This past weekend marked the first weekend of sprint football during which there were five total games. The theme of the weekend was Big Brother VS Little brother, as the only four teams to win a championship since 1989 each took down the league's less-established members. Outside of that dynamic, St. Thomas Aquinas had their inaugural game against last year's last place finisher, Post.
Lightweight football is officially here and we at Titan Analytics are excited to be able to recap week one's action.
Army vs Chestnut Hill
The 2018 CSFL season opened Friday night between the Army Black Knights and Chestnut Hill Griffins. Army started their season on a high note, continuing its success from last season and extending their win streak to 9 games. Despite fewer all purpose yards and nearly 14 fewer minutes of possession, Army was able to rack up six touchdowns and defeat Chestnut Hill by a score of 45 to 7.
Army’s offense was led by senior quarterback Keegan West, who was 17-34 with 247 yards, 4 touchdowns, and an interception. Eight different Army Black Knights caught a reception, with junior Tom Williamson leading all wide receivers with 5 receptions for 51 yards. Army led 38-7 by halftime, and while Chestnut Hill seemed to regroup well and hold the Black Knights to only one score in the second half, this certainly seems to be a very similar team as last year’s CSFL champion squad. Army had an extremely efficient offense throughout the first half and their slow second half is nothing to lose sleep over. Defensively, the Black Knights could work on giving up fewer yardage, but they held the Griffins to only 7 points and that’s what matters at the end of the game.
Chestnut Hill had a strong offense down the field but came up just short almost every drive. The Griffins went 1 for 4 in the red zone. Quarterback Michael Marino threw for 173 yards and a touchdown, but his 3 interceptions hurt Chestnut Hill’s chances of a comeback. Freshman running back Xavier Thompson put himself on a list of faces to watch this year after leading Chestnut Hill in rushing with 47 yards on 8 attempts.
Army goes away again against longtime rival Navy this Friday (Sept. 21 at 7pm). Chestnut Hill will next host Mansfield University on Friday at 7pm, looking to bounce back from the season opener.
Cornell vs Caldwell
This Saturday morning rematch of each team's league opener last year featured a similar result as Cornell stomped Caldwell 28-11. This game was played in the air as both teams went to the deep ball frequently resulting in a combined five interceptions and 450 yards passing. The pace of the largely ignored ground game was set by Cornell's Will Griffen (Junior) who amassed 50 total yards, averaging five yards a carry.
For senior quarterback Connor Ostrander, his final season opener was a mixed bag. Two touchdown passes and a rushing score more than made up for the two interceptions that cut Cornell drives short inside of the Caldwell 35-yard line. Ostrander connected with fellow captain, Brooks Panhans, for a 38-yard score for both players' first touchdowns of the year. Not to be outdone, junior Reed Fratt scored from 46 yards out of the tight end position.
A strong showing in week one is a good sign for the Big Red defense. Paced by seniors Alfonso Nazzaro, Conrad McCarthy, and Kenneth Fest, they allowed just nine points. Nazzaro, near the top of the league in tackles last season, collected 9 tackles, 2.5 TFL's, and an interception. An edge rusher last year, Kenneth Fest sacked Caldwell twice from the interior line. Although Caldwell's defense struggled to keep Cornell off the board, Freshman Randy Antenor lit up the stat sheet with 7 tackles, 3 TFL's, 1.5 sacks, 1 fumble recovery, and 2 blocked kicks.
The second-year Cougars trotted out a revamped roster that gave Cornell a run for their money in the second half. A pair of 100-yard, 8-reception games from freshman Dejuan Carr and sophomore Carl Watson made up for most of the Caldwell passing attack as the one Caldwell touchdown on the day came with 2:11 left in the fourth quarter.
St. Thomas Aquinas vs Post
In their inaugural game, the St. Thomas Aquinas Spartans came out firing, dominating every phase of their first test. The combined efforts of quarterback Luke Sullivan (senior) and aggressive, turnover-forcing play from the Spartan defense produced 30 points. Sullivan threw for two scores and ran one in, amassing 163 total yards.
As a whole, the game was defined by sloppy play as there were a combined nine fumbles and 239 penalty yards after the final horn sounded. One would expect such hiccups from a first year team; however, it was Post that collected 154 of those penalty yards in addition to coughing up the ball six times.
A testament to St. Thomas Aquinas' defense, the only Eagle score came off of a blocked punt with 17 seconds left in the game. A strong first showing from STAC is a step in the right direction for the fledgling program.
Navy vs Franklin Piece
Navy took advantage of turnovers and field position as they were able to score 45 points despite just 245 yards of total offense. Six turnovers by the sputtering Raven offense turned into 24 points for Navy. With the game in hand, Navy quickly turned to power football, chewing the clock as they rushed 39 times for 110 yards and one score.
Despite a great team effort by the Navy defense, the real star of the show was Walt Fagan. The junior quarterback tossed four touchdowns and didn't turn the ball over once to the ballhawking Franklin Pierce defense.
Franklin Pierce could not say the same about their quarterback, Jared Lubas. His 115 passing yards were not enough to compensate for three costly interceptions. Several bright spots from the game were Dylan McDermott and Tionne Brown. The duo combined for 145 total yards and the lone Raven score.
UPenn vs Mansfield
With a 93 yard return for a touchdown on the opening kickoff, Mansfield jumped to an early lead against Penn on Saturday. By the end of the first quarter, however, Penn took the lead 21-12 thanks to quarterback Eddie Jenkins’ three touchdowns (1 rushing, 2 passing).
Jenkins (pictured above) did it all Saturday. He finished the day with 6 touchdowns in total (1 rushing, 5 passing) in addition to going 15-22 with 240 passing yards and rushing 13 times for 126 yards. Both Klaus brothers finished with 2 touchdowns as well. Jake Klaus (running back) rushed 30 times for 132 yards (4.4 avg) and 2 rushing touchdowns while his brother Ben caught three passes for 34 yards and 2 receiving touchdowns.
Despite a valiant effort, Mansfield simply could not keep up with Jenkins all game long. Mansfield’s Adam Hutchin had two passing touchdowns, threw 7 for 14 for 157 yards, and had an 81 yard touchdown pass in the first quarter as well. Mansfield had six different players run with the ball, but no player had more than 18 yards, struggling to get through Penn’s strong defensive line. Mansfield’s offense finished the game with 9 straight drives without a score, while Penn’s offense was too much for the Mansfield defense to handle, who were on the field for 37 and a half minutes of the 60 minute game.
Penn will face Cornell next Friday, Sep. 21 at 7 pm in their home opener. Cornell is coming off an away victory against Caldwell University last week. Mansfield will play Chestnut Hill on , who’s looking to bounce back after a 45-7 routing by Army last week.