BY TYLER MILLIKEN // NOV. 14, 2016 //
Saturday marked the end of 17 different collegiate careers as well as the 2016 chapter of Curry College Football as Endicott College came to Walter M. Katz Field for an afternoon kickoff.
After a roller-coaster type of season, emotions were high before the first whistle. There was a serious hope that the Colonels could defeat their Commonwealth Coast Conference rival and end the season on a high note for the seniors.
Curry won the coin toss but deferred to the second half and the Gulls offense battled to a 33-yard field goal attempt on their first possession. The Colonels’ special teams unit came through, and rushed kicker John Glaser to push the kick wide right.
On Senior Day, instead of junior Alex Corvese starting the game at quarterback like he has all season, Head Coach Skip Bandini gave the starting nod to senior Mike O’Hearn.
However, O’Hearn faltered in his first drive and threw an interception on his eighth play. Classmate and linebacker Sean Conroy picked him up though and jumped a slant route and ran 28 yards with the interception to open the scoring.
The crowd immediately erupted and gave thanks to Conroy on such a special day. The aftermath of the celebrations overshadowed a missed extra point, however, and Curry held a 6-0 lead.
Despite the Colonels changing the momentum, Endicott had no interest in falling behind. Its offense quickly found their groove, and scored their first touchdown of the day courtesy of a two-yard rush by running back Michael Scherer to take a 7-6 lead.
Although the ensuing Curry drive stalled, Mark Mrozek delivered a punt that was downed at the Gulls’ one-yard line nearing the end of the first frame. However, looking at all 99 yards to work with, quarterback Joe Kalosky ended the drive scrambling for an eight-yard touchdown, two minutes into the second quarter.
Corvese returned to the field and developed a drive of his own to answer Endicott. D’Aundray Burcy took it in from seven yards out to bring the score to 14-13 with just over ten minutes to play in the first half.
Kalosky came back but had his drive cut short by junior Dan Farrell who forced a fumble that sophomore Aidan Cawley recovered at the Endicott 40. Corvese then needed only five plays to find sophomore Dylan Vieira-Owens to retake the lead, 20-14.
The Gulls responded with a seven-play, lateral-infused drive that ended in a score to give the ball back to Corvese and the offense. However, the Colonels were forced to punt and had said punt blocked to return the ball to Kalosky’s hands, who scored right away from 16 yards out to make it 28-20 heading into halftime.
Since Curry deferred the coin toss, they started the second half on their own 33-yard line with only two quarters left. Corvese wasted no time and took ten plays to drive all 69 yards which ended with Jake Cawlina finding pay dirt on a 30-yard connection in his last game in the Purple and White.
The teams traded possessions until the final two minutes of the third quarter, when Endicott quickly took advantage of a short field and took a 35-27 lead nearing the final round.
The Colonels’ next drive spanned the end of the third and beginning of the fourth quarter, but stalled to give the ball back to the Gulls. They scored on their next two possessions to increase their advantage to 49-27 before Corvese led one more scoring drive of his own to cut into the lead.
He leaned heavily on senior Anthony Nastasi who finished the day with 72 yards on nine catches in his final game. Corvese eventually ran it in himself from ten yards out to make the score 49-33 with a minute and a half left in many careers. Even though the points came with little time to change the outcome of the game, it was obvious the seniors appreciated the entire team’s effort.
Curry got one more possession, and O’Hearn was given one more drive to finish out his career. The final play of the game was a four-yard connection to friend and classmate, Nastasi, who walked off Katz Field one last time with their brothers in shoulder pads.
After the game O’Hearn was a little shocked, and noted, “I never thought the day would come when I would play my last football game. But it came, and it was fun to get out there one last time.”
The entire scene on the field was tough to watch at the end of the game, as the moment really began to hit some players. Conroy mentioned, “Knowing that I’ll never come back and play with these guys made things emotional. I have nothing but great memories here.”
Coach Bandini echoed both of his players’ thoughts saying, “I couldn’t ask for anything more from these seniors, not only during this game but throughout the entire year. Taking all the younger guys underneath their wing…You couldn’t ask for better kids.”
The Colonels close the 2016 season 3-6, with a 1-6 record in CCC play. During a season full of both high-scoring and close affairs, it shows some insight into what the future holds for this program.
Even though so many impactful seniors are saying their goodbyes, many have left their footprint on this team. The leadership and maturity they showed on a weekly basis will be a model for future Colonels, as the program continues to chase that coveted championship.
Offensive Skill Positions: WR Jake Cawlina (60 Receptions, Team-Best 945 yards and 13 TD’s this season), WR Anthony Nastasi (Team-Best 82 Receptions, 772 yards), WR Nate Chartrand (24 Receptions, 257 yards), QB Mike O’Hearn (16-30, 177 yards), RB Dave DiGiorgi (12 Receptions, 94 yards), RB Dean Anderson (29 Receptions, 228 yards), TE J. Riley Barron.
Defensive Skill Positions: DB Christian Vellante (37 Total Tackles this season, Fumble Recovery), DB Nick Patten, LB Sean Conroy (Senior-Best 50 Total Tackles, 5.5 For Loss, Sack), DB Christian Braga (47 Total Tackles, Fumble Recovery), DB Sean McNamara, LB Stephen Blake (3 Total Tackles), LB Michael Crisalli (9 Total Tackles).
Linemen: OL James Hill, OL Kevin McTommney, DL Joe Grogan (33 Total Tackles).