Dec. 3, 2009

By Amy Farnum

Albright at Mount Union

Saturday, Dec. 5 at 12 p.m. ET
Albright is playing in its first NCAA quarterfinal game since the tournament was expanded to 32 teams after winning a rematch against Middle Atlantic Conference foe Delaware Valley College last weekend.  The Lions (11-1) won the right to face top-ranked Mount Union – a perennial national power in Division III football and winner of 10 NCAA titles since 1993.

Senior quarterback Tanner Kelly – the MAC Offensive Player of the Year – is the leader of the Lions’ offensive attack with 2,823 passing yards and 21 TDs with only three interceptions.  His pass efficiency rating of 164.06 ranks 11th in the nation.  Kelly’s favorite target is senior Nate Romig, who has caught 12 TDs and is averaging over 100 yards receiving per game.

The unbeaten Purple Raiders (12-0) enter the contest with the nation’s longest winning streak at 27 games.  Mount Union is the defending NCAA champion and has played in the Stagg Bowl in 11 of the last 13 years. 

MUC’s All-American senior wide receiver Cecil Shorts III ran for three TDs out of the ‘wildcat’ formation last week, in addition to his 12 TD catches on the year.  He ranks seventh in the nation with 122 yards receiving per game.

This will be the first meeting between the two football programs.
Did you know?  Mount Union fifth-year senior defensive end Joe Millings has played more college football than anyone in history as he plays in his 60th game this week.  He played in two games in 2005 before being injured then has played in every game in 2006-present.   Millings leads the Raiders with 10.5 sacks and 18.0 tackles for loss this season.

Johns Hopkins at Wesley
Saturday, Dec. 5 at 12 p.m. ET
For the third straight week Johns Hopkins will be facing an undefeated opponent on the road as the Blue Jays head to Wesley on Saturday.  JHU handed Hampden-Sydney its first loss in the first round, and then hit a game-winning field goal for a 31-29 win over Thomas More at the end of regulation last weekend.

In its fifth straight NCAA playoff appearance, Wesley handily defeated North Carolina Wesleyan and Mississippi College in the first two rounds.  In that five-year stretch, the Wolverines have won 11 Division III postseason games, ranking only behind Mount Union and UW-Whitewater during that time.  The Wolverines are 40-2 (.952) at home since having FieldTurf installed at their stadium prior to the 2004 season.

Wesley’s defense is allowing just 11.17 points per game (fifth in nation), and is particularly strong in the trenches, giving up just 73.25 yards per game on the ground (ninth in nation).

JHU senior running back Andrew Kase – the Centennial Conference Offensive Player of the Year – will test Wesley’s rushing defense as he is running for 123.9 yards per game (13th), and ranks fourth nationally in scoring (12.08 ppg).  He set a league single-season record for touchdowns (24) at Thomas More last week, and was the first player to rush for over 100 yards in a game against the Saints this season.

The Blue Jays’ defense has given just 98 points in the last seven contests (14.0 ppg), and have held their last six foes to a total of 257 rushing yards.

This is the first meeting between the two teams.

Did you know?  Wesley sophomore defensive end Chris Mayes leads Division III with 2.54 tackles for loss per game, and has registered a school-record 31.5 TFL on the year.  He has 14 tackles for loss in the last four games.  After not recording a sack in the season’s first four games, he has tallied 12 over the past eight contests and is now tied for 12th in Division III at 1.0 per game.

Wittenberg at University of Wisconsin-Whitewater
Saturday, Dec. 5 at 12 p.m. CT
In the only meeting between unbeaten squads this week, Wittenberg will travel to Wisconsin-Whitewater, one of the top programs in Division III football over the last five seasons.  Both teams enter the contest with 12-0 marks.  The programs have never met on the football field.

Wittenberg – the nation’s top-ranked defense in total yards (172.67 ypg) and scoring (7.00 ppg) – is led by Eddie Vallery, who has posted the nation’s third-most sacks with 15.5 on the year.

The Tigers will have their hands full with Whitewater’s offensive attack, with ranks fourth in the nation in scoring (45.1 ppg) and total yards (500.6 ypg).  The Warhawks are led by quarterback Jeff Donovan, who ranks third in Division III in pass efficiency with a 184.33 rating.  UW-Whitewater is looking to continue its quest for a fifth straight trip to the Stagg Bowl. 

Did you know?  UW-Whitewater senior kicker Jeff Schebler is the all-time, all-division NCAA kick scoring leader with 446 points.  With 10 points against Lakeland in the first round, the three-time All-American surpassed the previous record of 433 by Art Carmody of Louisville (2004-2007).  Schebler then added nine points against Illinois Wesleyan last week.

St. Thomas (Minn.) at Linfield

Saturday, Dec. 5 at 12 p.m. PT
St. Thomas handled Coe College in last week’s second round game, earning the Tommies’ first trip to the NCAA quarterfinals since 1990. 

The Tommies (11-1) have posted a school-record 11 victories as they embark on a number of firsts for the program.  The contest at Linfield marks the first time in its 105-year history that St. Thomas will play a December game, take a plane trip to a game, or play a team west of the Dakotas.

Linfield will host its fifth straight game in the first meeting between the two teams.  The Wildcats have the longest streak of consecutive winning seasons (54) in all of college football, and although they have been NCAA members for only the last 12 years, Linfield has made five NCAA appearances and claimed the national championship in 2004.

The Wildcats boast the fifth-best scoring offense in the nation at 42.73 points per game, and pace the nation with a 2.27 turnover ratio.  The Tommies also field a potent offense, scoring 40.50 points per game (ninth in nation) and have won six straight since falling to Saint John’s in overtime on Oct. 17.

Did you know?  The Tommies have several football players that are two-sport athletes, including running back Ben Wartman, a first-team All-Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference selection.  Wartman, a catcher on the Tommies’ NCAA champion baseball team, is averaging 139.67 yards rushing per game this season, which ranks fifth in the nation.  He has run for over 100 yards in 18 of his last 20 games, and has scored a school season record 23 TDs on the year.  Last week, Wartman was named a first-team ESPN the Magazine Academic All-American with a 3.87 GPA in Business.