CASTLETON, Vt. – For the first time in five years, the Castleton University football team will host a night game at Spartan Stadium, welcoming the Fitchburg State Falcons for a 6 p.m. kickoff Saturday, Sept. 9.
The only previous football night game at Spartan Stadium took place Oct. 13, 2012, when Castleton scored the first 45 points in a 45-13 victory over Becker College. Overall, Castleton is 3-1 in games with the kickoff time set for after 4 p.m., and the Spartans will play two more home night games this season: next Saturday, Sept. 16 against Norwich, and Saturday, Oct. 21 against Dean.
Castleton opened the 2017 season last Saturday with a 31-7 loss to Plymouth State at Currier Field in Plymouth, N.H. Moe Harris led the Spartan offense with 122 all-purpose yards and the team's lone touchdown. However, the Spartans struggled to put together offensive drives, as they were successful on only three of 14 third down conversions.
Defensively, Jakob Trautwein picked up right where he left off when he broke Castleton's single season tackles record last season, leading the Spartans with 12 total tackles. Bubba Collins contributed eight tackles, including two tackles for a loss. The key for the defense will be to learn from the opening game and limit the big plays, as Plymouth State converted six plays of 20 yards or more.
Fitchburg State opened its 2017 campaign last weekend with a 33-30 loss to Curry College at Katz Field in Milton, Mass. The Falcons took a 10-7 lead early in the second quarter, but gave up touchdowns late in the first half and early in the second half to give Curry the lead for good. Fitchburg State came within three points three times in the second half, but Curry answered with its own score twice, recovered a Falcon onside kick attempt with 2:28 left in regulation, and then pounced on the ball when Fitchburg State muffed a punt with 1:08 to go in the game to close out the contest.
Falcon quarterback Nelson Valerio went 17-of-23 for 266 yards and a touchdown, with Jesse Brown catching nine passes for 145 yards. Jevon Brown-Simpson led the Falcon rushing attack, carrying the ball 21 times for 75 yards and two touchdowns. Overall, the Falcon offense performed well against Curry, scoring 30 points, compiling 346 yards of total offense, and holding the ball for almost 31 minutes.
Defensive back Jovon White led the Falcons with seven tackles and two pass breakups in the season opener at Curry. Last season, he finished with five interceptions, three pass breakups, and 35 total tackles, including two tackles for a loss. Marquise Frazier led the Falcon defensive line with two sacks and a forced fumble. However, Fitchburg State allowed 257 yards rushing and 396 total yards of offense by the Colonels.
This will be the second meeting all-time between the Spartans and the Falcons. Last season, Fitchburg State controlled the action throughout a 34-3 victory on Sept. 10, 2016, at Elliot Field in Fitchburg, Mass. The Falcon quarterbacks combined to go 29-of-37 for 225 yards and two touchdowns, with 11 different Fitchburg State receivers catching at least one pass. Harris led Castleton with 140 all-purpose yards, while Trautwein led the Spartan defense with 11 total tackles, including 2.5 tackles for a loss.