Oct. 12, 2010

It is easy to focus on the offensive prowess of Division III teams and players around the country, but defensive efforts are usually less noted. Lets take a look at some of last weeks outstanding defensive performances, and some defensive units that have been stalwart throughout the season.

ROYAL REWARD: Bethel University improved to 5-0 on the season and cracked the AFCA Division III Top 25 at No. 23 with an upset of then-No. 25 Saint Johns (Minn.) last weekend.

The Royals forced four turnovers against the Johnnies, but it was senior linebacker Ross Pettersons 28-yard interception return for a touchdown in the first quarter that sparked Bethels defensive effort. The native of Maple Grove, Minn., collected seven tackles in the game, while anchoring a unit that held Saint Johns to just 60 rushing yards. He was named Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Week for his performance.

Bethel paces the MIAC in total and rushing defense, and will put its flawless record on the line when the Royals host Gustavaus Augustus on Oct. 16.

STOPPED COLD: No. 14 Montclair State rallied from a 14-10 halftime deficit, shutting down The College of New Jersey in the second half to come-from-behind for a 30-14 victory over the Lions on Oct. 9.

Senior linebacker Ed Kirschenbaum led the charge with 15 tackles in the contest, including stops on TCNJs first three plays of the second half that set up the eventual game-winning score on the next drive. Montclair State completely shut down TCNJ, limiting the Lions to zero total yards in the second half.

Kirschenbaum posted 4.5 tackles for a loss and 3.5 sacks in the contest, earning New Jersey Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Week honors as the Red Hawks moved to 5-0 on the season. The Red Hawks lead the nation in total defense, giving up just 180.0 yards per game.

CARDINALS RULE: St. John Fisher College is off to a 6-0 start this season after the Cardinals won their ninth straight contest with a 34-10 victory over Ithaca College in Empire 8 Conference action last weekend.

Sophomore linebacker Joe Leavell tallied eight tackles along with two sacks while starring for a defensive unit that held the Bombers to minus-seven rushing yards in the game. St. John Fisher stopped Ithaca three times on possessions inside the five-yard line in the second half. Leavall garnered Empire 8 Defensive Player of the Week for his contributions. He leads the team with 54 tackles on the season.

No. 7 St. John Fisher will go for its school-record 10th straight victory when the Cardinals host Hartwick College on Oct. 16.

TIGER TALES: Hampden-Sydney senior safety Thomas McDonald notched a pair of defensive highlights in the Tigers 24-17 comeback at Bridgewater, propelling them to a 6-0 record as they remained steady at No. 20 in the latest AFCA Division III Top 25.

The native of Chesterfield, Va., recovered a fumble that led to a 12-yard touchdown run on the next play, and then he sacked the quarterback on Bridgewaters final drive, forcing a long fourth-down attempt and a change of possession as the Tigers ran out the clock.

McDonald registered five tackles, including two tackles for a loss, a sack and a pass break-up to earn Old Dominion Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Week honors.

H-SC is back in action as it hosts Emory & Henry in ODAC play on Oct. 16.

DRAGON DEFENSE: Cortland State posted its third straight shutout, downing Brockport, 35-0, in New Jersey Athletic Conference action on Oct. 9 as the Red Dragons improved to 5-0 on the season.

The No. 19 Red Dragons have given up just 19 points in five games, and lead the nation in scoring defense, giving up just 3.80 points per game. Cortland notched eight sacks and grabbed four interceptions as it handed Brockport its first shutout since 2005.

Cortland goes for a fourth straight shutout at Rowan on Oct. 16.