Colonels’ High-Powered Offense Contained by Framingham State, 48-14, in DIII New England Bowl Series

BY STEVEN SOUSA // Nov. 19, 2017 //

Curry football’s offense entered the DIII New England Bowl on fire, averaging 30.7 points per game. However, Framingham State extinguished that flame with 48-14 final score.

The Colonels entered the postseason riding high after a 37-20 victory over Salve Regina locked in a second place finish in the Commonwealth Coast Conference. That game also cemented a conference-best 417.3 yards per game average.

Similarly, the Rams were fresh off a 48-20 win over Worcester State that earned them the title of Co-Champion of the Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) with a 9-1 record. Framingham’s defense had allowed 293.6 yards per game all season while giving up 15.9 points per contest.

With two top-ranked units going at it, something had to give.

On the very first drive, the Rams’ defense flexed their muscles by intercepting Curry quarterback, Alex Corvese.  Framingham quickly converted the turnover into points when sophomore quarterback Adam Wojenski found receiver Shaq Joseph for a 24-yard hookup.

Turnovers continued to plague the Colonels all afternoon as Corvese finished with four interceptions including three in or near the end zone while also losing a fumble.  The Rams cashed in on three of those turnovers for a combined 20 points.

The Curry offense just could not get their footing.  Sacks and batted balls killed several drives for the Colonels as they allowed five sacks on the day, not including one that was negated to a taunting penalty on Framingham State.

“We had a hard time picking up their four defensive linemen and then later in the game they were sending edge pressures,” said Curry head coach Skip Bandini.  “They were a little bit bigger, a little bit stronger, and a little bit faster; they have a lot of talent.”

The Colonels couldn’t even get their highly-touted ground game going that averaged 189.9 yards per game earlier in the season.  On Saturday, they could only muster 21 rushing yards on 28 attempts.

One of the bright spots on offense was the connection between Corvese and receiver Spencer Tyler.  The two hooked up for 75 yards on nine receptions and a touchdown in the first quarter.  Sophomore Nick Villanueva contributed 92 yards on just four catches.

The loss certainly wasn’t due to a lack of effort on Curry’s part, however.  Bandini felt his team did a good job defending Framingham until the playmakers took over.

“They did a good job, I’m proud as hell of them, there’s really no quit in them,” reiterated Bandini.

Despite the bowl-game loss, the Colonels enjoyed an 8-3 record which marks the most successful season the program has had since the 2009 campaign. That year, Curry also finished at 8-3 and fell to Maine Maritime in the New England Football Conference Championship, 48-42.

Bandini doesn’t believe this season was a fluke and that there will be plenty more to come from the program.

“We just go back, get a little smarter, a little faster, recruit a couple more kids and we’ll knock their ass off next year,” said Bandini emphatically.

With a departing senior class of key contributors on both sides of the ball, the Colonels will certainly have their work cut out for them.

Corvese, Tyler, and lineman Ryan Boucher leave holes on the offense while defensive linemen Joseph Grogan and Joe Surace, linebacker Steven Grogan, and defensive back Jack O’Rourke all vacate the defensive side of the ball for the Purple and White.

Western New England Tops Curry 42-28, Takes First Place in CCC

BY STEVEN SOUSA // Nov. 5, 2017 //

In a battle for first place in the Commonwealth Coast Conference, visiting Western New England outgunned the Colonels, 42-28, solidifying their spot atop the conference.

Both teams entered Saturday tied for first with a CCC record of 3-0, and each coming off impressive week-nine victories.

The game started strong for Curry as it forced a punt on the first Golden-Bear possession and wasted no time formulating the response. The Colonels marched 73 yards down the field and Alex Corvese capped the drive with a seven-yard scamper, his 11th rushing score of the season.

WNE responded on the very next drive when quarterback Anthony Service hit receiver Justin Townsend for a 15-yard touchdown pass, knotting the game at 7-7 less than a minute into quarter two.

In that second quarter, the Golden Bears started to find their rhythm in the run game as they ran for three touchdowns under five yards to grab a 28-14 lead going into halftime.

WNE finished the game with 338 rushing yards, nearly double their season average of 181 yards per game, and triple the amount that Curry usually allows per game.

“They were getting to our linebackers and sealing them,” Colonels’ head coach Skip Bandini said simply. “We were giving up gap control, and they blocked us.”

The Colonels started the second half with a five-play, 39-yard scoring driving that ended with a 10-yard connection from Corvese to sophomore Nick Villanueva to cut the score to 28-21. But every time Curry came within a score, the Golden Bears would tack on another.

Early in the fourth, the Colonels were threatening to score when Corvese lofted a deep ball down the left sideline to receiver Phil Lebel, who came down with the ball along with WNE defensive back, Zhaire House.  The officials ruled that House had possession and that it was the Golden Bears’ ball, a call that Curry, and its fans, didn’t agree with.

“Personally, as a Curry player, I didn’t think it was the right call,” Corvese noted. “But there’s nothing we can do about it…It killed some momentum, we would have had the crowd back on our side but it definitely deflated us a little bit.”

The senior quarterback finished the game with four total touchdowns but added two more picks in the fourth while trying to press and get the team back in the game.

The loss dashes the Colonels’ dreams of first place in the CCC and also drops them to 7-2 overall. That mark is good enough for a second-place spot which they share with Salve Regina University, which is where Curry will end its regular season.

That regular-season finale will determine who will go on to play in the New England Bowl and in Bandini’s opinion; the Salve game will be just as big as Saturday’s game was.

That game was the last time seniors put on the Purple and White in front of their hometown fans at the Walter M. Katz field. The cheerleaders joined the field before the game and were honored for their achievements over the last four years. We wish all the best to the graduating class of 2018.

Until then, Curry will make one more trip to Newport, R.I. to kick off with the Salve Regina Seahawks at noon, next Saturday, Nov. 11.

Corvese Registers Five Touchdowns to Lift Colonels Over Nichols, 46-16

BY STEVEN SOUSA // Oct. 21, 2017 //

The Colonels rode quarterback Alex Corvese’s five-touchdown performance to a 46-16 win over conference foe Nichols College on Homecoming Weekend.

Saturday afternoon was the second game in a row where Curry put up at least 40 points amidst its recent three-game win streak.

Corvese tossed a pair of touchdowns in the first half, one to sophomore Nick Villanueva and another to junior Phil Lebel, giving the Colonels an 18-10 lead at the break. However, it was in the second half where Curry’s high-powered offense really took off.

The Colonels went on a 21-point run which started with an eight-yard touchdown run from Corvese with just over 11 minutes remaining in the 3rd. Lebel caught the next two on 12 and 10-yard throws to extend the Curry lead to 39-10 with almost all of the 4th left to play.

Corvese has been the key cog in the Colonels’ offense this year as he now has 17 total touchdowns on the year. The senior co-captain from Cranston, R.I. credited the offense’s big day to the coaching staff in getting the players prepared.

“We had a really good understanding of what they would be running defensively so we knew how to attack them,” said Corvese.

The defense also played exceptionally well, limiting the Bison to 16 points while forcing four turnovers.  After the game, Curry head coach Skip Bandini said that the key was stopping quarterback/receiver Tony Martignoli, who is an athlete that Nichols likes to move all over the field.

Junior Joe Patti and senior Dylan Gramuglia were able to do just that and get in Martignoli’s head by way of an intercepted pass, accounting for just half of the Colonels’ defensive turnovers.

Senior Stephen Grogan forced a fumble in the 3rd quarter and classmate Jack O’Rourke picked it up before freshman Aaron Brooks grabbed another interception from Cam Hamilton this time, to ice the game with under a minute left.

The win puts Curry in a three-way tie for first place atop the Commonwealth Coast Conference standings with Salve Regina and Western New England who also stand at 2-0 within the conference.  Their overall record climbs to 6-1, the Colonels’ best start to a season since 2009.

Coach Bandini recognized that this group of players is special but he speculated as to why there hasn’t been a remarkable start like this in eight years.

“One reason is the economy, we lost a lot of kids over the years that couldn’t afford the school anymore,” Bandini noted.  “But I think the merit money that they have at Curry College now sets kids up to be successful and stay here for four years.

“The administration addressed that issue because they want to win so I tip my hat to the athletic director, the president of the college, dean of admissions. When we win, it’s really a credit to all those folks that have worked behind the scenes,” Bandini explained.

Next Saturday, the Colonels will be traveling to Beverly, Mass. to take on Endicott College who is 1-6 on the season and 0-2 in conference play. The Gulls will be coming off a 41-14 defeat to the fellow first-place Salve Regina Seahawks.

Football Team is Confident Entering First CCC Matchup

BY KELLY LEWICKI // OCT. 13, 2017 //

Saturday marks the start of Commonwealth Coast Conference play for the Curry football team (4-1) as its takes on conference newcomer Becker College (0-5) in Worcester, Mass.

The stats look good for the Colonels. So far this season, they’ve outscored the Hawks by a whopping 112 points. In addition, Curry’s average yards per game on offense far exceed Becker’s. But none of that matters to head coach Skip Bandini.

“We don’t really look at stats because one team could have played four great teams and their stats could look awful, and then they go play an average team and they could be a great team,” said Bandini in a press conference Thursday.

Much of the Colonels’ success has been attributed to senior quarterback Alex Corvese, and notice has been taken of the team’s impressive start to the season. But being featured in a recent Boston Herald article, Corvese claimed, is not making the team feel any added pressure.

“I wouldn’t say pressure at all,” said Corverse, who passed for 377 yards with four total touchdowns last week in a 30-27 win over UMass-Dartmouth. “The recognition is cool, but it doesn’t add any pressure in my eyes. We’re still college kids who just want to win everyday down there.”

It is unsure how the Colonels starting lineup will be affected in Saturday’s game, as Bandini revealed there are multiple players who are injured and will not be playing. He declined to make any further comment on who. When asked why not, he simply responded with, “Because I don’t want to say. You’ll find out on game day.”

Becker is averaging just 5.4 points a game this season, so look for Curry’s defense to be aggressive.

The Colonels’ offense has been averaging approximately 400 yards per game, almost evenly split between rushing and passing (189.6 rushing and 207.8 passing). Expect another heavy mix of both in this game, especially against an opposing offense that can’t stay on the field.

Despite all of the odds seeming to be in favor of the Colonels, Bandini remained consistent that he was “nervous as hell” and “not comfortable in this game at all.”

However, the coach attempted to keep things in perspective.

“It’s just another football game,” said Bandini. “We’ve been focused and are going to stay focused. We never play down to an opponent; if we play to the best of our abilities, we will win.”

The teams face off at 2 p.m. on Saturday at Becker.

 

Additional reporting by Zachary Muller

Corvese Finds Pay Dirt Four Times to Fend Off UMass Dartmouth, 30-27

BY STEVEN SOUSA // Oct. 8, 2017 //

Senior quarterback Alex Corvese capped a 55-yard scoring drive with a one-yard sneak to give Curry the lead over UMass Dartmouth with just over six minutes left to play.

The Corsairs failed to cross midfield on the ensuing possession and the Colonels moved to a 4-1 mark to start their season, the best record through the first five weeks of play since the 2008 squad started 7-0.

Co-captain Corvese finished the game 29-of-44 with 378 yards and two scores through the air, both of which came in the first half.

Curry headed into the game averaging 217.8 rushing yards per game but UMass’ game plan forced the Colonels to adjust from their option attack into more of a passing offense.

After the game, 12th-year Head Coach Skip Bandini explained what forced their alterations.

“They had six guys in the box and were playing man-to-man coverage so they are playing against the run,” Bandini noted. “We were trying to read one of those guys but when they bring in a seventh, you can’t block him so we had to throw.”

In place of the running game, Curry relied on a different name to move the chains. Sophomore Nick Villanueva caught 11 passes and racked up 152 yards, developing chemistry with #12 under center.

Entering the game, the Hanson, Mass. native hadn’t caught more than two passes for 27 yards in a single game and didn’t really expect to be thrown at that much. However, as the game plan changed, he was ready.

“We knew they were going to man-up so we ran a lot of switch routes and worked in practice to get off that man press,” Villanueva said.

Corvese found senior Spencer Tyler and sophomore Andrew Allen in both quarters of the first half before junior Mark Mrozek nailed a field goal to put the Colonels up 17-7 with just over eight minutes left in the second.

The Corsairs’ freshman quarterback, Stephen Gacioch, was forced to leave the game due to injury after being sacked on only the third play from scrimmage. Sophomore Jace Pena checked in and was promptly greeted by sophomore Aiden Cawley who intercepted his first passing attempt to give the ball back to Curry and Corvese.

Pena bounced back, however, and helped UMass rattle off 10 unanswered points to make the halftime score 17-17.

Another Corsair field goal grabbed them the lead in the third quarter, although it was short lived.

Corvese led the Colonels down a short field and found Tyler again for a 34-yard hookup that brought them down to the UMass three-yard line. That’s all the room Corvese needed and he took the lead back for the Purple and White after three quarters of play.

The Corsairs’ first drive of the fourth quarter started just before midfield but a holding penalty brought them back 10 yards. UMass called a slant route for junior Abbi Bamgbose and Pena led him to the open field and he took it all 61 yards to display a 27-24 score in favor of the Corsairs with 12:41 left on the clock.

Despite giving up that long touchdown, Bandini still had immense confidence in his team.

“Our kids always battle,” Bandini said.  “That’s one thing we always know, they are going to battle no matter what.”

Both teams were forced to punt and junior Dylan Vieira-Owens called a fair catch for Curry on his own 45-yard line with 9 minutes remaining, still trailing by three.

Corvese started the drive with a pass to Villanueva (go figure) and went on to finish the drive 4-of-5 for 49 yards and sat with a 1st-and-goal at the one-yard line. Corvese’s 5’11” 190-pound frame snuck right through the trenches and fell into the end zone to put the Colonels up 30-27 with 6:06 remaining.

UMass started the drive on its own 15-yard line and again could not get over the 50 and were forced to return the ball to Curry.

Although the Colonels had trouble running the ball all game, the rushing attack came through with 31 yards and three first downs on the final drive to bleed out the clock and send the score final.

The close victory showcased the team’s mental toughness, something Bandini feels they pride themselves on.

“I’ve been here a long time, and there’s no tougher kids,” Bandini said simply.  “I was telling these kids on Wednesday and Thursday night; ‘You guys are the toughest SOBs I’ve been around in a long time.’”

Curry enjoyed a bye-week last week and had an extra week to hash out the mistakes from their first loss of the season two weeks ago.

Now, they move on to the Commonwealth Coast Conference portion of their schedule, starting with a road trip to Becker College next Saturday, Oct. 14, for a 2 p.m. kickoff.