ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Wow. What a start.
Conference play kicked off Saturday for the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference's (MIAC) football teams in grand fashion. The day started with a conference rivalry game receiving a rare Division III mention on ESPN College GameDay, continued with three close battles and a top-five upset and finished with an overtime thriller under the lights. The four conference games were decided by a total of 12 points, each on the final play or in the final minutes.
Saint John's and first-year Head Coach Gary
Fashing delivered the biggest shocker of the day, as
the Johnnies traveled to St. Paul and stunned rival and
second-ranked St. Thomas, 20-18. After some national TV publicity,
Concordia survived a late rally to knock off St. Olaf in the Troll
Bowl - as ESPN's Lee Corso predicted that morning - by four points,
33-29. Augsburg used a late touchdown to score a 19-16 win over
Gustavus, and Carleton used a fourth-quarter touchdown and an
overtime field goal to score the game's final 10 points in a 20-17
comeback win over Hamline Saturday night. In the lone nonconference
game of the weekend, No. 5 Bethel defeated Buena Vista convincingly
on the road, 47-14.
The weekend included a pair of significant records as well.
Hamline's Austin Duncan set new Piper
single-game rushing records in a transcendent performance, as he
accumulated 298 yards on 48 carries. The crowd of 10,800 that
crammed into St. Thomas' O'Shaughnessy Stadium was also a school
record for the Tommies.
The result of a wild first weekend is even more of a national spotlight on the conference, evident talent on each campus, and parity throughout the league. The MIAC now has three ranked teams (No. 5 Bethel, No. 6 St. Thomas and No. 21 Saint John's) and two more on the cusp of the top 25 in Augsburg and Concordia. In fact, this is believed to be the time the MIAC has had five teams (more than half of the conference) receive at least 30 points in one of the two major in-season polls (D3football.com, AFCA).
MIAC fans will be treated to another outstanding slate of games
this weekend, with four big conference matchups and St. Thomas
(2-1, 0-1 MIAC) sitting idle after its winning streaks were snapped
by Saint John's. The now-ranked Johnnies host Concordia in an
outstanding matchup of 3-0 teams Saturday, and the first conference
home game for Fasching as head coach. SJU will try to carry their
immense momentum into Saturday's big game, while the Cobbers come
to town also unbeaten. The Johnnies (3-0, 1-0 MIAC)
hope Sam Sura can continue his emergence
at running back, while Concordia (3-0, 1-0 MIAC) playmakers WR
Brandon Zylstra and DB/KR Bryce
Hengtes continue to come up big for the team from
Fifth-ranked Bethel (2-0, 0-0 MIAC) hopes to validate its new
top-five ranking as it opens conference play on the road.
Meanwhile, Carleton will try to build on its MIAC-opening win
against Hamline in one of its toughest tests of the season. The
Royals are led by star QB Erik
Peterson and LB Seth Mathis,
who was all over the field in Saturday's win at Buena Vista.
Carleton will try to continue to integrate talented
freshman Chris Madden, who scored the
game-tying touchdown against Hamline, and hope for continued
excellence from kicker Brandt Davis, who
delivered a pair of field goals, including the overtime
Augsburg hopes its home magic can continue a week after pulling
out a narrow win in front of the home fans with a touchdown in the
final three minutes. The Auggies continue to get dazzling play from
QB Ayrton Scott, and RB Phil
Putratz has emerged as a dual threat as well running
and catching passes out of the backfield. The Augsburg defense, led
by Michael Juberian, will be tested by Duncan
and company, coming off their record-setting performance. Expect
the Piper workhorse to continue to carry the load against the
Auggies for first-year head coach Chad
In Saturday's final game, Gustavus hosts St. Olaf in homecoming
in a matchup of teams who will try to bounce back from
heart-breaking losses a week ago. Gustie RB Jeffrey
Dubose was magnificent against Augsburg a week ago
with 227 yards and two scores, and the home fans hope for another
great performance from the star back. It will likely be ground vs.
air, as St. Olaf will continue to throw to talented
Asp and Jake Schmiesing, who
combined for 10 catches, 206 yards and two scores a week ago.
It may be hard to top the first week of MIAC action in terms of drama and close calls, but the Week 4 slate certainly could provide some memorable matchups - particularly in Collegeville and St. Peter. With three-time defending conference champion St. Thomas putting a "1" in the loss column for the first time in the regular season since 2009, suddenly everyone's title aspirations take a serious step forward. The season-long battle continues Saturday, as does the weekly dose of clarity in the conference standings.
The MIAC thanks Supreme Images Photography for contributing graphics for the MIAC Football Preview throughout the season.
Sat. Sep. 28
CONCORDIA WINS FIRST-EVER MIAC FOOTBALL
The MIAC debuted a new web feature this week to tremendous
success - the MIAC Football Play-of-the-Week. The conference
selected one highlight from each of the four conference games and
asked fans to watch each clip and vote on their favorite. There
were a total of 2,043 votes cast and the four video clips received
a total of 4,394 views.
In a narrow vote, Concordia's Brandon Zylstra edged Saint John's Sam Sura for the victory. The Cobber end-around touchdown received 941 votes to defeat Sura's sprint up the middle by 73 votes.
MIAC MEDIA FOOTBALL COVERAGE
MIAC Media visited three of the four conference games on the first Saturday of league play. There are photo galleries online (with most photos available for purchase) from Augsburg-Gustavus, Saint John's-St. Thomas and Carleton-Hamline. MIAC Media also produced video highlights from the Knights and Pipers overtime clash, which was a rare night kickoff in the MIAC. Video is also available from the ESPN College GameDay spotlight on "The Troll Bowl" between Concordia and St. Olaf.
MIAC IN THE POLLS
As mentioned earlier in the preview, the MIAC had a historic week in the polls with three teams ranked in the top 21 in the nation, and two more receiving votes in both the D3football.com Top 25 and the first AFCA Division III Coaches' Poll of the 2013 season.
Bethel is the MIAC's top-ranked team, receiving 456 points and the No. 5 ranking from D3football.com and the No. 8 ranking (652 points) from the AFCA. St. Thomas is close behind in both, ranked No. 6 by D3football.com (422 points) and No. 12 by the AFCA (525 points). Saint John's is No. 21 in both polls this week, with 240 points in the AFCA ranking and 122 points in the D3football.com Top 25.
Augsburg is knocking on the door of the D3football.com Top 25 with 30 points and the second slot in the "Others receiving votes" section, essentially ranking it No. 27. The Auggies also received six points in the AFCA poll. Concordia received 39 points and was the fourth team mentioned in the "Others receiving votes" section of the AFCA ranking, and the Cobbers also received seven points from the D3football.com poll.
MIAC IN THE PRESS
Here's a look at the top MIAC football stories in the media over the past week.
9/22/2013 Missed field goal seals Johnnies' upset win over
Tommies, 20-18 - St. Cloud Times
9/22/2013 St. John's notebook: Sura carries the load for Johnnies football - St. Cloud Times
9/22/2013 Concorida tops St. Olaf in MIAC football opener, keeps Troll trophy - Fargo Forum
9/22/2013 'Johnnie mystique' returns: St. John's scores a big upset - Star Tribune
9/22/2013 MIAC Roundup - Star Tribune
9/21/2013 St. John's beats Tommies in MIAC rivalry - Bring Me The News
Hamline's Austin Duncan received
the MIAC Football Offensive
Player-of-the-Week award after his historic performance in
Saturday's night's overtime loss to Carleton (20-17). His 48
carries for 298 yards were both Piper school records, and he now
leads all of Division III in rushing yards per game. Saint
John'sNolan Lortz received the MIAC Football Defensive
Player-of-the-Week award for his role in the Johnnies'
20-18 upset of No. 2 St. Thomas. Lortz led the team with 10
tackles, and his interception and 22-yard return set up the winning
field goal. Concordia's Bryce
Hentges received the MIAC Football Special Teams
Player-of-the-Week award for his prowess in the return
game. The Cobber senior scored an 85-yard kick return touchdown to
answer a St. Olaf touchdown, and he also had returns to the
Concordia 46 and 43 yard line in the 33-29 victory.
In addition to his MIAC honors, Duncan was named to the
D3football.com Team of the Week as well. He was joined on the team
by Bethel LB Seth Mathis, who had eight
tackles an interception he returned for a touchdown, and a blocked
field goal attempt in the fourth quarter.
IN THE TRENCHES
After a record-setting performance, this week's featured
offensive line was an easy choice. Hamline RB Austin Duncan's 48
carries and 298 yards Saturday now top the Piper all-time records,
and his blockers up front deserve a ton of credit for his
performance. Overall, Hamline's line paved the way for 365 total
yards on the ground on 71 attempts - a good 5.1 average - and
allowed just four negative-yardage plays all game long. The Piper
starters up front were center Patrick
Chilton, guards Austin
Niederkorn and Alec
Grimm and tackles Juan
Burciaga and Charlie
The Saint John's defensive line had a big hand in slowing down the powerful St. Thomas offense in the Johnnies' big upset in St. Paul Saturday. SJU allowed just 18 points and 135 rushing yards on 39 attempts (3.5 average). The SJU defense racked up two sacks, seven tackles-for-a-loss and a game-changing five turnovers (three fumbles, two interceptions). The Johnnies' starters along the defensive line were defensive tackles Paul Plombon and Ben Rossini and defensive ends Blake Bellefeuille and Matt Workman.
BY THE NUMBERS
12 - The collective margin of victory in
the four MIAC games Saturday was 12 points.
2 - Two winners - Saint John's and
Carleton - survived game-winning field goal attempts by their
opposition with two seconds or less remaining in the game.
298 - Rushing yards by
Hamline's Austin Duncan which, along
with his 48 carries, set a new Piper single-game record. Duncan
leads the MIAC and all of Division III with 235.5 yards per
36, 27, 18 - The St. Thomas streaks that
ended Saturday. Before the loss to Saint John's, UST had won
36-straight regular-season games, 27-consecutive MIAC games and
18-straight at home.
5 - Receiving touchdowns by St. Olaf
WR Jake Schmiesing thus far in 2013,
tops in the league.
14.0 - Tackles per game for Auggie
LB Michael Juberian, which edges
Carleton's Luke Reppe (12.5 per game) for the conference lead.
1 - The number of NCAA Division III games mentioned Saturday on ESPN's College GameDay. Host Chris Fowler, Lee Corso, Desmond Howard andKirk Herbstreit discussed the Concordia-St. Olaf battle for The Troll for just over a minute on the popular weekly pregame show.