While the Dukes were off, the rest of the NEC was pretty busy. Unfortunately, the league didn’t find a lot of success, going just 1-5 this week. Let’s get a look at what happened this weekend in NEC Football and how things look going forward.
Syracuse 54, Wagner 0:
In the smallest surprise of the weekend, DI Syracuse took the Seahawks to school on Saturday. This was the first time that an NEC team has ever played a BCS team, rare because the 40-scholarship limit imposed by the NEC falls below the threshold that allows an FCS win to count.
Holy Cross 54, CCSU 21:
This game was actually pretty close midway through the 3rd quarter, but Holy Cross exploded and did not look back. It was the rushing attack of the Crusaders that was so potent – three different runners scored touchdowns on the way to a 419 yard performance. CCSU simply couldn’t handle the onslaught.
Dayton 21, RMU 14:
Another close game for the Flyers, though there were a few more touchdowns in this one. This game was tied at a touchdown apiece for most of it, and then the Flyers rattled off two fourth quarter scores and got the win. RMU’s offense simply couldn’t solve Dayton’s defense. In a tale familiar to the Dukes, the backs couldn’t get going at all, netting just 75 yards. RMU QB Paul Jones was also off of his game, completing just 6 of 24 passes.
Maine 35, Bryant 22:
Maine’s quarterback Marcus Wasilewski was excellent, throwing for 263 yards and four touchdowns on the way to a win for the Black Bears and Bryant’s first loss of the year. Bryant was ahead 16-7 into the 2nd quarter, but Maine put together four consecutive touchdown drives and the Bulldogs never recovered. The last touchdown in the game was Bryant’s, but it was too late to matter. Westerhaus connected yet again with star wideout Jordan Harris, who also caught 9 balls for 182 yards. No doubt that any team facing Bryant must gameplan for this explosive combination. I’m curious as to what Maine’s plan was to limit him – certainly Westerhaus’s numbers were a bit lower than normal, but Harris was still a huge factor.
JMU 24, SFU 20:
This was an exciting game, and it’s a shame that the Red Flash couldn’t hang on against 17th-ranked James Madison. Saint Francis leapt out to a 7-0 lead immediately and was aided in their defensive efforts by three picks by JMU QB Mike Birdsong. With their passing game ineffective, the Dukes turned to the running game and Dae’quan Scott, who wore down the defense en route to a 190 yard, 2-TD performance. The Red Flash threatened right to the end, but ultimately the game ended as a St. Francis drive fizzled at the JMU 36.
Sacred Heart 42, Lincoln 3:
The surprising Pioneers moved to 3-0 to start the season as they flattened visiting Lincoln. It was running back Sean Bell that was the star of the day, running over 200 yards on just 18 carries. Sacred Heart was the only NEC team to win a game this last week and sit atop the standings as they are today.
Wrapping It Up:
So as we exit Week 3, the Sacred Heart Pioneers sit atop the NEC standings at 3-0. We’ve seen the winless Red Flash give a game to a ranked team, we’ve seen the favorite to win the NEC lose to a DII team. The Dukes are preparing for a tough game against Youngstown State. The bottom line? Little of this matters until we get to NEC play. Sacred Heart looks pretty good right now, but Lincoln is DII and neither Marist nor Lafayette are particularly good teams. The nature of the FCS, with the huge variation from top to bottom and the frequency of games against Division II schools, means that it’s pretty difficult to judge things week-to-week.
This is all exciting, but don’t be surprised to see the standings flip-flop once league play begins.