Husson's 'difference maker'

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John Smith has eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark already this season.
Husson athletics photo

John Smith got a bad break in high school. It turned out to be a great break for Husson.

"I had a bad injury my junior year. I broke my femur, and all the recruiting people wrote me off," Smith said. "But the Husson coaches kept calling me."

Their faith and persistence was rewarded. Smith made a visit to Bangor.

"My first visit in Maine was a great experience," Smith said.

It's been a great experience since then for Smith and the Husson fans. He hit the ground running: 1,408 yards and 13 touchdowns that freshman season in 2014. Last year he ran for 1,733 yards and earned the ECFC Player of the Year honor. Saturday he reached the 1,000-yard milestone for this season with 198 yards in a 43-21 victory over Castleton.

There was a the culture shock you might expect that first season for a kid from Fayetteville, Ga., adapting to life in central Maine.

"There was an adjustment the first couple of months," Smith said. "I was miserable. I had never seen snow. They said that was one of the worst winters Maine had ever had."

Coming from Fayetteville, a city 20 miles south of Atlanta, there were plenty of unknowns.

But he immersed himself in the ways of the Mainers. He tried new things.

"I even went hiking. I had never been hiking," he said.

Against Castleton he ran for 120 yards and a score all in the first quarter.

"He is a difference maker," Castleton coach Tony Volpone said. "He is one of the top backs in New England and, arguably, in the nation."

That freshman year he still was not fully recovered from the high school injury.

"I was not quite 100 percent the first half of the year," Smith said.

But from that point on he has only been getting better.

"I've just gotten bigger and stronger," Smith said.

"He is just a really hard worker. He practices the same way he plays. He has a great attitude," Husson coach Gabby Price said.

Price received the game ball after the game.

"We just love him so much. He's a great coach," Smith said.

Not a bad recruiter, either, said the junior running back.

"The recruiting here is getting so much better every year," Smith said.

Smith loves his coaches, but he gives equal love to the guys blocking for him.

"The offensive line is great. We have been together for three years. They make it so easy. My offensive line was opening so many great holes today," Smith said.

That line gave Smith and his backfield mates enough daylight to rush for more than 300 yards on Saturday in a victory that has the Eagles at 3-0 in the league and sitting atop the Eastern Collegiate Football Conference.

Price said the staff knew what they were getting with Smith.

"After watching video, we knew," Price said. "There is so much video and so many recruiting services now. We coaches really aren't that smart."

The Husson coaches were smart enough to be the ones who kept calling.

After all, it is called football

The foot was very much in play this week.

Trinity's Erik Sacshe took five field goal attempts and made every one of them in a 36-28 victory over Tufts.

Matthew Murphy was almost perfect for SUNY-Maritime. He made good on four of his five attempts, and one them was from 45 yards in a 40-13 victory over Becker.

Tyler Rogers made both of his field goal attempts for Mount Ida, and one came from 48 yards, providing the difference for the Mustangs in their 13-12 win over Gallaudet.

Christopher Ludwig's late game field goal lifted Fitchburg State to a 17-14 win over Western Connecticut.

Coast Guard's Cole Austin kicked his way into the program's record book by making all nine extra point attempts in a wild 56-54 win over Curry.

One for the books

Nobody in New London on Saturday will forget Coast Guard's victory.  Records fell in that game that boasted 110 points. It was a game that featured 13 touchdown passes, tying a Division III record.

Curry's Alex Corvese threw seven touchdown passes while amassing 519 passing yards.

Coast Guard's Derek Victory passed for a school record 525 yards with six touchdown passes. Victory also has the program record with 44 career touchdown passes.

And speaking of throwing touchdown passes, Middlebury's Jared Lebowitz has 17 in four games after throwing four more in a 49-23 win at Williams.

Around the NESCAC

Middlebury and Trinity are the only unbeaten teams left in the NESCAC.

Conrado Banky and Ryan Rizzo caught two touchdown passes each from Lebowitz and Addison Pierce led the Panthers on defense with 11 tackles and two pass break-ups.

Sonny Puzzo tossed a couple of touchdown passes for Trinity and Max Chipouras added 98 yards on the ground with a touchdown.

Amherst, after having a 21-game winning streak halted last week, started a new one. Nick Morales passed for 323 yards and three scores as the Lord Jeffs routed Colby 41-0.

Devon Carillo ran for two touchdowns as Wesleyan trimmed Bates 28-7.

Kenny Gray threw for 303 yards and his 5-yard TD run with 34 seconds remaining gave Hamilton a dramatic 26-25 win over Bowdoin. Robert Morris also was a big piece of the win, nailing both field goal attempts.

Bears 5-0 in MASCAC

Bridgewater State had to work overtime but the Bears remained unbeaten in the MASCAC.

Malik Garrett's touchdown in the second overtime gave them the 29-23 win over Plymouth State.

Jack Lavanchy had 10 catches for 136 yards and a touchdown for Bridgewater.

That was not the only dramatic ending in the MASCAC. Chris Hagerty hooked up with Paul Sances with 27 seconds to go to give Mass. Maritime its 24-21 win over Westfield State. Hagerty had 321 passing yards. His brother Shane Hagerty was on the receiving end of 185 of them.

Kenny Kern had 15 tackles with three sacks for the Bucs.

UMass-Dartmouth beat Worcester State 42-26 as Johnny Mims rushed for three touchdowns and Cory Burnham threw for two.

WNE, Endicott cruise in NEFC

Endicott and Western New England set up their big showdown of unbeatens in league play this week with convincing victories.

Endicott defeated Maine Maritime 35-14 with Joe Kalosky throwing three touchdown passes. John Pendergast led the Gulls defensively with 10 tackles and two fumble recoveries.

Western New England did its part by whipping MIT 37-0 as Anthony Service ran for a score and threw for another. Nick Connell added 115 yards with a touchdown on the ground and Obi Etuka keyed the defense with two interceptions.

Kevin Patterson made good on all three field goal attempts for the unbeaten Golden Bears.

Salve Regina also stayed unbeaten on the arm of Brandon Basil. He fired five touchdown passes. That backfield tandem of Sam Pascale and James Dawson continued to pile up the rushing yards. Pascale ran for 149 and James Dawson for 100.

The big games

Endicott has not lost in the league. Western New England has not lost at all. Endicott gets to play at home in the day's biggest game. Salve Regina will look to keep pace when the Seahawks host MIT.

Amherst's visit to Wesleyan is the marquee game in the NESCAC where Bowdoin coach J.B. Wells get to host his alma mater, Trinity.

Husson should have its way with Anna Maria at home as the Eagles look to go to 4-0 in the ECFC and 6-1 overall.

SUNY-Maritime and Castleton each have one league loss and will look to stay a game behind Husson when they play one another at Spartan Stadium.

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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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