The Framingham State University football team captured the 2012 New England Football Conference Championship and advance to the NCAA Division III Tournament for the first time in school history after defeating Salve Regina 28-16 in the final NEFC Championship game Saturday at Bowditch Field.
The Rams improve to 10-1 on the season and receive the conference’s automatic bid to the NCAA Division III Football Championship with pairings announced today, Nov. 11. The Selection Show will air on ncaa.com beginning at 6 p.m.
The Seahawks finished the 2012 season at 9-2.
The Seahawks got off to an early lead thanks to a 45-yard field goal by Christian Clark (Shrewsbury) in the first quarter. However, Framingham would respond with a seven yard touchdown run by freshman quarterback Matt Silva of Dracut.
Each team would find the end-zone in the second quarter. Junior running back Melikke Van Alstyne (Salem) had a 28-yard touchdown run to make the score 14-3 in favor of the Rams with 8:17 remaining. Salve Regina would respond after sophomore Steven Wilken found senior Trey Scales in the corner of the end zone for a 20-yard touchdown reception making the score 14-10 heading into the half.
In the second-half, the Framingham State defense came alive forcing five turnovers. Sophomore Ony Ramos and junior Kevin Donahue each had an interception and junior Alex Torti recovered two fumbles, none bigger than the 20-yard fumble recovery for a touchdown late in the fourth quarter to put the game away at 28-10.
Whenever the Salve Regina defense made a stop, the Framingham State defense would come up with a turnover to swing the momentum back their way.
The anchor of the Framingham defense, senior captain James Murihead said after the game, “our coaches did a great job putting us in a situation to succeed.” Muirhead was received the Bull Mottola Championship Game Most Valuable Player Award as he led the Rams defense with eight tackles, a sack and a forced fumble that led to Torti’s touchdown return.
Salve would score with 1:25 left, as Wilken ran it in from four-yards out. However, Framingham would recover the onside kick attempt and would run out the clock.
Van Alstyne finished with 96 yards on the day on twenty-one carries and two touchdowns including a one yard score out of the wildcat in the third quarter.
After the game, Van Alsytne was at a loss for words simply saying, “I’m on top of the world right now!”
After the game, Salve Regina head coach Bob Chesney showed the utmost respect as his team stood together applauding the Rams celebrating their first NEFC Championship.
Coach Chesney kept telling his team, “This will be us, that’s why we’re watching this.”
Head Coach of the Rams, Tom Kelly spoke highly of Chesney and the Seahawks after the game calling Coach Chesney a “class-act” and that the Rams knew coming in to today they would be facing a good football team.
After losing in overtime last season in the NEFC Championship, the Rams came into the 2012 season with one goal, and that was to get back to the championship game.
Despite losing their first game of the season to Endicott, the Rams fought back and won all of their remaining games to post double-digit victories for the first time in school history.
Senior cornerback Tyrone Notice said after the game, “we had a bad taste in our mouth since day 1, losing to Endicott. We learned a lot from being in this situation last year, and we didn’t want to come up short again.”
Wiken ran for 112 yards on 15 carries but only netted 45 yards as he was sacked twice in the game for the Seahawks and Joshua Burnett finished with 10 total tackles in the losing effort.
Coach Kelly took over the University football program six-years ago and brought a new attitude to Framingham State football. “I’m so proud of the school, and these kids who worked so hard,” an emotional Kelly said after the game.
The season doesn’t end quite yet for the Rams.
Framingham State will learn their fate tonight at 6, as the Division III Selection Show will be aired on NCAA.com