|Dominique's dominance helped
Spaulding stuff Becker's offense.
Mount Ida athletics photo
There is a 'D' right in the middle of Ida and it's screaming.
The Mount Ida Mustangs were one of several teams with outstanding defensive performances. Mount Ida, Wesleyan, Curry and Framingham State hung goose eggs on the opponent. Worcester State held Plymouth to a field goal and Norwich, Middlebury, Bates and Amherst all held the opposition to a single-digit score.
Yes, there were the elements that helped slow offenses on a raw, rainy day but make no mistake, these teams played defense.
The defensive coordinators get as much credit as the weatherman. After all, in New England's biggest game, MIT had to outscore Endicott 34-29 to stay unbeaten.
One of the headliners of all this defense was Ida defensive end Dominick Spaulding, who had a school record eight tackles for a loss, shattering the mark of five that had stood since 2008. Spaulding's performance helped key the 22-0 win over Becker that keeps the Mustangs in the hunt for the ECFC title.
The Mustangs also had 20 tackles for a loss as a team.
"That is a pretty ridiculous number," Mount Ida coach Mike Landers said.
"He's a force for us," Landers said of Spaulding.
Spaulding has also been used as a linebacker.
"We have been moving our pieces around," Landers said.
Mamour Samb is another of the moveable pieces. When the Mustangs play one of the league's triple option teams, Gallaudet or SUNY-Maritime, he is a strong safety. Now, he is an outside linebacker.
He had 10 tackles, three for a loss, against the Hawks.
Samb is called "Moo Moo" in the Mustang family, but he's more cheetah than cow.
"He is fast," Landers said of the sophomore. "We have a fast front seven and he fits the mold of those guys up front. He is physical in the run game and he is great in coverage."
The Ida defense is successful because of the discipline.
"The kids are doing a good job of buying in," Landers said. "They are not ball chasing. They are all doing their job."
Defense also was the theme of Bates' win as the Bobcats got past rival Bowdoin 10-7 in the 117th meeting.
Bobcat coach Mark Harriman credited linebackers Aaron Cuomo and Mark Upton with leading the effort.
"They both had very good games," Harriman said. "It is always a big game and a tough place to go to and play."
Worcester State thumped Plymouth 36-3 and Bryan Narcisse was as responsible as anyone for keeping the Panthers out of the end zone. He had 13 tackles with two sacks.
Worcester coach Brien Cullen appreciates his bookends. Narcisse and the other defensive end Zac Skerry are cogs in the Lancer defense as senior leaders.
"His speed is his big thing," Cullen said of Narcisse.
Cullen began to notice Narcisse at a football camp he worked. Then, Narcisse began at Dean Junior College but was injured so came to Worcester State with four years of eligibility intact.
Curry got its first win with some spectacular defensive performances in upsetting Western New England 7-0. Dylan Spence and Parrish Rogers-Reed had 13 tackles apiece. Devin Williams made nine tackles and returned an interception 46 yards.
Amherst pinned a second straight home loss on Trinity by a score of 7-6 as Jaymie Spears picked off another pass for the undefeated Lord Jeffs. He has five interceptions on the season.
There were points, too
It was not all defense. Westfield State trimmed Westfield State 28-14 as Mike Mercadante continued to punish defenses. He ran for 171 yards and two touchdowns and Steve Guercio threw two TD passes for the Owls.
Pat Viencik tossed four touchdown passes for Worcester State as did Matt Milano for Middlebury in the Panthers' 37-9 win at Hamilton.
Matt Silva had three scoring passes for Framingham.
Curry's win came in overtime as Mike O'Hearn's 13-yard TD connection with Rocco Lagelle provided the only score of the day.
Western Connecticut's blue chip back Tory Mack ran for two scores as the Colonials topped UMass-Dartmouth 30-14.
Sam Pascale rushed for a career-high 172 yards and two scores and Rory McEntee made 12 tackles to lead Salve Regina to its 21-19 win over Maine Maritime.
Lou Stevens rushed for 191 yards to help Wesleyan to a 22-0 win over Williams in a Little Three Game. Wesleyan goes to 6-1.
It was the connection of Alex Snyder and Greg Lanzillo for Tufts. They combined on three TD passes in the 28-7 win over Colby.
Husson stayed unbeaten in the ECFC but had to battle back as Anna Maria took a 14-0 lead. John Smith had 189 rushing yards in the 42-20 win.
Castleton capsized SUNY-Maritime 30-24 as Kevin Alberque had 110 receiving yards with his touchdown catch. Ryan Stanek had 16tackles and Darren Callen 12 for the Spartan defense.
Al Georgio ran for 143 yards and two touchdowns to help Norwich to its 19-9 win over Gallaudet.
Justin Wallace had another big game in the NEFC's biggest game. He rambled for 174 yards and three touchdowns to help MIT win the league showdown at Endicott. Cameron Wager and Mitch Turley keyed the Engineer defense with 11 and 10 tackles, respectively.
There was some noteworthy special teams performances, especially up in Maine where Grant DeWald kicked the winning field goal with just 1:14 remaining for Bates.
He's a freshman but that's not the half of it. "We just started using him last week," Harriman said.
Pressure, Steady rain. Neophyte. Not bad.
Wesley Medeiros made two of his three field goal attempts for Norwich.
Special teams has been a large component of Mount Ida's success all season. They have executed a number of fake punts and this week against Becker the Mustangs scored on a fake field goal.
They also blocked both a field goal and extra point in the same game against Gallaudet.
"We take a lot of pride in our special teams," Landers said.
The big games
It's the final weekend in the NESCAC and, of course, that means The Biggest Little Game in America, the one played before 10,000 fans and watched by alumni around the world.
There's a lot attached to it for everyone from Amherst and Williams, but this is a year where an undefeated season is part of the prize for 7-0 Amherst. And if the Lord Jeff complete the perfect season, they get to celebrate it at home.
But the battle of Connecticut is also a very big game this season in the NESCAC with Wesleyan hosting Trinity.
Husson will look to stay unbeaten in the ECFC with its trip to Becker and Ida will try to take care of business at Anna Maria. Both should win and set up the game on Nov. 15 at Mount Ida where the Mustangs and Eagles clash with the NCAA automatic berth on the line.
"We are not looking at Husson. There will be enough time for that. We're only concerned with Anna Maria," Landers said.
The marquee game in the NEFC has Western New England hosting Endicott in a meeting of outstanding teams looking for a bounce-back victory.
Bridgewater State's trip to Framingham or Westfield State's home game against Worcester State are big games in the MASCAC.