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Here come the Bears

More news about: Ursinus
The Bears control their own destiny in the Centennial, even after playing Johns Hopkins.
David Morgan/Stylish Images


By Andrew Lovell
D3sports.com

History was against Ursinus and sophomore quarterback Tom Garlick. Johns Hopkins entered Saturday's matchup with an almost-unfathomable pair of winning streaks, having won 45 straight regular season games and 40 straight Centennial Conference games.
 
To put that in perspective, the Blue Jays' last loss that didn't come in the NCAA playoffs was back on Nov. 3, 2012. Back then, Garlick was a freshman ... in high school. But on Saturday, Garlick wasn't interested in the historical context of Johns Hopkins's streaks. He was ready to write a new chapter in the Centennial Conference record book.
 
With 74 yards to cover in just over five minutes, Garlick engineered what will inevitably be remembered as one of the finest drives in Ursinus football history. The Bears marched down the field in 12 plays, converting three separate third downs, including a critical third-and-15 from their own 32-yard line. But it was the drive's 13th play, an eight-yard touchdown scramble by Garlick, that ended the Blue Jays' streaks.
 
"Tom Garlick just made it happen," Ursinus head coach Pete Gallagher said of his team's 21-17 win. "Our receivers weren't open and he saw an alley. Our offensive line picked up a twist great and he scrambled in. The rest is history."
 
Garlick finished with 247 passing yards, including a 67-yard scoring strike to senior Carmen Fortino two plays after the game's opening kickoff, and added 104 rushing yards on 20 carries in the kind of gritty, grind-it-out performance that won't soon be forgotten.
Garlick's heroics led to the upset win.
David Morgan/Stylish Images
Johns Hopkins, which has won at least a share of the last eight Centennial Conference titles, remains firmly in the mix for this season's crown. But unlike last season, when the race effectively came down to Johns Hopkins and Muhlenberg, Ursinus is making its presence felt in 2017.
 
"The challenge now is to be like, 'Hey look, we're not the hunters anymore; now we're the hunted,'" Gallagher said. "We've got to rise to that level and execute at that level."
 
The win against Johns Hopkins improved Ursinus's record to 5-0 (4-0 CC). It's the program's best start since it won its first seven games in 2010, the last time the Bears earned a share of the conference title.
 
"These slugfests in the Centennial Conference, if you play well, are going to come down to the fourth quarter [and] someone making a play, or someone else making a play," Gallagher said. "Gettysburg, we had to make a play. Juniata, we had to make a play. Moravian, we had to make a play. That's what we're focused on."
 
Each of Ursinus's last four wins have come against conference opponents on crucial plays in the fourth quarter. Whether it was Garlick's touchdown scamper against Johns Hopkins or Jacob McCain's game-clinching, 85-yard interception return for a touchdown against Moravian, the Bears have continuously come up big when it matters most.
 
How has a team that went a combined 5-15 over the 2015 and 2016 seasons been able to match that win total in less than one month?
 
"It didn't start Monday," Gallagher said. "It started last January."
 
The development of already-strong recent recruiting classes was aided by the addition of two full-time strength and conditioning coaches to the Ursinus athletic department. That structured and closely-monitored strength training and conditioning has played a positive role, Gallagher said. Some of Ursinus's key skill position players, like Garlick, sophomore running back Stacey Gardner, and freshman Samuel Ragland are still underclassmen, but they've matured quickly.
 
"One's a big, physical runner with some wiggle (Gardner)," Gallagher said. "The other one is just a dynamic runner with a lot of wiggle (Ragland)."
 
Gardner and Ragland have combined for 804 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns running behind an improved offensive line. The blocking of Ursinus's wide receivers, led by Fortino, has also been consistently great, Gallagher said. Garlick has also contributed in a major way to Ursinus's productive ground game. The 6-foot-4, 195-pound quarterback, who has 307 yards and three touchdowns on the ground this season, isn't always thought of as a traditional dual-threat quarterback. Gallagher said that's a mistake.
 
"I've been doing this long enough to kind of realize that ...," Gallagher said before trailing off. "I didn't tell him to scramble on third down and eight with 20 seconds left to go in the game. He did that."
 
"He's a competitor," Gallagher added. "At the end of the day, that's his best attribute. No matter what happens in the game, he's fighting until the end."
 
Garlick will have to stay hot to keep Ursinus unbeaten, as the Bears face back-to-back road games against Muhlenberg (3-2, 2-2) and Susquehanna (3-2, 2-2) over the next two weeks. But for Gallagher, his staff, and his players, the focus remains on the daily grind.
 
"Of course we want to take the ball away, we want to rush for a whole bunch of yards, we want to throw for a whole bunch of yards," Gallagher said. "For us, it's more about how we conduct our business on a day-to-day basis than numeric values."
 
That mindset has produced at least one numerical value Gallagher admits he's thrilled with it.
 
"There's nothing bad about beating Johns Hopkins," Gallagher said. "There's no downside to it."

Hampden-Sydney tops Bridgewater

Alec Cobb passed for 291 yards and four touchdowns, Mike DeMasi rushed for 132 yards and a touchdown, and Cam Johnson caught 12 passes for 139 yards and one of Cobb's TDs as Hampden-Sydney defeated Bridgewater 37-27.
 
Major Morgan caught two of Cobb's touchdowns, bringing his season total to six. In total, Johnson and Morgan have caught nine of Cobb's 11 touchdown passes this year. Should the Tigers (2-2, 1-0) continue to get elite production like that from their stars in the passing game, they'll be a tough out for any opponent.
 
After a string of nine consecutive winning seasons, Hampden-Sydney stumbled to a 3-7 finish in 2016. The Tigers can match that win total this Saturday at Guilford (2-2, 0-0).

Huntingdon flies past Brevard
 
Chip Taylor passed for 246 yards and two touchdowns, both to Otis Porter, and rushed for another score in Huntingdon's 38-10 win over Brevard. Since a season-opening loss to Guilford, the Hawks have strung together four straight wins.
 
With back-to-back USA South Conference titles and NCAA postseason appearances in 2015 and 2016, expectations remained high for Huntingdon in 2017. With the calendar turning to October, the Hawks (4-1, 2-0) still look like the team to beat in the USA South. 
 
A key home matchup with Averett (3-2, 3-0) looms this Saturday afternoon, with the winner claiming sole possession of first place atop the conference standings.

Quick count

Hayden Bauserman passed for a school-record 558 yards and six touchdowns as Shenandoah defeated Randolph-Macon 51-38, earnings its first win over the Yellow Jackets since joining the ODAC in 2012. Leonard Scott (162 receiving yards) caught three of those touchdowns. Burke Estes threw for 381 yards and four touchdowns in the loss. ... Tanner Erisman passed for 252 yards and two touchdowns, both to K.J. Pretty, and Vincent Moffett totaled 12 tackles, one interception and one fumble recovery as Franklin and Marshall defeated Muhlenberg 17-14 to improve to 5-0. ... Brady Justice rushed for 135 yards and three touchdowns, the final of which gave Emory and Henry the lead with 11 seconds left in regulation, to clinch a 45-42 win over Washington and Lee. Josh Breece rushed for 195 yards and two TDs, and Matt Sgro rushed for 156 yards and two touchdowns in the loss. ... Brian Mann rushed for 133 yards and a touchdown, and Rod Smith registered two of Ferrum's four interceptions in a 17-7 win against N.C. Wesleyan. ... Nick Crusco tossed two touchdowns, while Cameron Ott rushed for 88 yards and another score in Susquehanna's 38-7 victory against Dickinson. ... Sean Bowman rushed for 178 yards and a touchdown, and a late game-tying field-goal attempt by LaGrange sailed wide in the Cougars' 27-24 win. ... Austin Montgomery passed for 219 yards and three touchdowns, including a 25-yard strike to Matt Lehr in overtime, and connected with Jake Notestine on the ensuing two-point conversion to clinch a wild 42-41 win for Juniata against McDaniel. Matt Cathey rushed for 164 yards and two touchdowns in the loss. ... De'Eric Bell rushed for 112 yards and two touchdowns in Guilford's 56-21 loss to FCS Jacksonville. ... Elijiah Chenier rushed for 151 yards and a touchdown, one of five players to run for a score, in Maryville's lopsided 48-6 victory against Greensboro. ... Justin Davidov passed for 201 yards and two TDs while adding 95 yards on the ground, and Nick Rella rushed for a pair of TDs as Gettysburg topped Moravian 28-14 for its first win of the season. 

Top 25: Johns Hopkins drops out

For the first time this season, no team from the Centennial, ODAC, or USA South Conferences was ranked in the top 25 of D3football.com's weekly poll.
 
Johns Hopkins, which was ranked No. 13 last week, Ursinus, and Franklin and Marshall each received votes this week.

Contact me

I'm always happy to hear from you, whether it’s questions, feedback or story ideas. Please reach out to me by email at andrew.lovell@d3sports.com and follow me on Twitter (@andrew_lovell).

Andrew Lovell

Andrew Lovell is a writer based in Connecticut and a former online news editor for ESPN.com, as well as a former sports staff writer/editor for the New Britain Herald (Conn.). He has written feature stories for ESPN.com, currently contributes fantasy football content to RotoBaller.com, and has been a regular contributor to D3sports.com sites 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.

2012-2015 columnist: Adam Turer
2007-2011 columnist: Ryan Tipps
2003-2006: Pat Cummings
2000: Keith McMillan
1999: Pat Coleman

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