– It's one of the biggest games in school history as Western New England hosts Endicott at 1:00 p.m. Saturday (Oct. 29) in a battle of undefeated division co-leaders that will determine the Boyd champion of the New England Football Conference (NEFC).
The Golden Bears, who are ranked fourth in the New England Division III Poll, have a 7-1 record while the top-ranked Gulls sport a perfect 8-0 mark.
Both Western New England and Endicott are 5-0 in the division with two games remaining in the regular season. Salve Regina and UMass Dartmouth are tied for third at 3-2 in the Boyd standings. The Boyd champion hosts the Bogen division winner on November 12 for the NEFC crown.
Western New England and Endicott met in similar circumstances last season with the Gulls prevailing 23-15 after stopping the Golden Bears at the six-yard line with eight seconds left in the game.
"We need to play a heck of a lot better than we did last year," said Western New England coach Keith Emery
. "Endicott is a very talented team with no weak links. It will take our best effort and execution."
The Golden Bears ran their winning streak to six games with a 49-7 victory over Plymouth State on October 22. Senior quarterback Bryce Brown
(Plymouth, MA) passed for three touchdowns, including two to freshman receiver Kareem Hines
(S. Burlington, VT).
Freshman running back Kevin Cook
(Hamburg, NJ) had the best day of his young career rushing for a season high 112 yards while scoring twice for the third consecutive week. He also caught his first collegiate touchdown pass. Senior running back JJ Jachym
(Milford, CT) also rushed for two scores.
The Golden Bears allowed only 57 yards and compiled six sacks for their best performance of the year during the Family and Friends Weekend clash. "It was a great win in front of a great crowd. We always get great support at home, but that was special," noted Emery.
The Western New England defense is ranked eighth nationally among NCAA Division III programs in yards allowed (220.8, which is third in the NEFC) and fifth in pass defense (115.3, second NEFC). The Golden Bears also are second in the conference in rushing defense (105.5), third in scoring defense (14.0), and fourth in both scoring offense (28.6) and rushing offense (200.8).
Brown is ranked fourth in the NEFC in total offense (197.4) and sixth in passing (121.6). He also is fifth in scoring with 54 points. Junior defensive end James Georges
(Stamford, CT) is first with eight sacks while senior linebacker Todd Krolikowski
(Bristol, CT) is tied for second with seven. Freshman Nick Fox-Edele
(Springfield, MA) is second in kick scoring with 49 points.
Endicott strong across the board
In its last start, Endicott downed UMass Dartmouth 27-14 in its closest game of the season on October 22. Prior to that, the Gulls scored 100 points in two contests, including a 49-0 shutout over Plymouth State on October 15.
Coach JB Wells'
squad is dominating the statistics both in the NEFC and nationally. The Gulls lead the conference in several categories, including scoring offense (42.8, ninth nationally), scoring defense (12.0), total offense (464.5, 18th nationally), total defense (215.9, fifth nationally), and rushing defense (63.2, third nationally).
A trio of seniors, quarterback Phil Konopka
(Shelton, CT), running back Mike Lane
(Medfield, MA), and defensive lineman Kevin Eagan
(West Hartford, CT) pace the Endicott attack. Konopka tops the NEFC in passing (223.2) while Lane is second in rushing (151.0). Eagan leads the Gulls with 62 tackles.
Junior receiver Mike Murphy
(Chelmsford, MA) has a team-best 33 catches for 605 yards and five touchdowns.
Two sophomores to watch are defensive back Jason Silva
(Maynard, MA) who leads the league with six interceptions (which is tied for fourth nationally) and placekicker Dylan Rushe
(Palos Verdes, CA) who is fourth in the nation with 13 field goals.
This will be the ninth meeting between the teams with Endicott leading the series (which started in their first varsity season in 2003) by a 5-3 margin.