Family has split loyalties

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A cold rain was pelting Middlebury College's Youngman Stadium for the game against Amherst. It was not a day for fashion statements.

Yet, the jacket Doris Rudolph wore said it all. Half of it was Amherst purple and the other half Middlebury blue. One side was adorned with the No. 76, the other with No. 71. She left no doubt she was conflicted. Conflicted and proud.

Her son Kyle Rudolph is a senior offensive lineman for Amherst. Younger son Ryan is a freshman offensive lineman for Middlebury.

Sons on opposing teams in the NESCAC is rare, but it happens from time to time. Amherst fans saw it not long ago when they had Eric Bunker playing against his brother Evan of Trinity.

But the Bunkers were from Topsfield, Mass. All the football was in their own cozy corner of New England.

Mike and Doris Rudloph are from California. They watched their sons play football in Tom Brady Family Stadium for Junipero Serra High School. Who would have thought then they would be making coast-to-coast excursions for entire seasons?

Rudolph family photo

"We're here each week from Friday to Sunday. We thought about getting a house here for the season but Mike isn't retired yet," Doris said.

This year they go to every Amherst game because it is the last time around for Kyle. Starting in 2015 they will be going to Middlebury games for the next three years.

This day was a bonus. Such a big deal that the players' 93-year-old grandmother made the trip. "It's an epic game. We're calling it the Rudolph Bowl," Doris said.

Kyle, as he was heading off to celebrate with his teammates right after the postgame handshake, recalled what he felt when he heard Ryan had chosen Middlebury. "I was proud of him," Kyle said. "I was upset he didn't choose Amherst but Middlebury, like Amherst, is a good school."

"He came here because he wanted to beat his brother," Mike said. "He liked Amherst but he loved Middlebury. He really enjoyed the campus. For him it was the right fit."

But it was Kyle and the Lord Jeffs who beat Middlebury. Nick Kelly rushed for 141 yards and the touchdown in the Jeffs' 7-0 victory as they pushed their record to 3-0.

Kyle has an unusual request for his last game, the "Biggest Little Game in America" when the Jeffs play Williams.

"He wants us to drive that week and bring the dogs, Bear and Buster," Doris said.

She is not sure about honoring that request. They are big dogs.

But it is a big game. One that the Rudolph family has really come to appreciate ever since their life has dramatically changed with the bicoastal football experience.

"It's always a special rivalry," Mike said. "Coming from the West Coast where we have Cal and Stanford, we didn't have an appreciation for it.  We had no idea. I don't think we understood it. There is nothing like the Williams rivalry."

But there is a lot of football to be played before Nov. 8 when Amherst hosts Williams.

And a lot of plane rides and Friday-to-Sunday football atmosphere. East Coast style.

Dodger blue, Middlebury blue

Middlebury's Youngman Stadium has turf so the hard rain at least did not turn the field into a muddy mess as used to be the case when the Panthers played at the old Porter Field before 1991.

They were playing a game there against Norwich in the 1980s that was being telecast regionally as the small college game of the week. One of the announcers was none other than Dodger pitching great Don Drysdale.

Middlebury baseball coach Bob Smith recalled that Drysdale's day did not start well.

"He got out of his Volvo, he was all dressed up and he stepped in a mud puddle," Smith said.

The Middlebury-Norwich game was always in November and nearly always played on a cold day. It was played in front of  a large crowd, much it bedecked in bright red or orange as the deer hunters would come out of the woods for this one.

Max Petersen, who recently died at the age of 80, was the Middlebury sports information director. He frequently told the story of how Drysdale erupted about the cold in the press box and Max had to scramble to find a portable heater.

"He called us Middleburg (on the telecast)," former Middlebury head coach Mickey Heinecken said of the late Drysdale.

Husson negotiates a bump

During the preseason Husson coach Gabby Price said that the Eastern Collegiate Football Conference title went though Norwich. His Eagles found their way around that curve in the road as they beat Norwich in Bangor 20-10 behind John Smith who had 126 yards and two touchdowns on his 17 carries. University of Maine transfer Ryan Stroud had a big foot in the victory as he angled three punts inside the 20 and Stephan Dance led the defense with 14 tackles.

Defending ECFC champion Gallaudet found its stride after struggling offensively in the first couple of games. The Bison launched the league portion of the season by outgunning Anna Maria 53-26 as BJ Flores ran for 140 yards and two scores.

Castleton was also impressive in its ECFC opener, shutting down Becker 24-0. Corey Brimmer had the best performance of his career as he rushed for 120 yards and his first college TD. Darren Callan was all over the place on defense. He had eight tackles, two sacks, recovered  a fumble, had an interception and broke up two passes.

Mount Ida edged SUNY-Maritime 7-6 in the other ECFC game. Tyler Rodgers had the touchdown and PAT. Diogo Dietrich had two long field goals for the Privateers.

NESCAC perfection

Trinity and Wesleyan joined Amherst as the teams with 3-0 records in the NESCAC. Jake Bussani had two interceptions for Wesleyan in a 28-7 win over Colby and Henry Foye threw a touchdown pass for the Bantams in a 19-7 win over Hamilton.

Bates edged Williams 19-12 as Ryan Newson had 11 tackles and two interceptions.

Mac Caputi completed 20 of his 25 passes for 209 yards and Tyler Grant piled up 208 rushing yards and scored four touchdowns to lead Bowdoin to a 33-20 win over Tufts.

Western Conn roars back

Western Connecticut bounced back from its loss in the showdown with Framingham State as the Colonials thumped Bridgewater State with Connor Falaguerra catching eight passes for 184 yards and two touchdowns. Delshawn Williams had a team-high nine tackles, returned his interception 66 yards for a score and broke up two passes.

Framingham State kept it going by whipping UMass-Dartmouth 48-14. Matt Silva threw for a whopping 448 yards and three scores. Hunter Beckmann ran for two touchdowns.

Westfield State pitched a shutout against Plymouth. Marcus Pettigrew had 10 tackles, two sacks, four tackles for a loss and forced a fumble in the 35-0 victory. Michael Mercadante rushed for more than 100 yards for the third time this season.

Salve's Wilken fires five TD passes

Salve Regina's Steven Wilken only threw the ball 19 times in the Seahawks' 48-7 pasting of Nichols but he certainly had a lot to show for it. He completed 14 of those passes and five of them went for touchdowns. There was also a complement to the passing game as Don Buonocore rushed for 186 yards and a score.

 Endicott's Drew Frenette was prolific through the air. He went 27 of 38 for 408 yards and four touchdowns in the 45-28 win over Maine Maritime. Brett Egizi caught two of his TD passes.

And Fitchburg State sophomore Garrett Dellechiaie continues to add to his touchdown passes as the Falcons went to 4-1. This time he threw four of them in a 26-21 win over Mass. Maritime.

MIT handles the road

MIT had gotten off to its first 3-0 start in the modern history of the program but all the wins had come at home and Chad Martinovich was concerned with how his Engineers might handle the fourth game and that first road test.

They handled it just fine, along with the Friday nights lights at Curry. It was another big day running the ball for Justin Wallace. He had 196 yards rushing, averaging 10.9 a carry as the Engineers rolled, 49-20. Peter Williams threw a couple of TD passes.

Kevin Cook just keeps piling up the yardage for Western New England. He rushed for 246 yards in the 22-7 win over Coast Guard as the Golden Bears also improved to 4-0.

The big games

The one that jumps out of the five games in the NESCAC this week has 2-1 Tufts at 3-0 Wesleyan. The Cardinals could be setting up a meeting of 4-0 teams the following week at home against Amherst.

The MASCAC has two marquee games this week. They are Fitchburg State's trip to Worcester State and the one that has Framingham State hosting Westfield State. There could be some points put up in Framingham. The Silva-Beckmann led Framingham offense can be prolific and the key could be if Mercadante and company can control the ball and minimize the time the Ram offense is on the field.

The NEFC has an intriguing game with Salve Regina's visit to Western New England.

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Tom Haley

A seven time Vermont sportswriter of the year, Tom Haley has been with the Rutland Herald since 1987. He was inducted into the Castleton State College Hall of Fame in 2004 and received the Contributor to Football Award from the National Football Foundation's Vermont Chapter. He has been D3football.com's Around the Northeast columnist since 2007.

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