Nov. 29, 2008

Courtesy of Washington & Jefferson

JACKSON, Miss. - Senior running back Curt Jones (Falconer, N.Y./Falconer) {right} rushed for a career-high 208 yards and four touchdowns as Washington & Jefferson knocked off No. 3 Millsaps, 35-20, in the second round of the NCAA Division III football playoffs on Saturday at Harper Davis Field.

The Presidents (11-1) advance to the NCAA Division III quarterfinals for the second time in the past five seasons where they will meet Mary Hardin-Baylor next Saturday at Belton, Texas (1:00 pm EST).

W&J moved the ball deep into Millsaps territory on its opening series, but two incomplete passes at the one-yard line resulted in turning the ball over on downs.

The Majors (11-1), the South bracket's No. 1 seed and winners of 13 consecutive games, started the scoring at the 5:16 mark of the first quarter when Eric McCarty broke free in the secondary for a 44-yard touchdown reception from Juan Joseph.

The Presidents answered quickly with a three-play, 57-yard drive to tie the game.  Jones rumbled in from a yard out for the touchdown.

Millsaps reclaimed the lead early in the second quarter when Shane Bowser capped a six-play drive with a one-yard touchdown run.

Washington & Jefferson once again answered with a 17-play, 73-yard scoring drive that lasted nearly 11 minutes and changed the complexion of the game.  Senior quarterback Bobby Swallow (Salem, Ohio/West Branch) ended the series with a one-yard touchdown sneak with 2:16 left in the half.

Gary Davis returned the ensuing kickoff 67 yards to set up a Taylor Russolin 19-yard field goal with 10 seconds remaining and give MC a 17-14 halftime lead.

The Majors drove 52 yards on the first possession of the second half, but were forced to settle for a Russolin 25-yard field goal for a 20-14 advantage with 12:16 left in the third quarter.

The Presidents grabbed their first lead on their first series of the second half on another one-yard Jones scoring rush.  Senior wideout Luke Espe (Johnstown, Pa./Central Cambria) caught three passes during the go-ahead drive.

W&J forced a Millsaps punt and then held the Majors on downs on their first drive of the fourth quarter.  Following a W&J punt, Russolin missed a 39-yard field goal attempt with 6:57 left.

W&J took advantage of the miss with a 79-yard touchdown drive that was highlighted by 43 rushing yards from Jones.  He put W&J in front 28-20 with a seven-yard run with 1:36 remaining.  Junior fullback Brendan O'Mahony (Gibsonia, Pa./Pine-Richland) also had a key 27-yard run on a third-down play.

Millsaps was unable to produce a first down after four plays and Jones bolted through the line for a 52-yard touchdown with 51 seconds left to put the game out of reach.

Jones rushed a career-high 31 times and also caught two passes for nine yards.  Swallow completed 22-of-31 passes for 246 yards despite not throwing a touchdown pass for only the second time in his career (33 consecutive games with at least one TD pass).

Espe led the receiving corps with nine catches for 94 yards, while senior wideout David Ravida (Solon, Ohio/Solon) notched four receptions to become W&J's all-time leader with the 188th of his career.

Sophomore defensive back Craig Sedunov (Herminie, Pa./Yough) led all defenders with 13 tackles (nine solo), while senior cornerback Travis Dunn (Rostraver, Pa./Belle Vernon) added seven stops.  Senior linebacker John Fahey (Boardman, Ohio/Boardman) gathered three stops for a loss.

W&J held a 481-416 advantage in total yards, including 235 on the ground, and posted 25 first downs.  W&J won despite only converting 2-of-9 third-down chances.  W&J also held a commanding edge in time of possession (36:18-23:42).

Joseph, who joins Swallow as one of 10 finalists for the Gaglardi Trophy, finished with 333 yards passing (31-of-42).  Bowser was limited to 49 yards on 12 rushing attempts. Millsaps was held to 20 points for the first time since 2006.

Washington & Jefferson and Millsaps have met twice during the NCAA Division III playoffs since 2004 with the Crusaders winning both contests.  In 2004, UMHB earned a 52-16 victory at Cameron Stadium in the NCAA quartefinals.  The two schools met in the second round of the 2006 playoffs in Belton, Texas, and the Crusaders edged W&J by a 30-27 margin.