WNE football ranked No. 1 in New England
MIDDLETOWN – On the strength of wins over Springfield College and Westfield State University (WSU), the Western New England University (WNE) football team for the first time ever is ranked No. 1 in New England in the first weekly poll of NCAA Division III sports information directors based in the region.
The 2-0 Golden Bears received six first-place votes among 163 points to make their first appearance in these rankings since Sep. 24, 2012, when they were sixth.
Amherst College was a distant second with 140 points and one first-place vote.
In the season-opening Pynchon SAW game for Springfield bragging rights, WNE erased an 11-point deficit late in the game to stun host and five-time NCAA tournament participant Springfield 38-34.
Senior running back Kevin Cook scored the game-winning touchdown from two yards out with 1 minute and 22 seconds left to cap an 11-play, 55-yard drive in 4:04 that was saved by a pair of fourth-down conversions of 4 and 9 yards via the pass.
On Saturday, the Golden Bears recaptured the annual Presidents’ Cup over visiting WSU, 17-14, in another dramatic comeback during Homecoming Weekend.
After the Owls took their first lead at 14-10 just 34 seconds into the fourth quarter, WNE went ahead for good at the 4:18 mark on senior Alejandro Colons 38-yard TD reception from classmate Tyler Ward. It marked Colon’s first touchdown reception in his collegiate career.
The defensive unit did the rest by stopping the Owls on their ensuing drive at the WNE 48-yard line. In addition, the Golden Bears held the WSU offense to 245 total yards, or 150 below its average coming into the contest.
On Sep. 27 at Maine Maritime in the New England Football Conference opener, Western New England will try for its first 3-0 start ever in its NCAA Division III history since the program was elevated from club-varsity status in 1981.