By Sam Partridge
The CAA Today Columnist
College Sporting News
The Red Raiders had never had much success on the road against the Wildcats, but this one got ugly in a hurry. The home squad put up 26 points in the first quarter on the way to a 40-6 halftime lead that allowed plenty of fans to spend the afternoon watching the leaves change color.
The announcement that Cowell Stadium will have lights and a new seating configuration was long overdue for a program that has maintained such a high level of success. The changes will allow for the first night games in program history as well as the ability to make more aggressive bids to host FCS playoff games. It is a huge step forward for the program and a much-needed upgrade for the Cowell, which was originally constructed in 1936.
As for the game, the Wildcats finished with 551 total yards balanced by 288 yards in the air and 263 yards rushing led by Nico Steriti's 88 yards and two TDs and Andy Vailas going 19 of 31 for 208 yards and another couple of scores. New Hampshire scored on its opening drive, intercepted Colgate on its second play and scored another touchdown, which coupled with a couple of two-point conversions, made the game 16-0 with barely six minutes gone. Colgate cut the lead to 19-6 later in the half but a 50-yard touchdown pass from Sean Goldrich to RJ Harris made it 26-6 and the rout was on, culminating in a 53-23 final score.
William and Mary at Lafayette - Don't look now, but Jimmye Laycock may have something brewing in Williamsburg this season. The surprising Tribe moved to 2-1 with a convincing defensive effort in a 34-6 road win at Lafayette. Expectations were minimal heading into this season for William & Mary, but the team has used a determined effort at West Virginia to start the season as a springboard to a couple of convincing wins. The Tribe has two winnable games against Rhode Island and Penn sandwiched around a bye week and a game at Villanova. If W&M could find a way to run the table, they would find themselves squarely in the playoff mix at the midpoint of the season.
The game was scoreless when the Tribe took over at its one-yard line with 7 minutes to go in the opening quarter. However, quarterback Michael Graham broke loose for a 55-yard run and the Tribe rolled from there, finishing off the 99-yard drive with a 1-yard touchdown run from Mikal Abdul-Saboor. The momentum continued on Lafayette's first play from scrimmage as Leopard's quarterback Zach Zwelzig was pressured into an ill-advised pitch that was taken 29 yards for a touchdown by Marcus Harvey. The Tribe added to the lead later with another pick-six and once Kendall Anderson scored from 2 yards out with 10:09 left in the 2nd quarter, it was 27-0 William & Mary and it was all over but the shouting. The 34-6 final was another solid effort on the heels of a convincing win over Hampton and gives the Tribe some early-season momentum.
Bryant at Maine - Yes, it was a win, but not quite with the expected style points as Maine moved to 3-0 with a closer-than-expected 35-22 win over Bryant in Orono. Quarterback Marcus Wasilewski threw for fours scores and Maine never trailed but it was a closer than expected outcome against a Bryant squad that the Black Bears had beaten 51-7 in 2012. Still, Maine stays undefeated and moves on to a big matchup with Northwestern on Saturday.
St. Francis (PA) at James Madison - If there's an explanation for this one other than a hangover from the disputed finish to the tough Akron loss from the week before, it better be a good one. Otherwise, there was little excuse for the Dukes to let an inferior Red Flash team hang around for four quarters in a too-close-for-comfort 26-24 win.
Rhode Island at Albany - A new era of football was ushered in as Albany unveiled the new Bob Ford Stadium but a disappointing 19-13 overtime loss to a Rhode Island team coming in carrying a 15-game losing streak certainly put a damper on the evening.
Delaware at Navy - After feasting on a couple of creampuffs in the first two weeks, last Saturday's game at Navy was the first look at quality competition for the Blue Hens, and the result was a return to reality. Delaware has had success against the Midshipmen in years past, but the 2013 squad was not ready for the jump in class after lopsided wins over Jacksonville and Delaware State.
Richmond at Gardner-Webb - Richmond may have overlooked Gardner-Webb this past Saturday and the resulting 12-10 defeat may ultimately be the game that costs them a playoff berth. Coming off a strong effort in the narrow loss to NC State, the Spiders seemed to have solidified themselves as a dangerous team in 2013, but the loss at Gardner-Webb was lackluster and really puts Richmond in a much tougher spot looking forward to the rest of the season.
Delaware State at Towson - This game looked like a lopsided mismatch and turned out to be as the Tigers rolled up their second straight 49-7 margin and cruised to 3-0. Towson came into the season on a mission and they have looked dominant so far and clearly established themselves as the team to beat in the CAA and a threat to make a deep run in the FCS playoffs. Terence West continued to rack up touchdowns as he scored five more on just 82 yards rushing in the demolition of the Hornets from the MEAC. There's not much more to discuss as we eagerly await the next time Towson plays a team that can compete with them.
Stony Brook at Buffalo - For the second straight year, Stony Brook gave an FBS team a run for their money, but as with the Syracuse game last year, the Seawolves came up short in the end. Still, it was a solid effort from the CAA newcomer and another reminder that the program is not about to take a step back in 2013.
CAA PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
Offensive Player of the Week: Terrance West, Jr., RB, Towson
West earns his second weekly honor of the young season following another record-setting performance in Towson's 49-7 win over Delaware State. The junior standout tied a school record first set in 1993 with five touchdowns on just 82 rushing yards in the game. West, whose five scores also represent a new Unitas Stadium record, has now turned in 53 touchdowns in 24 career games.
Defensive Player of the Week: Andrew Bose, Jr., LB, Rhode Island
Coming off a stellar sophomore season for the Rams, Bose finished with a career-high 17 tackles to lead a Rhody squad that snapped its 15-game losing streak with a 19-13 overtime win over UAlbany on Saturday. The junior's 17 tackles equal the sixth-most in school history and included eight solo stops, 1.5 for a loss of five yards and a half-sack for four yards. Bose, who did not play in the first quarter, would add a pair of pass breakups in the road win.
Special Teams Player of the Week: Derrick Joseph, Jr., KR/WR, Towson
Joseph opened the second half of Towson's dominant win over Delaware State in a big way, returning the Hornets' kickoff 95 yards for a score to become the first player in program history to return three kickoffs for touchdowns in his career. Joseph also snagged a seven-yard pass for a score in the second quarter to finish the game with 119 all-purpose yards.
Rookie of the Week: Christophe Mulumba, R-Fr., LB, Maine
Mulumba continued his quick start to his rookie campaign with his best output yet, racking up a game-high 12 tackles to lead the unbeaten Black Bears to a 35-22 victory in their home-opener against Bryant on Saturday. Mulumba would tack on two pass breakups and a half-sack for a loss of five yards as Maine moved to 3-0 for the first time since 2002.
CAA TODAY TOP 25
1. North Dakota State
3. Northern Iowa
4. Montana State
5. McNeese State
6. Eastern Washington
7. Sam Houston State
8. Eastern Illinois
9. South Dakota State
10. New Hampshire
14. James Madison
16. Stony Brook
18. Central Arkansas
21. William & Mary
24. NC A&T
THIS WEEK'S GAMES
Towson at North Carolina Central - NC Central is off to a nice 2-1 start, but wins over a DII program and a start-up won't mean much when one of the best teams in the country comes rolling into Durham, NC this Saturday. Towson has been all but unstoppable so far and that doesn't figure to change much against their second straight MEAC foe. Rob Ambrose seems to have found a score he likes so let's go with three straight. Tigers 49 UNCC 7
Wagner at Delaware - Wagner had one of the great stories of FCS last season, but it has been a choppy start so far for the boys from Staten Island. Look for Delaware to bounce back from the tough day at Navy with another win at home in Newark. Blue Hens 31 Wagner 13
Charlotte at JMU - The inaugural season of Charlotte 49er football continues with a road trip to Bridgeforth Stadium this weekend. While James Madison was surprisingly hospitable to Saint Francis (PA) last Saturday, I have to imagine that coach Mickey Matthews has been working the team hard this week to prevent a repeat performance. Hard to believe the Dukes keep it close two weeks in a row at home. JMU 37 Charlotte 13
Rhode Island at William & Mary - The Rams head to Williamsburg with the losing streak monkey finally off their backs after the win at Albany. I believe most of the league is happy for coach Trainer but the Tribe will not be interested in seeing Rhode Island start a winning streak. William & Mary has been particularly impressive on defense so far this year and should be able to limit a Ram offense that has a number of issues putting points on the board. On the other side of the ball, the Tribe offense will be efficient enough to get a comfortable win. W&M 31 URI 17
Central Connecticut State at Albany - Albany has played three games and the results have been the opposite of expectations each time. Unfortunately, I'm not sure what the expectations are this week against CCSU. The Nutmeg State team gave JMU a decent fight a couple of weeks back and could certainly give Albany some trouble here. However, I think the Danes will bounce back this week, now that the hoopla surrounding the new stadium is past. Look for the home team to play better and pull out a win. Albany 23 CCSU 21
Liberty at Richmond - Don't look now, but this is a huge game for the Spiders all of a sudden. The stunning loss to Gardner-Webb last week has the Spiders at 1-2 and another loss here would mean needing to go 7-1 in CAA games, i.e. basically win the regular-season title, to make the playoffs. That is an extremely difficult prospect and one Coach Rocco and his kids will desperately want to avoid. Unfortunately, they have to deal with a solid Liberty team that gave Kent State a tough game before beating up on Monmouth and Morgan State to come into this clash pretty well rested.
Maine at Northwestern - Maine already has an FBS win under their belt, but playing a floundering UMass team is much different than a ranked Big Ten squad. While its not the Horseshoe at Ohio State or the Big House at Michigan, it's still the largest crowd the Black Bears will see this year. Jack Cosgrove will have his team prepared as usual, but it's a little bit of a bridge too far to see Maine staying undefeated. Northwestern 34 Maine 13
GAME OF THE WEEK
Stony Brook at Villanova - This is the game of the day despite the 1-3 combined records of these teams. Villanova should feel a little better with a bye week helping them get healthy and also watching Fordham knock off Temple, thus making the Wildcats loss in the Bronx in week 2 a little more understandable. Still, an 0-3 start would almost bury Villanova so this CAA opener will be absolutely critical for a team expected to make a run at the CAA title.
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Enjoy the games!