/seasons/2011/contrib/20110902l6twt7

2011 Chapman Football Season Preview

More news about: Chapman

ORANGE, Calif. - Turnover can be a crippling thing. Not the fumbles and interceptions, although those turnovers can be maddening in their own right. The topic here is personnel turnover and when a football team graduates 25-plus seniors – starters and veteran contributors – only the programs with depth can rebound and in some cases improve.

Enter the 2011 Chapman University football team, which may do exactly that. The Panthers graduated 25 seniors from last year's team, yet Chapman head coach Bob Owens has this to say about his current squad: "It may be a more complete football team. We think we're bigger, stronger, faster on both sides of the ball."

Several factors provide Owens with optimism that Chapman might get over the 4-5 win-loss hump it's been stuck in the past two years:

  • He's enthusiastic about group of running backs so deep and talented that it may be unprecedented in Panthers history.
  • For the first time in three years Chapman will have the same starting playcaller for a second straight year.
  • And the Panthers' defense – hit hardest by graduation – boasts a ferocious linebacker corps that Owens believes will help limit the opponents' ground game.

The running game will the key to Chapman's success in 2011, both offensively and defensively. Known primarily as a passing offense in Owens' first five seasons, the Panthers' sheer wealth at the running back positions has forced the coaching staff to approach the offensive scheme differently.

Chapman will be led by a pair of seniors Al White and Kevin Krail; the two alone could carry the offense. White emerged as a threat in the middle of last season, topping the Panthers with four touchdowns despite suffering a broken ankle in the sixth game of the year. And Krail's longevity as a backup and kick returner brings experience. But it doesn't stop there.

Freshman Ed Harris emerged last year in the wake of White's injury and sophomore Chad Milburn added a couple touchdown runs of his own in 2010 giving Chapman four experienced ball carriers.

"We've got to find out what Al can do and how much of a load he can carry," says Owens about White's recovery. "The great thing about that position is we don't have to put too much pressure on Al. He's one of the hardest working guys in our program. And without question one of the toughest guys."

Owens also feels confident that his backs will have plenty of room to run thanks to a large, athletic and experienced offensive line that includes All-America hopeful junior LT D.J. Brandel, sophomore LG Justin LaLonde and senior RT Earl Wilson.

"This may be the strongest up front group we've had since I've been here," says Owens. "We have some strength and size with those guys and we believe it will allow us to consistently run the football."

Another key ingredient will be the consistency provided by having an experienced quarterback leading the offensive charge at a position that has been a virtual carousel the past two years. Senior QB Bret Visciglia is expected be the Panthers' first opening day play caller in back-to-back years since 2008 bringing stability to the huddle.

"We're very pleased at how well Bret has worked during the offseason," says Owens. "We think it will be good for the football team to be able to point at that position and say 'that guy's the guy'."

Visciglia passed for 1,182 yards last season and tossed seven touchdowns. He will be backed up by another familiar face in sophomore Michael Lahey , an option-style quarterback who ran for almost as many yards (216) as he passed for (272) as a freshman.

Potential passing targets including senior WR Mike Lambesis, who Owens is excited will have the "chance to be a big player for us and be an impact guy" after making 31 catches for 381 yards and four touchdowns last year.

One who could emerge as a receiving threat is sophomore TE Brian Kirwan, who is making the transition from the quarterback position. A 24-year-old sophomore (because of a minor league baseball career out of high school), Kirwan has added 25 pounds of muscle since last season and, according to Owens, has "huge upside".

"His maturity, quickness, toughness is what set's him apart," says Owens. "He runs good routs and has extremely soft hands."

Where running the ball will be critical to Chapman's success on offense, stopping the run will be the key to its defense. The Panthers allowed over 172 yards per game on the ground and 24.6 points – both five-year highs under Owens. Chapman must also improve those numbers with just four defensive starters returning.

"There are some things we need to make definite improvement on this year and stopping the run is one of those things," says Owens. "The reason we believe the defense will be different this year is that great linebacking corps that will allow us to stop the run. I think it's going to be extremely difficult to run on us."

Those linebackers include juniors Kellen Matsuno and Michael Mehlhaff and sophomore Wade Minshew, the three of which combined for 128 tackles a year ago. Additionally, sophomore Anthony Ferraro has made the move to linebacker after playing strong safety and recording 33 tackles as a rookie. Owens also expects sophomore Samir Hanna and junior college transfer Evan Pesonen (Golden West College) to make big contributions.

Chapman's defensive line is another big, strong and veteran crew anchored by junior nose guard and two-year starter Kevin Anderson who ranked third on the team with four tackles behind the line of scrimmage. The line, which also includes juniors Ross Campbell, Elliot Cooley and senior Stephen Sales, has bulked up and will contribute to a run defense that hopes to improve on its 158th national ranking in 2010.

And while not one member of the Panthers' secondary has played a down of NCAA football, Owens says "We've got some guys coming in we think will do a good job and help stabilize the secondary," including a strong recruiting class at the corner position.

One of the strengths of the Chapman program in Owens' tenure has been on special teams where the Panthers have led the nation in kick returns (in 2009) and currently possess one of the top punters in the nation in senior Jimmy Adranly. Another All-America candidate, Adranly has finished in the top-10 in Division III in punting average each of the past two years, ranking seventh in 2010 with a 42.18 yards per punt average.

"Having a guy like Jimmy is extremely critical to our football team," says Owens. "If you have a guy that experienced he can pin the opponent down in their red zone, that goes a long way in the battle for field position."

Chapman's kick return unit fell back with the pack in 2010, ranking 189th just one year removed from leading the nation, but Owens expects that will be the exception, not the rule.

"Last year was the first year we were very average in kickoff return," says Owens. "We're going to look long and hard and people that can run, get on their blocks, become magnets, stay on those guys and create some run lanes. That's going to be a heavy emphasis for us and we should return to form."

This summer, Chapman officially joined the SCIAC ending the university's longstanding status as an independent. And although the Panthers have played every conference member since 2006, playing those teams as a conference peer gives each contest added meaning this year.

"I don't think you're going to look at a team in the SCIAC this year and say 'those guys are pushovers,'" says Owens about his counterparts. "Who's to say who's going to emerge at the top of the food chain?"

And despite not being eligible to compete for the conference title in its first year as a SCIAC member, Owens believes his team will be among the best. "I think we will be one of those teams that will fight for the conference championship. What is that 'de facto' champions?"

by Doug Aiken
Sports Information Director

Oct. 14: All times Eastern
Final
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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Final
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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Final
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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Final - OT
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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Final
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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Final - OT
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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Final
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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Final
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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Final
Concordia-Moorhead 45, at Hamline 0
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Final
St. Olaf 22, at Augsburg 20
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Final
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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Final
Centre 27, at Trinity (Texas) 21
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Final
Dubuque 42, at Nebraska Wesleyan 27
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Central 30, at Coe 19
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Final
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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Final
Millikin 28, at Augustana 27
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Final
Ripon 52, at Beloit 28
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Final
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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Final
Case Western Reserve 63, at Thiel 28
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Final
at Wooster 38, Oberlin 28
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Final
Texas Lutheran 41, at East Texas Baptist 34
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at UW-Stout 21, UW-River Falls 16
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Final
UW-Oshkosh 28, at UW-Platteville 14
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Final
Sewanee 34, at Birmingham-Southern 13
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Final
at Hope 22, Adrian 3
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Final
Linfield 49, at Lewis and Clark 14
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Cancelled
La Verne at Occidental
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Final
Whitworth 17, at Pacific Lutheran 14
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Final
at Cal Lutheran 42, Claremont-Mudd-Scripps 20
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Final
at George Fox 58, Willamette 12
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Final
at Pacific 35, Puget Sound 27
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Final
Pomona-Pitzer 45, at Whittier 23
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Final
at Western Connecticut 28, Massachusetts Maritime 21
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Final
at St. Scholastica 56, Martin Luther 21
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Final - 5OT
at St. John Fisher 39, Utica 36
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Final - OT
at Heidelberg 48, Otterbein 45
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Final
at Shenandoah 38, Bridgewater 20
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Final
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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Final
at Chapman 45, Redlands 26
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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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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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Final
Frostburg State 59, at William Paterson 7
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Final
at Wittenberg 49, Allegheny 15
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Final
at Brockport 48, Morrisville State 7
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Final
Washington and Jefferson 49, at Bethany 14
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Final
Ohio Wesleyan 16, at Wabash 13
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Final
at Mount Union 72, Capital 14
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Final
at Wartburg 42, Loras 11
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Final
at Berry 34, Hendrix 10
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Final
Springfield 35, at Merchant Marine 13
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Final
at Mary Hardin-Baylor 65, Howard Payne 0
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Final
St. John's 35, at Carleton 0
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Final
at Illinois Wesleyan 30, Carroll 0
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Final
Concordia-Moorhead 45, at Hamline 0
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Final
Case Western Reserve 63, at Thiel 28
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Final
UW-Oshkosh 28, at UW-Platteville 14
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Final
Linfield 49, at Lewis and Clark 14
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Final
at George Fox 58, Willamette 12
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Final
Hardin-Simmons 35, at Sul Ross State 10
Box Score
Oct. 16: All times Eastern
Final
at Wheaton (Ill.) 42, North Central (Ill.) 20
Box Score Recap
Oct. 20: All times Eastern
7:00 PM
Gettysburg at Johns Hopkins
Video Video Live stats Live stats