Golden Bears retain top spot in New England
MIDDLETOWN, Conn. – Western New England University (WNE) set another program milestone on Sept. 22 with the announcement that the Golden Bears maintained their No. 1 ranking in New England by the region’s NCAA Division III sports information directors.
While Western New England did see its lead narrow from the first weekly poll, the team did enjoy increases in total points (185) and first-place votes (8) to outpace No. 2 Wesleyan, which is receiving votes in the national polls ,with 174 points and eight first-place votes.
After a bye-week, Western New England will seek its first 3-0 start during the NCAA Division III era that began in 1981 on Saturday when the Golden Bears travel to Maine Maritime in the New England Football Conference (NEFC) opener for both squads in Castine. The host Mariners lead the all-time series 8-5 but the Golden Bears have won the last two meetings by a 125-41 combined score.
On Sept. 15 after wins over Springfield College and Westfield State, WNE made its debut in the top spot of the New England SIDs football poll. The team received six first-place votes among 163 points to make their first appearance in these rankings since Sept. 24, 2012, when they were sixth.
In the season-opening Pynchon SAW game for Springfield bragging rights, Western New England 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.
Then on Sept. 13, the Golden Bears recaptured the annual Presidents’ Cup over visiting Westfield State University (WSU) Owls, 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. In addition, the Golden Bears held the WSU offense to 245 total yards, or 150 below its average coming into the contest.