Empire 8 goes perfect 6-0

What a week we had to open the Division III football season, not only in the East, but throughout the country.

Out of the conferences covered in Around the East, the one that did the best in Week 1 was by far the Empire 8. All six teams had big victories to open the season, led by St. John Fisher beating the New Jersey Athletic Conference's Brockport State 55-12.

Senior quarterback Tim Bailey tied a school record in passing touchdowns in a game with five as they routed the Golden Eagles.

In the other Empire 8 games, Ithaca beat St. Lawrence 33-3, Springfield routed King’s 31-7, Alfred shutout Widener 37-0, Hartwick got by Morrisville State 31-20, and Utica blew out Becker 78-19.

The conference schedule will be a dogfight every week in the conference, and seeing these non-conference results could prove that.

No. 10 Delaware Valley started slowly against Muhlenberg, but two quick touchdowns in the second quarter proved to be the difference against the Mules. Senior Matt Cook opened the scoring with a 1-yard TD, then linebacker Chris James returned a fumble 16 yards for the second score less than four minutes later. That’s all the offense DVC would need, beating Muhlenberg 27-7.

Matt Cook scored two touchdowns, giving him 33 for his career, tying him with Steve Cook for the all-time DVC record.

In the most exciting game of the weekend, the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy defeated Gallaudet 35-34 after scoring with one second left in the game.

Gallaudet took a 32-28 lead with 1:10 left, then converted on the two-point conversion to go up 34-28. MMA and senior quarterback Derrick Ventre drove 55 yards down the field in 1:09, throwing the tying 11-yard touchdown pass to Chaise Dunn. Kicker Richard Grennen came in to kick the extra point, and easily buried it, giving the Mariners the victory.

Karl Heimbrock had an excellent opening game, rushing for 155 yards and three touchdowns for MMA.

On the opposite end, Salve Regina took down WPI in a 6-3 ‘slugfest’ in WPI coach Chris Robertson’s first game at the helm of the Engineers, taking over for Ed Zaloom. WPI only had five first downs in the entire game, so the offense needs to gel quickly to survive in the Liberty League.

Utica set a school record with 78 points against Becker in Week 1. They also set records for most lopsided victory in program history.

After one quarter, UC was ahead 7-0, but scored 38 points in the second quarter, and the rout was on.

Sophomore Jake Scott ran for three touchdowns, a career-high, and sophomore linebacker James Brain had 10 tackles, a sack and a forced fumble.

Long time coming

William Paterson a season opener for the first time in three years with a 15-7 win over The College of New Jersey. Doesn’t sound like such a big deal until you add in the fact that the Pioneers haven’t won in Ewing, N.J., since 1992.

Two sophomores led the way for WPU, as Ryan Gresik threw for 183 yards and a touchdown and Dawys German ran for 106 yards and a touchdown. It was his first 100-yard effort.

Defense defense defense

Springfield’s Ken Goodwin won the Empire 8 defensive player of the week award after leading the Pride to a 31-7 win over King’s. The senior linebacker had seven tackles, two interceptions and three pass breakups in the Week 1 victory.

Alfred forced six turnovers and didn’t allow Widener to reach the end zone in a 37-0 shutout on Saturday. Sophomore tackle Mike Raplee led the Saxon charge with 11 tackles including two for loss, in the win.

Ithaca overcame six starters’ suspensions (say that three times fast!) to beat St. Lawrence 33-3. The team’s four captains -- Dave Ahonen, Dan Higgins, Thomas Vossler and Dan Ruffrage, and two other starters, Spence White and Jason Hendel -- were suspended for one game by coach Mike Welch for “violations of team rules,” according to Brian Delaney, the Ithaca beat writer for the Ithaca Journal.

For St. Lawrence, the debut for new coach and former Ithaca defensive coordinator Mark Raymond was a rough one.

Great performances

Lebanon Valley’s Ben Guiles ran for 154 yards and two touchdowns in a 42-28 loss opening the season against Gettysburg. LVC was down 21-0, came back to tie it, but it wasn’t enough to avoid the L.

Hartwick wide receiver Jordan Wilkins was named as the E8 Offensive Player of the Week after he caught eight passes for 144 yards and three touchdowns in a 31-20 win. All the marks were career-highs for the junior receiver.

Another Kramer has started to make a huge impact for St. John Fisher. Ryan Kramer, the brother of former quarterback and current assistant coach Rob, ran back a punt 52 yards for a touchdown in a 55-12 rout of Brockport. Kramer, a transfer from Colgate, earned E8 Special Teamer of the Week accolades.

Nice start

Rowan sophomore running back Keith Corcoran earned the NJAC offensive player of the week award, rushing for 153 yards, averaging more then seven yards a carry. It was Corcoran’s first collegiate start, but it only gets tougher in the New Jersey Athletic Conference.

Note to readers: I’m looking for some good East region story ideas. If you see something on a student-athlete that you think would make a good feature for the column, e-mail me at adam.samrov@d3sports.com.

Follow me on Twitter @d3fbEAST.

Jason Bowen

Jason Bowen has 10 years of Division III coaching experience at Wesley, where he was also the Sports Information Director. He currently provides color analysis on broadcasts of Wesley games on WDEL Radio 1150AM and has served as a staff and freelance writer for the Delaware State News in Dover. He has been a contributor for D3football.com since 2006. By day he teaches high school biology. He is a 1992 graduate of and three-year letter winner at linebacker for Mansfield (Pa.) University.

2006-10 columnist: Adam Samrov
2011-14 columnist: Andrew Lovell

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