It’s no secret that Springfield College likes to run the football. It also isn’t unknown that the offense is capable of putting up gobs of points when it’s clicking. Both of these trends were on display in their 49-42 win over Mount Ida on Saturday with the Pride battling back from a two-score deficit behind senior tailback Mike Davis.
Davis led the way with 10 carries for a career-high 184 yards and four touchdowns including the final three score of the game. His 52-yard scamper to start the fourth quarter knotted the score at 42.
“I was honestly just trying to run as fast as I could,” said Davis of his long run. “I knew I had a guy on my back and we needed the score so I just used my speed.
“We made a lot of adjustments at the half in terms of getting down on the inside and outside linebackers and our offensive line did a great job, my opposite halfback did a great job blocking and it was just wide open.”
A senior from Madison, Conn., Davis has been one of the Pride’s (2-1) biggest offensive weapons in 2012 and that trend continued on Saturday with his offensive explosion. The most explosive of Springfield’s backfield options, it seemed like every time a play needed to be made Davis would come through.
“When he got around the edge he just made big plays and used his speed,” said Springfield coach Mike DeLong. “I also believe there was some good blocking out there in front of him paving the way.”
Mount Ida (2-1) came out guns blazing in the passing game behind quarterback Scott Drosendahl and his talented receiving corps. They flexed their muscles on their first drive, going 99 yards with 86 of those yards coming through the air.
Faced with a fourth-and-one at the 48, Mount Ida ran a fake punt that resulted in a first down. The next play, Drosendahl threw his first of five touchdown passes to a wide-open Dejhaun Williams for a 50-yard score to make it 7-0.
Springfield battled back, answering with a 19-yard score from Joel Altavesta to tie the game. Altavesta took the bulk of the carries once again as he fills in for the injured Brodie Quinn and racked up 69 yards and two scores on the day.
Also filling in on offense for the Pride was quarterback Rob Merckling. Making his first collegiate start, the sophomore was effective in running the triple option and several of his reads led to big plays.
“I just though that Rob Merckling, for his first start with a lot of pressure, did a really great job of running the offense,” said DeLong.
The teams traded blows again when Drosendahl found Matt Valentini for a 31-yard score and Altavesta punched in his second score of the game. Then the Mike Davis Show began.
After forcing a punt by Mount Ida, Davis took the third play of the drive down the left sideline, shook three Mustangs before exploding for 62 yards and his first touchdown of the game.
The following possession, the Pride managed to catch a break when Mount Ida’s offense had a touchdown taken off the board for an illegal forward pass. However, Drosendahl came back on fourth-and-22 and found Williams for a 33-yard score and the game again stood at a stalemate.
Penalties haunted the Mustangs again when two personal fouls turned an already great kick return from Andrew Alty in a first-and-10 at the Mount Ida 12 yard line. Merckling punched in his first career touchdown five plays later and the Pride had their lead back.
Mount Ida — having already run one fake punt — pulled the rabbit out of the hat on a fourth-and-nine from their own 22 yard line. Valentini took a direct snap and blew through the line with nobody to stop him besides Alty, who dragged him down on the five. Drosendahl tossed another score the very next play to tie the game at 28 heading into the half.
“When you make those calls and they work you feel awesome,” said DeLong.”That ended up being a huge play because they ended up getting points out of it.”
The second half did not get off to the best of starts for Springfield as Drosendahl tossed a touchdown and Melquawn Pinkney scored from 23 yards out and the Mustangs took a 42-28 lead with 3:19 to play in the third quarter.
Following the Pinkney touchdown, senior linebacker Kevin Shields tried to rally the defense by letting loose on his teammates, demanding that somebody step up. Something must have clicked because from there on out, the Pride defense did not yield a single point.
“I’m glad Kevin stepped up and I’m sure I’m glad I didn’t hear exactly what he said,” joked DeLong. “Kevin is a senior with a lot of playing experience and a lot of pride, so it’s good that he did step up and say ‘come on, enough is enough.'”
Davis would score his second touchdown on the following drive, taking it in from 19 yards out. After forcing a three-and-out on defense, Springfield got the ball back at the end of the third quarter.
After Davis tied the game on the first play of the fourth quarter with his 52-yader, the defense held again with the help of some Mt. Ida penalties. When the Mustangs tried to run their fake punt again, the defense held, dropping Valentini for a two-yard loss.
Springfield took it’s first lead of the second half on a 13-yard score by Davis with 11:27 to play. The Pride started the drive on the Mustang 33 and a face mask penalty made it that much shorter of a field.
With everything going on in this game, it could be hard to pinpoint what exactly the Pride did well, but that is what Coach DeLong is here for.
“I just hope that each week we can get a little bit better at executing on offense, and I thought we did that today,” said DeLong.
The Pride will look to improve again next weekend when they open up their Liberty League schedule with Rochester next Saturday at Springfield College.