By Darin MacEacheron
SPRINGFIELD — Riding a three game winning streak, the Springfield College football team returned home for Homecoming Weekend to take on Catholic in conference play. The Cardinals entered play with a record of 0-6 competing with nothing to lose. The Pride went down early in this one but ultimately prevailed as the better team defeating Catholic 49-21.
Early in the first quarter, Catholic used some trickery to deceive the Springfield College defense. With the Pride defense on their own two yard looking for a stop, Catholic lined up in a wildcat formation with the quarterback out to the left as decoy receiver. Running back Andrew Comeau took the snap in the shotgun and looked as if he was going to run up the middle but instead, stop suddenly and completed a jump pass to the wide open tight end Colin McNulty.
The Pride responded quickly by putting together a 12 play 82 yard drive capped off by a four yard touchdown run by Patrick Ladas. The fullback totaled 74 yards on the day along with the two scores as he and fellow fullback Tim Callahan (22 carries-122 yards) consistently powered their way up the middle to attack the small defensive front for Catholic.
As the score stood still at 14-7 late in the second quarter, it appeared as if Catholic was going to make this more of a game than people had thought. After a three and out, the Cardinals went to punt only to have Shamar Martin surge through and block it as Nick Kneski scooped it up and brought it to the endzone giving the Pride a 21-7 lead and a whole lot of momentum heading into the locker room.
Over the past few games, this special teams unit has been playing well. Not only have they brought back a couple kickoffs for touchdowns, but they have been sound on their coverages and should not be overlooked as the season progresses.
“Ever since day one Coach Walsh has done a great job holding this unit to a high standard on kickoffs, punts, field goal blocks, everything,” said Martin. “Over those first couple weeks we weren’t getting those results but we just kept the same intensity and effort throughout this time so six, seven, eight weeks later, we have finally seen those pieces coming together.”
From that moment on, the Pride dominated. In the third quarter, a few drives after getting a touchdown called back due to a penalty, Nick Rajotte broke to the outside on a pitch from Chad Shade and blew by the Catholic defense for a 61 yard score. After being up 14 points and having command of the game, the Pride finally hit on a pass play. Chad Shade threw a beautiful ball deep down the middle of the field to hit Andrew Smith for the 44 yard score.
Shade had a few miscues in the game but otherwise looked sharp. He did overthrow his receivers at times but found Smith for another big gain later in the game. His decision making was much better than it had been earlier in the season and he was making the right reads to get his running backs into open space.
The Pride piled on two touchdowns late in the game and although Catholic connected on a meaningless 65 yard reception with moments left in the game, this Pride defense once again proved themselves. Springfield held Catholic to a 25 percent third down conversion rate and a mere 51 yards rushing. This unit forced three fumbles and added two sacks to a great performance.
This game had more meaning to this team than just the homecoming game. October is breast cancer awareness month and this was the Pride’s breast cancer awareness game which meant a lot to this team.
“Matt Doyle, his family has been affected by cancer,” added Martin. “A lot of people on this football team are affected by cancer so we were playing for Matt, we were playing for all our guys, and we were playing for those who couldn’t be in the stands today. I think that’s what our core unit was thinking about specifically before we played today, that this game is bigger than all of us.”
This team brought a whole new level of swagger today, laughing on the sidelines, dancing after making big plays. They earned themselves a fourth straight win as they head into their bye week before heading to Maine Maritime on Saturday, November 9 for their second to last regular season game.
Featured photo courtesy Jack Margaros