CASTLETON, Vt. – Castleton University looks to extend its winning streak to three games when it hosts Mount Ida College in an Eastern Collegiate Football Conference (ECFC) game at Spartan Stadium Saturday, Oct. 7, starting at 1 p.m.
Saturday's game has been designated the Breast Cancer Awareness Game, as volunteers with the American Cancer Society's Making Strides Against Breast Cancer will be tabling in the concourse and available to answer any questions about the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer event that Castleton University will be hosting on Sunday, Oct. 22 in the Pavilion. Castleton Football proudly supports the American Cancer Society and the impact that it is having in the fight to free the world from the pain and suffering of cancer.
Led by a career rushing performance from junior running back Moe Harris, Castleton opened the ECFC schedule last Saturday with a 27-14 victory over Anna Maria College in Paxton, Mass. Harris set a school single-game record with 39 carries, rushing for 209 yards, the second-most in a single game by a Spartan, and three touchdowns.
In fact, Castleton has concentrated on the running game over the past two contests, as Harris has carried the ball 74 times for 358 yards in the Spartans' victories over Norwich and Anna Maria. Harris is second in the ECFC in both rushing yards per game (124.8) and rushing touchdowns (six). Mitchell Caron has steadied himself in recent games, throwing a touchdown pass in each of the team's wins.
Defensively for the Spartans, Jakob Trautwein extended his streak of 10 or more tackles to 15 straight games with a team-high 11 tackles at Anna Maria. Trautwein remains fifth in the country with 13.8 tackles per game, plus he is tied for the lead in the ECFC with three sacks and second in the league with seven tackles for a loss. Owen Tretter has become the team's leader in the defensive backfield with 18 total tackles, including 13 solo tackles, four pass breakups, an interception, a fumble recovery, and a blocked field goal against Norwich.
Like Castleton, Mount Ida is 2-2 overall and 1-0 within the ECFC. After opening the season with a 12-10 win at UMass-Dartmouth, Mount Ida lost to Plymouth State (27-0) and Springfield (66-20) before defeating Gallaudet last week, 28-21, on a touchdown and two-point conversion with 56 seconds remaining in regulation.
On offense for the Mustangs, Michael Pina has completed 59.4 percent of his passes for 526 yards and two touchdowns, but he has also thrown six interceptions. Two freshmen lead the Mustangs in rushing: Kolbie Humble with 233 yards and Marcus Mcbean with 214 yards. Oscar Lopez leads the team in receiving yards with 184 and has caught both touchdown passes, while Nick Hewitt has a team-high 24 receptions for 179 yards.
Senior linebacker Josh David leads the Mustang defense with eight tackles per game, plus he has accumulated four tackles for a loss, two fumble recoveries, two blocked kicks, a forced fumble, and an interception. Other than the Springfield game, the Mount Ida defense has been decent, allowing just 19.3 points per game in the other three contests played so far this season. The Mustangs are fifth in the country in passing yards allowed per game, giving up just 103.5 yards per game through the air.
Mount Ida holds a 5-3 series advantage over Castleton as the Mustangs won five of the first six meetings between the two schools. Two years ago at Spartan Stadium, the Spartans scored the first 31 points of the game on their way to a 34-14 victory. Harris led the Castleton offense with 161 yards on 27 carries and two touchdowns, and George Busharis completed 19-of-26 passes for 184 yards and one touchdown. The Spartan defense held the Mustangs to six first downs and 1-for-11 on third down efficiency.
Last season in Newton, Mass., Castleton once again took the early lead, going ahead 20-0 before holding off a Mustang comeback in a 26-14 win. Caron completed 19-of-30 passes for 277 yards and two touchdowns. The Mustangs put together a rally thanks to 52-yard and 75-yard touchdown passes from Jack Sheehan to Matt Greenman, but a 52-yard touchdown pass from Caron to Ed Doton early in the fourth quarter gave the Spartans the cushion they needed.
Starting with Saturday's game against Mount Ida, Castleton will face the other three 1-0 ECFC teams over the next four weeks, traveling to Bangor, Maine, to face Husson next Saturday, Oct. 14, and to Throggs Neck, N.Y., to take on SUNY Maritime Saturday, Oct. 28.