Freshman quarterback Riley Cote led the Curry Colonels over the visiting Nichols Bison 20-13 in his first game of the season.
After the game, Cote said, “I’ve been waiting for coach to call my name, and he finally did.” Head Coach Skip Bandini’s decision paid off, as Cote threw 27 completions on 42 attempts, for 215 yards and three touchdowns.
While watching film, the Colonels noticed that Nichols’ defensive backs played back on wide receivers, giving them a
cushion which opened up them up to quick passes according to Cote. “We knew we had the short routes there,” Cote said, “and we wanted to go up, our guys against theirs and play sound football.”
Although the Bison scored on their first drive of the game, the ensuing point after try was blocked by senior Tyler Koning giving Nichols an early 6-0 lead.
The Colonels answered with a 12 play, 89-yard drive closing out the first quarter and cutting into the second. Cote found senior captain Jordan Shairs for a six-yard touchdown, putting Curry up 7-6 with twelve and a half minutes left in the half.
After the Colonels stopped the Bisons twice on defense, Cote led another scoring drive finishing with a 35 yard toss to junior Anthony Nastasi. Freshman kicker Marc Mrozek missed the extra point, resulting in a 13-6 lead for Curry.
Right before halftime junior Christian Vellante intercepted a pass with 39 seconds left. Cote led the offense to Nichols’ 29-yard line but Mrozek missed a nearly 50-yard field goal as the half ended.
“The defensive backs definitely stepped up today,” said senior captain and defensive back Curtis Davila. “We knew everything they were going to come with, and had a strong game plan and executed.”
On the Bison’s first possession of the second half, sophomore Devin Williams strip-sacked Nichols quarterback Mike McCourt and junior Stephen Blake recovered the fumble and ran it to the Nichols’ 17 yard line.
A 15 yard run from Shairs put the Colonels inside the five yard line, and Cote connected on another touchdown pass this time to junior J. Riley Barron giving Curry a 20-6 lead early in the third quarter.
The Bison intercepted the inexperienced Cote twice, the second time led to a touchdown as sophomore Brett McEvoy returned it to the Colonels’ 39 yard line. Junior Grant Klimek ran the ball from six yards out pulling Nichols to a 20-13 score.
The Colonels punted the ball back to Nichols only for the defense to step up and force the Bison to punt it back with three and a half minutes to go. Curry drove the ball down the field with three huge first downs, and when enough time had passed, called three consecutive quarterback kneel downs to finalize the score at 20-13.
In addition to Cote’s strong passing performance, Shairs rushed for a game-high 114 yards and caught 5 passes for 29 yards. Nastasi led Colonel receivers with 75 yards on five catches and the touchdown.
On defense junior Joe Zairello tallied six total tackles, one for a loss of four yards. Vellante had three tackles, one for a loss of nine yards, and a sack in addition to his interception.
Next Up: Curry hosts Coast Guard Academy next Saturday at 1 p.m. for another NEFC matchup. The Colonels will hope to earn a second conference win, but have their work cut out for them against a Bears team that is unbeaten in conference play.
Blowing Bubbles: Junior Dean Anderson led the team in catches with six, racking up 32 yards, most of which came on the bubble screen that was run to both sides of the field. The bubble screen was a key part of the game plan with the knowledge that the Bisons would be playing off-man coverage.
Nasty Nastasi hits Paydirt: Anthony Nastasi finally caught his first touchdown of the season despite leading the team in yards (424), through 6 games. At 5’8″, the speedy Nastasi isn’t the prototypical red-zone target, but gets enough separation to find the end zone again soon. He’ll look to grab another next week against Coast Guard.