The NESCAC season enters its second half Saturday and the conference race will come into sharper focus because of one matchup.
Wesleyan and Amherst play in Amherst, Mass. Kickoff is at 1 p.m.
Both teams are 4-0 and tied atop the conference standings with Trinity, the only other undefeated team.
Wesleyan junior quarterback Jesse Warren's has a pass efficiency rating of 193.3, tied for third in Division III with Spencer Stanek of North Central (Ill.). Warren was 17 of 20 for 190 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions in last week's 35-7 victory over Bates.
Amherst is coming off a 14-10 victory at Colby. The Lord Jeffs are holding opponents to an average of 11 points a game -- second in the conference to Wesleyan, which is out-scoring opponents by an average of 40.8-5.5.
With 132 yards on 16 carries last week against Bates, junior Kyle Gibson (422 yards on 49 carries) took over the team rushing lead from junior LaDarius Drew (404 on 73 carries). Drew leads the team, and the conference, with six touchdowns. They are top two running backs in the NESCAC, with Gibson averaging 105.5 yards a game and Drew 101.
Warren is 56 of 78 for 696 yards, 11 touchdowns and no interceptions.
Amherst junior defensive lineman Max Lehrman leads the NESCAC with 3 1/2 sacks.
Yale (3-1) vs. Fordham (7-0), noon: Yale is looking to rebound from last week's Ivy League loss at Dartmouth against the Rams, the No. 8 team in FCS. This is Yale's final non-conference game. The Bulldogs are playing a nationally-ranked team for the second time in three weeks (victory at No. 18 Cal Poly Oct. 5). Yale has won five of its six meetings with Fordham, of the Patriot League. The Rams, off to their best start since 1930, average 40 points and 498.1 yards a game. Two former UConn players lead the offense. Junior quarterback Michael Nebrich (2,166 yards, 17 touchdowns, one interception) is completing 74.2 percent of his passes, best in the nation. Receiver Tebucky Jones Jr., a New Britain native, has 50 receptions for 601 yards, both team highs.
Trinity (4-0) vs. Bowdoin (2-2), 12:30 p.m.: Trinity is attempting to push its home winning streak to 50. The Bantams' 49 in a row is second in the nation to Mt. Union (Oh.), which has won 70 in a row at home. Overall, Trinity has won 13 in a row. Trinity leads the all-time series with Bowdoin 34-6-2 and has won 14 in a row. Trinity senior running back Evan Bunker needs 28 yards to surpass Aaron Stepka of Colby (3,481 yards in 2001-05) for second place on the all-time NESCAC rushing list. Bunker is on pace to surpass the all-time leader, Fletcher Ladd of Amherst (3,817 in 2001-04). Trinity is plus-11 on turnovers. Freshman Sonny Puzzo and sophomore Henry Foye continue to share time at quarterback. Ben Crick, another senior and Trinity's second-leading rusher, is questionable with a shoulder injury that kept him out of last week's game at Tufts.
Sacred Heart (6-1) at Bryant (3-3), 1 p.m.: The Pioneers evened their Northeast Conference record at 1-1 last week with a home victory over Central Connecticut. Bryant won its only conference game Sept. 28 at Wagner and now returns to NEC play coming off non-conference losses to Stony Brook and Brown. Sacred Heart is second in the nation with 14 interceptions and is allowing just 98 rushing yards a game (eighth in the nation). The Pioneers also have five defensive touchdowns. Sacred Heart is tops in the NEC in average points scored (40.1) and points allowed (20.3) and is a conference-best plus-15 on turnovers. The Pioneers also average 245.4 rushing yards a game. Sophomore linebacker Kellen Sperduto leads the NEC with 64 tackles. The all-time series is tied 3-3 with Bryant winning the last three.
New Haven (5-1) vs. Stonehill (4-2), 1 p.m.: First place in the NE-10 is on the line. New Haven is 5-0 in the conference, Stonehill 4-1. The Chargers have won an NE-10 record 21 consecutive conference games. Both teams are coming off narrow victories. New Haven won at Merrimack 48-41 and Stonehill won at Southern 23-21. New Haven leads the all-time series 4-0. Stonehill's only conference loss is to American International. New Haven senior running back Mike DeCaro is averaging 73.5 yards a game, fourth in the conference. Jamal Johnson of Stonehill is third at 93 a game. DeCaro also leads New Haven with 17 receptions for 284 yards and three touchdowns. Sophomore tight end Michael Flacco and senior receiver Nick Music are tied for second with 16 receptions. Flacco has a team-high six touchdown catches.
Coast Guard (2-4) vs. Maine Maritime (0-4), 1:30 p.m.: The Bears are coming off a 27-24 loss to Curry that dropped their New England Football Conference record to 2-1. Maine Maritime hasn't played since Oct. 5, when they allowed 39 unanswered points to Endicott and lost 53-28. Coast Guard coach Bill George remains tied with John Merriman for the most victories in program history (48). Coast Guard leads the series 6-4. Last year, senior quarterback Jon Resch tied his own school record with six touchdown passes as Coast Guard won 42-13. Sophomore kicker Tyler Henning is 17-for-17 on point-after kicks this season and 56-for-56 in his career. Coast Guard averages just 80.5 rushing yards a game, worst in the NEFC.
Western Connecticut (3-2) vs. Fitchburg State (3-3), 5 p.m.: Octavias McKoy set four school records last week in Western's 54-53 loss to Massachusetts Maritime. McKoy's records: 372 rushing yards (the most by a Division III player this season), five rushing touchdowns, five total touchdowns and 30 points. He was named the USA College Football Division III offensive player of the week. He also earned a Gold Helmet Award as the Gridiron Club of Greater Boston and is has been the MASCAC offensive player of the week two times in a row. McKoy now leads the conference in rushing with 175 yards a game and 13 touchdowns. Both teams are 2-2 in the conference. Fitchburg has won two in a row and is coming off a 37-7 victory over Worcester State. Fitchburg State freshman quarterback Garrett Dellechiaie has 14 touchdown passes, most in the MASCAC.
Southern Connecticut (3-3) at Assumption (3-3), 6 p.m.: Both teams are 3-2 in Northeast-10 play. Southern's three-game winning streak ended last week with a 23-21 loss to Stonehill. Senior Vito Fornarelli set a career-high with 134 receiving yards and junior John Moscatel had a career-high 226 all-purpose yards in the loss. Moscatel is ninth in Division II with an average of 193.5 all-purpose yards a game. He leads the NE-10 in rushing touchdowns (nine) and rushing yards per game (108.2). Assumption won last season's matchup in New Haven 44-0. That was Assumption's first victory in the all-time series, which Southern leads 10-1. Mick Bates of Assumption, a senior defensive back, leads the NE-10 with 4 1/2 sacks.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun