October 4, 2011
Falling through the cracks
|James McCarthy has caught
four TD passes for Framingham State this season.
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
"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
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
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
There was an appeal and Leone was allowed to be with the Rams
for the preseason. "In retrospect that was not a good thing,"
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
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
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
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
"He's got a hell of a leg," Endicott coach JB Wells
"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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Mike McDonald had a staggering 21 tackles for the
LaDarius Drew was a workhorse for Wesleyan with 146 yards on
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
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
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
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
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
The Norwich-Middlebury game drew huge crowds every November
with deer hunters literally coming out of the woods to
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.