game winning streak for the program since 2001.
Nothing galvanizes a campus and an alumni network more than winning football, and Olmsted, who came to Nichols directly from a high school job, has been finding out just how much.
"I have met more alumni after last year than in the previous three years," Olmsted said. "It's exciting."
There is still work to be done, particularly on offense.
"Offensively we have a lot of moving parts. Defense, I thought, would be our strength," he said.
The defense is led by linebacker Brett McEvoy who could become the all-time leading tackler in Nichols history. He branded himself as a special player as a freshman when he made 80 tackles. He had 96 as a sophomore and 94 last year. Against Westfield he added 15 more, had a sack and forced and recovered a fumble.
The question going into the opener was at quarterback where Tony Martignoli takes over this year.
"We had to see how would handle himself," Olmsted said.
He ran for 45 yards and a score and passed for 85.
Coast Guard coach Bill George had the same question as he turned the keys to the offense over to Ethan Goldcamp after the Bears had ridden Derek Victory for four outstanding seasons.
"You never know how a new quarterback will react to the speed of the game and how he will be in the pocket," George said. "Is he going to panic?"
Goldcamp completed 20 of his 32 passes to nine different receivers for 242 yards and a touchdown in a 34-7 win over Alfred State.
Goldcamp grew up in Morgantown, West Virgina, a big WVU Mountaineers fan. He watched the wide open Big 12 offenses including Geno Smith throw for 8,600 yards and 73 touchdowns in his last two years at WVU.
But Goldcamp's own career at Morgantown High was not like that. His team ran the ball a lot more than they threw it, and he was a game manager.
Still, he threw enough there to impress George.
"On his high school tape, I liked what he threw," George said.
George already had a snapshot. Goldcamp had to step in when Victory was sidelined and nearly led the team to a great comeback win against Catholic.
"We knew he had talent," George said.
Western Connecticut's long road
Western Connecticut had bus trouble, delaying the kickoff in Oneonta, New York, against Hartwick.
Then, the offense was delayed and the Colonials fell behind Hartwick 28-0.
They rallied for a 48-47 victory as Quinn Fleeting passed for 375 yards, Kyle McKinnon rushed for 116, and Austin Calamita had 110 receiving yards and caught two of Fleeting's five touchdown passes.
Ida's 'D' stands tall
Mount Ida's Mike Pina tossed a 20-yard touchdown pass to Oscar Lopez with 20 seconds left in the half to put the Mustangs in front of UMass-Dartmouth 12-10, and that was the final score.
Ida coach Mike Landers praised his defense's work during that final 30 minutes.
"You never know how a team is going to look in a first game," Landers said. "The defense did a great job. Our secondary is really solid. We worked hard for this one."
Josh David, Kahlil Bowes and DeSean Hart had interceptions for Mount Ida.
SUNY Maritime hung 59 points on Maine Maritime as Thomas Wright completed 14 of his 16 passes for 214 yards and three touchdowns.
Brandon Drumgole, a transfer from Plymouth, caught five passes for 101 yards and two touchdowns.
Matt Murphy made both his field goal attempts, one from 47 yards.
But it was the defense SUNY coach Clayton Kendrick-Holmes was most curious about. He wanted to see how it defended the triple option since the Privateers must see it two more times.
"I'm still not sure we have answered that question," Kendrick-Holmes said.
Outside linebacker Kendal Parker had nine tackles, three for a loss.
"He just plays faster than anyone else," Kendrick-Holmes said of Parker who started playing at UNC-Charlotte.
Quick kicks: Salve Regina's James Dawson was a workhorse with 116 yards and a score on 31 carries in leading Salve Regina to a 35-28 win over Worcester State. Danny McDermott ran for two touchdowns. ... Speaking of workhorses, Husson's John Smith had 30 carries for 142 yards to help Husson to a 20-7 victory over Union. ... Springfield essentially had three 100-yard rushers in its 35-21 win over Western New England in the city rivalry game: Jordan Wilcox ran for 148 yards on 30 carries, Jake Eglintine for 121 yards and three touchdowns and Hunter Belzo for 99 yards with a score. ... Few receivers have gotten more out of three catches. Merchant Marine's Joe Vitelli averaged 38 yards a catch and had a touchdown as Merchant Marine beat Misericordia 56-35. ... MIT's Andrew DeNuci, Ben Bennington and Steven Salvas combined for 8.5 tackles for a loss in their team's 28-0 win over Becker. ... Plymouth State's Zach Edwards threw three touchdown passers as Plymouth rolled to a 31-7 win over Castleton. ... Curry edged Fitchburg State 33-30 as the Colonels kept the ball the final 4:54 after Fitchburg scored.
This week's big games
Nichols goes for that sixth straight on the road but only a half hour away at Anna Maria.
SUNY Maritime and Mass. Maritime meet in the Chowder Bowl, a special game for these programs.
Plymouth State travels to Mount Ida in what should be a telling meeting between 1-0 teams as will be the game between Curry and MIT.