Thursday, October 20, 2016

High Winds, Cold Forecast for Saturday's Springfield Game

Hobart College alumnus and Weather Channel Producer Steve Petyerak '94 just tweeted out what is a potentially game changing forecast for Saturday's Hobart vs. Springfield matchup.

Winds up to 23-24 mph may ground the Statesmen's (5-1, 3-1) high flying passing game, forcing Hobart to run the ball more (an area the Statesmen have struggled with so far this season). This will be less of an issue for the Pride (4-3, 3-1) who run the ball over 90% of the time (and will be the focus of the Hobart defense who gave up almost 400 rushing yards the last time they played a triple option team).

Just another twist on what's a critical Week 8 team for both squads.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Week 8 - Springfield Game Preview

The Hobart College Statesmen will come out of their bye week looking to start a 4-0 run to capture the LL title and return to the NCAA playoffs. Standing in the Statesmen's way to start is a resurgent Springfield College team.

Hobart (5-1, 3-1) is 3-1 all time against the Pride, winning the first three games of Springfield's short stint in the LL. The Statesmen did drop last season's game in what was a shocking 35-13 upset at Amos Alonzo Stagg Field.

The Pride's 70 points scored last weekend against the Yellow Jackets broke their prior record of 66 scored against the USMMA, which they accomplished back in 2012. The 117 total points broke a LL record (104) that was previously held by the Statesmen and RPI, who battled to a 56-48 3OT Hobart win back in 2005 (a game I ranked #13 in my Best Games of the Last 20 Seasons posts from this summer).

Springfield (4-3, 3-1) is an established triple option team and has won four of their last five. Helping this turn around has a lot to do with the play of some new talent and the return of starter #2 JR QB Jake Eglintine who's back from injury. The Pride are second in the LL this season averaging 305 rushing YPG and they lead the LL with 24 rushing TDs scored. Defensively they are the third rated rushing defense, allowing only 132.1 rushing YPG but they've struggled against strong passing teams, allowing 187.9 YPG (ranked sixth) and a LL worst 16 passing TDs, which includes the five TDs, Rochester (1-5, 0-4) had last weekend.

The Pride will bring a host of rushers to Geneva this weekend, including Eglintine who's gained 195 yards in the last two games with one rushing and one passing TD. #23 JR FB Jordan Wilcox had a career game vs. the Yellow Jackets (174 rush yards and four TDs) and leads the Pride with 442 yards, which is tied for sixth in the LL. #90 SO FB Josh Thomas has also scored four rushing TDs but didn't play in the Rochester game, so we may instead see players like #31 SR HB Drew Brown, who also is back from injury. Brown had a 34 yard rushing TD Saturday. Finally, #19 FY HB Hunter Belzo is making a case for LL ROTY after back to back 100+ yard rushing games. Saturday he only touched the ball twice but broke off 69 and 91 yard TD runs. Although Springfield rarely passes, only attempting 43 (and only completing 13 or 30%) over seven games, when they have, #6 JR HB Tyler Hyde leads the team with five for 150 yards.

Defensively the Pride is led by a strong LB corps that includes #1 SR LB Kenny Calaj (49 tackles), #9 JR LB Dominic Traversa (49 tackles), and #43 JR LB Christian Ziotti (47 tackles and a sack). #94 SO DE Nick Giorgio is tied for the LL lead in TFL with 11.5 and has added three sacks to go with 46 total tackles. #22 SR FS and Co-Captain Nick Welsh led the Springfield secondary but didn't appear in the Rochester game. If he remains out, the Pride secondary is even more inexperienced, given losses from 2015 to graduation like CBs Anthony West and Joey Racioppi.

On special teams, #89 SO PK Blake Heller has not missed a PAT (25-25) but has had mixed results in the FG game, going three of six. The Pride's KO coverage is average (ranked sixth) but their punter #84 JR PK Walt DeVaux is ranked third in the LL, averaging 36.8 Net/P.

Keys to the Game:

1. Stick to the Script - Hobart will look to spread the field and look for matchups in the pass game Saturday as has been their approach all season. The Pride rush defense will be tough to run on, but Hobart will need to mix in some runs to keep them honest. Clearly the Rochester game tape shows that Springfield's pass (if not total) defense is somewhat suspect. Saint John Fisher defeated the Pride in Week 2 by jumping out to an early lead and completing a combination of short range to longer passes to put Springfield in a hole from which they were never able to get out. Three Cardinals WRs had catches of 17 yards or better, with one making catches of 47 and 54 yards including two TDs. JR WR Brandon Shed's hot start cooled off with only five catches for 42 yards against RPI (4-3, 2-2). I don't think the Pride has the personnel to cover him in this game, so we should see JR QB Shane Sweeney add to their TD and yardage totals.

2. Hold the Pride to < 240 Rushing Yards - The Statesmen rush defense will need to limit long break away and clock killing four to five yard runs Saturday. Playing their gap assignments and limiting gains after initial contact will be at a premium. The Pride are 0-3 when they are held to under 240 rushing yards. WNE (6-0) and SJF (6-1) held them to under 200 rushing yards. In the USMMA (4-2, 3-1) game, Hobart allowed 13 of 21 third down conversions and 397 rushing yards. That's a killer against a triple option team. Fortunately they shored that up against RPI limiting them to only two of 13 on third down and 83 rushing yards. The Statesmen can afford to stack the box with 8 or 9 defenders given Springfield's passing struggles. That'll require whomever is out in single man coverage doesn't make a mental or other error and allow a long gain via the air.

3. Eliminate Penalties (& Mental Mistakes) - The Statesmen need to play a more buttoned up style of football. Penalties that keep the Pride's offense on the field or hurt Hobart field position wise just can't keep happening in what is basically a playoff / elimination game between these two (second place) teams.


I predicted a 45-42 shootout win for Hobart on last Sunday's ITH show. You can listen in to that discussion here. Taking a closer look at the stats this week, plus the added motivation of rebounding after the RPI loss and to avenge last season's 35-13 defeat to the Pride, the Statesmen will come to play their best game of the season. I'll edit my prior prediction and say that Hobart will win the game, 41-21.

Thanks for reading and go 'Bart!

Friday, October 14, 2016

On This Day, 45 Years Ago....

FROM NY TIMES (10/14/1971)

College football upstate has been as crisp and attractive as one of those wonderful autumn days in the Finger Lakes region. There have been many shades of success, from the power of Syracuse and the all‐winning record of Cornell to the surprising achievements of little and unbeaten Alfred and Hobart. Colgate, Rochester, Ithaca, Union and St. Lawrence have sparkling teams and individuals like Cornell's Ed Marinaro and Ithaca's quarterback, Doug Campbell, brighten the scene.

Eastern College Football

The most important major college game of the year in the East could be the Syracuse‐Penn State contest Saturday at Syracuse. But just west of Syracuse, on the northern tip of Seneca Lake, about 7,000 persons will jam Boswell Field in Geneva Saturday to watch what they think is the most important game around: Alfred against Hobart.

Don Aleksiewicz, Hobart's running star, has a following somewhat smaller, but no less enthusiastic, than Marinaro's. Alfred maintains that its quarterback, Jim Moretti, is as good as Campbell or anyone else.

Hobart, which had an 0–8 won‐lost mark last year and had 10 straight losing seasons, has responded to new coaching with a 3‐0 record this season. George Davis, a 1951 Syracuse graduate, became the coach this year after many successful seasons at nearby Seneca Falls High School.

Aleksiewicz, known as “A‐ to‐Z,” ran for 317 yards last Saturday in the victory over Hamilton. A year ago, he went 97 yards for a touchdown scamper when Hobart lost to Alfred, 31‐22.

Davis has Hobart working from the wishbone behind an unbalanced line, the famous line formation at Syracuse.

Alfred has enjoyed plenty of success in the 31 years that Alex Yunevich has coached there. The Saxons won seven of eight games last year and have taken four this fall.

“It's really not all the coach,” Yunevich said. “We get too much credit, though we may also be blamed too much. But without those horses, no one does much. Give me those horses and we'll win.

“You see, Hobart has one of them in Aleksiewicz. He's the best running back around. You have to gang tackle him. He'll give you that old limp leg and you don't know where he went.”

Yunevich calls Moretti, his quarterback, “the best bomb man I've ever seen anywhere —not just coached. I don't think anyone can throw longer than Jimmy.”

“He's got some shortcomings but I'm not about to say what they are,” the coach said. “Let them find out. That's their business, Of course, Jimmy wants to run sometimes and I keep telling him not to. He picks up 5 yards and thinks he's Red Grange. I die watching it.”
The Statesmen would lead 21-7 at the half but the Saxons would comeback and win on a TD with 19 seconds remaining, 28-21. The Saxons would go on to win the Lambert Bowl as the best eastern small college team after finishing that 1971 season 8-0. Hobart would wrap their 1971 campaign with a record of 5-4, the first winning season Hobart had since a 4-4 record in 1960. What's significant about this 1971 season is that it would bring forth one of the best runs in Statesmen Football history as the 72, 73 and 74 teams achieved marks of 7-2, 7-1-1 and 8-1. All three of these teams were recognized by the SAA as "Teams of Distinction" in the Hobart Athletics Hall of Fame.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

A Midseason Retrospective

While many teams would like to be 5-1 at their bye week, the Statesmen were 72 seconds away from doing so as a 6-0 and Top 25 ranked team. Instead, some doubts have been cast after three close calls in LL play and Hobart now needing help in order to not miss the NCAA playoffs for the second year in a row. We talked about this and all the other Week 6 action on In The HuddLLe which you can listen to here.

Also, before we start, congrats to Ali Marpet '15 on getting his first win as a Tampa Bay Bucs player on MNF. Hearing Jon Gruden repeatedly say "Hobart College" was pretty neat!

The stats on the Statesmen so far this season are interesting, if not telling, showing their strengths in certain areas and needs for improvement in others.

The Good:

The Statesmen rank third in total offense and defense in the LL, gaining an average of 416.5 YPG on O and allowing 303.3 YPG on D.

Hobart is the top ranked passing offense due to the outstanding play of JR QB Shane Sweeney. He's completed 60.6% of his passes for 2,011 yards and 20 TDs. He's on pace to set / break several passing records. His current passing yard totals rank him third in the nation and his 335.2 YPG average ranks ninth in DIII.

JR WR Brandon Shed ranks first in the LL with 664 receiving yards and 10 TDs. These same numbers were good for 10th nationally in receiving yards and tied for second in receiving TDs.

Teammates and SR WRs Sean Cunningham and Jack Pfohl are ranked fifth and sixth in the LL with 380 and 348 receiving yards to go with three and four TDs, respectively.

The Hobart OL has done well in pass protection, only allowing five sacks in six games.

JR PK Rio Schmidt is having an All-Conference type of year, leading the league in Net/P with 39.1. 12 of his 28 punts have gone for touchbacks or have been fair caught. Opposing teams have averaged less than a yard on returns, which shows how well he's performing his job.

JR LB Almamy Conde and FY LB Jedh Downey are ranked third and seventh in the LL with 53 and 50 total tackles, respectively. Downey has been a bright spot on a Hobart defense that has not performed as well as prior seasons and, at the moment anyway, has fairly average, if not mediocre stats ranking fifth in scoring defense (22.8 PPG allowed), sixth in rushing defense (178.5 YPG allowed), seventh in rush TDs allowed (12), and sixth in opponent third down conversions (40%). To be fair, the Statesmen defense did a solid job keeping RPI (4-2, 2-1) in check and held the Engineers below their season averages for rushing and scoring. Hobart also held RPI to two of 13 on third downs but ultimately it was the special teams mistakes and penalties that cost them the game.

On the other hand, the Statesmen secondary is the second best passing defense in the LL, allowing only 124.8 YPG and five passing TDs. The only knock against this unit is the fact they've only managed to haul in two interceptions, which ranks last in the LL. One must also keep in mind the fact that Hobart hasn't really played a strong passing team save for Brockport. All three LL opponents played to date average less than 100 YPG passing.

On the DL, SR DE James Hedger and JR DE Brandon Ball are ranked first and tied for third in the LL with five and four sacks each. Ball is tied for fourth with 7.5 TFL and tied for second in forced fumbles with two.

The Bad:

The Statesmen are last in rushing offense, averaging only 81.3 YPG. This in turn has kept the defense on the field for an average of nearly 34 minutes per game, ranking next to last in the LL.

Hobart is the most penalized team in the LL, getting flagged 48 times for -493 yards for an average of -82.2 YPG. It should be noted however that Statesmen opponents have been flagged 38 times for -394 yards so maybe penalties beget penalties? Nationally Hobart is in the bottom 15% of D3 teams (210 out of 244) as far as penalties go.

While he's done a good job overall and leads the team in tackles, RPI targeted Conde in the passing game and had success in beating his coverage. This will be an area that DC Kory David will need to work on and/or adjust his schemes accordingly.

On special teams Hobart is ranked next to last in FG conversions and PATs, going three of six on FGs and 21 of 25 on PATs. The Statesmen are sixth in KO return coverage (38.8 net average) and are next to last in KO return average (16.1). The former really hurt them against RPI last weekend.

Midseason Team MVPs:

Offensively it's pretty obvious Sweeney is the MVP. We knew Shed would have a good season but I will say Pfohl and Cunningham have played outstanding as well, the latter having some of the best games of his career in recent weeks.

Defensively I'm going with JR DB/OLB Tommy D'Antonio as MVP. In spite of his error on the roughing the kicker penalty in the RPI game, D'Antonio has stepped up big time filling in for an injured SR OLB Marcus Jemison and making plays like the two point conversion interception and run back which was a huge momentum shifter in the USMMA game. A close second would probably be Ball who has done very well as a first year starter, both statistically and in general.

Downey is the MVP for the Class of 2020 as I don't think many FY players, save for FY WR Isaiah Hill, have had significant PT so far.

Midterm Grade:

Offensively I'd say Hobart earns a "B" given an A+ passing game but kind of a "C- / D" when it comes to running the ball. Still, the Statesmen can quickly put up points, so you know they'll be able to be in every game down the stretch. Sweeney's ability to stay calm and make plays in close games has been outstanding also, which they'll probably need in match ups against Springfield and SLU.

Defensively I'll say Hobart earns a "C" given larger point and yardage numbers yielded than we thought they'd have going into the season. The Statesmen rush defense remains a particular concern, especially given the types of offenses they'll face in the final four games. The other concern is the lack of turnovers generated such as interceptions which hopefully will go up with two of the top passing offenses in WPI and SLU yet to be played.

Special teams gets a "C-" given the coverage and kicking issues. Punting and punt returns have been very good thanks to Schmidt and Cunningham, the latter of which has earned a STPOTW award from the LL.

The above averages out to a "C / C+" grade at the break, which is not great, but not bad either. One could argue it should be higher given five wins and a Top 25 ranking for a few weeks. I'll stick with that grade though because of preseason expectations (picked by Coaches to win the LL), especially when factoring in the penalties and mental mistakes Hobart made in the RPI game (and in the other league games). Would it have been higher if Hobart hung on to beat the Engineers? Maybe, but not by much. This team has yet to pull together a complete game, which they are capable of, and will need to do so in order to go 9-1 and make the playoffs. Otherwise we can expect another 7-3 or maybe an 8-2 season as a best case scenario (don't get me started on the unwillingness to file for an ECAC post season "bowl game").

Over the bye week, the Statesmen will need to shore up it's rushing defense with Springfield (3-2, 2-1) coming to town. The Pride runs the same triple option offense as USMMA (3-2, 2-1) that Hobart needed a lot of help to defeat in Week 5. The Pride handed Hobart it's first LL loss in four seasons, literally running away with a 35-13 victory last year in Western MA.

I'll have more on that game around this time next week.

Thanks for reading and go 'Bart!

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Penalties Sink Statesmen in 21-17 Loss to RPI

The (soon to be formerly) 16th/22nd ranked Hobart College Statesmen beat themselves in a game that saw them dominate the overall statistics but were they came undone by a massive edge in penalties. Hobart was flagged 15 times for -148 yards, not all of which seemed fair, but that's how it goes. A drop out of the Top 25 is coming up and the Statesmen's NCAA playoff hopes took a hit too.

We knew the Statesmen (5-1, 2-1) had lived dangerously this season so this type of game wasn't a surprise to me unfortunately. What was a surprise were the number and kinds of calls that went against Hobart. The final nail in the coffin was the pass interference call after SR OLB Marcus Jemison appeared to have made a game saving interception on RPI's (4-2, 2-1) final drive.

Hobart out-gained the Engineers 435 to 192 yards, had over three times RPI's passing yardage and out rushed them also. The Statesmen took a 10-0 lead into halftime after two drives netted a SR WR Jack Pfohl TD catch and a JR PK Will McCool 28 yard FG. Unfortuntely McCool would miss two other FG attempts, which ultimately would have won them the game if converted. This loss isn't on him by any stretch as the entire team made countless mistakes - a false start on 3rd and 1 that ultimately cost Hobart a 14-0 halftime lead, roughing the kicker penalties on special teams that extended RPI scoring and other drives, allowing a 70 yard KO return, a pass interference penalty on 3rd and 11 with RPI on their 31 yard line late in the third quarter - the list goes on and on. The Statesmen were also four-14 on third downs and went 0-3 on fourth downs.

Although it seemed like fate would look kindly on the "Cardiac Kids" after JR QB Shane Sweeney connected with SO TE Matt Woods for a seven yard TD with 1:12 remaining, things fell apart shortly thereafter. The KO unit allowed a 34 yard return then made matters worse by committing a personal foul giving RPI the ball at the Hobart 36 yard line. SO QB Ed Trimpert would score the winning TD a few plays later, after the interception by Jemison was overturned. Trimpert led the Engineers with an efficient 14-20 for 109 yards and two passing scores while adding the rushing TD to go with 14 rushing yards.

This will not be an easy game for the team to watch and it certainly places Hobart's playoff hopes in jeopardy. They will need to win out in order to make it back to the NCAA playoffs as there's no way an 8-2 team will make the field unless it's a conference champion. As of now, #21 Saint Lawrence (6-0, 3-0) controls their own destiny and at this point appears stronger than the Statesmen barring a head-to-head contest against them to settle the score.

I'm curious whether or not the HC Mike Cragg will file a complaint with the LL on this officiating crew? It really seemed like they had it out for Hobart, but at the end of the day, the Statesmen could and should have played better and RPI did what it had to win.

With no game until October 22, we'll have to stew on this one for a while. Hopefully it motivates the squad to fix the areas they know need improvement.

Thanks for reading and please tune into ITH Sunday night for more commentary on this one.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Week 6 - RPI Game Preview

The 16th/22nd ranked Hobart College Statesmen have won three games this season thanks to last second comebacks. That wasn't the case last season, when RPI upset the Statesmen by a score of 21-20 after a game winning two point conversion attempt was intercepted by the Engineers' All-American CB Philip Lanieri III '16.

While RPI (3-2, 1-1) has struggled somewhat this season, they appear to be a stronger team than one might have expected after having graduated a large number of starters from last year's 9-2 squad, including LL Co-OPOTY QB Jeff Avery. That group went on to earn a share of the LL title (thanks in part to Hobart beating Saint Lawrence) and captured an ECAC Bowl Championship in an exciting come from behind 20-13 win over Buffalo State.

This will be the 60th all-time meeting between these two programs, a rivalry that has been spread out of the years since it's initial start in 1910 (but I believe this will be the 52nd straight meeting since 1964). RPI and Hobart are tied 29-29-1 so the winner of Saturday's game gets some extra bragging rights, not to mention a very valuable league win.

The Engineers present some formidable challenges that the Statesmen (5-0, 2-0) have struggled with so far this season including a strong running game (249.6 YPG, good for second in the LL) and leading the league with nine INTs (three have been returned for TDs). RPI has done well on special teams, leading the LL in punt returns (20.8 YPR), punting (36.1 YPP net) and kicking going six for seven on FGs and a perfect 18-18 on PATs. RPI is also the second ranked scoring defense at the moment, allowing 18.6 PPG while putting up 28.8 PPG on offense (ranking fifth).

Leading the Engineers is #2 SO QB Ed Trimpert. More of a game manager, Trimpert has passed for 338 yards, three TDs and three INTs. His pass completion is just under 44%, so he has some work to do there, but he has good feet, rushing for 81 yards and one TD so far this season. The RPI OL has allowed seven sacks so far, but has done well opening holes for #6 JR RB Mike Tivinis. The Middleton, MA native has gained 442 yards on 75 carries (5.9 YPR), leading the team with five rushing TDs. The RPI OL is led by #53 SR OL and Co-Captain Steve Mills.

Trimpert's favorite targets this season have been #14 SO WR Keaton Ackermann and #18 JR RB Johnny Ramsdell. Ackermann and Ramsdell have caught a total of 16 passes for a combined 245 yards and two TDs. Ramsdell is also a short yardage specialist, gaining 128 rushing yards and three TDs.

On defense the Engineers are led by Co-Captains #44 SR LB Alex Greenidge and #25 SR DB Ryan Buss. Greenidge leads RPI with 42 tackles on the season to go with a 34 yard "pick six." Buss has 26 tackles and two INTs. #74 SR DL Thomas Bennett has been trouble for opposing OLs, picking up 20 tackles, 4.5 TFL and 3.5 sacks.

On special teams the Engineers have the most accurate kicker in the LL in #4 JR PK Christian Kapp. #88 JR PK Matt Raczak handles the punting duties, averaging nearly 40 YPP. So far seven of his 22 punts have pinned the opposition inside the 20 yard line and three were for over 50+ yards.

Keys to the Game:

1. Stop the Run - I'm getting to be like a broken record here but much like Ithaca and Union, this RPI team is fairly one dimensional on offense. The Engineers run to pass ratio is basically 80:20 so the Statesmen defense will need to improve upon their nearly last place (197.6 YPG and 11 TDs allowed) rushing D to stay in this game.

2. Start Fast - The Statesmen gotten off to slow starts in the last couple of games. It would do them a lot of good to put the Engineers in an early hole and force them to pass the ball, given the inexperience (and inaccuracy) of Trimpert, and play catch up.

3. Turnovers - It's very surprising to some football purists that Hobart has gone 5-0 with a turnover margin of -1. It's also somewhat of a surprise that the Statesmen secondary with all of it's depth and experience has only generated three INTs on the season so far. To be fair, Hobart's pass defense has been very strong, ranking second overall in the LL with only 128 YPG and only three total passing TDs allowed on the season. Since I don't expect Trimpert to pass that much unless the Statesmen force him to, Hobart tacklers need to try and force or recover fumbles as much as possible. RPI has been susceptible to this - fumbling the ball nine times and losing six to the opposition, slightly more than one per game. On the flip side, Hobart has to avoid the Engineers ball hawk defense.

4. Balance - The good news is RPI is 0-2 against undefeated (and ranked) teams, losing 33-17 to #25 Alfred (5-0) and 20-14 to #21 SLU (5-0, 2-0). The Engineers fell behind in both of those contests, but fought back to make things interesting. The Saxons used a very balanced offense to control the clock and their defense held RPI to five of 13 on third downs. Alfred rushed 46 times for 243 yards which we know the Statesmen won't (and probably can't) match. The Saints forced two Trimpert interceptions and had the ball for over 40 minutes, rushing for 185 yards on 47 carries, in their 20-14 defeat of RPI. Needless to say, I think Hobart has to execute better when running the ball to win this game otherwise I assume JR QB Shane Sweeney will have to attempt ~40 passes to get the Statesmen a road victory. While the Statesmen run to pass ratio is actually about 40:60 (and is probably slightly lower if you factor out the number of scrambles Sweeney has made), Hobart's offense is only gaining about 20% of their total yards on the ground. Although RPI has had success defending their end zone, RPI's rushing and passing defense aren't great, both rank sixth in the LL, allowing 158 rushing YPG and four TD and 203.2 passing YPG and six TDs. The Engineers passing defense efficiency (ranked fourth) has been helped by all the INTs they've forced.


Hobart has been banged up and living dangerously to open the first half of the season. A win before the bye week would do a lot of good before the back stretch of the schedule. RPI is exactly the type of team that the Statesmen have struggled to put away so far this season, but as we've seen, the "Cardiac Kids" can never be counted out given their quick strike abilities.

While I do think this is a game RPI can win, I'll tag along my ITH co-host Frank Rossi's prediction that Hobart will need to comeback, but will prevail by a score of 30-24.

Before I signoff, a special shout out to the Berkowitz family who I know will be in attendance for Saturday's game. Mike Berkowitz '15 just passed the Series 7 and is doing well post-graduation, working in the Capitol Region and living in RPI's backyard of Troy, NY.

Thanks for reading and go 'Bart!

Monday, October 3, 2016

Sweeney to Pfohl Saves Statemen, Hobart Survives, 38-35

The Hobart College Statesmen needed a 57 yard pass and run by SR WR Jack Pfohl to complete another furious comeback against a determined league opponent. This time it was the United States Merchant Marine Academy and their #1 ranked rushing offense which nearly broke the Statesmen. The Mariners (2-2, 1-1) rushed for 397 yards and five TDs but it was not enough to halt Hobart's "Team Air Show" and JR QB Shane Sweeney from accumulating 416 passing yards and five TDs.

A full recap from the HWSAthletics website can be seen here. The final play was so exciting it was nominated as the "Play of the Week" on You can view it and the other nominees here.

The LL's best rushing defense stifled the Hobart run game to a paltry 16 yards on 18 attempts. Three Statesmen rushers, including Sweeney (who was sacked twice), had negative yardage totals. The Mariners however had three players rush for over 100 yards. By contrast, "Bartwick" attempted 51 passes as the Statesmen had to rally several times, being down 10-0, 20-14, 28-20 and 35-31 in the contest.

These defensive struggles and close calls over the past couple of weeks may have led to Hobart's dropping one spot in the and AFCA Top 25 polls (probably not though, other teams keep winning and so log jams ensue). What's most notable to me is that in the poll, the team that leapfrogged them is league rival, Saint Lawrence (5-0, 2-0), who defeated Springfield (2-2, 1-1) in convincing fashion, 42-14.

This weekend Hobart will face off against a strong RPI (3-2, 1-1) squad. The Engineers earned a share of last season's LL title by defeating the Statesmen in Geneva, 21-20. I'll have more on that game later this week. We recapped the USMMA  vs. Hobart game, plus other LL and East Region action on our latest ITH podcast. You can download it here.

Thanks for reading and go 'Bart!