Castleton was not able to contain a great rushing attack by Mount Ida as the Mustangs grabbed the Eastern Collegiate Football Conference (ECFC) championship with a 52-28 win on Saturday afternoon at Spartan Stadium.
Mount Ida spoiled the Spartans chance at a conference title in just its fourth year by compiling 342 yards and four touchdowns all on the ground, with Zach March contributing 243 of those yards and two touchdowns. Quarterback Scott Drosendahl added 170 yards and two touchdowns in the air.
“We had a good season going by individual statistics,” Junior Wide Receiver Brandon Boyle said. “But it was a great season as a team both on offence and defense.”
With senior quarterback Shane Brozowski out with a leg injury, freshman quarterback George Busharis was called upon to fill the void and played a good game completing 19 of his 42 pass attempts for three touchdowns and three interceptions. Boyle also played well, catching 12 passes for 182 yards and a score while fellow receiver Kevin Alberque also eclipsed the 100 yard mark with 115 yards and a touchdown on five catches.
Mount Ida came out of the gates fast with an eight-play 56 yard first possession that was capped by a March three yard touchdown run. After an interception, the Mustangs scored again on a five-play 29 yard drive finished on a five yard run by Melquan Pinkney.
The high-powered Spartans offense can only be contained for so long though as they answered with a 42-yard catch by Boyle for a touchdown to cap a short two play 48-yard drive. Mount Ida then scored again on a 26-yard pass to Jordan Hyman to bring the score to 21-7 at the end of the first quarter.
“George played great and he read the defense well,” Boyle said. “He is young though and made a couple mistakes, but that happens”.
Mount Ida was able to score a field goal on their first possession of the second quarter, and with a minute left Jovan Wilkins intercepted Busharis and returned it 96 yards for a score. The Spartans were able to answer before the half though with a six play 51 yard drive that was capped by a Tyler Carpenter 22-yard catch for touch down to bring the score to 31-14 going into the half.
Mount Ida kept Castleton scoreless in the third but was able to put together a seven play 80-yard scoring drive that ended with a 61-yard pass to Hyman for the score. They scored again on their first possession in the fourth on a 30-yard run by March.
Castleton answered with a touchdown of their own as Alberque caught a 13-yard pass from Busharis to bring the score to 45-21.
The Mustangs answered with Pinkney going in from 43 yards out for the score. Greg Vreeland came in for Busharis on the last drive for the Spartans and connected with Zach Howe from ten yards out to cap a six-play 59 yard drive to round out the scoring at 52-28 in favor of Mount Ida.
“It was a great season, we really came together as a team,” Boyle said. “We worked hard in the off-season and it paid off during the season.”
Brandon Bergeron had a game-high 15 tackles to become Castleton’s all-time leader in tackles with 243. Todd Carr also had 15 tackles to bring his total for the season to 106 which is the first time a Spartan had made over 100 tackles in a season.
Mount Ida clinched a berth in the NCAA Division III Tournament along with the ECFC title. While Castleton finds put if they secured a spot in an Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference (ECAC) bowl game on Monday.
With the loss, Castleton falls to 7-3 and 6-1 in the conference, while Mount Ida improves to 8-2 and 6-1 in conference play. Even with the same conference record, Mount Ida won the head-to-head matchup as they advance to the NCAA Tournament.
This game was the last for 14 seniors who have been on the team since the programs start in 2009. They were honored before the game along with five other seniors who came to the program later on.
“We set the bar high for incoming classes,” Senior Punter Kris Jolin said. “Players leaving this year will be talked about for a long time.”