SPRINGFIELD, Mass., September 30, 2006 – Fullback Andrew Jackson and quarterback Chris Sharpe were the catalysts in leading the still-unbeaten Springfield College football team to a 41-7 victory over Utica College in an Empire 8 Conference game this afternoon at SC’s Benedum Field.
With the win, No. 20 Springfield raises its record to 4-0 overall and to 2-0 in Empire 8 play. Utica falls to 1-3 overall and 0-1 in conference play.
The nation’s leader in rushing offense (214.7 ypg) and scoring (22.0 ppg) entering the game, Sharpe had a fine day, rushing for 91 yards and three touchdowns. His day was done by midway through the third quarter after SC had amassed a 41-0 lead. The junior from Derry, N.H., scored on TD rushes of five, 26, and eight yards. He now has 14 rushing touchdowns this season in just four games.
Jackson, a sophomore fullback from Pennsville, N.J., got loose on the second play from scrimmage when he bulled his way for 61 yards down to the Utica six. Jackson would finish with 102 yards rushing on the day on just seven carries (14.6 yards per carry average). Three plays later, Sharpe ran it in from five yards out. The extra point by junior Joe Czarnecki (Shelton, Conn.) was good, and Springfield led, 7-0, with 12:10 left in the first quarter.
Moments later, Utica had a fourth and 10 on its own 31 and was forced to punt. But the boot by sophomore Ben Atwood was blocked by senior DE Mike Nicol (Hopkinton, Mass.) and recovered at the Utica eight. One play later, Sharpe pitched the ball to junior HB Tim Brouillard (Plymouth, Mass.) who ran around right end for the score. Czarnecki’s kick made it 14-0, and only 5:01 had elapsed in the game. It was 14-0 SC at the quarter.
Very late in the first quarter, senior DB Lucas Maciarello (Stillwater, N.Y.) returned a punt 24 yards to the Utica 35. A short time later, on a third and 16, Sharpe ran it in from 26 yards out, giving Springfield a 21-0 advantage. It was a four-play drive. The score came with 14:08 left in the second period.
The next time SC had the ball, following a Utica punt, it took the Pride four plays to go 55 yards. Senior HB Aland Joseph (Stamford, Conn.), seeing his first action of the season, caught a pass for 33 yards during the drive, and then later scored on a 12-yard rush with 9:31 left in the second quarter. Czarnecki’s kick failed, so it was 27-0, SC.
Much later in the quarter, SC took advantage of a short punt, setting up shop at the Utica 29-yard line. With 1:11 left, Sharpe culminated another four-play drive by scoring from eight yards out. The kick made it 34-0. And that was the halftime score.
At the start of the second half, Utica senior quarterback Nick Martin had a pass intercepted by SC junior cornerback Joe Harasymiak (Waldwick, N.J.) at the Springfield 16-yard line. That began a 10-play, 84-yard march that culminated with a one-yard plunge by Jackson. The extra point gave SC a 41-0 lead with 7:53 remaining in the third quarter. At that point, the SC first-units retired for the day.
It appeared that would be the final score, but Utica punched one through to break up the shutout attempt with just 31 seconds remaining in the game. Junior TE Marc Neff scored on a nice 37-yard reception over the middle, breaking a tackle or two to get into the end zone. The pass was thrown by sophomore quarterback Greg Pinelli.
Springfield, averaging 415.0 yards per game rushing (second in the nation) entering the game, rushed for 292 net yards. SC passed for 50 more yards, thus finishing with 342 yards in total offense, well below its season average of 450.7 yards per game. Utica finished with 207 total yards, 192 through the air, but only 15 net yards on the ground. Utica had five turnovers (four times intercepted and one lost fumble), while Springfield turned it over twice on two lost fumbles. SC also took advantage of that huge blocked punt very early.
For SC, Jackson rushed for 102 yards and one TD on seven carries, Sharpe for 91 yards and three TDs on 14 carries. Joseph had 32 yards and one TD on four carries, junior HB Derron Walker (White Plains, N.Y.) 29 yards on six carries, and Brouillard 18 yards and one TD on four carries.
Sharpe was also 2-of-3 in the passing game for 50 yards. Joseph had the two receptions for those 50 yards.
For Utica, freshman RB Kamaal Mabry led in rushing with 25 yards on 10 carries. Freshman RB Jamaine Hewitt had 14 yards on six carries. In the passing game, Martin was 9-of-21 for 146 yards and no touchdowns. He was intercepted three times. Pinelli was 2-of-5 for 46 yards and one TD. He was intercepted once. Junior WR James Proniewych led the Pioneers with four receptions for 70 yards. Neff had two catches for 46 yards and one TD. Sophomore WR Jim Pincher had two catches for 25 yards.
On defense, for Springfield, the leading tackler was sophomore DL Pat Shortell (West Hartford, Conn.) with eight overall (five solo). He also had two tackles-for-loss for 15 yards and one sack for 10 yards. Sophomore ILB Tom Caporale (Closter, N.J.) had seven tackles, and senior ILB Ian Johnson (New Britain, Conn.) had six, including one sack for 14 yards and one forced fumble. Harasymiak, who was tied for 6th in the nation with 1.0 interceptions per game entering the contest, had two more interceptions and three pass break-ups. Harasymiak now has five interceptions in four games this season.
For the Pioneers, senior DB Marcus Maroney led all tacklers with 12, including eight solo and one tackle-for-loss of one yard. He also had one fumble recovery. Sophomore DB Adam Keller had eight tackles, including one tackle-for-loss for two yards. Sophomore DL Andrew Thomas also had eight tackles, including one tackle-for-loss for seven yards.
Up next, Springfield will finally play its first road game of the season at Husson in Bangor, Maine, next Saturday afternoon, October 7th, at 1:00 p.m. Utica, meanwhile, will host Mount Ida College next Saturday at 1:30 p.m.