Nov. 9, 2010

By Amy Farnum

No. 6 North Central clinched a share of the College Conference of Illinois & Wisconsin football title with an exclamation point as the Cardinals downed then-No. 12 Wheaton, 28-6, on Nov. 6, also securing an automatic bid to the NCAA Division III playoffs.

Senior linebacker Matt Wenger posted a game-high 13 tackles along with two tackles for a loss and a forced fumble as the Cardinals claimed their fifth straight CCIW title while holding the Thunder to just 196 total yards - the least by an opponent all season. Wenger, a native of Davis., Ill., was named CCIW Defensive Player of the Week for his contributions as North Central won the Little Brass Bell for the third straight season.

The Cardinals victory also gave head coach John Thorne the schools all-time record for coaching wins with a 75-21 mark. North Central will look to complete the regular season with an unbeaten record as the Cardinals host North Park on Nov. 13.

GENERALS RULE: Junior cornerback Mike Hartford sparked a Washington and Lee defense that forced five turnovers and registered five sacks in the Generals 38-27 win over Hampden Sydney as they captured the Old Dominion Athletic Conference championship on Saturday.

Hartford, a native of Pittsburgh, Pa., tallied six tackles and grabbed two interceptions, including a game-saving pick at the Generals one-yard line in the fourth quarter. He was named ODAC Defensive Player of the Week for his efforts.

The Generals extended their winning streak to six games as they finished their ODAC slate with a perfect 6-0 mark, earning the automatic bid to the NCAA Division III playoffs. W&L concludes the regular season at Juniata on Nov. 13.

Wartburg College drove 85 yards on 11 plays, culminating in a game-winning five-yard touchdown run by sophomore Reese Thompson as the Knights downed Central (Iowa), 20-17, to claim the Iowa Conference title and an automatic berth in the NCAA Division III playoffs.

A blocked punt by sophomore Garret McGrane set up Thompsons score, and the native of Fairbank, Iowa, was name Iowa Conference Special Teams Player of the Week for his achievement. Thompson scored twice and led the Knights with 86 rushing yards.

Wartburg clinched a share of its 12th title and second in the last three years. The Knights conclude the regular season at Simpson on Nov. 13. A victory would give No. 12 Wartburg its first unbeaten regular season since 2003.

CRU CLAIMS ANOTHER: Mary Hardin-Baylor locked up the American Southwest Conferences automatic bid to the NCAA playoffs as the Crusaders rolled to a 76-12 defeat over Sul Ross State last Saturday.

Senior running back Quincy Daniels grounded out 118 yards and three touchdowns - all in the first 21 minutes of play - as the Cru clinched a share of their seventh straight ASC title. The native of Belton, Texas, was named ASC Offensive Player of the Week and needs just 25 yards to match the leagues career rushing record of 3,672 yards.

No. 4 UMHB hosts Texas Lutheran on Nov. 13 as the Cru looks to win the ASC title outright and post just the second 10-0 regular season with victory.

EAGLES SOAR: Benedictine University posted a 38-0 shutout over Rockford College to claim the schools first conference championship since 1934. The Eagles are now 6-0 in the Northern Athletics Conference, and earned a berth in the NCAA Division III playoffs with the win.

Quarterback Preston Earl threw for 235 yards and four TDs, setting a new school single-season mark with 20 touchdown passes.

The Eagles look to stretch their six-game winning streak in the regular season finale at Wisconsin Lutheran on Nov. 13.

Several Division III conference races were decided last weekend with automatic bids to the NCAA playoffs as the reward. Heres a look at which teams have secured a berth in the NCAA playoffs so far, and six conference races that will go down to the wire to see who wins their respective automatic bids. A total of 23 automatic bids are handed out in the NCAA Division III playoffs.

Division III Automatic Bids
American Southwest Conference, Mary Hardin-Baylor
Centennial Conference, Muhlenberg
College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin, North Central
Empire 8, Alfred
Iowa Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, Wartburg
Liberty League, St. Lawrence
Middle Atlantic Conference, Delaware Valley
Midwest Conference, St. Norbert
Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, St. Thomas (Minn.)
Northern Athletics Conference, Benedictine University
Northwest Conference, Linfield
Ohio Athletic Conference, Mount Union
Old Dominion Athletic Conference, Washington and Lee
Presidents' Athletic Conference, Thomas More
Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, Cal Lutheran
Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference, DePauw
Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, UW-Whitewater

Division III Automatic Bids Yet to be Determined
Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference
Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association
New England Football Conference
New Jersey Athletic Conference
North Coast Athletic Conference
USA South Athletic Conference