Sept. 25, 2009

By Amy Farnum

ANOTHER WEEK, ANOTHER TEST:   After suffering its first loss of the season to top-ranked Mount Union last week, Ohio Northern will be back in action for another challenge against No. 18 Otterbein on Sept. 26 in the only match-up between nationally-ranked teams this weekend.  The game will be played at Otterbein’s Memorial Stadium at 1:30 p.m.

It is the first time in school history the Polar Bears have faced ranked opponents in three consecutive games, as ONU defeated then-No. 4 North Central (Ill.), 28-19, and fell to No. 1 Mt Union, 30-10, in their first two contests.

The No. 9 Polar Bears will looking to avenge last year’s 37-7 stunner at the hands of Otterbein, which snapped an 18-game winning streak against the Cardinals in the series.

Otterbein starting quarterback Jack Rafferty, who threw three touchdowns and ran for a fourth last week, will be sidelined due to a finger injury, and sophomore Austin Schlosser is expected to get the nod.  OC is one of just three Division III schools that have not allowed a quarterback sack this season, but ONU defensive end Josh Horn is looking to move up the school’s all-time sack list.  He has 17.5 in his career.

“Ohio Northern, by far, will be the best team we’ve faced so far,” said Otterbein head coach Joe Loth. “They’re good on both sides of the ball. Offensively, they switched to the spread offense, and are having a tremendous amount of success with that. It’ll be a huge challenge for us.”

DRAGON DILEMMA:  Seventh-ranked Cortland State survived a 24-14 battle against Rowan in New Jersey Athletic Conference play last week, but not without a major casualty for the Red Dragons as they lost quarterback Dan Pitcher for the season with an Achilles tendon tear.

Junior Hudson Woodward is expected to make the start at signal-caller for the Red Dragons against Kean University on Sept. 26.  Woodward started in Cortland’s preseason scrimmage against Rochester, but has yet to play since the season started.

“He’s obviously is not Dan Pitcher, but we can’t expect him to be,” said head coach Dan MacNeill.” We must make sure as a coaching staff that we mold the offense to suit his abilities. Hudson is a very capable quarterback that has all the skills necessary to lead our offense and we believe in him.”

Cortland has been victorious in all 13 meetings between the schools, although the Red Dragons had to pull off a come-from-behind 32-28 win against Kean last season in one of the closest contests of the series.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:  Former two-time All-American Pierre Garcon became the first Mount Union alumni to start an NFL game since 1929 as the current Indianapolis Colts wide receiver made a stellar debut in his team’s 27-23 win over the Miami Dolphins on Monday.

Garcon, who caught 202 passes and 48 touchdowns for the Purple Raiders from 2005-07, made his only catch of the night a memorable one as he grabbed a short pass from quarterback Peyton Manning and sprinted for a 48-yard TD for the Colts’ game-winning score.

“I’ve seen him in that environment, and I’m cheering for him,” said Mount Union head coach Larry Kehres. “I remember him in our environment. He had kind of special skills.”

BATTLE OF UNBEATENS:  When No. 15 Central College hosts Coe College on Sept. 26, both teams will bring 3-0 records to the contest, but only one squad will remain flawless after the Iowa Conference match-up.

Central boasts the league’s best rushing offense, gaining 265.0 yards per game, while Coe sports the IIAC’s most productive offense overall (360.0 ypg) and in passing yards (260.7 ypg).  The Kohawks are also the stingiest team in the league, giving up just 12.3 points per game, while the Dutch features a stout rushing defense (89 ypg).

The Dutch has won the last three games in the series, including a 27-10 defeat of Coe last year.

NOTABLE:  Trinity (Texas) will play its fourth straight road game to open the season at Millsaps as the Tigers look to remain undefeated on the year.  Trinity is ranked No. 18 in the first AFCA Division III Top 25 … Springfield College, the Division III leader in scoring with 56 points per game, travels to fellow unbeaten and No. 24 Alfred in the Empire 8 opener for both schools.  The Pride is averaging 447.5 rushing yards per game, which ranks second in the nation.