November 3, 2010

Looking at the playoffs

With two weeks left in the regular season, now is as good a time as any to start talking about playoff scenarios in the four conferences covered in the East Region. After Montclair State’s one-point heartbreaker against Cortland State on Saturday, every team in the Empire 8, Liberty League, New Jersey Athletic Conference and Middle Athletic Conference have a regional loss.

Delaware Valley is 5-0 in the MAC after a 51-7 rout of King’s on Saturday. Matt Cook rushed for 150 yards and four touchdowns as the Aggies snagged their second straight playoff berth into the NCAA tournament. Overall, Delaware Valley is 7-1, with an in-region loss to Wesley, which was the No. 1 team in the new South Region rankings released on Wednesday.

DVC might have a shot to be a No. 1 seed if it wins its final two games, against Albright and Widener. If it does, they would be 7-0 in the MAC and 9-1 overall, with the only loss to No. 3 Wesley.

Wilkes, at 4-1 in conference and in second behind DVC, has three losses overall and is out of consideration.

In the Empire 8, the annual merry-go-round has started its ride. Alfred is on top in the conference with two weeks to go at 3-0, with wins over Springfield, Hartwick and St. John Fisher. For the Cardinals, they are 3-1 in conference and 8-1 overall, with a single game against Springfield to go.

Ithaca is even in the discussion, also at 3-1 in the Empire 8. East Region fans will want to root for Alfred the rest of the way if they want to get more than one E8 team into the NCAA tournament.

At 3-0 in conference, the Saxons have the upper hand, but if they are beat by Ithaca on Saturday, it puts the Empire 8 into disarray. In fact, it may already be after Alfred’s non-conference loss to Rochester.

If Alfred can hold serve against the Bombers, St. John Fisher, at 9-1 and 4-1 in conference, with its only loss to the Saxons, could sneak into the tournament as a Pool C entry.

The New Jersey Athletic Conference race should go down to the final week of the year. Three teams, Montclair State, Cortland State and Rowan are all 7-1 overall. Cortland is 7-1 in the conference as well, while MSU and Rowan are 6-1 in the NJAC.

The Cortland-Montclair game has really sent the East into a tizzy. Cortland’s Dan Pitcher threw a touchdown pass with 1:03 left to Mike Humphrey to give Cortland a 10-9 lead in a defensive battle at the complex at Cortland.

After the ensuing kickoff, Montclair quarterback Tom Fischer completed three straight passes to Byron Lewin to get down to the Cortland 22-yard line. After three plays only gained 9 yards, Jake Delvento came in with seven seconds remaining to try to give Montclair the win with a 30-yard field goal. But as time expired, Delvento’s kick sailed wide left and Cortland escaped with the 10-9 victory.

If all the teams win out, the conference gets thrown into a three-way tiebreaker that could come down to the opponents' opponents' winning percentage for overall Division III games.

In the Liberty League, things are pretty close to clinched. St. Lawrence is a surprising 4-0 in the Liberty League, but 4-4 overall, and every team in the Liberty League has at least two losses. The Saints can clinch their first playoff berth since 1982 with a win against Rochester or WPI or any Hobart loss.

The week that was:

RPI regained the Shoes for the fourth time in five years with a 21-7 win over Union at the first night game at the East Campus Athletic Village.

Senior wide receiver Pat McCarthy caught two touchdown passes and had 111 yards receiving in the 108th meeting between the two Capital Region schools.

Union senior running back Chris Coney rushed for 144 yards on 28 carries, the 17th time Coney has rushed for 100 yards in a game. In the third quarter, Coney passed George Beebe for rushing yards in a career, now at second on the all-time Union list.

Union has lost four games in a row for the first time since 1980.

No. 23 St. John Fisher rolled over non-conference opponent Frostburg State 38-6. SJF quarterback Tim Bailey became the college’s all-time leader in completions with 583. Ryan Kramer gobbled up 160 yards in rushing and receiving yards.

Hobart clinched its 14th consecutive winning season with a 38-14 rout of WPI.  Despite a good performance by WPI freshman Johny Antonopolous in his first collegiate start where he completed 17 passes for 198 yards, three running backs for Hobart, led by freshman Steven Webb’s two scores, were the difference in this one. Hobart is second in the Liberty League, and an ECAC bid isn’t out of the question.

Ithaca secured their 40th winning season, the second-longest streak of winning seasons in NCAA Division III history with their 30-6 win over Utica. Senior quarterback Rob Zappia threw for 215 yards and two touchdowns in the win. Ithaca senior wide receiver Tom Vossler has 129 catches for his career, two short of the Bombers record, set by Abe Ceesay from 1996-99.

Lycoming senior wide receiver Ryan Wagaman caught a career-high 15 passes for 176 yards and a touchdown, but his career day wasn’t enough, as the Warriors fell to the Wilkes Colonels in a MAC matchup.

Wagaman fell one short of the school record for catches, set back in 2003.

Josan Holmes scored three touchdowns for Albright in a 41-15 win over FDU-Florham.

Caleb Fick scored with 2 minutes left for Lebanon Valley as the Dutchmen squeaked by Widener 42-38.

Fick accounted for all five touchdowns that LVC scored, as he threw for four touchdown passes.

Brendan Curran had four touchdown runs in the loss for the Pride, all from a yard out, as he added 39 yards to Widener’s 220 on the day.

Kean’s Jay Gwaltney rushed for 257 yards and a touchdown as the senior led the Cougars to a 34-14 win over Brockport.

Gwaltney’s fourth straight 200-yard game was the fourth highest total in school history and he is average 162 yards a game, one of the higher totals in the country.

The defense forced five turnovers, two interceptions were returned for touchdowns, including Bukim Bejara’s 92-yard INT return, the second longest in Kean’s history.

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Andrew Lovell

Andrew Lovell is an associate news editor for ESPN.com and a former sports staff writer/editor for the New Britain Herald (Conn.). He has contributed freelance work to ESPN Rise and has been a regular contributor to D3football.com since 2007. Andrew has also written for a number of daily newspapers in New York, including the Poughkeepsie Journal, Ithaca Journal and Auburn Citizen. He graduated from Ithaca College in 2008 with B.A. in Sport Media and a minor in writing. A native of Hyde Park, N.Y., Andrew currently resides in New Britain. 

2006-10 columnist: Adam Samrov 

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