Oct. 28 MVP: MassVarsity Pre-and-Post

It was not a pretty sight for any of the local Football Bowl Subdivision teams this weekend, as Boston College was clubbed by Clemson, 59-7, and UMass did not fare much better in a 56-35 rout at the hands of UConn.

What hurt the most maybe in both of these games is the way that the Eagles and Minutemen fell. Once again, the Eagles could not pair a consistent passing attack with their ground game, and UMass could not come up with a stop when other teams ran the ball.

This is not to say the better team didn't win in each example. Clemson is one of the best programs in the country, and is likely going to go to the College Football Playoff again. UConn's win over the Minutemen is only its second of the season, but the Huskies play in the American Athletic Conference, and some of their games against those opponents have been fairly competitive.

But the losses themselves felt familiar, and in a lot of ways feel even worse that way.

With starting quarterback Anthony Brown out for the season with an injury, the Eagles completed just 6-of-18 passes for 80 yards and no touchdowns. Context does matter, as these are backups going against a formidable defense, but it's not a new thing to see the Eagles struggle in the passing game, no matter who's behind center.

In spite of this, junior running back AJ Dillon rushed for 76 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries. That's not bad production against a defense stacked to stop you. It's just unfortunate that the Eagles could not balance things more effectively on offense.

There is still time with them to do that, as the more experience Dennis Grosel and Matt Vallecce get, the more comfortable they will be against tough competition. But it is tough to see this story play out over and over again when BC loses.

UMass' issue of stopping the run has been persistent and across every coaching staff since the Minutemen joined the FBS in 2012.

It's not a hard concept. It's just holding up at the point of attack with multiple bodies for four quarters, and having the athletes to make tackles at the second and third levels when running backs leak out.

These are personnel issues. UMass just hasn't been talented enough on that side of the ball lately to make those plays. It can be hard to accept, but that's just the reality of the situation. It is just hard for fans to accept that when the results keep coming back the same, regardless of who is on the field.

Missed opportunity

Harvard had a chance to knock off a nationally-ranked Princeton team Saturday and missed out with a 30-24 loss in New Jersey.

It's a tough setback considering the Crimson led at halftime and lost by only a score, but it shows that this Harvard team can compete with anyone in the Ivy League.

Dartmouth visits this weekend, and if the Crimson can get a victory over that unbeaten and also nationally-ranked opponent, you're looking at Harvard being right in the mix for a league title.

Open the 'gate

After its 31-10 win over Colgate, it's worth taking stock of where Holy Cross stands at the moment.

The Crusaders are only 4-4, but let's break down their record. The four losses are to two FBS teams (Navy and Syracuse) and two of the best teams in the Ivy League (Harvard and Yale). The wins are over a good New Hampshire squad, Brown, and the only two Patriot League opponents they have played in Bucknell and Colgate.

The next game the Crusaders play is at Lehigh, which is the only unbeaten team left in the league.

In other words, after a difficult schedule to open the year, Holy Cross is very much in the hunt to win the Patriot League title.

We'll see how it plays out, but this weekend's game in Pennsylvania will be a big one for the Crusaders.

On its 'Merri' way

A nice win for Merrimack in a 24-21 victory over Presbyterian, as the Warriors battled through some adversity to come out on top and move to 4-4 on the season.

As we said last week, a winning record in Merrimack's first full year as a Football Championship Subdivision member is not out of the question and would be a terrific accomplishment for this program.

The way the Warriors have found a way to compete against the toughest opponents on the schedule has been notable. You go up and down the list of games, the more impressed you are in that respect.

Just as one example, the Lehigh team we just mentioned above that is unbeaten in Patriot League play only beat the Warriors by a touchdown, and it was a road game for Merrimack.

Central Connecticut's only loss is to Eastern Michigan by five points. Merrimack nearly upset the Blue Devils in a 40-37 loss — also away from the Warriors' home turf — in the second game of the season.

A lot of football left to play for Merrimack, which faces Rhode Island this week, but again, and we feel like we say this a lot, you like the direction this program is heading.

'Assum-e' the best

Not a bad weekend for Massachusetts players at Assumption College in the Greyhounds' 40-37 overtime win over Stonehill.

Former Everett quarterback Jordan McAfee completed 19-of-29 passes for 231 yards and two touchdowns. Doug Santos of Peabody led the team in rushing with 69 yards. West Roxbury native and Catholic Memorial alum Kyle Sonnie also had a team-high in receiving yards with 99 and two touchdowns on five receptions.

Once again, Stonehill receiver Andrew Jamiel, a Dennis-Yarmouth grad, was terrific in defeat, as he caught six passes for 117 yards and a 65-yard touchdown.

After another crazy Saturday in the Northeast 10, Assumption now stands alone at the top with just one loss in league play.

Right 'Fram-e' of mind

How about that for a statement win when Framingham State cut down Western Conn., 39-14, in a matchup of MASCAC unbeatens?

The Rams received solid contributions from locals like Devaun Ford of Mashpee, who rushed for 73 yards and returned a kick 88 yards for a touchdown, and O'Bryant grad Emmanuel Exilhomme, who caught two touchdown passes.

Hey, we're not looking past Framingham's State's game with Mass. Maritime next week, but let's just say if the Rams win that, they'll be hosting a Bridgewater State team on Nov. 9 with just one league loss. That would be big, and very much worth the attention of any follower of local Division 3 football.

Mustangs rumble ahead

We did not expect Milton Academy to roll quite like it did past Belmont Hill in a 48-25 win on Saturday.

Also, for as well as he has played in his career at Milton, that in our estimation was the best performance of Kalel Mullings' career. He was dominant in every aspect against a good team in a big game.

We have said for a while now that running the table in the ISL isn't in the cards for anyone this fall. Well, maybe, Milton is making us think twice about that right now. A little. But, boy, you can't help but be impressed with what this team has accomplished so far.

Hurricane season

Yes, thanks for asking. Amherst is very much a statewide contender in Division 5. The Hurricanes aren't just a threat to win that bracket, which has landmines everywhere with the recent play of programs like Northampton and West Springfield.

Like we mentioned in our article about the team's win over South Hadley, the Hurricanes can beat you in a lot of different ways. Their special teams are good. Their defense is stout up front with good linebackers and defensive backs. They are efficient and versatile on offense. They have good size, speed, strength, and experience at key positions.

This is not to say West Springfield or Northampton can't emerge from that section and do big things, as well. We just feel, right now, from having gotten a good look at Amherst this week, the Hurricanes have a lot of pieces you look for in a team that does make a deep postseason run.

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