Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Hobart Receives Votes in D3Football.com Preseason Top 25 Poll

Today D3Football.com released it's 2016 Preseason Top 25. A link to the poll can be found here.

Hobart earned 41 votes which is pretty high praise for a squad that went 7-3 last season. Especially considering that #25 Delaware Valley came in with 63 votes. The Statesmen were picked ahead of LL rivals Saint Lawrence (28) and RPI (13). They also earned more votes than nearby E8 rival Saint John Fisher who tallied 29 votes.

This ranking shows the voters acknowledge Hobart's potential, now all the team needs to do is go out and win to prove it.

Thanks for reading and go 'Bart!

Monday, July 4, 2016

The Best 20 Games of the Last 20 Years - Part IV (1-5)

I hope you've enjoyed this recap of the best games from the last 20 seasons (and Happy 240th Birthday to the USA!)

The Top 5 best Hobart College Football games from the last 20 years are listed below:

#5
Hobart 23 Cortland 22 (11/19/05) - This first round NCAA playoff game between local rivals was one of the best matchups of the playoffs this year. There were five lead changes and the Statesmen needed a missed 44 yard FG and a last ditch defensive stand at the Hobart 35 yard line to hang on for what many consider the Statesmen's first major playoff win (i.e., one over a team outside of New England). Hobart called and completed four WR or PK trick pass plays in the fourth quarter of the game which certainly added to the excitement.

#4
Hobart 29 SLU 27 (11/8/14) - This game was for the LL Championship and it certainly lived up to it's billing. There were six lead changes in this exciting contest and ultimately it came down to then FY PK Will McCool converting a 39 FG with 1:03 remaining and the Saints simply running out of time at the Hobart 17 yard line to give the Statesmen their fourth consecutive LL title. While you could argue this game be rated higher, a couple of factors should be considered. Hobart was undefeated and ranked near the Top 10 going into the contest and thus the favorite. Also, if not for five Statesmen turnovers, it wouldn't have been close. Some of the credit has to go to the Saints for causing these, but a couple were just bad mistakes by Hobart that should have been avoided. Either way, this was only the first act in what ended up being a historic 2014 season.

#3
Hobart 33 Union 27 OT (11/6/04) - Hobart and Union have had some epic battles over the years but this one was probably the best. The Statesmen trailed by eight points early in the third quarter until QB Shawn Mizro gave Hobart its first lead of the game after connecting on consecutive third quarter TD passes to WR Dan Suozzi. Union regained the lead in the fourth and it would require a fourth and 10 fake punt and run by Suozzi from the Hobart one yard line to keep the Statesmen in the game!

PK Eric Ampuja would tie the game on a 29 yard FG to cap the 17 play, 84 yard drive. Defensive stands by both squads forced OT. The Hobart defense would stop Union RB Tom Arcidiacono on a fourth down from the Statesmen one yard line. Mizro would only need two pass plays to give Hobart the LL title when he found WR Rick Pinero from 14 yards out for the winning TD!

#2
Hobart 22 Ithaca 15 (11/22/14) - Hobart hosted the Empire 8 Champions in what will go down as an all time classic. The Bombers defense gave the Statesmen offense fits in the first half but the Hobart defense held Ithaca to a TD and two FGs to only be down 12-0 at the half. RB Alex Furtado finally got the Statesmen on the board with a one yard TD run with 5:27 to go in the third quarter. Another Bomber FG would follow but QB Patrick Conlan would tie the game on the ensuing drive with a two yard TD run.

The teams would battle back and forth until Conlan found the end zone from one yard out with only 13 seconds left in the game! Conlan went three of four on the drive with the big play being a 33 yard strike to TE Chris Cyr for a first down at the Bombers 12 yard line. QB Parker Thelander completed a big pass to WR Jack Phofl to keep the drive alive as Conlan battled a sore shoulder. Although not an OT game, this was one of the most exciting and competitive games of the playoffs this year.

#1
Hobart 24 Johns Hopkins 21 - Although they were the higher seed, not many gave Hobart their pick to beat the #7 ranked Blue Jays, who were Champions of the Centennial Conference. The Statesmen had early leads of 10 and nine points, but JHU always fought back and it was only a slim 16-14 Hobart edge at the half. Hopkins would take their first lead of the game when QB Braden Anderson found WR Quinn Donaldson from 28 yards out with 14:33 left in regulation. The ensuing Hobart drive stalled at the JHU 47 yard line and things didn't look good for the Statesmen. The Blue Jays drove down to the Hobart three yard line and went to go for the kill.

On first down DE Tyre Coleman stuffed Hopkins RB Stuart Walters for a five yard loss. On second down, Anderson was stripped of the ball and DL Jake Russell recovered the fumble to give Hobart one last chance! Conlan made the most of the opportunity going an amazing seven for seven on the drive, covering 10 plays and 88 yards. The drive culminated in what was the game winning 14 yard TD pass to WR John Fasano.

Still, it wasn't over just yet. Hopkins had 1:26 and ultimately drove to the Hobart eight yard line where they called timeout with 24 seconds left. A would be TD to Donaldson was called back due to a push off and on the next play LB Jacob Stanley intercepted Anderson resulting in the eruption of the Statesmen sideline onto the field. After regaining their composure, the Statesmen took to the victory formation and held on to win, 24-21. The defeat of Hopkins was the highest ranked in Hobart Football history and done so in as dramatic a fashion you'll ever see in a college, or any, football game.

Well, that's a wrap.

I'll probably take off the rest of the summer until we get close to preseason camp opening in mid-August.

Thanks for reading and go 'Bart!

Monday, June 27, 2016

The Best 20 Games of the Last 20 Years - Part III (6-10)

After an interesting 11-20, we crack the Top 10 this week.

Now as I stated at the start of this ranking, not all of the best games in the last 20 years were wins. In fact, some of them were losses that showed how far the Hobart Statesmen had come as a program. Three of those games start off the Top 10, dating back to 2005, but for #10 we'll start in 2006:

#10
Hobart 18 Rowan 20 (11/8/06) - The Profs were once tabbed the "Beast of the East" given their many playoff runs back then. The Statesmen were road underdogs in this first round playoff game but they went toe to toe with Rowan the entire contest. The Statesmen were easily dispatched in the 2004 playoffs by a score of 14-45 by the Profs, so many assumed this rematch would be more of the same. To the contrary, Hobart actually led with under a minute to go in the game but the Profs were able to convert a FG with nine seconds remaining to hang on to win. While disappointing, this game showed that Hobart could have beaten the "Beast".

#9
Hobart 14 Delaware Valley 21 (11/26/05) - The last time Hobart faced the MAC champs in the second round of the NCAA playoffs, they lost decisively. This game was a different story. The score was deadlocked at 0-0 until the fourth quarter when Del Val broke the stalemate and took a 14-0 lead. To the Statesmen's credit they battled back, scoring two quick TDs to tie the game with 4:51 remaining. Del Val would retake the lead with 1:30 left, but QB Shawn Mizro would rally the Statesmen and drive Hobart to the Aggies 19 yard line with 15 seconds remaining. A couple of close calls in the end zone meant that the Statesmen came up short, but it took a desperate effort by the Del Val defense to hang on and win this hard fought game.

#8
Hobart 28 Wesley 35 (11/19/11) - A lot of Hobart fans were upset by drawing #7 Wesley in this first round NCAA matchup. Saint John Fisher, who the Statesmen destroyed in September, arguably got a better draw and seed in this tourney. To Hobart's credit, they came to play, with backup QB Kelly Olney leading the way. If the Statesmen only had a reliable place kicker they would have won this game as they were stuffed on fourth and goal three times by the Wolverine defense. While it counted as a loss, the Statesmen's play in this game served notice to the nation that Hobart was in for a big season in 2012.

#7
Hobart 20 RPI 17 (11/8/08) - RPI came into this game undefeated and ranked in the Top 20 behind the high scoring Jimmy Robertson led Engineers offense. The Statesmen defense got Hobart on the board first when LB Justin Hager blocked a RPI punt and LB Ryan Robinson returned it 32 yards for the TD. Hager would block another Engineer kick (this time a FG attempt) as time expired in the first half. Hobart would lose starting QB Rich Doyle to injury mid way through the fourth quarter with the score tied at 10. A relatively unknown QB Doug Vella came off the bench and drove the Statesmen offense to the Engineers red zone. He'd convert three huge first downs until he ultimately found WR Andy Schettine for a one yard score with 6:12 remaining in the game. The drive covered a total of 18 plays, 84 yards and 7:33 off the clock. Robertson would respond however and tied the game with a 50 yard bomb with 2:34 remaining. Vella would drive the team 53 yards in nine plays to set up a game winning 37 yd FG for then FY PK Conor Callahan. The kick split the up rights as time expired giving Hobart the upset victory!

#6
Hobart 35 Wittenberg 10 (11/24/12) - The Statesmen finally broke the second round barrier and punched their ticket to the program's first ever Elite 8 appearance with a dominant win over the NCAC Champs. Although Hobart was the higher seed and host, many picked the 13th ranked Tigers to win this game and some social media posts by Wittenberg on Friday night probably added fuel to the fire for the Statesmen. Although it was 7-3 Hobart at the half, the Statesmen ran away with the game scoring four TDs in the second half. The one-two punch of RBs Steven Webb and Bobby Dougherty combined for 39 carries, 216 yards and two TDs. At the time this was arguably the biggest win in program history.

Next week I'll cover off the Top 5 best games, in my opinion anyway. I'm sure you may already know which ones may be on that list.

Thanks for reading and go 'Bart!

Monday, June 20, 2016

The Best 20 Games of the Last 20 Years - Part II (15-11)

#15
Hobart 25 Bridgewater State 0 (11/18/00) - The Statesmen and Bears were deadlocked at 0-0 until LB Everton McLean returned a Bridgewater State fumble 32 yards for a TD with only 10 seconds remaining in the third quarter. Hobart would then rattle off three more TDs in the fourth to claim the first ever NCAA playoff victory in school history!

#14
Hobart 41 Union 35 2 OT (10/9/10) - There weren't a lot of positives in the 2010 season, but this game saw then back up QB Nick Strang have a record setting day. Strang tied the school record of five TD passes (he added the game winning rushing TD also) and his 498 total yards was a single game record as well. Although Strang would be lost for the remainder of the season due to a bout of mononucleosis, this great game was a sign for good things to come in 2011 and 2012.

#13
Hobart 56 RPI 48 3 OT (9/24/05) - The longest game in Hobart College history was this insane regular season shootout. The Statesmen were ranked #23 at the time and heavily favored but then FY QB Jimmy Robertson of RPI had a great day and showed signs of the type of player he would be over his excellent career. RB Doug Blackowski scored the would be game winner in the first half of the 3OT and then the Statesmen defense took over. They forced four Robertson incompletions to win the game. Both QBs threw for five TDs and the teams combined for over 1,000 yards of total offense.

#12
Hobart 33 Lycoming 15 (11/22/08) - This game was interesting in that Hobart needed two long FGs in their final two games to get into the playoffs. QB Rich Doyle basically played with a separated shoulder to rescue the season with a sloppy 10-7 win against a three win Rochester squad the week before. Doug Vella started that game at QB but got the hook after struggling. It was an entirely different Statesmen team that took the field this Saturday on a snow covered Boswell Field. Hobart dominated the MAC champs and used that momentum to go toe to toe with #1 Mount Union the following week (for the first half anyway).

#11
Hobart 19 SLU 17 (11/7/15) - Hobart needed a last second (and somewhat controversial) WR Cooper Merrill receiving TD to upset the ranked Saint Lawrence Saints. The pass by Merrill was ruled a dual possession which, by rule, goes to the offense. The Saints were favored and hoped to claim their first LL title and playoff berth since 2010 on the Statesmen's home field. Hobart hasn't played the role of spoiler or underdog much in the last 20 years, but this was definitely one of the most memorable times they did.

Monday, June 13, 2016

The Best 20 Games of the Last 20 Years - Part I (16-20)

Attending your 20th college reunion gives you a great opportunity to look back and reflect on what's happened since you graduated. I did plenty waxing nostalgic over that reunion weekend as a LOT happens over 20 years! I obviously had many happy moments (and some sad ones too) over that time, but this blog is about Hobart College Football so given that, I decided to try and come up with my Top 20 games of the last 20 seasons.

There have been over 200 games played since 1996 so I had to really think hard about how to categorize and ultimately rank them. To be fair, my "methodology" isn't really all that "scientific" by any stretch of the imagination - I just hope it causes some discussion in the comments below or online.

A couple of the things you'll probably notice is that I placed an emphasis on Championship games, either conference or NCAA playoffs. There was also a "premium" placed on how close the final score was and whether games ended on the final play. Also, and this may go without saying, but pretty much all the games on the list were victories. Yes, I did include some losses, three to be precise, but they showed that the Statesmen program was gaining on the top D3FB colleges in the country.

You'll probably also notice I listed some non-competitive games. These were sort of "statements" made and had weight given when and how they happened.

Overall I had a lot of fun compiling this list. I'll be curious to see what you think.

Here goes:

#20
Hobart 31 Dickinson 28 (9/9/06) - QB Shawn Mizro capped an 80 yard drive in only 1:39 when he found WR Ryan LiDrazzah from 12 yards out for what would be the game winning TD with 1:06 remaining. A truly back and forth affair there were eight lead changes in this season opening thriller. Unfortunately Hobart doesn't officially recognize the victory any more because of a self imposed NCAA issue. If you forgot about that I wrote about it in this blog post back at the start of 2011.

#19
Hobart 36 RPI 35 (11/16/96) - I remember seeing this game in person and it was a lot of fun. WR Glenn Choi scored his first career TD in his final game and FS Tony Aguilar had a 68 yard INT return for a TD. Hobart kind of let RPI back into this one, but it had a happy ending. Coach Cragg elected to go for two and TE Nico Karagosian hauled in a pass from QB Greg Helmer to give Hobart the "W" and finish the season at .500.

#18
Hobart 13 Union 12 (9/23/00) - Before he was DC of one of the arguably all-time best defense the Statesmen ever had, Scott Yoder played WR for Hobart. In this game, Coach Yoder caught a four yard pass from QB Dan Birdsall to give Hobart the lead with 2:43 left in the game. The Statesmen had been shutout by Union since 7:58 in the first quarter. This was a rare win over Union, who were a much more powerful program than the one we've seen in recent years. The victory began a winning streak that took Hobart all the way to their first ever NCAA playoff appearance.

#17
Hobart 56 Saint John Fisher 20 (9/24/11) - This was just an old fashioned, butt whipping of a highly regarded Cardinals team. Hobart was considered a huge underdog and I didn't even pick them to win in my pregame write up. OL Jarrid Blades mentioned this to me when I had him on "In The HuddLLe" later that season. Needless to say QB Nick Strang's five TD pass day (three of which were caught by WR Garth Muratori) put the nation on notice that even though Hobart struggled in 2010, this year would be completely different.

#16
Hobart 19 Ithaca 0 (10/28/00) - This was a huge win for the Statesmen back then in that it was first victory over the Bombers in a couple of decades. LB Matt Daley punctuated the Hobart defense's dominant performance with a 24 yard fumble return for a TD.

That's the first five with the next set coming next week.

Thanks for reading and Go 'Bart!

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Reunion Weekend

Last weekend I attended my 20th Reunion up at Hobart and William Smith. It was a beautiful weekend and HWS really put on a great line up of events. I caught up with Coach Drach and others in the Athletics department.


On the way up the idea of chronicling the best 20 games from the last 20 seasons popped into my head, so be on the look out for that in the coming weeks as the summer is usually a quiet period - at least until preseason camp opens in mid-August.

Thanks for reading and be on the look for a 20 year retrospective soon!

Go Bart!

Thursday, May 26, 2016