|Kyle Gaudet's 36-yard touchdown catch was the icing on the cake of pounding running back John Smith.
Husson athletics photo
Three home teams won, two of them making it look easy, and one road team pulled off the first-round upset in the bottom left-hand corner of the bracket in the first round of the 2017 Division III football playoffs.
- Updated playoff bracket
- Wrapup: UW-Oshkosh bracket
- Wrapup: Mount Union bracket
- Wrapup: UMHB bracket
- Wrapup: Delaware Valley bracket
- First-round playoff scoreboard
- Even more game stories
In the battle of premiere running back John Smith vs. prolific rushing offense Springfield, Husson and Smith were able to keep the Pride offense on the sidelines, holding the ball for nearly 40 minutes and getting a key interception to seal the game in a 23-21 victory. It's the first win in the NCAA Division III playoffs for a team from the Eastern Collegiate Football Conference. (Husson is moving to the Commonwealth Coast Conference in 2019.)
Smith had workhorse numbers of 43 carries for 164 yards and two touchdowns and Cory Brandon completed 20 of 30 passes for 209 yards and a score as the Eagles ended Springfield's unbeaten season.
With the game tied, Husson embarked on a 15-play drive that lasted nearly seven minutes, converting a pair of third downs and a fourth and nine before Smith got free up the middle for a 5-yard score. Husson then forced a fumble on the ensuing kickoff, which allowed the offense to hold onto the ball for the rest of the third, concluding a quarter in which the visitors had the ball for 13:07. The Eagles finally finished off their 10-play, 24-yard drive that ate up almost six minutes just 48 seconds into the fourth when Devin Pickett drilled a 22-yard field goal, his first make of the 2017 campaign. After the teams traded possessions, Springfield made it a 23-21 game with 7:06 remaining in regulation as Hunter Belzo broke through the right side of the defense and scampered 52 yards for the touchdown, but Springfield turned the ball over on its next possession and Husson ran out the clock.
Husson will be heading to Delaware Valley for the second round. Playing without its best player on offense, Del Val found other ways to score in a 35-0 win over Western New England. Devauntay Ellis was limited by injury to one carry, but the Aggies got one touchdown on defense and one on special teams to put the Golden Bears away. Sammy Mohr had two interceptions for Del Val, including a 100-yard pick six and Vinnie Nelson added a 50-yard punt return for a score.
Brockport's first trip to the playoffs since 2003 started off with a breeze as the Golden Eagles cruised to 11-0 with a 66-0 win vs. Plymouth State. Brockport had their best game of the year on both offense and defense in terms of total yardage, outgaining the Panthers by over 500 yards (626-104). The shutout is the fourth of the season for the Golden Eagle defense, which once again held their opponents to negative rushing yards (minus-5).
It was less breezy in the other matchup on that side of the bracket, as the game featured four lead changes and three ties before No. 13 Wesley pulled away to a 45-27 win vs. RPI. Alex Kemp had 11 catches for 149 yards and a receiving touchdown and also ran the ball three times for 90 yards and a touchdown on the ground in the win.