Under a picture-perfect late-summer evening at Springfield College’s Stagg Field, the Corsairs of The University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth continued to put white lines in the rear-view mirror with about nine minutes remaining in the final quarter. Dartmouth, down 28-17 at the time, wore down the defense of the Springfield College Pride and advanced the football to Springfield’s 30-yard line using an arsenal of slants and halfback runs.
The Pride needed one last stop to make a Dartmouth comeback seemingly impossible. The defense needed one more defensive stand, one final effort.
Defenders hunched over with their hands placed on their knees. The players looked rattled, exhausted, drained of all energy. However, on second-and-ten from the Pride’s 30-yard line, Captain Max Nacewicz did what you would want your captain to do: sack the quarterback for a huge loss. Corsair’s quarterback Corey Burnham rolled out to the right looking for an open target downfield. Before he could find anyone, Nacewicz wrapped him up and wrapped him down.
The Nacewicz sack gave the Pride new life. The 11-point lead felt secure once again. Springfield’s defense was fired up. Nacewicz’s sack was followed by a perfectly defended screen that went for minimal yardage. Then, on fourth down, Burnham lobbed the ball deep to Jakarrie Washington on the left. Washington jumped high for it, but came up empty as the ball and Dartmouth’s hopes of a comeback slowly faded away.
“That’s just us digging deep,” said Nacewicz. “A lot of that comes from Coach Holik [Springfield Defensive Coordinator]. He prepares us so well in practice for situations like that. Series like that when you’re dead tired win football games. You just have to fight for your teammates.”
Soon after the pivotal defensive stand, Springfield running back, Keith Rodman broke out a 56-yard-touchdown run on third-and-one to put Dartmouth to sleep. The run was reminiscent of Ezekiel Elliot’s long touchdown run in the fourth quarter of the 2014 BCS National Championship game. With just 6:16 remaining in the game, the Pride’s 35-17 lead was too much for the Corsairs.
Springfield saw phenomenal quarterback play from senior Tim O’Brien and sophomore Jake Eglintine. O’Brien rushed for 114 yards and a touchdown on just eight carries while Eglintine scampered all over the field for 100 yards in his first game in which he played a substantial amount of minutes.
“Jake [Eglintine] did a nice job stepping up in essentially his first true varsity experience. He made some outstanding plays as a runner and did a great job of leading the offense,” said Springfield’s Head Coach, Mike DeLong.
The Pride offense totaled 458 yards, 451 on the ground, in Friday’s win. Dartmouth seemed to have no answer for any of Springfield’s quarterbacks or running backs. No matter who DeLong put in the game, the Corsairs were unable to stop the option style attack that Eglintine and company employed. Rodman ran for 104 yards and the dagger touchdown and Jordan Wilcox added 44 yards and punched in a score from close range. Senior Drew Brown was good for 61 yards and two second-half touchdowns.
Brown said, “It was a total team effort. It started with the line, to the halfbacks, to the receivers. We all worked together to get it done. It starts in practice. Our coaches demand the best.”
The win was a big one for the Pride after it opened the season with a loss to Western New England University. The Springfield offense struggled in the opening game as it posted just 14 points and averaged a sub-par 2.9 yards per rush. It was quite the turnaround for Springfield.
“It was good to come back and get a win,” DeLong said. “Our players responded well to a challenging week of practice and we stepped our level of intensity up which is crucial. It’s always good to play on a Friday night at Stagg Field.”