JOHNSTOWN - There will be a Northeastern Football Alliance showdown tonight at Knox Field.
The Eastern division-leading Glove Cities Colonials (4-0) will host the Troy Fighting Irish (3-0) at 6:30 p.m. and both teams are coming off impressive victories. The Colonials blanked the Cortland Bulldogs 27-0 last week, while Troy took care of the Utica Yard Dawgs with a 31-7 victory.
While both teams are unbeaten, the Colonials are a half-game ahead of the Fighting Irish because Troy already had its bye week. The Colonials will have off Aug. 18, the final week of the regular season.
"It's probably one of the biggest games in a long, long time," Colonials general manager Matt Capano said. "They're undefeated and they're two-time defending NFA champions. They've been in the Sun Bowl the last two years. We'll know just how good they are after the game this week."
In the absence of starting quarterback Justin Kastner, who suffered from bruised ribs in the Colonials' game against the Oneonta City Stallions on June 9, Nick Carr has led the offense with both his arm and his legs. Capano said Kastner will be out for another five weeks.
In last week's game, Carr led the offense with three touchdown passes, and racking up 186 yards. Since taking over under center, he has thrown six touchdowns.
"[The offense] is coming along pretty good," Capano said. "We're really happy with the way Nick's progressing at quarterback."
He also is a threat to run the football and leads the Colonials' ground game with 264 rushing yards and two touchdowns.
"That's what we count on," Capano said. "He knows how to tuck and run."
The defense, which shut out the unbeaten and offensively inept Cortland Bulldogs, will have to be at its best tonight as they look for a way to slow down the Fighting Irish's offensive attack. Troy has scored a league-leading 126 points, 33 points ahead of the Colonials, who are the Northeastern Football Alliance's second most prolific offensive team.
The Fighting Irish do most of their damage on the ground, led by Andre McCauley and Kenny Youngs. McCauley has rushed for 447 yards on 29 carries and scored a team-leading six touchdowns, and Youngs has 237 yards on the ground and has scored three touchdowns, but has lost two fumbles. Reggie Brown, Bryan Sheldon and quarterback Mike Cloutier also have found the end zone.
Cloutier has only dropped back to pass 10 times and has completed five passes for 85 yards. However, he is a threat as three of those passes have gone for touchdowns.
"We're going to have to come up big," Capano said. "They run a lot. We're going to come out and try to stop them. They run that wing-T and few people have been able to stop them. We're going to try and stop that."
Through the first four games of the season, the Colonials have been the best in the league at keeping opponents off the scoreboard, allowing only 27 points, an average of 6.75 points per game.
"The teams we've faced have been good, but no one is as good as Troy," Capano said. "It's going to be their offense against our defense, so we're going to have to see who comes out on top of this game here."