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Football Set to Host Rival Merchant Marine on Homecoming

Football Set to Host Rival Merchant Marine on Homecoming

Springfield, Mass. - October 11, 2018 - In a showdown of two of the top rushing offenses in Division III football, the Springfield College football team will be back at home on Saturday, October 13 and clash with Merchant Marine at 2:00 pm in a New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) contest. 

Last Week...
The Pride improved to 5-1 and 3-0 in conference play with a 26-12 victory of Coast Guard at Stagg Field. The Pride's offense totaled 313 yards on the ground as Hunter Belzo (Middletown, Conn.) rushed four 207 yards and a pair of touchdowns, while throwing for 39 yards and a score.  Ryan Deguire (Schenectady, N.Y.) accounted for the Pride's other offensive touchdown with a 26 yard reception.  Defensively, the Pride limited Coast Guard to 0-for-10 on third-down conversions as the unit forced three turnovers and totaled seven tackles for loss.  Josh Corporan (Lincoln Park, N.J.) posted a team-best eight stops, while Nick Giorgio (Cumberland, R.I.) totaled seven tackles, two sacks, and forced a fumble.  Marlowe Scott (Dorchester, Mass.) also had a standout game, making three tackles, forcing a fumble, as well as recovering a fumble. 

About the Matchup...
Springfield has won 12 of the 16 meetings with Merchant Marine dating back to 1995. Merchant Marine was victorious in 1996, 1997, and in 2015 and 2016.

Last season, the Springfield College football team handled Merchant Marine, 35-13, as the Pride finished the game with 429 yards of total offense, including 353 on the ground.  Jordan Wilcox (Saratoga Springs, N.Y.) continued to put up impressive numbers as the fullback carried the ball 25 times for 169 yards and a score, averaging 6.8 yards per carry.  Jake Eglintine (Ballston Spa, N.Y.)rushed for 79 yards and two scores, while also completing three passes for 76 yards and two scores. Jakai Whittingham (Meriden, Conn.) had two catches for 54 yards as he found the end zone twice. 

As impressive as Springfield's offense was, it was its defense that was dominant in the contest.  Christian Zotti (Newington, Conn.)totaled a game-high 11 stops and Nick Giorgio (Cumberland, R.I.) had eight stops, including four for a loss of 23 yards.  The Pride held Merchant Marine to just 104 yards of rushing, 290 below their average,  had 10 tackles for loss in the contest, and held the Mariners to just 4-of-17 on third down conversions.

Back in the Rankings...
After a 5-1 start to the season, Springfield College appeared in the American Football Coaches Association Division III Coaches' Poll, among those teams receiving votes. 

NEWMAC Action...
In last year's inaugural season of football in the NEWMAC, Springfield went a perfect 7-0 in league play.  In seven conference games last season, Springfield averaged 47 points and nearly 510 yards of offense, while allowing just 8.6 points per game to conference foes. In the Pride's 10 NEWMAC games over the past two years, it has only allowed double-digit points six times, with Catholic's 20 points last season being the most ever allowed.

Through three conference games this season, Springfield is averaging 322 yards of offense, including 298 on the ground, and allowing its opponents just 14 points per outing.  The Pride's defense has forced nine turnovers, including six interceptions, and posted 19 tackles for loss.

National Leaders...

Category Rank Statistic
Passing Yards Per Completion 2nd 22.25 YPC
Rushing Offense 4th 313.7 YPG
Passes had Intercepted  20nd 2
Kickoff Returns  23th 24.26 YPR
3rd Down Conversion Pct Defense 24th 0.269%
Sacks Allowed  24th 1.00
Winning Percentage  27th 0.833%
Turnovers Gained 31st 13
Time of Possesion  33th 32:46
Turnover Margin 38th 0.83
Total Defense  42th 290.3
Punt Return TDs Andrew Papirio 5th (1)
Fumbles Recovered Tom Casey 11th (2)
Rushing Touchdowns

Hunter Belzo

Chad Shade

17th (8)

25th (7)

Combined Kick Returns  Ryan McCarthy 18th (406)
Rushing Yards Hunter Belzo 28th (546)
Total Touchdowns Hunter Belzo 34th (8)
Total Points Scored Hunter Belzo 37th (48)
Punt Returns Andrew Papirio 46th (11.2)


Strong Starts...
Springfield is off to another great start to begin the conference portion of its season as it picked up three NEWMAC victories in its last three outings.  Springfield will look to string together four-straight conference games to begin the season for the second-straight year and third time since on 2003 on Saturday.  

In the win over Coast Guard, Springfield's defense delivered two fumble recoveries and one interception, and it marked the 10th-straight game dating back to last season that the Springfield defense has produced a turnover.  In that stretch, the Pride had registered 14 interceptions and 12 fumble recoveries and is +11 in turnover margin. 

Connecting From Deep...
This season, senior Christian Humulock (Narragansett, R.I.) has made three of his four field goal attempts, connecting on one in each of the first three games. The streak was broken when he missed a 42-yard attempt against Coast Guard last Saturday. His 45-yard field goal in the setback to Union that has him ranked sixth among all Division III kickers this year for longest field goal made.  In fact, the 45-yard field goal was the longest a Springfield College kicker has made since Greg Switaj drilled a 45-yard attempt on Oct. 11, 2002 at home in an 18-15 win over Western Connecticut.  The program record for longest field goal is held by Jim diMello, who converted from 52 yards against Cortland in 1976.  Additionally, classmate Blake Heller (North Bellmore, N.Y.) has connected on 9-of-14 field goal attempts in his time on campus, owning a long of 38 yards.

On The Ground...
This Saturday's game pits two of the top rushing offenses in Division III football. Springfield is currently ranked fourth in Division III football in rushing offense, while the Mariners are ranked 12th. Springfield's average of 313.7 yards per game currently ranks 11th across all divisions. 

About Merchant Marine…
Merchant Marine is 4-1 on the season, including 2-1 in conference play as it defeated by Norwich (33-24) last week after being bested by MIT (31-24) the week before. The Mariners are averaging 392 yards of total offense a game, including 287 yards per contest on the ground. Defensively, they are surrendering 348.4 yards per game and 19.8 points per outing to their opponents.  Joe Vitelli, last week's NEWMAC Special Teams Athlete of the Week, is one of four Mariners that rank in the top-25 among all Division III football players in a statistical category, as his 491 combined kick return yards are good for seventh in the nation. Senior Trever Huss is 11th in the country with two fumble recoveries, junior Luke Jamison ranks 12th with 23.83 yards per reception and classmate Gavin Gartner is 25th in DIII with 1.00 field goals per game.