/seasons/2011/contrib/201107295egtxf

Guilford 2011 football season outlook

More news about: Guilford

For first-year Guilford College head football Chris Rusiewicz, the 2011 season isn't about rebuilding, but refocusing. While the Quakers are coming off their first winless season since 1972, the new coach worked with a crop of over 50 letter winners in the spring and helped bring in some 40 recruits bent on reversing Guilford's football fortunes.

Rusiewicz, Guilford's 22nd recorded head coach, won the 2010 American Football Coaches Association Assistant Coach of the Year Award as associate head coach at Ursinus (Pa.) College. He served as the Bears' defensive coordinator and special teams coach for seven of his nine years on Peter Gallagher's staff. Ursinus ranked 23rd or higher among NCAA Division III total defense leaders in three of the past four years and shared the 2010 Centennial Conference title. The Bears enjoyed four winning seasons in Rusiewicz's last five years and posted an 8-2 record a year ago.

 When Rusiewicz took over in January, he met first with the Quakers' seniors and stressed his idea of success, which is more than wins and losses. For Rusiewicz, success involves having fun, learning on and off the field and making the most of the college experience. With the seniors on board, he visited the remaining veterans and implemented academic and physical expectations designed for both individual and team success. He tested the veterans in the spring and saw major improvement, which gives him confidence for his first season as a college head coach.

Backed by a nine-man coaching staff that includes a blend of former Guilford and Ursinus assistants, plus some new coaches, Rusiewicz implemented new offensive and defensive schemes in the spring. In addition to teaching new plays, the coaches evaluated talent and put students in their optimal positions. On offense, the Quakers will operate out of multiple formations designed to keep opposing defenses off balance. Ultimately Rusiewicz wants to control the ball with a sound running game combined with a quick-strike passing attack under the direction of first-year offensive coordinator Chris Barnette '07. Rusiewicz directs the defense in 2011 and brings his 4-2-5 formation, which takes advantage of Guilford's depth in the secondary.

Rusiewicz wants all of his students to win at least one Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC) title during their Guilford career. For the Quakers' 13 seniors, this year is their lone chance at title, which should inspire them to buy into the new coach's philosophies. Based on evaluations of last spring's practice and reviews of past seasons, Rusiewicz thinks Guilford can compete right away with good health and a little luck. If the veterans are in shape and continue last spring's progress, and if some newcomers make meaningful contributions, expect Guilford to turn a few heads in 2011.

Here's a look at some of Guilford's top contenders by position:

Defensive Line

Team captain Chris Jessup moves from linebacker to weak-side defensive end for his senior campaign. He garnered honorable mention All-ODAC recognition a year ago after leading Guilford's tacklers with a career-high 83 stops that stood third in the league. Senior Brennan Choate, a 10-game starter on the line in 2009, will also see time at end. Kyle Ennis and Triston Kyle, have limited game experience, but will line up on the other end. Senior Brad Gayhardt, also a team captain, plays one tackle spot, while former end Chris Ward or converted tight end Thor Pate battle for the starting nose tackle's spot. Branson O'Hara, who spent most of his first two seasons on the offensive line, returns to defense for his junior campaign to fill some gaps with his quick feet and 5-11, 290-pound frame.

Linebacker

Redshirt-senior Joseph Parrish worked his way into the starting lineup last year, his first after joining the Quakers from NCAA Division I-A (non-FCS) member Campbell University. He ranked eighth on the team with 37 tackles in 2010 and returns ahead of Kyle May and Jordan Sutton. May, also a senior, stands up and steps back after a stint on last year's line. Sutton hopes to bounce back from a week-two injury that prematurely ended his rookie season. Rusiewicz likes freshman John Scott and believes the newcomer can make a difference.

Defensive Back

The secondary is the deepest and most experienced part of the Quakers' defense. Senior Kenneth Hyman III and redshirt-sophomore Quan Parker rank among the league's top cornerbacks. Hyman, a four-year starter and 2009 Second Team All-ODAC pick, broke up a team-high 12 passes and made a career-high 40 tackles last year. Parker's development has been slowed by injuries, but his raw speed and athleticism help overcome his lack of experience. Junior Justin Williams-Blackwell moves from cornerback to free safety in 2011 where he'll challenge classmate Luke Ledwell for starting duties. Junior De'Shawn Lindsay has 85 tackles in 16 career games and should start at weak safety. Senior Trey Billian is back after missing most of 2010 with injuries, as is sophomore Ray Brown, who moved from tailback to defensive back midway through his rookie year. Sophomore Alex Smith played in four games as a reserve last year and gets a look at strong safety. Freshmen Satiir Stevenson and Dashawn Johnson are expected to push for playing time.

Offensive Line

Guilford will miss the services of four-year starter Brice Carlson '11, but the Quakers welcome back seven veterans, six with starting experience. Senior T.J. McCay and junior Daniel Biggerstaff are both two-year starters and expected to line up at left guard and right tackle, respectively. Sophomore Faris El-Ali, an opening-day starter as a rookie, shifts to center to fill the spot vacated by Carlson, a 2010 honorable mention All-ODAC pick. Juniors Jordan Moss and Donte' Mitchell will battle for the starter's job at left tackle, while classmate Alex Wallace hopes his 16 career appearances help win the right guard position. Sophomore Doug Whitley, who shuttled between both sides of the ball as a rookie, will join two or three newcomers who will push for playing time in 2011.

Tight End/Receivers

One bright spot from the 2010 season was the play of wideout Ben King. He earned Second Team All-ODAC recognition and made 79 catches for 1,056 yards and nine touchdowns in his first year after transferring from Appalachian State University. While not an imposing physical presence at 5-10, 185 pounds, King is fast, strong, runs good routes and has soft hands that make him a quarterback's best friend and an opposing secondary's nightmare. Junior Brandon Thompson returns to receiver following a one-season sojourn in an injury-plagued secondary and sophomore Kevin Tiller joins the offense after playing as a reserve linebacker in 2010. Rusiewicz says the 6-4, 180-pound Tiller is as fast as King, gives quarterbacks a big target and can create matchup problems for smaller defenders.

Sophomore Rob Fields saw meaningful time as a rookie tight end, but managed just four receptions. Rusiewicz found he was a high-percentage pass catcher in the spring and will look to get him the ball in passing situations. Senior D.J. Wilson, a wide receiver and punter in his first three years, moves to tight end for his senior season, a better fit for his 6-4, 205-pound frame.

Running Back

Bailey Crego came to Guilford last fall as a bit of an unknown commodity from Grapevine, Texas, but worked his way into the starting lineup and became the team's leading rusher (61 carries, 247 yards, 2 TD). Rusiewicz likes the sophomore's powerful running style and good hands, which make him a pass-catching option out of the backfield. Crego will carry the ball along with junior Mike Williams, who experienced a bit of a sophomore jinx in 2010. After leading Guilford with 528 rushing yards and four rushing touchdowns as a freshman, Williams managed 202 yards on just 44 carries last fall. Junior Ricky Douglas and sophomore Eric Kennedy will contribute as fullbacks.

Quarterback

After seven games as a backup in 2010, sophomore Zac Halbert takes over the reins as Guilford's starter in 2011. The southpaw completed 30-of-51 passes for 260 yards and two scores in limited action last season. He also ran 21 times for 67 yards and showed good mobility around the pocket. While he lacks extensive experience, he still has more than senior Grady Gamble, who has not lined up under center since 2006 and played defense in his lone Guilford campaign back in 2007.

Special Teams

Assistant coach Zach Zullinger, a 2007 graduate of league-rival Hampden-Sydney College, came to Guilford with Rusiewicz in January and directs the special teams units. Rookies Owen Bridges and Steven Gregory are the lone kickers on Guilford's preseason roster. Both also have punting experience. Seniors D.J. Wilson and Trey Billian also have punting experience, but are expected to focus on their roles as tight end and safety, respectively. Sophomore Lawrence Blake ranked among the league's best with 556 kickoff return yards on 27 attempts (20.6 avg.) in his rookie year. Ray Brown is another kick-return candidate.

Guilford opens the 2011 season and the Chris Rusiewicz Era Sept.3 at crosstown-rival Greensboro College in the 16th annual Gate City Soup Bowl. Greensboro took a narrow 8-7 lead in the hotly contested rivalry last year with a 17-15 win at Guilford. The Soup Bowl has developed into an enjoyable and beneficial tradition for the city, as both schools conduct sizable canned-good drives for the benefit of local charities.

The Quakers open their home schedule Sept. 17 versus Averett University in Guilford's lone night game. Guilford opens ODAC play Oct. 1 at defending league champion Washington and Lee University. Hampden-Sydney, which joined Washington and Lee in the 2010 NCAA Division III playoffs, visits the Armfield Athletic Center Oct. 29.

Oct. 20: All times Eastern
Final
at Johns Hopkins 52, Gettysburg 0
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Oct. 21: All times Eastern
Final
at Framingham State 29, Westfield State 14
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Moravian 20, at Juniata 17
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at Salve Regina 41, Endicott 14
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at Thomas More 63, St. Vincent 13
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at Union 28, Hobart 23
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at Hamilton 27, Colby 24
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at Christopher Newport 27, William Paterson 19
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at Ithaca 35, St. John Fisher 10
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at Allegheny 44, Kenyon 35
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SUNY-Maritime 21, at Mount Ida 13
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Middlebury 43, at Bates 14
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at Springfield 68, Catholic 20
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at Amherst 23, Wesleyan 19
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at Trinity (Conn.) 63, Bowdoin 14
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Husson 48, at Gallaudet 21
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Wabash 35, at Oberlin 21
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at Utica 34, Buffalo State 12
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Ohio Northern 7, at Muskingum 6
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at Frostburg State 62, Montclair State 3
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at Wesley 34, Rowan 3
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at Stevenson 26, Albright 23
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Wittenberg 52, at DePauw 6
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at Albion 31, Alma 28
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at Guilford 45, Shenandoah 20
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Plymouth State 40, at Massachusetts Maritime 14
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Wooster 58, at Hiram 25
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Washington and Lee 36, at Hampden-Sydney 6
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at Anna Maria 36, Alfred State 34
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Bridgewater 31, at Emory and Henry 23
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at FDU-Florham 49, Wilkes 31
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Lebanon Valley 17, at Misericordia 0
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at St. Lawrence 36, Rochester 14
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RPI 30, at Alfred 15
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at Curry 46, Nichols 16
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at Salisbury 42, Southern Virginia 0
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Ferrum 27, at Brevard 24
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Randolph-Macon 63, at Apprentice 14
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at Susquehanna 21, Ursinus 14
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Cortland 34, at Morrisville State 20
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at Trine 50, Hope 14
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Trinity (Texas) 27, at Sewanee 21
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Wartburg 41, at Luther 16
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at Franklin and Marshall 56, Dickinson 0
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Tufts 21, at Williams 13
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Mount Union 66, at Wilmington 7
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MIT 30, at Coast Guard 21
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at Norwich 24, Maine Maritime 22
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at Marietta 44, Heidelberg 21
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Franklin 29, at Rose-Hulman 22
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John Carroll 48, at Capital 21
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at Manchester 28, Bluffton 21
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Mount St. Joseph 71, at Anderson 27
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UW-Whitewater 20, at UW-River Falls 7
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Kean 26, at TCNJ 3
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at LaGrange 59, Greensboro 10
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at Worcester State 45, Mass-Dartmouth 40
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Muhlenberg 40, at McDaniel 13
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Western New England 45, at Becker 0
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at Maryville (Tenn.) 35, Methodist 14
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Adrian 36, at Kalamazoo 22
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Final
Denison 31, at Ohio Wesleyan 20
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at Washington and Jefferson 34, Westminster (Pa.) 33
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Final
Berry 37, at Millsaps 22
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at Benedictine 43, Olivet 37
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Birmingham-Southern 31, at Austin 24
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at Mary Hardin-Baylor 45, Belhaven 7
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Final
at UW-Stout 23, UW-Stevens Point 17
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Eureka 37, at MacMurray 20
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at Illinois Wesleyan 13, Carthage 10
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Nebraska Wesleyan 14, at Buena Vista 13
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Lakeland 48, at Wisconsin Lutheran 0
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at Aurora 28, Rockford 21
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at Concordia-Chicago 37, Concordia (Wis.) 17
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at St. Olaf 29, Carleton 26
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at St. John's 41, Gustavus Adolphus 17
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at Concordia-Moorhead 42, Augsburg 20
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St. Thomas 84, at Hamline 0
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Final
Westminster (Mo.) 24, at Greenville 14
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at Loras 44, Coe 38
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Monmouth 61, at Cornell 10
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Wheaton (Ill.) 56, at North Park 0
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Northwestern (Minn.) 30, at Martin Luther 14
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Hardin-Simmons 33, at Texas Lutheran 30
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Final
at Lake Forest 70, Grinnell 6
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at Millikin 56, Carroll 35
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at Macalester 47, Ripon 31
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at St. Norbert 38, Lawrence 6
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St. Scholastica 49, at Crown 21
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at Iowa Wesleyan 24, Minnesota-Morris 17
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UW-Platteville 34, at UW-Eau Claire 14
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at WPI 41, Merchant Marine 7
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Final
at Centre 42, Rhodes 35
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Hanover 49, at Earlham 14
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at Chicago 55, Beloit 12
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Final
UW-Oshkosh 42, at UW-La Crosse 28
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3:00 PM
Simpson at Dubuque
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at North Central (Ill.) 54, Augustana 2
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3:00 PM
East Texas Baptist at Louisiana College
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at Brockport 45, Hartwick 0
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Western Connecticut 27, at Bridgewater State 20
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Chapman 38, at La Verne 21
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Pacific 17, at Lewis and Clark 7
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Pacific Lutheran 27, at Willamette 14
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7:23 4th
15 Puget Sound
38 Whitworth
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Final
Redlands 42, at Claremont-Mudd-Scripps 25
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at Linfield 12, George Fox 6
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5:00 PM
Sul Ross State at Howard Payne
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End of 2nd
0 Dean
7 Castleton
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6:00 PM
N.C. Wesleyan at Averett
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11:48, 1st Quarter
7 Baldwin Wallace
0 Otterbein
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7:18 1Q
14 Case Western Reserve
0 Geneva
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7:00 PM
Carnegie Mellon at Thiel
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7:00 PM
Knox at Illinois College
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10:00 PM
Whittier at Cal Lutheran
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Cancelled
Occidental at Pomona-Pitzer
Oct. 20: All times Eastern
Final
at Johns Hopkins 52, Gettysburg 0
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Oct. 21: All times Eastern
Final
at Wesley 34, Rowan 3
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Final
at Frostburg State 62, Montclair State 3
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Final
Wittenberg 52, at DePauw 6
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Final
at Springfield 68, Catholic 20
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Final
Wartburg 41, at Luther 16
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Final
Mount Union 66, at Wilmington 7
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Final
at Marietta 44, Heidelberg 21
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Final - OT
at Washington and Jefferson 34, Westminster (Pa.) 33
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Final
Hardin-Simmons 33, at Texas Lutheran 30
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Final
at Mary Hardin-Baylor 45, Belhaven 7
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Final
St. Thomas 84, at Hamline 0
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Final
at St. John's 41, Gustavus Adolphus 17
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Final
at Illinois Wesleyan 13, Carthage 10
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Final
at Concordia-Moorhead 42, Augsburg 20
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Final
Berry 37, at Millsaps 22
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UW-Platteville 34, at UW-Eau Claire 14
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Final
UW-Oshkosh 42, at UW-La Crosse 28
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Final
at North Central (Ill.) 54, Augustana 2
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at Brockport 45, Hartwick 0
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Final
at Linfield 12, George Fox 6
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7:00 PM
Case Western Reserve at Geneva
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