Colby College head football coach Jonathan Michaeles said it was a total team effort that won last Saturday’s season opener against Williams, but Michaeles said the defense ignited the spark the Mules needed for the 31-8 win.

“The defense set the tone, right from the beginning. They were unbelievable in the first half,” Michaeles said.

The Mules held Williams to 181 yards of offense, including just 21 yards on the ground. The play of the game was Zach Padula’s 98-yard interception return for a touchdown just before the half. The play gave Colby a 19-0 lead and ensured the Ephs would never gain any momentum.

“Zach Padula is a good player and an even better kid. It’s no surprise that if a guy was going to make a play like that, it was Zach,” Michaeles said.

Colby’s defense will need to be at its best again this week, when the Mules play at Middlebury. The Panthers are led by senior quarterback McCallum Foote, who has led the New England Small College Athletic Conference in passing yards each of the last two seasons. Since the start of the 2011 season, Foote has 54 touchdown passes. In the Panthers’ season-opening 27-5 win over Bowdoin, Foote completed 36 of 59 passes for 362 yards and three touchdowns.

Foote also threw a pair of interceptions last week, and Michaeles said if the Mules can get some pressure on him, they can force more turnovers.

“He’s been the best quarterback in the league for the last couple of years. You can’t dispute that,” Michaeles said. “He’s good, but if we can get to him and hit him a couple of times and make him feel uncomfortable and off rhythm, I like our chances.”

• • •

Even in a lopsided win like Colby’s victory over Williams, there’s things that can be improved. In Colby’s case, it’s penalties.

The Mules were penalized 14 times for 87 yards Saturday. Many were penalties stemming from a lack of concentration, such as illegal procedure.

“We played a physical game and the kids were flying on all cylinders, but the mental toughness piece, with discipline (was lacking),” Michaeles said. “That’s the thing, (14) penalties is not going to beat the best teams in this league, and that’s what Middlebury is.”

• • •

Maine Maritime Academy is back in a familiar place, at the top of the nation in rushing. The Mariners lead all of Division III in rushing yards per game, with 469.5, just over 79 yards per game more than second place Springfield College.

Maine Maritime running back Bill Wetherbee is fourth in the nation in rushing yards per game, averaging 179.5 per game. Michael Fahey averages 126 yards per game for the Mariners, and is ranked 35th in the nation.

The Mariners (0-2) play at Western New England on Saturday.

• • •

Coming off a 13-0 win over Alfred State, Husson has the weekend off to prepare for Eastern Collegiate Football Conference rival Castleton, which visits Bangor next week.

The Eagles (1-2) are 17th in the nation in pass defense, allowing just 113.7 yards per game through the air. Part of that stems from playing against Springfield, the second-leading rushing team in the country, on Sept. 14. Against Hartwick, a team known for its wide-open spread offense, Husson gave up 290 yards in the air. Springfield only attempted six passes against the Eagles.

Against Alfred State, a more balanced opponent, Husson’s pass defense was superb. The Eagles held Alfred State to a 29.2 completion percentage (7 of 24) for 31 yards and an interception.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

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