Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Central Connecticut State Blue Devils 7 at Wagner Seahawks 28 (NCAA Football, NEC) - November 14, 2015

Sometimes, it seems like every weekend in New York is a sports extravaganza. These past few days were no exception, with the Jets hosting the Bills on Thursday night to start things off. My friend Sharpy came down from Ottawa to check that one out, enjoying the wonderful NJ Transit ride out to Met Life Stadium, where the debut of the colour rush uniforms was widely panned. The Bills won though, my first time seeing them victorious after six losses, so it was all worth it, even the horrible NJ Transit ride back to Manhattan.

The next day saw the Cavs visiting the Knicks in the evening, but tickets were way too expensive for us, so we enjoyed an afternoon college soccer playoff game at LIU Brooklyn. The Blackbirds hosted St. Francis Brooklyn in an entertaining semi-final match that was well attended by students from both schools (which are about 2 blocks apart), with LIU prevailing on penalty kicks. They went on to beat St. Francis PA in the final (also via PKs) and earned a spot in the NCAA tournament. November Nuttiness anyone?

On Saturday, it was time to head out for some college football, the only game worthy of a post. There are only three Division I football programs in New York City, and I had already seen Columbia and Fordham, so I dragged Sharpy out to Staten Island to watch the Wagner Seahawks take on Central Connecticut State in NEC action. It was a beautiful day as you can see above, but with Wagner at 0-8 on the season, not a game that would draw much attention.

The football field is atop a hill and is a bit of a walk from the nearest bus stop, as the S66 bus, which is the one that goes by the campus, doesn't run on the weekends. Try the S61 or S62 after you get off the ferry and disembark at Highland, walking up Highland to Howard to reach the stadium. Use Google Maps for the details.

Hameline Field is named after former coach (he retired after last season) and current athletic director Walt Hameline, who led the program to some notable successes, including a national championship in Division III in 1987. These plaques are underneath the grandstand along with some other notable achievements and photos and worth a look before taking your seat.

There are some reserved chairback seats for $15, while the GA benches are $10. Regardless, you get a great view of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge in the distance.

Food here is served from a concession stand next to the main entrance, and is very cheap, with hot dogs a reasonable $2 among other offerings. The stand wasn't opened when we entered, and thus was doing a a bustling business at halftime, with waiting time exceeding 10 minutes. Fortunately, NCAA halftimes are 20 minutes long, so we did not miss any of the thrilling action.

Wagner was celebrating senior day and the players responded in their final home game. The Seahawks opened the scoring when quarterback Alex Thompson rolled right, found an empty field in front of him, and scampered 40 yards for an early touchdown. After the Blue Devils fumbled on their next possession, Matthias McKinnon doubled the score with a 1-yard run to cap a 42-yard drive. CCSU was switching up quarterbacks but neither got anything done, though Wagner could not take advantage, punting on their four remaining first-half possessions.

The Seahawks took the ball to start the second half and promptly marched 65 yards for another TD, with Otis Wright doing the honours from 4 yards out. On their next drive, Wright galloped for 66 yards, only to be brought down at the 3, and McKinnon took it home on the next play for the 28-0 lead. CCSU managed a touchdown to spoil the shutout, but the 4th quarter was scoreless and Wagner's new coach Jason Houghtaling enjoyed his first win.

The game took only 2:36 and we actually made the 3:00 ferry back to Manhattan, running from the bus through the terminal. The crew left the door open for an additional few seconds, allowing us to avoid a thirty-minute wait. Below is a shot from the lower deck as we approached Whitehall Terminal.


The evening event was in New Jersey, where we endured the PATH Train's terrible weekend service (when you reduce service, why not reduce the price?) to watch the horrid Penguins get shutout 4-0 by the Devils. Pittsburgh was playing their third game in four nights and it showed. In the few NHL games I have seen this season, I have noticed that the quality is poor for this early in the campaign, when players should be fresh. I think the schedule has many more of these 3-in-4 streaks and as a result, players are already tired. Just a thought with no empirical evidence to back it up.

Hameline Field was venue #598 for me lifetime. Numbers 599 and 600 should occur next Sunday when  I visit Brampton and Oshawa for a hockey doubleheader.



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