Saturday, October 14, 2017

Hobart Soars Past Hawks, 49-27

The Hobart College Statesmen faced off against the Hartwick College Hawks for the first time in 20 years today in Oneonta, NY. The Statesmen (5-2, 1-1) started off slow, trailing 10-0 and 17-7 thanks to two early SR WR Koree Reed receiving TDs.

Although the Hobart offense only had 19 plays in the first half, they made the most of them. SR WR Brandon Shed got the Statesmen on the board with a 63 yard TD catch and run, and SR RB Joe Letizia took a hand-off and ran 54 yards for a TD. Hobart took their first lead of the game, 21-20, after SR QB Shane Sweeney found SR TE Zach Withers on a broken play for a 33 yard TD play with 13 seconds before halftime.

Although the Hobart defense gave up 184 yards in the first quarter, they buckled down and held Hartwick (3-4, 2-2) to 146 yards and seven points down the stretch. The Statesmen defense also kept the Hawks out of the end zone, forcing Hartwick to kick two FGs in the first half.

The second half the Statesmen saw the Hawks' Reed scored his third TD of the game and brought Hartwick within 1, 28-27, after Hobart took it's opening drive of the third quarter and scored on a one-yard Letizia TD run.

After that Hobart pulled away, with Sweeney finding JR TE Matthew Wood twice and handing off to JR RB Tynard Barfield for a 49-27 win.

The Hobart defense had five players tally seven tackles in the game. SO OLBs Jayson Prince and David McCarthy each added INTs off of Hartwick SR QB Billy Pine. Pine finished the game with 330 passing yards and three TDs. Sweeney went 19-30 for 305 yards and four scores. Shed tallied 111 yards and a TD and Letizia led all rushers with 71 yards and two scores.

Up next is Union (6-1. 2-0) in a key LL match up given RPI (4-2, 1-1) beat Ithaca (3-3, 3-1) today, 27-14.

Hobart is in prime position take advantage of the LL tie-breaker, but they'll need to defeat Union next Saturday in Schenectady.


Monday, October 9, 2017

Week 7 - Hartwick Game Preview

It's been 21 years since the Hobart College Statesmen's last trip to Oneonta, NY to face off against the Hartwick College Hawks. Hartwick (3-3, 2-2) and Hobart (4-2, 1-1) will resume a rivalry that ended in the 1997 season (a game I'm old enough to have followed and remember). That game was a 31-30 win by the Hawks as a late Statesmen rally came up short. Hobart won the 1996 game at Hartwick by a 42-27 margin, and made it onto Sportscenter for a fluky TD play by the Hawks. Former Statesmen Co-captain Tony Aguilar '97 had a pass ricochet off his helmet and into the hands of the opposing WR. While that play made the Sportscenter highlight reel, Aguilar got the last laugh with a 62 yard "pick six" to put the game away in the fourth quarter.

Hobart leads the (short) all-time series, 4-2, with games that have been scattered (including 1933, 1939, and 1994-97) over several decades. Although the Hawks haven't had a winning season since 2013, the Statesmen can't afford to look past what I'd call a "sneaky good" team.

This season Hartwick has been impressive offensively, and their three losses have come by a combined six points. The Hawks lost two, one-point games to Western Connecticut (4-1, 2-1) and Cortland (3-2, 2-1), respectively. They lost to Utica, 28-24, in Week 5 after the Pioneers (2-3, 1-2) scored on an eight-yard TD run with 28 seconds remaining in their game.

Scouting the Hawks


*photo credit to Hartwick Football's Facebook page

The Hawks bring a high-scoring offense averaging 37 PPG and 484 YPG, thanks to several of the top offensive players in the East Region. SR QB Billy Pine has already passed for nearly 2,000 yards this season and has 21 TDs to only five INTs. He was the 2016 NCAA Statistical Champion for passing yards per completion (17.92) and total offense (388.2 YPG) while ranking second nationally in pass yards per attempt with 10.07.

Pine's top targets are the pair of SR WR Koree Reed (819 receiving yards and 7 TDs) and SR WR Brad Garcia (665 receiving yards and 11 TDs). Reed was also the 2016 NCAA Statistical Champion with 1,606 receiving yards and an incredible 160.6 RYPG.

Hartwick uses a couple of runners to mix things up, SR RB Tito Pitchardo has rushed for 396 yards and three TDs and SO RB Ronald Ballard has added 287 yards and two TDs. Most of Ballard's stats came last weekend in a 52-34 win over Morrisville State, as he rushed for 151 yards and a TD as the featured back (probably because of an injury to Pitchardo who did not play).

Defensively the Hawks are allowing 27 PPG and 364.2 YPG. The Hartwick defense is led by two JR LBs in Mark Hackett (48 tackles and three INTs) and Josh Wilcox (43 tackles, four sacks and 7.5 TFL). Another player to keep an eye on is SR DB David Van Alstine, who may be small in size (5'6" 155 lbs) but has an eye for the football and is tied for the team lead in INTs with 3.

Van Alstine also stars on special teams, averaging 21.85 YPR and a TD on KOs. FY DB Matthew Scottman has handled the majority of punt returns, but Reed did make one PR last weekend against the Mustangs. Hartwick has a reliable kicker in SR PK Brian McGovern who's a perfect 5-5 on FGs (long of 36) this season while adding 27 PATs. McGovern also handles KOs, but only averages 40.8 yards on those, which could help Hobart with field position. The Hawks punter is Pine, the QB, and he's punted 14 times for 37.71 YPP average. The defense will have to keep an eye out for a potential quick kick play Saturday, as the Hawks are only 2-12 on fourth downs this season.

Keys to the game:

1. Clip the Wings - Hartwick averages 338.2 passing YPG and will be facing a Hobart defense that has really struggled at times against strong QBs. The Statesmen have allowed 266.8 YPG via the air, but that stat has been bolstered by the fact RPI only threw for 137 yards last Saturday. Pine is a much better QB than Trimpert, and will likely drop back at least 30-35 times against Hobart. The Statesmen have allowed opposing QBs to break 300 yards passing three times this season (vs. Brockport, vs. Shenandoah and vs. Ithaca), going 1-2 in those games. Needless to say, Hobart will need to keep the pressure on Pine up front all game.

2. The Run - I'm a broken record here, but the Statesmen's best defense will be to keep Pine, Reed and Garcia off the field and when they're in the game, pin them back by taking Ballard's ability to run the ball off the table. Offensively Hobart is averaging 150 rushing YPG and their stable of RBs have done very well in YPR:

SR RB Joe Letizia - 5.6 AVG
FY RB Dakota Harvey - 4.4 AVG (this number would be higher if not for last week's limited action of 7 carries for three yards and a TD)
SO RB Brian Haeffner - 6.4 AVG
JR RB Tynard Barfield - 5.2 AVG

Hartwick has allowed almost 180 rushing YPG and 12 rushing TDs this season. In their three losses, the Hawks opponents averaged 208 rushing YPG. Both WCSU and Cortland had over 100+ yard rushers, and Utica came close, with their QB rushing for 94 (and their RB adding 87 yards). Saint John Fisher rushed for 274 yards in Week 4, a 24-21 loss, but they couldn't stop Pine, who went 26-41 for 375 yards and three TDs.

3. Turnovers - Last weekend the Hobart defense killed RPI with three forced turnovers. The Statesmen offense turned over the ball as well, but it didn't cost them thanks to the stellar play of the D. Hartwick is +5 in TOM, so they can be opportunistic. The Statesmen will need to take better care of the ball than they did against RPI.

Prediction:

This game has the potential to be a shootout, but I think it may surprise some and end up being more of a defensive and field position battle. The Statesmen have the edge field position wise given better specialist players (on KOs and punting) than Hartwick, but otherwise you can say this is a pretty even match-up. While it won't count towards playoff consideration given its an OOC game, it would bode well for the Statesmen to keep the momentum going and get an important road win.

I'll pick Hobart to outlast Hartwick, 35-27.

Thanks for reading (and getting the blog to over 200k views!) and go 'Bart!


Saturday, October 7, 2017

Statesmen Shut Out RPI, 30-0

The Hobart College Statesmen needed a day like today.

After a 3-2 start, the Statesmen were on the verge of playoff elimination, and a visit from RPI (3-2, 0-1) was a big game. The Engineers had beaten Hobart two years in a row, but the third time would not be the charm.

The Statesmen (4-2, 1-1) offense had successful drives but had to settle for two FY PK Kyle Hackett FGs instead of TDs. The Hobart offense coughed up the ball twice, once on a fumble and an INT, but the defense stepped up, keeping RPI scoreless in the first half (and the rest of the game).

Two SR QB Shane Sweeney TDs would spark the Statesmen in the second half, the first to SO WR Jake Catalioto for 13 yards and the second to SR WR Brandon Shed for eight yards. That TD catch tied Shed for third all-time for consecutive games with a reception at 27. Hackett added one more FG, to extend his streak to a perfect 5-5, and FY RB Dakota Harvey added a late TD to seal the 30-0 win.

SR LB Almamy Conde had an INT and FR to go with four tackles. SR DL Zackary Robak led the defense with seven stops. A recap from HWSAthletics.com can be seen here.

Up next is Hartwick (3-3, 2-2) who beat Morrisville State, 52-34, today. Hobart has not faced off against the Hawks since the 1997 season.

Thanks for reading and go 'Bart!


Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Week 6 - RPI Game Preview

The Hobart College Statesmen's season so far hasn't gone as planned, and they face another tough task as RPI (3-1, 0-0) returns to Boswell Field this weekend. The Engineers have defeated Hobart (3-2, 0-1) in consecutive seasons, each on last second-type plays.

Last season, RPI JR QB Ed Trimpert scored on a five-yard TD run with 20 seconds left to upset the Statesmen in Troy, by a score of 21-17. Hobart out-gained the Engineers 435 to 192 yards but 15 penalties for -148 yards, including a critical face-mask by the Statesmen on the kickoff of RPI's final possession, ended up coming back to haunt Hobart (particularly come playoff time when their 9-1 overall record resulted in a very poor RD1 draw, thanks to the NCAA Selection Committee).

The Engineers took back the lead in the all-time series with last year's win, 29-30-1. RPI is coming off a bye week, after dropping a 21-9 halftime lead in a 33-21 loss to Buffalo State (3-1, 1-1). Highlights from that matchup can be viewed here.

Scouting the Engineers

*Photo courtesy of RPIAthletics.com

RPI brings a potent offense (33.25 PPG) and a tough defense (15.25 PPG) to the Boz this Saturday. JR QB Ed Trimpert once again leads the offense and has improved from his injury-plagued SO season. He's passed for 662 yards and 10 TDs, compared to three INTs. He's completed 52.38% of his passes, and has a high efficiency rating (183.5) bolstered by his good TD:INT ratio.

The Engineers have a strong OL and three good runners in JR RB Nick Cella (235 yards and two TDs), SR RB Ethan Wells (201 yards and three TDs) and SR RB Mike Tivinis (188 yards and one TD). 

Trimpert's favorite targets in the passing game have been JR WR Keaton Ackerman (146 yards and two TDs) and SR RB Johnny Ramsdell (who's really more of a WR than RB, leading the team with 10 catches. He has 130 yards and two TDs lining up in the backfield and going out for passes). Not far behind them is JR WR Danny Calabro with four catches for 129 yards and a TD.

Defensively the RPI is led by SR DB Brian Hayes with 37 tackles. JR LB Brandt Beck has added 29 stops, an INT and two FFs. On the DL, SR DT Malik Joseph brings size (6'1" 310 lbs.) and pass rushing ability. SR DL Diego Cuitino (pictured above) is also an effective run-stuffer. SR DB Sean Egan is an excellent cover corner who did well against SR WR Brandon Shed last season. He's third on the team with 20 tackles and leads the Engineers with three INTs.

On special teams RPI once again boasts the best kicker in the LL with SR PK Christian Kapp. He has not missed a FG (2-2 with a long of 32) or a PAT (17-17) all season. In the one instance he had a PAT blocked, Kapp scooped it up and scored a two-point conversion. Kapp also handles KOs where he averages an impressive 62.5 YPKO. The punters for RPI have FY P Zac Montrief and SR P Matt Raczak who've averaged 35.42 and 37.33, respectively.

Keys to the Game:

1. The Run - The Engineers have basically doubled up their opponents rushing yardage this season (877:425), averaging 219.3 YPG offensively while limiting their opposition to only 106.3 YPG. The best defense Hobart has is keeping SR RB Joe Letizia and FY RB Dakota Harvey grinding out yards to limit RPI's trio of runners from wearing out the defense.

2. Turnovers - Three second half turnovers by the Engineers ended up being the difference in Buffalo State's comeback against RPI in Week 4. A couple of forced fumbles caused by the Bengals were later cashed in for TDs and a late INT by Trimpert sealed the win for Buff State. The Statesmen defense is +3 in turnover margin this season, and they'll need to remain in that plus-margin territory to help them win this game.

3. Just Win - The Statesmen aren't mathematically eliminated from the LL title and NCAA playoff picture just yet, but they must win this game to keep their hopes alive. If they can stay loose, but play with intensity and execute their game plan to the best of their ability, they'll have a chance to stay in the hunt.

Prediction:

On one hand, I expect a good amount of offense in this one, especially given Hobart's defensive struggles of late. The Statesmen defensive backfield will need to play their best game of the season and the LBs will need to be ready as the Engineers like to send RBs on short to mid-range routes.

On the other, the last two games have been more defensive battles, however, so I'll take Hobart to get back on track in a (very) close 28-24 contest.

Thanks for reading and go 'Bart!

PS - On a personal note, Happy Birthday to my son, Declan! He's 11 today.


Tuesday, October 3, 2017

How the LL Tiebreaker Could Work in Hobart's Favor

Credit this to an IC fan from the d3boards.com Liberty League page:

Assuming RPI/Bart/IC win out in LL, except for RPI over IC [making all three teams tied in the conference standings at 4-1]. I'll also assume the following:

 - Rochester loses to Union and St. Lawrence, so they have seven losses and are removed [likely]
 - St. Lawrence loses to Brockport, so they have six and are out [very likely]
 - Union gets to 5 with the win over Rochester [likely - what could throw this out the window however is if Union ends up in the 4-1 conversion because their easy OOC will likely have them in better position, but that's a big "if"]

This leaves us:

Hobart
Brockport: 5-0 Loss
Fisher: 0-4 Win
Shenandoah: 3-1 Win
Endicott: 1-4 Win
Hartwick: 2-3 not played
Union: Win

You're looking at 2-1, as I doubt Endicott and Fisher get to .500, and the Wick doesn't either (Not with Bart, Alfred, and Brockport on the docket)

RPI
WP: 0-4 Win
WPI: 3-2 Win
WNE: 3-2 Win
Buff State: 3-1 loss
Alfred: 5-0 Not played
Union: Win

I'm guessing Buff State finds themselves two wins (one will come against Fisher) and that they'll lose to Alfred [they did]. So, if WPI/WNE hold on, it's 3-2

Ithaca
Alfred 4-0 Loss
Brockport 5-0 loss
Utica 2-3 not played
Cortland 2-2 not played
Fisher: 0-4
Union: win

So you're 1-2, and the question is, can Utica and Cortland both get to .500 while losing to Ithaca, AND one of them losing to the other? This is going to be a tall order if Utica loses to Cortland, but it's possible.

So it looks like Hobart gets it, since the criteria is record, and 2-1 is better than 3-2.

Here's hoping this is a scenario that plays out, but it's got to start with a win on Saturday vs. RPI for the Statesmen. I'll have more on that matchup later this week.

Technically, the LL tie-breaker reads as follows:

In the sport of football, the league shall use the following tie-breaking formula to determine the automatic qualifier.  Prior to using the formula to determine the automatic qualifier, co-champions would be declared.

1.    Head-to-head results.
2.    Comparison of records between tied institutions beginning with the lowest conference finisher and continuing through the highest conference finisher.  If more than two teams are tied, at the point one team has been eliminated, revert back to step 1 (head-to-head results).
3.    Comparison of final winning percentage against all opponents with a record of .500 or above.  At the point when one team has been eliminated, revert back to step 1 (head-to-head results).
4.    Comparison of final winning percentage against all opponents with a record below .500.  At the point when one team has been eliminated, revert back to step 1 (head-to-head results).
5.    Coin flip.

The wrinkle here is that the LL cites winning percentage, not just W/L.

More on this to come. Thanks for reading and go 'Bart!

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Statesmen Stunned By Bombers in Final Minute, 24-21

The Hobart College Statesmen's woes at Butterfield Stadium continued, as a late TD by Ithaca (2-2, 2-0) knocked out the Statesmen's Liberty League and NCAA playoff hopes. While it's still statistically possible for Hobart (3-2, 0-1) to win the LL, it would take an incredible amount of luck and tie-breaker rules to go their way for that to happen.

SR QB Shane Sweeney and SR WR Brandon Shed will probably rewrite the Statesmen record books (and Sweeney did break the all-time passing and career TD marks in the game), the fact he will likely only appear in one playoff game in his outstanding three-year Hobart career is very disappointing.

The Statesmen defense couldn't solve the Ithaca offense, as they allowed FY QB Wahid Nabi pass for 343 yards and a TD, while also allowing SR RB Tristan Brown to rush for 120 yards and two scores, including the game-winner. Brown averaged 5.2 YPC, which was a season high for him.

Highlights from the IC side can be viewed here. The HWS recap can be seen here.

This one's going to hurt for a bit, but there won't be much time to dwell on this as RPI (3-1, 0-0) comes to Geneva next weekend, riding a two-game winning streak over the Statesmen.

While a chance at the playoffs may have been dashed today, a win over the Engineers would do some good in making this season feel better after this weekend.

Thanks for the almost 200k readers over the last nine seasons. We'll be alright - go 'Bart!


Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Week 5 - Ithaca Game Preview

The Hobart College Statesmen finally enter Liberty League play against the newest member of the conference, but a familiar foe in Ithaca College. The Bombers (1-2, 1-0) earned their first win of the season, and in conference, with a 24-13 defeat of Saint Lawrence (1-2, 0-1) in Week 3.

A spectacular video highlight reel of that contest can be seen here. We also invited new Bombers HC Dan Swanstrom onto ITH and that video interview can be seen here.

Hobart and Ithaca have resumed a series back in 2014 that was on hiatus since 2003. The Bombers lead the all-time series 5-25, but the Statesmen have a slight edge, 4-3, since the 2000 season. Hobart defeated Ithaca, 23-3, last year at Homecoming.

The Bombers got on the board first, after converting a 24 yard FG, to lead 3-0 only 4:33 into the game. The rest of the way was all Statesmen, however, as Hobart's defense shut out Ithaca. The offense would score 23 unanswered points, cashing in on two SR WR Brandon Shed receiving TDs and a rushing TD by SR RB Joe Letizia. Sean Kirshe '17 added a 29 yard FG as well. SO LB Jedh Downey led the defense with eight tackles.

Scouting the Bombers



"A work in progress" is how Coach Swanstorm describes his team, but the newest era of Bombers football shows promise. FY QB Wahid Nabi was thrown into the fire in a 31-0 loss to Brockport (4-0) in Week 2, but he rebounded well with a 357 yard passing, three TD performance against SLU.

SR RB Tristan Brown leads the Ithaca run game with 110 yards over two games (he didn't play against Alfred in Week 1). SO WR Will Gladney leads the Bombers with 362 yards and three TDs for an impressive 120.67 YPG. SR WR JR Zazzara and FY WR Andrew Vito have caught nine and seven passes for 135 and 110 yards, respectively. Vito scored his first collegiate receiving TD against SLU.

Defensively Ithaca returned nine starters from what was one of the best scoring defenses in the Empire 8 last season. SR LBs Dan Loizos and Kenny Bradley lead the Bombers with 29 tackles each. JR LB Pat Minogue and JR DL Brian Gill have tallied 22 stops as well.

Minogue doubles as the Ithaca punter, averaging 38.07 average YPP. JR PK David Prudhomme has struggled a bit, only converting two of five FG tries. He's better on KOs and PATs, averaging 48.3 YPKO, and going five for five.

Keys to the Game:

1. First Blood - The Statesmen got off to a fast, then sluggish, start last weekend against Endicott. The Bombers don't put up a lot of points, averaging only 13.67 PPG. It would bode well for Hobart to get a few early scores under their belt and put Ithaca behind the eight ball early in this one.

2. Under 100 - The Brockport game showed that if the Bombers are held to under 100 rushing yards, they are prone to pass more (and potentially be turnover prone). The Hobart DL will need to apply pressure at the point of attack, and bottle up the small, but quick, Brown.

3. Don't Be Soft - The Statesmen got a little soft in their coverage after the Brockport game, and while Ithaca's WRs are talented, the Hobart secondary shouldn't play off the line of scrimmage too far like they have on several occasions this season. A good pass rush will be necessary to avoid having the Hobart CBs being left in coverage too long and giving up deep routes.

4. Ancient History - I saw Brad Paisley in concert in Tampa a couple of weeks ago. His new single is "There's a Last Time for Everything." Well, guess what? The Butterfield shut out of Hobart has to end someday. The Statesmen literally fumbled away a great opportunity to do that in 2015, but this Hobart team is definitely stronger than the squad that played there then, so hopefully we can watch them put this streak to bed (finally).

Prediction:

It's hard to gauge how good this Bombers team is this season. They nearly beat #20 Alfred (3-0), but the defending E8 Champion Saxons barely beat Utica (1-3) and allowed 355 yards to Rochester (1-2). SLU is 1-2 also, losing to Utica in Week 1 and barely beating Norwich (0-4) in Week 2.

The Ithaca defense has talented players, but they are allowing 360 YPG and three TDs per game also so there's no reason for this Hobart offense not to have success this Saturday. I do get that the Bombers have had an extra week to prepare, and that'll probably mean a lower scoring first half (especially with rain in the forecast). Since I do think Hobart is closer to Brockport (4-0) than Ithaca in this one, and while they probably won't pitch a shut out, I do like the Statesmen to win 31-17, with a late surge in the second half.

Thanks for reading and go 'Bart!