October 23, 2013

Football Featured In D3Football.com Around The Region

Written By: Tom Haley, D3Football.com

Frosh doing big things for UMD

There were some staggering numbers this week on the Northeast landscape. Trinity won its 50th consecutive home game, UMass-Dartmouth freshman DaVon Fuller intercepted a school-record four passes in one game and Colby's CT Harris had four sacks in a win over Hamilton.

"That 50 wins at home in a row is just unbelievable," Wesleyan coach Mike Whalen said of the Bantams' streak.

But here's a number that should really grab you. UMass-Dartmouth coach Mark Robichaud brought in 66 freshmen this year.

Robichaud, you see, was making up for lost time. He is in his seventh year as the Corsairs' head coach, but only became full time a year ago. When he could have been recruiting the past six years, he was down the road teaching at a middle school.

And the young kids are growing up. The 3-3 Corsairs have won three of the last four.

It was Charles Ruffin, one of the freshmen, who went into the end zone from four yards with less than a minute to play in this week's 34-33 victory over Worcester State. And Fuller, another freshman, came up with those incredible four picks in one game.

UMD has five interceptions this season and Fuller, a corner, has them all.

"I don't know if teams are going to challenge him much more," Robichaud said.

They might find him unimposing. He's just 5-9, 150 pounds. But after last week he will be big in opponent's game planning.

His four interception returns totaled 106 yards and he took one back for a touchdown.

Then, there's linebacker Derek Tarpey. A graybeard as a sophomore. He had 15 tackles and forced a fumble against Worcester State and has a team-leading 68 tackles this season. The signal for greatness was sent out last year when he made 22 tackles as a freshman against Western New England.

"He is just an outstanding football player," Robichaud said. "He is a very quiet and unassuming kid. He doesn't show a lot of emotion. He just loves to play football. You can't block the kid. He is in on almost every play. The kid can just do everything.

"He does not say much, but when he does you can hear a pin drop. The kids have so much respect for him."

"He is only going to get better. We can't wait to see what he can do."

Things are going well for Mark Robichaud. He is finally a full-time football coach. And having some more years of a tackling machine like Tarpey and a ball-hawking corner like Fuller isn't bad, either.

That 50th consecutive home win by Trinity came in a 40-21 victory over Bowdoin. The Bantams are 52-0 on turf and will have to withstand the prolific passing of McCallum Foote this week on the turf of Middlebury's Youngman Field this week to extend that streak. The Bantams last loss in Hartford was way back in 2001 against Williams.

Against Bowdoin, Evan Bunker rushed for 159 yards.

Keeping pace with Trinity in the NESCAC was Wesleyan. The Cardinals went to 5-0 for their best start in 20 years by beating previously unbeaten Amherst 20-14. Keying the effort was Justin Sanchez who seven tackles to go with two interceptions.

"The thing we added with this freshman class is speed," Whalen said. "We have two fast freshman safeties."

Wesleyan has also improved its depth since Whalen arrived at his alma mater after coaching at Williams. That is why they were able to withstand the injuries to blue chip running backs LaDarius Drew and Kyle Gibson against Amherst. Whalen said that "Drew was about 75 percent and Gibson 50 percent."

But recruiting to bolster the depth means four quality tailbacks instead of the two.

"The younger kids at running back and safety have really stepped up," Whalen said.

And speaking of numbers, Middlebury has Bates' number. The Panthers defeated Bates for the 25th straight time as Foote threw for 305 yards and two touchdowns. Tim Patricia had 17 tackles for Middlebury, 12 of them solo stops.

Also in the NESCAC, Luke Duncklee had a Colby record 12 receptions as the White Mules defeated Hamilton 37-18.