Tuesday Afternoon Assessment – Reviewing the State of NEC Football Following Week 4

What to Take Away from the Week’s Results
Albany appears to be as good as advertised, but the Danes’ road to a repeat has some serious obstacles ahead.

While the NEC preseason favorite great Danes were busy putting together a 10-point road win at No. 23 Maine, their third impressive non-conference showing, Monmouth and Duquesne were extending their win streaks to three games.

If playing the No. 4 team in the country (Youngstown State) to a one-possession game on the road was evidence, then Saturday’s wire-to-wire road triumph over a nationally-ranked opponent is confirmation that Albany is playing really good football right now.

There’s also the Danes’ runaway win over Patriot League member Colgate on Opening Day and a victorious showing at Robert Morris in their NEC lid-lifter.

Albany has been successful in all phases of the game thus far this season and has more than lived up to its NEC preseason favorite moniker over the season’s first month.

The Great Danes are doing great things, but that does not mean that other NEC teams aren’t sitting idly by in an awestruck state.

Monmouth and Duquesne have both bounced back from Week 1 losses by winning three in a row.

The former has a 41-6 thumping of CAA member Rhode Island to its credit to go along with double-digit conference wins over Wagner and Sacred Heart. The latter handily defeated Pioneer League foes in back-to-back weeks before opening its league slate with a road win at Bryant.

Not to mention, there are six other teams in the league who suit up every week and thirst for a title just like everyone else. Plus, there hasn’t even been a full weekend of NEC play yet.

The fun has only begun.

 

Pigskin Tweets of the Week

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Now we know what this local news anchor wishes she was doing this past Saturday night. UAlbany certainly did its faithful proud by handling No. 23 Maine on the road. Among the notable happenings that Layton missed out on are: another 100-yard rushing day for Drew Smith, a perfect performance from kicker Sean Kenny (3-for-3 FG, 3-for-3 PAT), and Ryan Kirchner moving into second place on the program’s all-time receptions list.

 

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Guess who’s back? That would be Dorian Bell. Playing back home in his native western Pennsylvania (and playing quite well), the former Ohio State transfer sent out this tweet following his contributions to Duquesne’s 35-21 NEC road win over Bryant. Things would only get better for Bell as he nabbed the coveted NEC Defensive Player of the Week award two days later.

 

 

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Mescall must have had a hunch that the Seahawks would play extraordinarily on special teams during Saturday night’s primetime TV affair at Central Connecticut. Shortly after the Wagner fan posed the question to the NEC-TV booth via Twitter, Wagner unleashed a night-long special teams clinic. From David Lopez’s 51-yard bomb of a field goal through the rain to Otis Wright’s 40-yard average on kickoff returns, Wagner rode its special team to a 31-13 victory.

 

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A factual Tweet from Tony G makes our list for a second straight week. The Jersey Shore sports –writing legend is still going at it after four decades and continues to provide impeccable coverage of Monmouth/NEC football.

 

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Hint: Harmon isn’t the only one waiting impatiently for Saturday’s clash between Albany and Monmouth. #HighlyAnticipatedMatchup

 

Who Gets Game Balls?
Every Week, the Overtime! Blog staff convenes and awards three game balls for outstanding effort and achievement.  The Week 4 edition has taken on a special special teams theme.

Justin Pandorf
Unless you’re an oversized running back who routinely receives goal line carries (See: Mike Alstott), you don’t get much love if you’re a fullback.  You take just as many hits as the man you’re blocking for, but he gets the carries and you get the bruises. Here at the Overtime! Blog, however, we empathize with the inglorious life of the men who play this position and want to show our appreciation fullbacks everywhere by handing a Week 4 game ball to Monmouth’s Justin Pandorf. And anyone who saw Monmouth win over Sacred Heart at the Jersey Shore this past weekend will tell you he deserves it. The 5-foot-11, 245-pound senior caught a second-quarter pass for a 19-yard gain and would later help the Hawks executes some special teams trickery. On a 4th-and-2 from the Monmouth 40-yard line early in the fourth quarter, Pandorf scampered 32 yards on a fake punt play to set up an eventual Eric Spillane field goal.

Sean Kenny
The highest scoring kicker in program history (Herb Glass) graduated last spring, but the Danes didn’t miss him when they were on the road at No. 23 Maine.  That’s because senior placekicker Sean Kenny has stepped up to fill the void left behind by Glass. Kenny connected on all three of his field goal attempts, accounting for the first nine points of the Danes’ 30-20 victory. Kicking on the road in a hostile environment against a marquee opponent can’t be easy, but Kenny made it look elementary on Saturday night.

Wagner Special Teams
The Twitter bit above began to explain just how good the Seahawks were on specials this past Saturday night. In addition to Lopez’s placekicking prowess and Wright’s electrifying returns, AJ Firestone was extremely effective punting the ball in a very limited sample. And it doesn’t stop there. Special Teams coach Ryan Fullen had plenty to smile about.

 

Three Points of Prep for the Week Ahead
99 Years in the Making:
Saint Francis (PA) and Duquesne will put their 1-0 Northeast Conference records on the line in Pittsburgh this week in what will be the next chapter in a long-running rivalry that predates the NEC.  Duquesne and Saint Francis (PA) first met in 1913. To put it in perspective, the Dukes and Red Flash opposed each other on the gridiron 78 years before the NEC was founded as a basketball-only conference known as ECAC Metro.  In fact, the US Congress was still a few months away from passing the Federal Reserve Act (Here’s the Wikipedia Link for those of our readers who slept through their high school US history class) when Duquesne and Saint Francis first met.  Regardless, 99 years later, Duquesne and Saint Francis (PA) will meet again and one of the two will fall from the ranks of NEC unbeatens.  

Contenders Clash in New York’s Capital: If it is even possible for a game to have a “championship feel” in the last week of September, it would be Saturday’s Week 5 matchup between defending NEC champion Albany and bullish Monmouth. Of course, the winner of the Northeast Conference title has NEVER been decided on the first full weekend of league play, nor will it ever. There is, however, no denying the fact that both Albany and Monmouth have title aspirations and both have been playing championship-caliber football over the season’s first four weeks.  Both teams are undefeated in NEC play and have posted notable non-league wins over CAA opponents. The result of this heavyweight bout won’t immediately disqualify either side from winning the conference crown, but it will undoubtedly shape a title race that’s in its infancy.  Remember, losses in September count just as much as losses in Week 12, and with the competitiveness of NEC football being what it is, one abnormal bounce of the ball in Week 5 can be all that keeps a team from achieving its championship dream.

Tweet Your Way onto TV: NEC football will be back on the tube this Saturday and NEC-TV personalities Paul Dottino and Steve Levy will once again be addressing your Tweets.  When Sacred Heart hosts Central Connecticut live (12:00 pm kickoff) on Fox College Sports and ESPN3, fans will have the opportunity to “Tweet the Booth.” Any questions or comments concerning anything related to NEC football can be tweeted @NECfootball using the #NECFB hashtag.  Any Tweet on Sept. 29 with the hashtag #NECFB may make it onto the live television broadcast.

 

– Sept. 25, 2012 –

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