Back from the league-wide bye week, the north and south teams squared off for divisional bragging rights. However, neither the north nor the south bent the knee to their opponent, splitting the weekend series. Army maintained its winning streak, thrashing Penn. Mansfield notched its first win against Post. Cornell and Chestnut Hill met in the game of the week, combining for 90 points in a terrific back and forth game. All while Navy has continued to make its case for the south division's representative in this year's championship.
Mansfield vs Post
The Mansfield Mounties have struggled this year, trotting out a porous defense that couldn't pull its own weight. Noteworthy offensive performances against Chestnut Hill and Penn were squandered by lackluster defense. But this week, it was the defense's turn to carry the offense. Holding to the Post Eagles to just 171 total yards, and ten points, the Mansfield defense played inspired football. Not to mention, six of Post's ten points came on a fumble recovery in the end zone by Laddarius Phillips. Bryton Barna's ten tackles helped keep the Eagles grounded long enough for his offense to wake up just in time for a 14-point fourth quarter.
Mansfield put on a rushing clinic this Saturday, as the big little guys up front paved the way for 243 total rushing yards to compensate for just negative 24 passing yards from quarterbacks Gary Raupers II and Adam Hutchinson. Runningback David Butler layer most of the ground work, punching in one fourth quarter touchdown and falling just one yard shy of the century mark. What Gary Raupers II failed to do in the air, he more than made up for on the ground, capping off a grind-it-out, 95-yard drive with just 1:36 left on the clock. With one more Post attack to hold off, Kayin Berger and Chase Moser met at the quarterback to seal the deal with their first and biggest sack of the day. It wasn't all pretty for Mansfield, but it was still a 14-10, comeback victory. And that is always something to celebrate.
Penn vs Army
The rematch from last year’s CSFL championship game was not nearly as exciting as fans hoped. Penn sought revenge after falling 10-0 in last season’s final, especially after dominating nearly every aspect of the game except the red zone. After a scoreless first quarter, Army opened up the gates with a 9 yard touchdown pass from Keegan West to senior receiver Clayton Carter. Penn returned the favor just three minutes later with a 64 yard touchdown pass from Eddie Jenkins to Aidan Kelly, but a failed PAT attempt put them behind 7-6. After halftime, the game opened up and Keegan West led Army to a 28-6 win, going 38 for 59 with 374 passing yards, 4 touchdowns, and no interceptions. West is already a favorite for CSFL player of the year, and this game only helped his case. West leads the CSFL with 15 passing touchdowns and 288 total yards per game. Army are clear favorites for a repeat this season, especially after starting off 4-0 in their arguably four toughest games of the regular season. Penn needs to win out this season for a chance to make the finals again this season, and their matchup in two weeks against Navy could be the deciding game. Army will travel to Post next, while Penn hosts Caldwell at home in an important conference game.
Navy vs Caldwell
Navy’s rushing game continues to shine as they rolled over Caldwell University at Caldwell 45 to 14. Four different players had at least 10 rushing yards, including first string running back Caleb Champion (17 attempts, 136 yards, 8.0 yds/attempt). On the other side of the ball, Navy’s defense also entirely shut down Caldwell’s rushing game, giving up only 17 total rushing yards and forcing Caldwell to look downfield during possessions. Navy’s defense, second best in the CSFL giving up only 11 points per game, has excelled in stopping the run this season, and also lead the CSFL in sacks. Navy’s only loss was a 17-14 heartbreaker against Army earlier this season. Brayden Chmiel threw for 186 yards with 4 passing touchdowns as he continues to excel behind the center for the Midshipmen. As for Caldwell, the season started off slow and has only gotten slower. Quarterback Tajae’ Irby rushed 20 times for a net gain of 7 yards (60 yards gained, 53 yards lost). Irby threw for 252 yards with 2 touchdowns and an interception, but without a stronger offensive line, Caldwell will continue to rely on their pass-heavy offense (Caldwell has the second worst rushing offense in the CSFL). With the season’s end nearing, Navy looks to be a good spot, while this week’s loss mathematically eliminated Caldwell’s ability to make the CSFL championship game. Next week, Navy plays Chestnut Hill at home, and Caldwell will play for pride away at Penn.
Cornell vs Chestnut Hill
What a game. A talented Cornell offense that had dragged its feet through the first two games of the season came to life in one of the season's most entertaining games so far. Chestnut Hill had earned itself a reputation for putting up points in bunches this season. As soon as the opening kickoff left the tee, that reputation became reality for the Cornell Big Red. In the blink of an eye, a 65-yard swing pass to Raveon Floyd-Bennet, an 81-yard kick return by Ricky Robinson III, and a two-play drive left Cornell shellshocked, down 21-3 just eight minutes into the game. Many teams would have folded. A great defense, one that has been the rock for this Cornell team, was being carved up for huge chunk plays. An offense, that failed to do its part in what could have been an upset of Ivy-rival Penn, just squandered six chances on the goal line and turned the ball over on its first two drives.
Cue record scratch sound effect. A 32-2 run for Cornell was a feather in the cap for an offensive line that desperately wanted to allow playmakers Brooks Panhans, Connor Ostrander, and Will Griffin to do what they were all waiting to do: Light it up. Will Griffin, the feature back for Cornell, sprang some crucial runs that made his offensive line right even when they weren't. But it was the passing game where the junior made his money this weekend with four catches for 56 yards and one touchdown. Swiss Army Knife Brooks Panhans showed why he should be a top-ten pick in any Fantasy League with a PPR format (Point per reception), putting up a monster statline of nine receptions, 107 yards, and two touchdowns (One receiving and one passing). Not to be outdone, dual-threat quarterback Connor Ostrander erupted for four touchdowns and 381 total yards. The leader of this offense, Connor set the tone physically, running 19 times (mostly between the tackles) for 161 total yards. Saturday, the word "grit" was spelt C-O-N-N-O-R.
But at 35-23, this game was far from over. The vaunted Griffin offense came roaring back, marching 79 yards down the field in 11 plays on their first drive of the half. Chestnut Hill added a field goal to close, which given the context of the game, could ironically referred to as a modest, ten-point quarter. The fourth quarter of what was only the second ever meeting between these two teams was by far the most tense. A reverse pass from Brooks Panhans gave wide receiver Colton Kotecki his second touchdown grab of the day. Chestnut Hill wide receiver Domoree Hill punched right back, tying the game at 41 by snagging Michael Marino's third touchdown pass of the day. It was a 75-yard, smashmouth drive by Cornell capped off by Ostrander that would be the shootouts final score. For shortly after, freshman Matt Luebke's strip-sack iced the game for both teams' greatest game of the year so far. A 511-yard, 49-point performance by the Big Red was what it took to best what was another stellar offensive performance by Michael Marino and the Chestnut Hill offense.