MILTON, Mass. – Curry College toped visiting Nichols College 20-13 in New England Football Conference (NEFC) action Saturday afternoon at Walter M. Katz Field. The Colonels picked up their first league win of the season, improving to 2-4 overall and 1-2 in NEFC action. The Bison slipped to 1-5 overall and 0-3 in league play.
The Bison scored on their first drive of the game, putting together a six-play, 77-yard drive which ended with sophomore Michael McCourt (New Fairland, Conn.) connecting with classmate Kyle Whitney (Cranston, R.I.) for a 53-yard throw and catch. The ensuing point-after try was blocked by senior Tyler Koning (Carlisle, Mass.), resulting in a 6-0 lead for Nichols.
The Colonels would respond with a 12-play, 89-yard drive spanning five and a half minutes at the end of the first and beginning of the second quarter. Freshman quarterback Riley Cote (Bedford, N.H.) connected with senior Jordan Shairs (Gloucester, Mass.) from six yards out, putting Curry up 7-6 with 12 1/2 minutes left in the half.
After two three-and-outs for the Bison and one for the Colonels in between, Cote hooked up with junior Anthony Nastasi (River Edge, N.J.) for a 35-yard pitch and catch. Freshman kicker Marc Mrozek (Stratford, Conn.) would miss the extra point, putting the score at 13-6 in favor of Curry.
The Colonels had one more opportunity to score after junior Christian Vellante (Wrentham, Mass.) intercepted a pass with 39 seconds left. Cote drove the ball to Nichols' 29-yard line but Mrozek couldn't connect on a long 46-yard field goal attempt as time expired in the half.
On the Bison's first possession of the second half, sophomore Devin Williams (Gardner, Mass.) forced a fumble and junior Stephen Blake (East Hartland, Conn.) recovered it at the Nichols' 17-yard line.
A 15-yard run from Shairs set up another passing touchdown for Cote, this time to junior J. Riley Barron (Whitinsville, Mass.) from two yards out putting Curry up, 20-6.
The Bison would score again after sophomore Brett McEvoy (Wrentham, Mass.) intercepted a pass from Cote returning it to the Colonels' 39-yard line. An eight-play, 39-yard drive ending with junior Grant Klimek (Toms River, N.J.) rushing it in from seven yards out put the score at 20-13 in favor of Curry.
The Colonels would punt it back to Nichols, and saw their defense step up and force the Bison to punt it back with three and a half minutes left on the clock. Curry got three first downs and took consecutive kneel downs to secure the 20-13 final.
Cote led the Colonels with 27 completions on 42 attempts for 215 yards and three touchdowns, as well as racking up 12 yards on the ground. Shairs rushed for a game-high 114 yards on 14 attempts, and caught another five passes for 29 yards. Nastasi led the receiving corps with 75 yards on five catches and a touchdown. Senior Jake Cawlina (Danvers, Mass.) also caught five for 39 yards and junior Dean Anderson (Melrose, Mass.) caught a team-best six passes for 32 total yards.
The defense was led by junior Joe Zariello (Woodcliff Lake, N.J.) who racked up six total tackles, one for a loss of four yards. Williams recorded three tackles, one for loss and a sack which also forced a fumble. Vellante also had three tackles, one for a loss of nine yards and a sack as well as an interception which was returned for 11 yards. Senior Dylan Spence (Newton, N.H.) also recorded an interception in the end zone as well as recording two tackles.
Nichols was led by McCourt who connected on 14 of his 26 passing attempts for 155 yards and one touchdown. Klimek racked up 24 yards on the ground, accounting for the rushing touchdown and Whitney led the receivers racking up 67 yards on three catches as well as the touchdown.
Junior Matt McEvilly (Clinton, Mass.) led the Bison defense with 12 solo tackles, including two sacks and three tackles for losses totaling 12 yards. McEvoy racked up six total tackles as well as a sack and a tackle for loss while also recording an interception.
Curry hosts the U.S. Coast Guard Academy next Saturday at 1 p.m. in another NEFC matchup. Nichols also returns to action next Saturday as they host conference foe Salve Regina University at noon.