Afternoon Assessment – Reviewing the State of NEC Football Following Week 10

What to Take Away from the Weekend
The 25th anniversary of Wagner’s NCAA Division III national championship was bound to make the 2012 season a special one for the Staten Island-based program.

After Week 10, however, this season is super special for the Seahawks.

Wagner’s win over NEC preseason favorite, and previously unbeaten, Albany means the Seahawks are in position to capture their first-ever Northeast Conference crown.

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If there was any question as to whether Wagner’s six-game NEC win streak, a program best, was a fluke, Walt Hameline’s team answered it resoundingly by beating Albany in all three phases of the game on the road last Saturday.

“I think our kids knew what they were getting into. They knew there was a big game coming up, one that we were excited about, and one in which we knew we had to play really well,” said Hameline, who has 210 career victories as Wagner’s head coach.

“We won all three aspects of the game. To get a shutout against a really fine football team, that’s a great credit to our kids and coaches.”

Albany is still alive for the conference crown, and the automatic NCAA FCS playoff bid that comes with it, but the Danes must win their remaining two contests and hope Wagner drops its finale against Duquesne on November 17. 

Any Albany loss or Wagner win will clinch it for the Seahawks.

Wouldn’t that be a nice way to commemorate the silver anniversary of that magical 1987 season on Staten Island?

 

Who Gets Game Balls?
Wagner Defense
Sure, Wagner cornerback Jarrett Dieudonne earned the NEC Defensive Player of the Week award, but a lot more than one player is needed to pitch a shutout on the gridiron.  Not only did the Seahawks become the first team in more than a calendar year to blank its opponent in NEC play, Walt Hameline’s team accomplished the feat against the conference highest-scoring attack.  Albany led the NEC in both scoring and total offense heading into Week 10, and, despite the shutout, the Danes still score (30.4 ppg) at a more frequent rate than any other league member.  Defensive coordinator Malik Hall watched his unit limit Albany to 103 yards through the air and 188 overall. A pretty impressive performance, especially considering first place was on the line.

Nolan Nearhoof
Robert Morris’ senior defensive end has acquired plenty of accolades throughout his storied career and can now add an Overtime! Game Ball to the list.  The Colonials’ all-time leader in sacks,who doubles as a two-time Academic All-American, was virtually unstoppable in the 2012 edition of the Steel City Showdown.  Constantly harassing Duquesne quarterback Sean Patterson throughout Robert Morris’ 17-13 victory, Nearhoof recorded 11 tackles, 2.5 TFL and three quarterback hurries.  Nearhoof’s play has only helped the development of the Colonials’ young secondary. He was being his normal, disruptive self when freshman Marcelis Branch picked off a fourth-quarter pass at RMU’s 30.

Jordan Harris
Harris adds his league-leading  third Overtime! Game Ball of the season only days after the junior receiver added to his NEC highs in receiving yards (950) and touchdown catches (12).  Now only 50 yards away from producing the NEC’s first 1,000-yard receiving season since 2005 when three men, including current Dallas Cowboy Miles Austin (Monmouth), accomplished the feat, Harris made three receptions for 141 yards and two touchdowns in the Bulldogs’ Week 10 win over Sacred Heart.  Harris, who has been a big-play machine for the Bulldogs as evidenced by his 20.7 yards per catch, has two 200-yard receiving games to his credit this fall and is 31 yards away from taking over fifth place on the conference’s career receiving leader board.  Harris (2,411) has former Saint Francis (PA) receiver Antoine Rivera (2,441) in his crosshairs heading into Week 11, and, with one more year of eligibility remaining, he can seriously threaten Michael Caputo’s all-time record (3,464).

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Harris (above) keeps on climbing.

 

Pigskin Tweets of the Week

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What a victory it was for the Wagner Seahawks. With first-place on the line, Wagner topped Albany for only the second time ever.  As Wagner’s starting quarterback notes in his tweet above, the Seahawks were playing with heavy hearts as a result of the destruction that Hurricane Sandy brought to Staten Island.

 

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Glad to know that this Wagner super fan is safe and well. She, and the entire Staten Island community, has every reason to be proud of what the Seahawks were able to overcome and accomplish during Week 10.

 

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Being able to watch your favorite team in the NEC-TV Featured Football Game of the Week makes any Saturday complete.

 

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This former Bryant signal caller salutes the Bulldogs’ current senior class, which led the team to a victory over Sacred Heart in its final home appearance.

 

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A level-headed take from this Albany fan and Capital Region news anchor.  Yes, football is a wonderful pastime, but there are more important things in life.

 

Three Points of Prep for the Week Ahead
McCoy Making History: Duquesne senior running back Larry McCoy (4,405) is 56 yards away from taking over second place on the Northeast Conference’s all-time rushing list.  The No. 1 rusher in Dukes’ history will look to surpass former Wagner great Rick Sarille (4,460) when Duquesne hosts the team with whom it shared the 2011 NEC title.  Albany, however, is one of the NEC’s tougher teams to run against.  The Danes rank second in rushing defense and are holding opponents to a league-low 3.4 yards per carry.

Last Call: The Northeast Conference television schedule will come to a close at the Jersey Shore in Week 11.  Monmouth will host Saint Francis (PA) in what will be the Hawks’ first game since Hurricane Sandy ravaged the New Jersey coastline.  Be sure to tune in beginning at 12:00 pm on November 10 on Fox College Sports or ESPN3.  Information on recovery efforts and how you can help will be disseminated throughout the broadcast.

Patriot Games:  First-place Wagner will step out of conference this week to play the final non-NEC game on its regular season schedule.  The Seahawks will host Patriot League member Holy Cross in what will be one of eight games between members of the two conferences this fall.  The Patriot League currently holds a 4-2 edge in the series, which includes Georgetown’s 13-10 Week 2 win over Wagner.  Bryant, which visit Bucknell in Week 12, will play the final chapter of the season series between the NEC and Patriot League.

– November 7, 2012 –

 

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