Photo by Russ DeHoedt, d3photography.com
Wartburg stopped Franklin twice inside the 10-yard line and also on a two-point conversion to win in overtime, North Central ground it out vs. St. John's, Trine rolled past Monmouth and UW-Oshkosh made it look easy in the top left-hand corner of the bracket in the first round of the 2017 Division III football playoffs.
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Connor Schrader ran for 116 yards and two touchdowns, including the game-winner in overtime, as Wartburg defeated Franklin 35-34. A high-scoring game early, with the game 28-28 just minutes into the third quarter, the Wartburg defense came up big on three seprate occasions. The Knights stopped Franklin on fourth-down at the 9-yard line late in the third quarter, then at the 3-yard line in the fourth, keeping the game tied on a day in which the wins was blowing significantly from one end zone to the other.
The Knights converted a fourth down in overtime before Schrader plowed his way in from the 6 and Jordan Johnson's extra point gave Wartburg the 35-34 lead. On its overtime possession, Franklin converted a fourth down as well and scored on a Chase Burton scramble. But his two-point conversion attempt pass was offline and Wartburg survived.
Evan Wyse ran for 191 yards and three touchdowns and threw for 162 yards and another score as Trine rolled past Monmouth 63-24. The game was delayed by lightning in the first quarter and was a back-and-forth affair the entire first half, with Trine taking a 28-24 lead with 1:20 left in the second quarter. But it was all Trine in the second half, scoring the final 35 points of the game for the win.
Dominick Muoghalu, starting in the place of injured senior running back Austin Breunig, played workhorse for North Central, as he ran for 180 yards and a touchdown to help the No. 9 Cardinals get past No. 6 St. John's 17-7. The Cardinals maintained that lead into the fourth quarter, extending it on a Andrew Kamienski touchdown catch from Broc Rutter to go up 17-0. St. John's answered with a quick drive to cut the lead to 17-7 with 6:15 left, but the Johnnies' next drive ended with a 44-yard field goal attempt going wide left and the Cardinals were able to run out all but the final 19 seconds.
"This was a fantastic football game," said North Central coach Jeff Thorne. "We had some really adverse conditions, but it's November in Illinois. Our defense was absolutely phenomenal, and so was theirs. I thought our offensive line was tremendous, and (Muoghalu) was a beast. We were not at all surprised with what happened today with Dom. He runs hard, he runs with passion, and he cares about his teammates. I'm really proud of our effort today."
North Central will head to UW-Oshkosh next Saturday, which was firing in all phases of the game in a 63-0 win vs. Lakeland. Dylan Hecker, Mitch Gerhartz, Dom Todarello and Sam Mentkowski all scored, as did backups and defensive players in the win. Michael Whitley was 28-for-49 passing for 145 yards and was picked off three times.