/columns/around-the-region/northeast/2016/thunder-lightning-at-salve

Thunder & Lightning at Salve

Sam Pascale carried Salve Regina's ground game last fall. This year, he's the Thunder to his teammate's Lightning.
Photography by Zan Carver

Sam Pascale and James Dawson form a backfield known as Thunder & Lightning at Salve Regina.

OK, so it's not original. Ron Dayne and Tikki Barber had the same moniker when they ran out of the New York Giants backfield some 15 years ago.

But for what Pascale and Dawson lack in originality, they make up for in productivity. And that productivity extends off the field.

Saturday at Castleton's Spartan Stadium they combined for 264 rushing yards. Pascale had 135 yards with a touchdown, and Dawson 129 yards with three touchdowns.

It all means accepting a new role for Pascale. Last year he was the man.

"Sam was in the top 10 in the country in rushing yardage last year. His selflessness contributes to the culture of the team," Salve Regina coach Kevin Gilmartin said.

Pascale downplays the manner in which he took on the new role.

"It was pretty easy to accept I could get a little bit more of a breather [between carries],"

Pascale said. "Dawson has at least as much talent. He has great speed. We complement each other pretty well."

Dawson is Lightning, but it is not always easy to distinguish which is which. Pascale, in a 5-foot-9, 216-pound package, also has a burst of speed that comes with a crack of daylight, and Dawson can punish tacklers.

James Dawson likes to plow through the front lines on the football field -- something that's right up the alley of this ROTC cadet who has eyes on serving in the infantry

They push each other in practice and games.

"We push each other every day. When Dawson makes a big run, I am chomping at the bit to make a big run," Pascale said. "We are always pushing each other to be better."

Gilmartin is just as proud of the duo away from football.

Dawson is in the ROTC. The junior was sworn into the organization during halftime on Military Appreciation Day last year.

"That was a great day. My family got to see it and they got to see me play football," Dawson said.

His plans call for being in the infantry.

Pascale is heavily involved with Special Olympics and also goes to the Pell School a few times each week to student teach.

"I am student teaching in second grade. It's been a blast. I love working with the kids and every day I am learning myself,' he said.

They are looking forward to the first conference game this week at home against Coast Guard. Forecast: Thunder & Lightning.

Plymouth rocks

When you are unbeaten at this point, it's a good feeling whether you are expected to be 3-0 like Western New England or the 3-0 that nobody saw coming.

Plymouth State was picked dead last in the MASCAC, and the Panthers' record over the previous four years was 7-33.

Plymouth coach Paul Castonia even joked that picking the Panthers ninth in a nine-team league "was being generous" during a preseason conference call.

Yet, here they are at 3-0 after going on the road and beating Western Connecticut 27-19.

Zach Edwards threw a touchdown pass and Jeff Madden made both of his field goal attempts including one of 44 yards. Blair Zentek had an 86-yard interception return for a score, and Zach Ziemba had 13 tackles and an interception.

The fun is back in football in the foothills of the White Mountains. Just as it used to be.

There was a time when Plymouth was the Cadillac of Division III football in the Northeast. They were a fixture in the playoffs. Don Brown, now the defensive coordinator at Michigan, had great runs there as did Jay Cottone and other coaches.

Who can forget the Sports Illustrated cover of Dec. 2, 1985, with Auburn's Bo Jackson, Iowa's Chuck Long and Plymouth State running back Dudek (79 career touchdowns) on the cover as candidates on a mock Heisman ballot? Dudek placed ninth in the voting, the highest finish for a Division III player.

Are the glory days back? Don't start playing the song at Currier Field just yet. But 3-0 is a pretty nice place to be after a some lean years.

Bears still golden

Western New England keeps rolling. The Golden Bears' 32-16 victory at Union saw Anthony Service throw a couple of touchdown passes, Nick Connell rush for 98 yards and a score and Trent Vasey catch two touchdown passes. On defense, Blair Cook had an interception to go with his six tackles.

And while Plymouth has been the surprise of all surprises, Nichols won its second game in a row.

The Bison have endured plenty of futility in recent seasons and the 16-13 win over Becker and two-game winning streak signals some brighter days ahead. Chris Mullins led the Nichols offense by throwing for 250 yards with a touchdown and Alex Santiago booted a field goal.

And if you're looking for another surprise, put SUNY-Maritime on the list. The Privateers are 2-1 and suddenly have the look of a contender when league play begins in the ECFC on Oct. 1.

The Privateers are throwing the ball a little more these days. Thomas Wright was 21 of 26 for 173 yards and two touchdowns in the 20-16 win over Merchant Marine. Matt Murphy looks like a weapon. He had field goals of 26 and 32 yards, and Eric Wallace had 17 tackles.

Rams take down the showmen

Framingham State and Fitchburg, contenders in the MASCAC, had their highly anticipated showdown and the defending champion Ram defense hung a goose egg on Fitchburg.

Aaron Owens returned an interception 30 yards for a score and the other came on a pass from Zakery Walker to Michael Calicchio in the 14-0 victory in Fitchburg.

A maritime classic

When Maine Maritime and Mass. Maritime get together it's always special and Maine Maritime unleashed an impressive overland attack in a 42-35 victory. Jacob Doolan rushed for 154 yards and a touchdown, and Corey Creeger added 130 more rushing yards with three touchdowns. Creeger also threw for two scores.

Quick kicks: Castleton sophomore Mitch Caron threw for 300 yards and two touchdowns in his collegiate debut. ... Alex Corvese had himself a day as Curry beat Anna Maria 42-3. He completed 26 of 38 passes for 296 yards and two touchdowns. He also ran for two scores. ... UMass-Dartmouth trimmed Westfield State 41-21 as Eddie Sheridan rushed for 203 yards and two touchdowns. Harvey Mathurin had 3.5 tackles for a loss and an interception for the Corsairs. ... Danny Higgins and Alex McLaughlin have had some big days for the Bridgewater State offense. They were at it again in a 34-14 win over Worcester State. Higgins passed for 245 yards and three touchdowns, and McLaughlin complemented that passing game by rushing for 130 yards. Jack Lavanchy had two touchdown grabs for the Bears and A.J. Pascuzzo returned an interception 70 yards for a score. ... Darius Adams caught three touchdown passes for Coast Guard but the Bears fell 37-35 to Catholic.

Can we come out and play?

The NESCAC teams have been watching everyone else play football for three weeks. Now, they finally get to open.

Wesleyan at Tufts might be the marquee game. The others find Trinity hosting Bates, Colby visiting Williams, Bowdoin at Middlebury and Amherst hosting Hamilton.

It is a bye week for most teams in the ECFC. The game of the day in the NEFC might well end up being Coast Guard's visit to Salve Regina.

The MASCAC? Can't wait to see if Plymouth can keep it going against UMass-Dartmouth. Some might think the luster is off the Western Connecticut-Framingham game, but that one still could be a very good one.

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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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