CASTLETON, Vt. – It was a cold and dreary fall day at Dave Wolk Stadium on Saturday, as the Castleton University football team fell in Eastern Collegiate Football Conference action to Husson University by a final score of 48-0.
Castleton drops to 1-7 on the season and 0-4 in ECFC play, while Husson improves to 6-2 overall and sits atop the conference with a 5-0 mark.
The Spartan offense was unable to get going throughout the contest, mustering just 131 total yards, 94 of which came on the ground—the second-most yards that Husson has allowed rushing in a single game. Moe Harris was held to a season-low 28 yards, while Mitchell Caron added 26 yards of his own on the ground and Simon Davis Jr. carried the ball five times for 21 yards. Caron was just 3-for-17 throwing the ball in the inclement weather, passing for 37 yards and an interception. Harris was on the receiving end of two of those passes for a total of 31 yards.
Seth Gewanter piled up 13 tackles and forced a fumble, while Grant Cummings had 13 tackles of his own in the loss. Chris Rice had eight tackles, a sack and a forced fumble, setting a new program record for tackles for a loss in a single season with 14.5. Pat Maloney also forced a fumble for the Spartans, while Ethan Sherwood, Luc Issa and Zak Pollicino were on the recovering end of fumbles for the Castleton defense.
Solomon Hassen cut through the Castleton defense to the tune of 152 yards rushing and four touchdowns on the afternoon, while Miece Loureiro racked up 77 yards on seven carries. Bryan Cedeno punched in a touchdown for Husson as part of a four-carry, 35-yard effort for the Eagles. In total, Husson piled up 353 yards rushing. Cory Brandon was just 4-of-11 passing for 33 yards, the lowest total of his career in a game in which he started. It was also the first time since week one that Brandon was held without a touchdown pass, as he went seven consecutive weeks throwing three or more passing touchdowns.
Quan Soyini was a difference-maker in multiple facets of the game, registering three tackles, forcing and recovering a fumble, and returning a punt for a touchdown. He averaged 29.4 yards per punt return including the 68-yard score. Derek Barden had a team-leading 10 tackles while registering 2.5 sacks and forcing a fumble. Elvin Suazo added 1.5 tackles for a loss, 0.5 sacks, and nine total tackles on the afternoon. Ace Curry and De'Wayne Smith had interceptions, while Zach Connolly and John Chen added interceptions.
Husson opened the game with a mechanical drive, rushing the ball seven times for 75 yards over the span of 4:03. The drive was capped off with an 11-yard touchdown run by Hassen and an extra point by Devin Pickett, giving the visitors an early 7-0 lead. After Castleton's first drive of contest ended via turnover on downs, the Spartan defense went to work in search of a stop. With Husson facing a 1st-and-10 at the Castleton 45-yard line, Hassen took a handoff up the middle, where Rice punched it loose before Pollicino pounced on it to give the Spartans the ball back near midfield.
The Castleton offense stalled once more, going three-and-out before punting it away. The Castleton defense was still riding high off the forced fumble in the previous series, as Gewanter got his name on the stat sheet with a forced fumble of his own on the first play from scrimmage, forcing Loureiro to cough it up before Sherwood pounced on it. A 15-yard penalty on Husson at the end of the play gave Castleton the ball at the Husson 27-yard line, but penalties of their own pushed the Spartans back near midfield. A sack and a pair of incompletions caused a turnover on downs as Castleton came up empty once more.
With the score still 7-0 after one quarter of play, the Husson offense went back to work looking to add to its lead. The Eagles marched 55 yards in 11 plays and ate more than five minutes of clock to open the second quarter, but came up empty as the Spartan defense mustered a goal-line stand from the six-yard line, forcing back-to-back incompletions by Brandon and a turnover on downs.
The ensuing Castleton possession started with a 12-yard run from Anthony Martinez, but a false start on the following play backed Castleton up five yards. A pair of rushes that totaled three yards made it 3rd-and-long, where newly-entered Jacob McCarthy looked to pass but was picked off by Ace Curry. Curry ran it back 18 yards inside the Castleton 10-yard line, where Hassen needed only one carry to add Husson's second score of the game to the board. The Eagles added one more score before the break, as Soyini fielded a punt at his own 32-yard line and took it cross-field before turning on the jets and beating the Spartans' special teams unit for a 68-yard punt return touchdown.
Castleton received the second-half kickoff and worked their way deep into Husson territory as part of a nine-play, 35-yard drive that ate up more than four minutes, but the Eagles' defense stood tall, stuff a third-down run and a fourth-down incompletion to take over on downs. Husson took that stop and turned it into points, marching 73 yards in five plays, highlighted by Hassen's third touchdown of the day. Pickett missed the extra point, however a Spartan penalty allowed Husson a second chance, where they opted to try a two-point conversion. The defensive line of Castleton got a strong push of the snap, stuffing a rushing attempt by Hassen to keep the score at 27-0.
Husson's defensive unit came alive once more on the ensuing possession for Castleton, as Suazo and Barden combined for a pair of sacks, forcing a three-and-out and a Spartan punt. The Eagles then took the ball 50 yards in eight plays, capped off with Hassen's fourth and final touchdown of the contest. Pickett's point after was good, pushing the score to 34-0.
The offensive woes continued for the Spartans on the dreary day, as Caron and Harris had a botched exchange, leading to a fumble recovery and a 31-yard touchdown return by Connolly on the first play from scrimmage following the kickoff. Pickett drilled the extra point to make it 41-0 in favor of the visitors, a score that held into the fourth quarter.
Midway through the final frame, the Eagles put the finishing touches on the afternoon with a 19-yard rushing touchdown by Cedeno as he slipped a tackle at the line and burst outside for the score. Dawson Stevens added the final extra-point attempt to cap the game, 48-0, as neither offense managed anything more.
Castleton returns to action next week when it travels to Franklin, Mass., to take on Dean College in an ECFC matchup. Kick-off is slated for 3 p.m. at the Longley Athletic Complex.