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One race left? Outstanding!

More news about: Cortland | Montclair State | Rowan
Despite not playing a conference game this week, Cortland State might have the most to gain in terms of NJAC tiebreaker status.

While the other three conferences covered in Around the East clinched playoff berths and/or conference titles, one is still outstanding, and that’s also a good word to describe what Week 11 will mean in terms of play for the top three teams in the New Jersey Athletic Conference.

All three are ranked in the Top 25 D3football.com poll (Rowan at 20, Cortland at 22 and Montclair at 23).

Cortland, which routed William Paterson on Saturday 38-7, has finished its conference season at 8-1, with only a 20-17 loss at Rowan as a blemish on the slate.

So what Rowan and Montclair need to do to match them is easy to understand -- like Herm Edwards, the old Jets coach said, “You play to win the game” -- the Profs and Red Hawks need to win their final games of the year (Rowan at TCNJ, Montclair at William Paterson) to get to 8-1 in the NJAC.

Now, if they do it, all three teams would be 8-1 in conference, all with losses to one of the others (Rowan lost to Montclair, 26-7, in Week 2, and Montclair lost to Cortland 10-9 in Week 9.

So how to figure it out, you ask?

This is the not-so-easy part.

I initially wrote in last week’s Around the East that if all three teams ended up 8-1, Cortland would win out. Surprisingly, I was wrong (yes, I say that as sarcastically as humanly possible) and thanks to my good friend and Cortland Sports Information Director Fran Elia, he keyed me into the NJAC tiebreaker.

Which, frankly, reads like Greek in some parts.

If I have this right (and I’m sure someone will alert me if it isn’t, since my readers rule) if only two teams end up tied at 8-1, it is based on head-to-head competition. So, for example, if Rowan loses, Cortland would be the Pool A qualifier, but both them and Montclair would share the conference title.

If all three end up 8-1, the criteria is somewhat different. The first is head-to-head, which doesn’t help since they all lost to each other. The next is “results versus the next highest ranked conference team until the tie is broken.”

I’m not sure if this means wins and losses, but that wouldn’t count either since they all beat the rest of the teams in the NJAC anyway.

So we get down to the numbers of OOWP, opponents’ opponents’ winning percentage in all of Division III. D3football.com has the numbers for that on the website, and the NCAA has some information on that as well. That will be the point where things may be settled, since Cortland still has to face Ithaca.

There’s also OOWP in-region, the Rose Bowl rule and a coin toss at the end. Hopefully it doesn’t get to that, but no matter what happens, fans of the three teams will definitely be doing some scoreboard watching on Saturday.

Would all three teams get in at 9-1 to the NCAA playoffs? If I was a betting man (which I’m not, because I lose too often to say so) I would say yes, but the real question of that will be if Cortland can take down its Route 13 rival Ithaca at the Cortaca Jug game at home on Saturday.

In the Empire 8, Alfred clinched the automatic qualifier Pool A bid after a 31-16 win over Ithaca at Merrill Field. The Saxons needed St. John Fisher to lose to clinch the conference title outright, and Springfield obliges, taking down the Cardinals 55-49 in a crazy Saturday shutout.

Alfred has used a good mix of youth and veterans toward their first Empire 8 title in conference history, and on Saturday, it was the youth who stepped up against the Bombers.

Freshman tailback Austin Dwyer rushed for 273 yards and a touchdown on 29 carries as the Bomber defense couldn’t find an answer for him.

Dwyer has been a force all season, as he reached 1,000 yards with his performance, and his 117 yards a game leads all Empire 8 rushers.

For St. John Fisher, they had no answer for the Springfield rushing attack, as the Pride ran the ball from the triple option 88 times for 429 yards on the day.

Sophomore quarterback Austin Bateman did the blunt of the damage, rushing 37 times for 237 yards and three touchdowns in the 55-49 win.

Cardinals quarterback Tim Bailey did set a bunch of single-season school records in the contest, including completions (212), TD passes (32) and yards (2,889). Receiver Ryan Schmidt had 10 catches for 146 yards, giving him 80 for the season, a school record, and making him only the second receiver in St. John Fisher history to have more than 1,000 yards.

St. John Fisher has an outside shot at the NCAA playoffs and an at-large Pool C bid, but it will come down to Week 11 and other teams around the country. They have two losses on the year, so it’s feasible the Cardinals could be the 33rd team -- last one out. But there are a dozen one-loss teams currently that would almost all be considered ahead of St. John Fisher, and only six at-large bids.

St. Lawrence got blasted by Rochester 34-14, but managed to “sneak” into a Pool A automatic bid as Hobart lost on a field goal by Peter Nilson with no time left against RPI. The Saints are 4-1 in the Liberty League, but 4-5 overall. According to D3football.com records, no team has made it into the playoffs with a losing record overall, but SLU couldn’t be the first to do it if it loses to WPI next week.

This is the fourth playoff appearance for the Saints, as they made it in 1976, 1978 and 1982 previously. Coach Mark Raymond has done a terrific job in his first year as coach in Canton.

In the MAC, Delaware Valley clinched the title outright with a 42-17 victory on Senior Day over Albright.

Matt Cook was held to 84 yards rushing, but he went over 1,000 for the third consecutive season, a DVC record. With the win, DVC clinched a share of the title, then took it outright after Wilkes, in second place in the MAC, lost 41-21 to Widener.

For the Aggies, it’s the third straight MAC title and fifth in the past seven years. It’s the second straight NCAA berth and the win was their 16th in a row in the Middle Athletic Conference.

All-American linebacker Kyle Gesswein had 11 tackles, three sacks and a forced fumble as he wreaked havoc on the Lions’ offense.

The week that was

For 59 minutes and 38 seconds, TCNJ and Kean played to a scoreless tie, with some movement between the 20-yard lines, but no one able to punch it home. Then TCNJ scored with 22 seconds left to beat the Cougars for their fifth win of the season.

Kean’s Jerelle Peay had 11 tackles and 3.5 for loss in the defeat as the defenses ruled the roost.

Union got 232 rushing yards from Chris Coney, but the Merchant Marine Academy got 201 yards and three touchdowns from John Leon Gosselin in a 28-21 win over the Dutchmen. Coney’s 232 was his 18th career game of more than 100 yards, and leaves him just 101 short of 4,000 for his career -- a total only surpassed in Union history by Tom Arcidiacono.

The Dutchmen have five straight losses, the first time it’s had that many in a row since 1974.

Although there were no playoff implications involved, the game between Buffalo State and Morrisville State had a ton of offense and a ton of achievements.

For Buffalo State, quarterback Ryan Lehotsky only completed 11 passes, but they went for 405 yards and four touchdowns, an average of nearly 40 yards a completion.

The beneficiary was wide receiver Rob Smith, who had seven catches for 247 yards and three touchdowns, one of the highest receiving totals of the year nationally and the highest in the NJAC since 2008.

The Bengals had eight plays of 42 yards or more on the day.

Lebanon Valley’s Ben Guiles broke the school record for yards in a season after his 110-yard, two-touchdown day in a 28-14 win over Lycoming. Guiles has 1,143 yards on the year. His performance was enough to lead LVC, overcoming a 9-catch, 149-yard performance by senior Ryan Wagaman.

Hartwick’s Anthony Casimano had a career day rushing for the Hawks against Utica on Saturday. Casimano rushed for 232 yards and two touchdowns on 30 carries as the Pioneer defense had no answer for the Hartwick rush attack.

Hartwick won 24-21 for their first Empire 8 win of the season. Utica remained winless in conference play.

King’s got its first win of the season, beating FDU-Florham 45-14. Senior quarterback Corey Lavin tied the school record for touchdown passes in a career at King’s with 31, matching the record set in 2001 by Tom Pierantozzi. Lavin threw for 305 yards and three touchdowns on the day, giving Jeff Knarr his first win as coach.

Jason Bowen

Jason Bowen has 10 years of Division III coaching experience at Wesley, where he was also the Sports Information Director. He currently provides color analysis on broadcasts of Wesley games on WDEL Radio 1150AM and has served as a staff and freelance writer for the Delaware State News in Dover. He has been a contributor for D3football.com since 2006. By day he teaches high school biology. He is a 1992 graduate of and three-year letter winner at linebacker for Mansfield (Pa.) University.

2006-10 columnist: Adam Samrov
2011-14 columnist: Andrew Lovell

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