/seasons/2010/contrib/20101101rtg51m

Central faces league leader in regular-season finale

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PELLA, Iowa—The assignment is simple but the challenge is huge as the Central College football team caps its regular season by facing first-place Wartburg College Saturday in a clash of nationally ranked teams.

On the line for the Dutch is a share of the Iowa Conference title and a potential NCAA Division III playoff berth. A loss ends Central's season as the Dutch have a bye in the last week of conference play.

Game time is 1 p.m. at Ron and Joyce Schipper Stadium.

Central (8-1 overall, 6-1 conference) trails Wartburg (8-0 overall, 6-0 conference) by a game in the league standings and is even in the loss column with Coe College.  The Dutch are coming off a 35-7 victory at Buena Vista Saturday while Wartburg held off rival Luther at Waverly, 24-18.

Rankings—Central is up to No. 16 in the AFCA Division III coaches' poll and No. 17 in the D3football.com rankings. Wartburg is No. 13 in the AFCA rankings and shares No. 13 in D3football.com while Coe is No. 18 in the AFCA poll and No. 16 in D3football.com.

On the air, on the Web—Trevor Castle will call the play-by-play of Saturday's game on KRLS-FM (92.1) and the broadcast can also be accessed through Central's website at www.central.edu/athletics or through www.kniakrls.com.

A video webcast and live stats can also be viewed at www.central.edu/athletics. A delayed telecast is offered to Pella Mediacom customers through PTV 12 next Tuesday at 1 p.m. and Thursday at 7 p.m.

Title totals-- The Dutch have won or shared conference titles in four of the past five seasons and have 30 league crowns overall. Central has earned 20 NCAA Division III playoff berths. Wartburg's last conference title was in 2008, when the Knights won it outright.

The Knights—Wartburg has been dominant in 2010 and was particularly impressive in a 31-21 road victory at Coe Oct. 16. Coe handed Central its only loss 37-28 Sept. 25.

The Knights lead the league in scoring defense, yielding only 10.4 points per game, and ranked No. 7 in Division III in that category last week. They're also first in pass defense efficiency (98.0) and rank eighth in Division III in turnover margin, with plus 14 in eight games. Wartburg is the league leader in interceptions (18) and fewest first downs allowed (15.2 per game).

Wartburg is outscoring opponents 32.5-10.4 and outgaining them 411.4 yards to 287.2. The Knights have the league's top rushing offense (207.4 yards per game) and are also tops in kickoff returns (23.3 yards per return).

Senior linebacker Blake Suckow ranks second in the league in tackles with 90 (11.2 per game). Junior defensive backs Josh Van Den Hul and Garrett McGrane share the conference interceptions lead with six. Junior Robby Salmon leads in punting yards with 43.1 per kick.

Quarterback Dan Stiefel, a junior transfer, has completed 111 of 192 passes for 1,610 yards with 10 touchdowns and seven interceptions. Sophomore running backs Reese Thompson and Brandon Sims rank second and third, respectively, in the league with 88.4 and 72.9 rushing yards.

"They're obviously very strong on both sides of the ball," McMartin said. "They have some very talented players. The quarterback is a good football player and they have a number of different running backs to attack you with. Their offensive line is a strength of the team every year and that certainly is the case this year. Their wide receivers are making a lot of plays.

"Defensively, they put a lot of pressure on you. They blitz a lot and move around. They're not just going to sit there and let you play football. They're going to force the issue. They're well coached."

Dutch numbers—There will be a couple of first-place statistical encounters Saturday.

Central will try to counter Wartburg's league-leading rushing offense (207.4 yards per game with the top rushing defense (74.3 yards). Wartburg has yielded only three quarterback sacks while the Dutch have a league-leading 32, ranking 10th in Division III in sacks last week. Central leads in third-down conversions (50.4 percent, 64-127), fourth-down conversions (64.7, 11-17), possession time (33:06) and punt return yardage (10.8 per return).

Mike Furlong (junior, Davenport, Assumption HS) is first in punt return yardage (10.5). Defensive lineman Shane Wong (senior, Pleasant Hill, Southeast Polk HS) is first in sacks (11) and tackles for loss (16). Jake Viggers (senior, Altoona, Southeast Polk HS) is first in extra points (42 of 42).

The series—Central held off Wartburg 41-33 at Waverly last year and leads the all-time series 41-17. The teams first met in 1945. Wartburg's last victory in the series was a 19-17 decision in Pella in 2008.

Weekly improvement—Coe rolled up 533 yards on the Dutch Sept. 25, but McMartin said are making steady improvement.

"We're doing some things better," he said. "We made a few changes here and there. We keep working every day to try to improve. We'll find out how much we've improved on Saturday."

Significant defensive progress came in the last two weeks. Central had only one interception in its first seven games but had three against Loras Oct. 23 and four more Saturday at Buena Vista. Meanwhile the Dutch have racked up 18 sacks in those two games. The sudden rise in interceptions is not a coincidence, McMartin said.

"We're putting good pressure on the quarterback, that's the big thing," he said. "The other thing is that guys have to make plays and we're making plays. When they've had the ball thrown their way, they've gotten after it and made the interception."

A victory wouldn't guarantee another NCAA playoff berth but, as always, this week's game is the only one on the minds of McMartin and his players.

"I'm not thinking about playoffs," he said. "The only thing I'm focusing on is this week's game because that's all that we can control. To think about anything else, to debate or to worry about it, would be a mistake. We'll leave that up to the fans. For us, we've got to get ready to go play a big game.                      

"The players have done a good job of focusing on the team we have to play next. Even after the Coe game, we learned from it, then started thinking about Cornell the next week."

Another point of emphasis is to have fun.

"We've really got to focus on playing our best game," McMartin said. "We want to cut loose and enjoy it for what it is. We want to be the best we can be."

Injury update—The team's top two rushers, running back Ross Doehrmann (sophomore, Williamsburg) and quarterback Nate Snead (junior, Altoona, Southeast Polk HS) continue to nurse injuries. Snead played more than half the game Saturday at Buena Vista while Doehrmann remained sidelined.

The Dutch also lost running back Erik Grunder (sophomore, Wilton) in the closing minutes Saturday with a season-ending injury.

"Erik's a good football player and we obviously hate to lose good football players," McMartin said. "That's something we'll have to work at as a team to overcome."

Record watch—Snead has rushed for 583 yards on 119 carries while Doehrmann has 494 yards on 100 attempts. If Snead remains on top, he'll become the first Central quarterback to lead the team in rushing in the 50 years records are available.

Senior salute—Saturday's contest marks the final home appearance for 28 Dutch seniors.

During their Central careers, the seniors have helped the Dutch win two conference titles and gain two NCAA berths while posting a four-year record of 36-7.

"The seniors have been fantastic," McMartin said. "The thing I really respect about this year's seniors is they've all had challenges. They've been through good and bad times, ups and downs in their four years. They've been able to overcome that and stay positive and stay committed to the team.

"I think the legacy of this group of seniors is that they persevered. They are very committed to each other and very committed to Central College football. They've won a lot of games here and that's a byproduct of their work ethic and their commitment. I'm honored to be a part of their four-year experience."

 

Oct. 14: All times Eastern
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Salve Regina 45, at Nichols 10
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Mount Ida 14, at Dean 7
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at Thomas More 59, Waynesburg 7
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at Maine Maritime 34, Coast Guard 16
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at Finlandia 27, Trinity Bible 21
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Hamilton 28, at Bowdoin 7
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at Delaware Valley 49, King's 14
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at Olivet 47, Albion 26
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at Wesleyan 41, Bates 23
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Union 27, at Rochester 0
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Amherst 40, at Colby 7
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at Western New England 41, Endicott 14
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at Brockport 48, Morrisville State 7
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at Plymouth State 16, Framingham State 13
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at RPI 27, Ithaca 14
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Hobart 49, at Hartwick 27
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at Ferrum 34, LaGrange 20
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at Carnegie Mellon 42, Geneva 27
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Ohio Wesleyan 16, at Wabash 13
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DePauw 26, at Denison 17
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at Trine 42, Kalamazoo 7
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at Washington and Lee 47, Guilford 26
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at Husson 49, Castleton 0
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Gallaudet 35, at Alfred State 19
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at Wittenberg 49, Allegheny 15
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Brevard 41, at Methodist 17
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at Lebanon Valley 31, Stevenson 24
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Buffalo State 24, at St. Lawrence 21
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at Cortland 20, Alfred 17
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at Randolph-Macon 52, Emory and Henry 29
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at Wesley 29, Kean 9
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at Hampden-Sydney 58, Apprentice 28
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Frostburg State 59, at William Paterson 7
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at N.C. Wesleyan 45, Greensboro 0
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at Westminster (Pa.) 49, Grove City 27
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Washington and Jefferson 49, at Bethany 14
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at Westminster (Mo.) 56, Crown 15
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at Northwestern (Minn.) 29, Iowa Wesleyan 7
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at Knox 56, Grinnell 14
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at Widener 31, Lycoming 17
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Trinity (Conn.) 23, at Tufts 16
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at Mount St. Joseph 66, Earlham 7
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Ohio Northern 27, at John Carroll 20
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Baldwin Wallace 23, at Muskingum 20
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at Mount Union 72, Capital 14
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Rose-Hulman 44, at Manchester 13
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at Hanover 31, Bluffton 28
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Defiance 45, at Anderson 0
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at Wartburg 42, Loras 11
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Hiram 62, at Kenyon 56
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Springfield 35, at Merchant Marine 13
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Williams 27, at Middlebury 26
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at Westfield State 33, Fitchburg State 21
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Marietta 43, at Wilmington 33
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at Berry 34, Hendrix 10
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Curry 40, at Becker 0
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TCNJ 20, at Rowan 14
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at SUNY-Maritime 51, Anna Maria 15
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Salisbury 28, at Montclair State 10
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at Huntingdon 28, Maryville (Tenn.) 16
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at Austin 33, Millsaps 19
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at Mary Hardin-Baylor 65, Howard Payne 0
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at Washington U. 55, Buena Vista 20
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Alma 27, at Aurora 19
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at Rockford 29, Concordia-Chicago 14
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Wisconsin Lutheran 22, at Concordia (Wis.) 19
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at Lakeland 57, Benedictine 21
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at St. Norbert 10, Chicago 0
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Concordia-Moorhead 45, at Hamline 0
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St. Olaf 22, at Augsburg 20
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Bethel 24, at Gustavus Adolphus 3
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St. John's 35, at Carleton 0
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at Eureka 30, Greenville 19
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Centre 27, at Trinity (Texas) 21
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Dubuque 42, at Nebraska Wesleyan 27
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Central 30, at Coe 19
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Lake Forest 56, at Cornell 28
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at Carthage 31, Elmhurst 8
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at Illinois Wesleyan 30, Carroll 0
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Millikin 28, at Augustana 27
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Ripon 52, at Beloit 28
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MacMurray 49, at Minnesota-Morris 13
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Macalester 21, at Lawrence 18
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at Monmouth 59, Illinois College 14
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at UW-Stevens Point 26, UW-Eau Claire 3
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Case Western Reserve 63, at Thiel 28
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at Wooster 38, Oberlin 28
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Texas Lutheran 41, at East Texas Baptist 34
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at UW-Stout 21, UW-River Falls 16
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UW-Oshkosh 28, at UW-Platteville 14
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Sewanee 34, at Birmingham-Southern 13
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at Hope 22, Adrian 3
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Linfield 49, at Lewis and Clark 14
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La Verne at Occidental
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Whitworth 17, at Pacific Lutheran 14
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at Cal Lutheran 42, Claremont-Mudd-Scripps 20
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at George Fox 58, Willamette 12
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at Pacific 35, Puget Sound 27
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Pomona-Pitzer 45, at Whittier 23
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at Western Connecticut 28, Massachusetts Maritime 21
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at St. Scholastica 56, Martin Luther 21
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Final - 5OT
at St. John Fisher 39, Utica 36
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at Heidelberg 48, Otterbein 45
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at Shenandoah 38, Bridgewater 20
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Southwestern 60, at Belhaven 31
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Hardin-Simmons 35, at Sul Ross State 10
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at Louisiana College 52, McMurry 34
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at Simpson 38, Luther 17
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at Chapman 45, Redlands 26
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Oct. 16: All times Eastern
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at Wheaton (Ill.) 42, North Central (Ill.) 20
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Oct. 20: All times Eastern
7:00 PM
Gettysburg at Johns Hopkins
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Oct. 14: All times Eastern
Final
at Delaware Valley 49, King's 14
Video Box Score Recap Recap
Final - OT
at Cortland 20, Alfred 17
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Final
at Wesley 29, Kean 9
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Frostburg State 59, at William Paterson 7
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Final
at Wittenberg 49, Allegheny 15
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at Brockport 48, Morrisville State 7
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Final
Washington and Jefferson 49, at Bethany 14
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Ohio Wesleyan 16, at Wabash 13
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at Mount Union 72, Capital 14
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Final
at Wartburg 42, Loras 11
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at Berry 34, Hendrix 10
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Final
Springfield 35, at Merchant Marine 13
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at Mary Hardin-Baylor 65, Howard Payne 0
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St. John's 35, at Carleton 0
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at Illinois Wesleyan 30, Carroll 0
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Concordia-Moorhead 45, at Hamline 0
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Case Western Reserve 63, at Thiel 28
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UW-Oshkosh 28, at UW-Platteville 14
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Linfield 49, at Lewis and Clark 14
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at George Fox 58, Willamette 12
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Hardin-Simmons 35, at Sul Ross State 10
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Oct. 16: All times Eastern
Final
at Wheaton (Ill.) 42, North Central (Ill.) 20
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Oct. 20: All times Eastern
7:00 PM
Gettysburg at Johns Hopkins
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