Nov. 17, 2009

By Amy Farnum

Click to jump to a matchup!
Nebraska-Kearney vs. Minn.-Duluth | Hillsdale-GVSU | Ark Tech vs. North Ala. | West Ala. vs. Carson-Newman
Edinboro vs. West Liberty | Cal (Pa.) vs. Shipp. | Tarleton St. vs. Central Wash. | ACU vs. NW. Missouri St.

No. 4 Nebraska-Kearney at No. 1 Minnesota-Duluth, 12 p.m. CT

Defending NCAA champion Minnesota-Duluth will host Nebraska-Kearney in the second round of the Division II playoffs on Nov. 21 as the Bulldogs look to extend their winning streak to 10 games.  It will be the first time the two schools meet on the football field.

UMD earned a first-round bye after winning its second straight Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference title.  The Bulldogs are 26-1 in their last 27 contests.

The Lopers scored 28 unanswered points in the second half of a 35-20 victory over Saginaw Valley State in first round action last week to earn their first-ever NCAA playoff win.  UNK had not won a postseason game since being a member of the NAIA in 1980.  

The Lopers’ athletics program has four teams playing in Minnesota this weekend.  In addition to football, the school’s volleyball team will travel to the NCAA Division II Central Regional in St. Paul, the men’s basketball team will participate in the Minnesota State Pepsi Tip-Off in Mankato and the women’s basketball squad will compete in the Wildwood Lodge Tip-Off Tournament in St. Paul.

No. 6 Hillsdale College at No. 2 Grand Valley State, 12 p.m. CT
In one of five regular season matches in second round action, Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference foes Hillsdale and GVSU will meet on Nov. 21 at 12 p.m. CT.  The Chargers upset then-No. 1 Grand Valley State, 27-24, on Oct. 10 after Billy Kanitz scampered for a one-yard score with less than a minute remaining in regulation.

Grand Valley State bounced back to win its next four contests and win the GLIAC title for the fifth straight year.  The Lakers are making their ninth consecutive Division II playoff appearance, and are the only team in the nation to accomplish the feat.  GVSU has posted a 24-4 post season mark with four NCAA crowns and five title game appearances since 2001.

The Chargers claimed their first-ever playoff victory as First Team All-GLIAC kicker Mark Petro booted a 34-yard field goal in overtime to upset Minnesota State-Mankato, 27-24, last weekend.

Arkansas Tech at North Alabama, 12 p.m. CT
After winning its first NCAA playoff game since 2004, Arkansas Tech heads to Florence, Ala., to face Gulf South Conference foe North Alabama in a rematch of the Wonder Boys’ 42-17 loss to the Lions on Oct. 3. In the last meeting, UNA quarterback Harrison Beck tossed five touchdowns and three for 431 yards.  Tech has won six straight games since the setback against the Lions.

North Alabama, the GSC champion, is making its fifth straight NCAA playoff appearance and 15th overall.  The Lions have compiled a 26-11 all-time postseason record.  UNA’s rematch with Arkansas Tech will be the 13th time the Lions have faced an opponent in the regular season and the postseason in the same year. The Lions are 8-4 in those rematch playoff games. Eleven of the 12 rematches have been against GSC teams. Only once in school history has UNA defeated a team in the regular season, and then lost to that team in the playoffs -- Delta State in 2006.

The contest features two of the nation’s top quarterbacks.  Along with Beck, Tech’s senior signal-caller Nick Graziano is fresh off a school-record 456 passing yards in the Wonder Boys’ 41-13 first-round win over North Carolina-Pembroke.  The GSC Offensive Player of the Year has recorded five 400-plus yard passing games this season.  

West Alabama at Carson-Newman, 1 p.m. ET
Making its first NCAA playoff appearance in 34 years, West Alabama took full advantage of the opportunity by edging Albany State, 24-22, in first round action on Nov. 14.  Now, the Tigers will travel to second-seeded Carson-Newman for a second round contest on Nov. 21

The Tigers have won five of their last six contests with their only setback a one-point loss to West Georgia, and will look to stretch their winning streak to four games in their first-ever meeting with the Eagles.

Carson-Newman, the South Atlantic Conference champion, is riding a nine-game winning streak entering the game.  The Eagles received a first-round bye for the first time since the bracket expanded to 24 teams in 2004.  They are making their second consecutive postseason appearance and 12th NCAA playoff appearance under head coach Ken Sparks.

Edinboro at West Liberty, 12 p.m. ET
In another rematch on Saturday, Edinboro will travel to West Liberty as the Hilltoppers host their first-ever Division II playoff game.  The Fighting Scots defeated West Liberty, 42-30, in the season opener, but the Hilltoppers went on to win 10 straight games.  The first contest featured over 1,000 yards of total offense and 700 yards passing.

Edinboro, which downed East Stroudsburg in first-round action last week, was missing senior quarterback Trevor Harris in its regular season finale, but after minor knee surgery he returns to pass for three touchdowns and 298 yards against ESU.

West Liberty quarterback Zach Amedro is also having a stellar season, passing for over 4,000 yards with 41 touchdowns and only 11 interceptions.

California (Pa.) at Shippenburg, 12 p.m. ET
California University (Pa.) notched a convincing 42-13 win over Fayetteville State in first round action last weekend, earning the Vulcans the right to meet Shippensburg University for the second time in three weeks on Nov. 21.  The game will be a rematch of the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference Championship that saw the Red Raiders as victors by a 42-35 decision.

After winning its first PSAC title in 28 years, Shippensburg was granted its first NCAA berth in five seasons.  The Red Raiders have scored at least 23 points in all 11 contests, and boast PSAC Eastern Division Offensive Player of the Year Mike Harris.  The senior split end has grabbed 10 receiving TDs and ranks 18th in the nation with 89.4 receiving yards per game.

California ranks 16th in the nation and leads the PSAC with 35.0 points per game.  The Vulcans ran for five touchdowns against Fayetteville State last week led by senior running back Freddie Bacco, who rushed for a career-high three scores.  California is 5-2 all-time in the NCAA playoffs, and will make its first-ever road appearance at Shippensburg.

Tarleton State at Central Washington, 12 p.m. PT
It took two overtimes, but Tarleton State outlasted Lone Star Conference rival Texas A&M-Kingsville, 57-56, last week.  The playoff thriller included a game-tying 64-yard field goal by Tarleton’s Garrett Lindholm as regulation ended.  It was the second-longest field goal in Division II history.

The victory earned the Texans the opportunity to travel to Central Washington – the lone unbeaten team in Division II at 11-0 – for the second round of the playoffs on Nov. 21.  Central Washington leads the nation with just 11.6 points per game allowed and is third in Division II in total defense, giving up just 242.5 yards per game.  On the offensive side, senior receiver Johnny Spevak is just 13 receptions shy of the Division II career mark.

Central Washington’s defense will be tested by a Tarleton squad that racked up 530 yards of total offense, including 296 yards passing.  Quarterback Scott Grantham ran 20 yards for the game-tying TD in double overtime, and scampered into the end zone for a two-point conversion to win the game.  He also threw for three TDs in the contest.

Abilene Christian at Northwest Missouri State, 12 p.m. CT
Abilene Christian staged a second-half comeback win at Midwestern State for the Wildcats first road win in the NCAA playoffs, advancing to meet the opponent that ended their playoff run last year – Northwest Missouri State.  

The two teams also met in this year’s season opener as the Wildcats downed the Bearcats, 19-14, in a nationally-televised contest.  The Bearcats also lost to the Wildcats in last year’s season opener, but won the rematch, 45-36, in the final of last year’s regional.

Since the loss to ACU in August, Northwest Missouri State reeled off 10 straight wins to win the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association title, while the Wildcats lost three of their last four regular season games.  ACU, which fell to Midwestern State 15-13 in the regular season finale, did avenge the loss with a 24-21 victory in the first round of the Division II playoffs last week.