Dominant wins and key divisional games filled our fifth week of game action. With the closest contest of the weekend being decided by 15 points, the league's championship contenders have emerged. In the North, Army is in the driver's seat after extending their current win streak to 13. Cornell stays alive as the only challenger left for the division's most dominant program. Though Navy will face Post to close out its regular season in two weeks, Penn is their final South division opponent. Navy remains undefeated in divisional play, but this week's matchup with the defending division champion will decide who gets to play in the CSFL's second championship game.
Cornell vs St. Thomas Aquinas
An early six-point lead couldn't survive a second-half surge by the Cornell Big Red.Saturday evening, STAC held an offense coming off of a 511-yard performance to just 205 total yards. However, a field position battle was won on the shoulders of three senior defenders in Harold Green, Alfonso Nazzaro, and Amanze Udebiuwa. The trio of veterans combined for 40 tackles, eight of which were tackles for loss. As a whole, the Cornell defense faired far better against the ground game. A superhuman effort holding the STAC run game to just two yards was humbled by a 303 passing yards from Spartan quarterback Luke Sullivan.
Timely stops by its defense, a blocked punt by cornerback Jean Davila, and an average of 47.8 yards per punt from Brandon Risley gave the Cornell offense plenty of opportunities to score. Four for four in the red zone, Cornell punched in a touchdown every time. Runningback Will Griffen notched his first rushing touchdown to compliment his first passing touchdown of the season. Thirty points proved to be more than enough to overcome two turnovers forced by the STAC defense, the game ending 30-15 in Cornell's favor.
Navy vs Chestnut Hill
In a crucial game that had championship implications, Navy thwarted any kind of plans Chestnut Hill had to take the division in only they third year of play. A resounding 31-0 shutout was the most recent of a string of great defensive performances from the naval academy. Three turnovers and 154 total yards from the Griffins were not nearly enough to keep up with what ended up being one of Navy's slower offensive performances.
The Midshipmen dominated the game with physicality, running the ball 48 times for 163 yards. Not much was asked of quarterback Braydon Chmiel in the passing game, but given just 19 attempts, he managed to complete passes to five different receivers. Raveon Floyd-Bennet was again the driving force behind the Chestnut Hill offense, leading the team in all-purpose yards. However, the Herculean efforts of Floyd-Bennet and quarterback Michael Marino that we've grown accustomed to these last few games did not translate into a single points this weekend.
The Navy offense can attribute a phenomenal shutout to what has been a dominant defensive effort. Two particularly outstanding performances are worthy of the spotlight this week. Gavin O'Donnell dominated the Griffin offensive line, collecting 2.5 sacks on the day. Dean Rye put forth another great game, recovering one fumble and intercepting one pass, returning it 35 yards for a gamebreakinig score.
Army vs Post
In case it was not clear, the Black Knights are easily the favorite right now to win the CSFL. On scoring drives, it took Army an average of only 5.4 plays per drive to score. Despite having the ball for just 5 minutes more than Post, Army was able to put up 62 unanswered points and hold the Post offense to just 24 rushing yards, 50 passing yards, and 6 first downs all game. Post’s full game stats (again… 24 rushing yards, 50 passing yards, and 6 first downs) sounds like a single drive for Army’s offense, except Post had possession for 27 minutes of the 60 minute game. Keegan West continued with player of the year-worthy game play, completing 11 of his 13 pass attempts for 217 yards, 2 passing touchdowns, and a rushing touchdown. With the score up so much, Army gave the ball late in the game to backup quarterback Ryan Sullivan, who only completed 3 of 7 attempts including an interception, yet still had two passing touchdowns to boost the Black Knights’ lead. On the ground, Jacob Lowman led the Black Knights in touches with 13 attempts for 90 yards. Post is just 1-4 on the season, while the Black Knights carry a 5-0 record into their final game with strong hopes for a championship in the making.
Caldwell vs Penn
After a devastating loss in last season’s championship, Penn has been looking for revenge this season. Losing a number of seniors from last season’s team has been difficult, and after a 2-2 start, they needed a win against Caldwell to even think about the playoffs. Caldwell’s offense struggled on third downs throughout the game, converting on just 3 of 13 third down attempts. Even with a significantly higher time of possession (41 minutes vs. 33 minutes for Penn), Caldwell could not produce enough to crack the Penn defense until it was too late. Penn opened the game on a 31-0 run in the first half. By that point, with Penn starters resting, Caldwell were able to put up two scores to slightly salvage their reputation. Penn’s quarterback, Eddie Jenkins, excelled while in the game, completing 24 of 34 attempts for 250 yards with 1 touchdown, in addition to 32 rushing yards on 3 attempts. Running back Jake Klaus’s three touchdowns highlighted the running game for the Penn Quakers, who will face off against the Navy Midshipmen in a matchup that will decide the winner of the CSFL South Division. Caldwell will look for their first win of the season against Mansfield on October 27th.