Despite playing without two of their captains and their starting fullback, the Springfield College (2-0, 1-0) football team showed off its depth and high-scoring ability by routing Husson University (0-2) 63-19 at Amos Alonzo Stagg Field.
The Pride jumped out to a 28-0 first quarter lead and never looked back as 12 different ball carriers led Springfield to 460 yards on the ground while totaling 561 yards of total offense.
Quarterback Josh Carter was strong for the second consecutive week with 106 yards and two touchdowns rushing. The quarterback did a nice job leading a group of rushers different from last week in the backfield, while also continuing to make plays through the air. Carter finished 3-of-7 passing for 76 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.
“Well, obviously, it starts with the line, and they were giving us some good looks today,” Carter said. “Everybody pitched in today. It was a huge day.”
Carter’s first touchdown pass, a 34-yard bullet to freshman Francho Bianchi, who made a great tip-toe catch in the right corner of the end zone, was the Pride’s final score of an explosive first quarter.
It was the first career touchdown for Bianchi, one of four running backs who saw extended playing time in the first half due to SC being without normal starters Mark Safer and Brodie Quinn.
Mike Davis got Springfield on the board first with a 10-yard touchdown run with 11:52 remaining in the first quarter. The multi-dimensional runner received the majority of carries at fullback after primarily being used as a wing-back against Frostburg.
“Mike Davis did a really nice job stepping in for Brodie at a position we are a little banged up in,” said coach Mike Delong. “He’s got nice vision and slides pretty well.”
Davis finished with 64 yards on 13 carries and the one touchdown with a different slashing ability than Quinn’s.
Andy Bean (55 yards) was another standout for the Pride, as the junior showed nice acceleration along the edge for a 19-yard touchdown run in the first, while sophomore Joe Stagliano scored the first of his first two collegiate touchdowns on a four-yard run with 4:35 remaining.
Stagliano (76 yards) showed off his speed in the third quarter when he galloped for a 52-yard touchdown to extend the SC lead to 56-13.
“The offense performed very well,” Delong said. “We obviously had them outmanned a little bit. We made some mistakes, and there are always things we can take away from it and work on as we get ready to step up to another level with Alfred in the Empire 8.”
The Pride travel to the defending conference champions, the 16th ranked team in Division III according to D3football.com, Saturday at 12:30 in what could be the biggest game of the season.
“This is it. This is all we can ask for,” captain James Kikel said. “All we can ask for is a chance and give it all we got and may the best team win.”
The Pride will have to find a way to slow down Alfred’s high-octane spread offense. The Saxons are coming off a 36-12 victory over St. Lawrence in which quarterback Tom Secky threw for 175 yards and two touchdowns.
Alfred also features a talented running game led by sophomore Austin Dwyer who had his second consecutive 100-plus rushing game going for 125 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries.
Springfield should have captain/strong safety Matt Ramos back, as well as cornerback Will Turner in hopes of containing the Alfred attack.
Yet, on Saturday against Husson, the Pride had an impressive defensive effort led by Kikel, Kevin Shields and the return of defensive end Rob Ruggiero.
Kikel and Shields finished with six tackles and an interception each, but it was the constant pressure off the edge from Ruggiero that helped the Pride hold Husson to just 18 yards on the ground and forced quarterback Cash Keezer to complete less than 50 percent of his passes.
“Rob is a great pass rusher,” Kikel said. “He brings a lot of intensity to the defense. What he can do, we can’t teach. He plays 100 percent with a great motor and he definitely helped us out today with the pass rush.”
One of the main ways Springfield will try and stop the Saxon’s on offense is by using their own offense to keep Secky, Dwyer and the rest of the Alfred on the sideline for as much of the game as possible.
It’s a plan that all starts with Springfield quarterback Josh Carter.
“I’m already focused on Alfred because it’s going to make or break our season,” Carter said. “I have never beaten them since I’ve been here, and that was a goal that I had before the season and I just want to make it come true.”
1.) Josh Carter and wide receiver Phil Baier are developing nice chemistry through the air. The two connected for a 34-yard touchdown and now have united twice for touchdowns. “It feels good,” said Carter about the team’s success passing. “When they’re open, they’re open, and you just have to hit them. It’s nice in this offense because, most of the time, they’re wide open.” 2.) SC was one point shy of tying last season’s high of 64 points, scored in a game against USMMA. The all-time record is 82, held by the 1930 team against Vermont. 3.) The Pride begin a stretch of three road games before returning home on Oct. 15 for homecoming against Ithaca. 4.) The Pride are ranked No. 1 in the New England College Football Coaches Division III poll.