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College Football Kicks off in Central Mass

Saturday, September 01, 2012


Assumption's Nick Haag is looking to harass opposing quarterbacks for one more season as a Greyhound.

Football season has officially begun in Central Massachusetts, and several area college teams face tall tasks this weekend.

With three games today and three already in the book soft Central Mass, there is certainly enough football to hold over even the most hardcore pigskin fan. With games everywhere from the Division I to the Division III level, here is everything you need to know about the opening week of Central Mass college football.

Today's Games

Assumption at Bowie State: 1 pm kickoff

The Greyhounds look to bounce back from a losing season when they travel to Maryland for a showdown with Bowie State. The Bulldogs blasted Assumption 28-7 in last year's opener, but return very little experience on the defensive side of the football.

Defense should be a strength for Assumption, which features four players named on USA Football News' Division II All American Team. The biggest impact player of that bunch is senior defensive end Nick Haag, who finished second in the Northeast 10 a season ago with 7.5 sacks. But, it will be tough for him to get to senior Bulldog quarterback Tyrae Reid due to the immense experience of Bowie State's offensive line.

Nichols senior receiver David Gonzalez hopes to help lead a much improved Bison offense.

Nichols at Westfield State: 1 pm kickoff

Coming off a winless season, you would think there would be little reason for optimism at Nichols. Still, Bison coach Kevin Loney is hoping to transform the program after a rough first season.

"We're pretty excited about Saturday," Loney said. "It will be the first opportunity to see if the new Nichols is ready to go."

The "new" Bison feature over 40 freshman this season as Loney tries to turn things around in his second year at the helm. They will have their hands full with NEFC foe Westfield State, which returns 19 starters from a team that went 5-5 last season.

Still, the Bison did nearly upset Westfield State, falling 21-20 at home in last year's opener.

Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) at Curry: 1 pm kickoff

WPI begins its quest for a turnaround season on the road against Curry College today. The Engineers went only 2-7 last season, but took many games into the fourth quarter with the lead. An inability to finish games and some bad bounces hurt coach Chris Robertson's team, but WPI believes it can contend for a Liberty League title this year.

Today's contest will be a good measuring stick game for the Engineers as they face a Colonels squad that finished 5-5 in the competitive NEFC. Look for an experienced Engineer defense, led by senior linebackers Hussein Yatim and Christopher O'Connor, along with senior defensive end Nick Chambers, to keep WPI in the game against a tough opponent.

In the Books

There was some good and some bad for Kevin Watson in his first start for Holy Cross.

#14 New Hampshire at Holy Cross: Thursday

The Crusaders failed to avenge last season's early October loss to the Wildcats, losing 38-17 at home Thursday night in their season opener. Senior quarterback Kevin Watson went 33-47 for 271 yards in his first start, but did throw a pair of costly interceptions in Central Mass' only Division I football contest.

The real problem for Holy Cross, though, was its inability to contain New Hampshire's ground game. The Wildcats rushed for 294 yards, at an astonishing 5.7 yards per carry. Holy Cross will have more than a week to lick its wounds before it plays Brown at home on September 15th.

Fitchburg State at Becker: Friday

The Becker Hawks avenged last season's heart-breaking loss to Fitchburg State with a 13-3 win over the Falcons Friday night. Do-it-all sophomore Kyle Gregg got the scoring started with under a minute to go in the first quarter, punching in a three-yard touchdown run. The score was set up by an interception by freshman Danielle Reyes.

Just before halftime quarterback Robert Baker found CJ Bostic for a 15-yard touchdown pass, putting the Hawks up 13-0 at the half. With the win, the Hawks have already matched their win total from last year, and the young talent in the program seems to be developing well.

Becker's Kyle Gregg excels as a runner, receiver and kick returner for the Hawks.

Anna Maria at Worcester State: Friday

Worcester State rolled over Anna Maria 56-10 Friday night, and the Lancers appear to be picking up right where they left off after going 8-3 last season. Worcester State quarterback Corey Spencer was an efficient 17-25 for 250 yards and three touchdowns, while the Lancers held Anna Maria's dual-threat quarterback Santino Simone in check through the air and on the ground.

Worcester State rushed for an impressive 441 yards on nearly eight yards a carry. Stephen Payen and Kemani Jones led the way with 156 yards and 119 yards rushing respectively. Jones added three touchdowns. A bright spot for Anna Maria was the performance of running back Robert Small who rushed for 94 yards on only 16 carries.


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