As it opened its 18th season of Division I FCS football, the Northeast Conference appeared to only get stronger. Six of the NEC’s seven teams kicked off the season in Week 1, which wound up being a pretty good opening act for the league.
Despite the Sports Network’s prediction of an 0-and-6 Week 1 for NEC teams, the league posted one of its best opening week win percentages in recent memory by going 4-and-2.
Sure, Robert Morris and Central Connecticut both suffered setbacks at the hands of FCS Top 25 teams, but, then again, so did Oregon State and Kansas State.
Hey, at least, RMU and CCSU can say they lost to top-tier FCS programs ON THE ROAD. The Beavers and Wildcats fell at home!
Anyway, enough dwelling on who NEC’s teams didn’t beat in Week 1. There’s plenty to look at in terms of who NEC teams defeated in their openers.
Two of the six games on the Week 1 docket put NEC teams up against members of the rival Patriot League. Both completing late comebacks, Wagner and Bryant gave the NEC an early-season 2-0 advantage over its PL counterparts.
Trailing 21-7 at halftime, Wagner stormed back with 21 unanswered points to top Georgetown on Grymes Hill. A defensive touchdown tied it before preseason all-NEC running back Dominique Williams capped his 162-yard rushing day by giving the Seahawks their first lead of the day on a six-yard TD burst with 2:49 left on the clock. The win was Wagner’s third straight over a Patriot League member. The Seahawks topped Colgate, 31-20, in the 2012 NCAA FCS First Round after posting a 31-30 regular season win over Holy Cross.
Speaking of Holy Cross, the Crusaders invaded Smithfield on Saturday for an Opening Day matchup with Bryant. The Bulldogs took a 14-6 lead on a pair of first-half Mike Westerhaus touchdown passes, but eventually needed a last-minute 30-yard field goal from Tom Alberti to pull out the win. It was Bryant’s second victory over a Patriot League member since the Bulldogs joined the NEC in 2009. Bryant handled Fordham back in 2010.
Sacred Heart and its freshman quarterback RJ Noel went into Marist and posted a double-digit Week 1 win. The signal caller produced over 300 yards of total offense in the wire-to-wire win over the Pioneer League member. It was the third time in the last four years that Sacred Heart has faced Marist in its opener. The Pioneers dropped a 20-7 decision in 2011 after pulling out a 28-25 victory in 2010.
Then there was Duquesne, opening its season on The Bluff against UAlbany in what would have been a Northeast Conference contest one year ago. Riding the arm of freshman quarterback Dillon Buechel, the Dukes posted a wire-to-wire victory over the Great Danes, who are now a member of the CAA. Buechel completed 75 percent of his passes for 309 yards and two touchdowns to lift Duquesne over Albany for the first time since 2010.
#NECFB Week 1 Fan Vote
Postgame Tweet Sheet
— GiantsWFAN (@giantswfan) September 1, 2013
Inspiring come back for Wagner Football. Toughness
— Bashir Mason (@BashirMason) August 31, 2013
@SHUBigRed Big win for Coach Nofri and his staff! Thrilled for them! I know how hard they work and this result is well deserved!
— Anthony Latina (@AnthonyLatina) September 1, 2013
— Gordon Hill (@G_Hill28) September 1, 2013
— Matt Tracey (@T_DollarSign) August 31, 2013
— Dane Faloon (@DaneF88) August 31, 2013
#NECFB Week 1 Headlines
QB Buechel leads Dukes over Albany – Pittsburgh Tribune Review (Bill West)
Wagner rallies in second half to defeat Georgetown – Staten Island Advance (Jim Waggoner)
Noel sparks Sacred Heart past Marist 37-21 – Yahoo! Sports (AP)
Late FG lifts Bryant past Holy Cross – Providence Journal (AP)
CCSU football falls to James Madison – New Britain Herald (Staff Report)
Robert Morris falls in opener – Pittsburgh Tribune Review (Staff Report)
The college game’s warming trend comes to Staten Island – Staten Island Advance (Cormac Gordon)
Wagner College Football Notebook – Staten Island Advance (Jim Waggoner)
Play of the Year?
Duquesne WR Sean Brady’s one-handed TD grab sparked a social media firestorm throughout #NECFB circles.
— Julian Routh (@DentedFretBoard) September 2, 2013
— Breezy – preps.com (@Kzovko) September 1, 2013
— Dylan Faloon (@Dylan_Jose) September 1, 2013
VIDEO: Duquesne WR Sean Brady made an amazing one-handed TD grab yesterday http://t.co/GkOqPyVnaV
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) September 1, 2013
Must Watch: Duquesne’s Sean Brady made insane one-handed TD catch! (VID): http://t.co/26zhkEy88Q
— Athlete Swag (@athleteswag) August 31, 2013