/seasons/2017/contrib/20171111zlfm0k

Late-season surge gives Central second place in Iowa Conference

More news about: Central

Finishing with a flourish, Central College saved its best football for the stretch run, punctuated by a decisive season-ending 38-21 victory over the University of Dubuque to secure a second-place Iowa Conference finish.
           
It's Central's 32nd top-two league finish since 1980, a conference best.
           
Hard-nosed S-back Kyle Gritsch (senior, Brooklyn, BGM HS) had a career-high nine pass receptions for 115 yards and scored twice as the Dutch (7-3 overall, 6-2 conference) used a balanced offensive attack while limiting Dubuque (6-4 overall, 4-4 conference) to 301 yards and just a pair of offensive touchdowns.
           
The Dutch closed with a four-game win streak.
           
"I really think we got a lot out of this team, especially down the stretch," coach Jeff McMartin said. "I think as the season wore on, our focus and our effort were what they needed to be. The guys continued to work hard and they continued to improve. These guys were hitting the sled this week—they didn't back off, they always wanted to get better. I think that mentality is what allows a program with a legacy like Central's to continue to have the success it has."
           
Nonetheless, this one wasn't secured until the fourth quarter. The teams traded a pair of first quarter touchdowns, with Dubuque getting a 96-yard kickoff return from Senior Bowl pick Michael Joseph. It was the first time Central had allowed a score on a kickoff since Albion (Mich.) did it in 2012.
           
Central struck first with a 31-yard TD toss down the sideline on fourth down from Blaine Hawkins (freshman, Ankeny) to Gritsch. Later, running back Pat Gray (junior, West Des Moines, Waukee HS) scored on a 9-yard burst.
           
Gritsch followed with his first rushing touchdown of the year, muscling his way in from the 1-yard line for a 21-14 halftime lead.
           
Kicker Jon Alberts (sophomore, Huntley, Ill.) missed just his second field goal of the year late in the half, but converted on a 24-yarder with 11:51 left in the third period to make 24-14. It was a record 14th of the year for Alberts, topping Jake Viggers' 2007 season mark.
           
Dubuque pulled within 24-21 midway through the third period but was blanked the rest of the way. A fourth-down stop at the Dutch 43 was followed by a 10-play Central scoring drive as running back Donny Groezinger (junior, Sulphur Springs, Texas; Eastland, Ill. HS) leaped for a 10-yard TD grab. The defense then sealed it with a pair of fourth-quarter takeaways. Defensive lineman Jared Keenan (senior, Grinnell) forced a fumble that was recovered by strong safety Tate Jensen (senior, De Soto, ADM HS) at the Dutch 30. And linebacker Josh Scheible (Kansas City, Mo., Liberty HS) picked off a pass at the Central 46 with 2:49 left, allowing the Dutch to run out the clock.
           
"Getting those turnovers was huge," McMartin said. "That's what kind of closed this game out for us."
           
In between, all-American receiver Sam Markham (senior, Atlantic) put an exclamation mark on his career with a 22-yard touchdown catch. It was his 11th of the season and a record 33rd for his career. He garnered heavy attention from Joseph and the Dubuque secondary but still had six catches for 54 yards on the day. The league's receiving yardage leader topped the 1,000-yard mark for the second straight year with 1,042 and set the school career standard with 3,987. His 63 receptions matched the third-most ever in a season at Central, behind his 69 catches in 2015 and his 105 in 2016. For his career, Markham had 295 receptions, nearly double the 151 by Chris Johnson (1995-98), the previous career record-holder.
           
"I told Sam, 'You ended your career with a touchdown catch, not a lot of people can say that,'" McMartin said. "Of all the great catches he's made in his career, for his last catch in a Central uniform be a touchdown, that's pretty special. He's been special for us the last four years and we're really going to miss him."
           
Meanwhile, Gritsch capped an injury-battered career with a signature performance.
           
"Kyle continued to just make big play after big play," McMartin said. "He's a weapon and I'm glad we were able to use him a lot. I can't say enough about his toughness. This is a guy with two chronically bad shoulders. He's really battled through that for four years now. He was really torn about even coming out this year, but he fought through it, he battled and he stayed committed to this team. I told him today he might have had one of his best games. I was really happy to see him do well."
           
Central finished with 235 yards passing as Hawkins completed 24 of 35 throws with three touchdowns and no interceptions. Hawkins was also Central's top rusher with 60 on 11 carries while Groezinger gained 59 on 12 attempts, Gray had 53 on eight carries and Nathan Fitzgerald (junior, Elkader, Central HS) had 47 on 10 carries. The Dutch rushed for 223 yards overall for 458 yards total offense.
           
Another senior surge came from linebacker Tyler Olson (senior, Mapleton, Minn., Maple River HS), who followed a 20-tackle effort a week ago with a team-high 14 stops today, including eight solos,1.5 sacks and a pass breakup. That allowed him to match linebacker Sam Norgaard (senior, Napervillle, Ill., Neuqua Valley HS) for a team-high 107 tackles on the year. Norgaard had to watch the final two games of his career from the sidelines with injury, as did nose guard Wesley Wheat (senior, Phoenix, Ariz., Phoenix Christian HS).
           
In Norgaard's absence, linebacker Carson Remick (senior, Hillsboro, Mount Pleasant HS) stepped up with eight tackles and linebackers Tate O'Tool (sophomore, Fort Dodge, St. Edmond HS) and Chris Neeld (senior, New Boston, Ill., Mercer County HS) had seven, as did Keenan.
           
Dubuque managed just 136 rushing yards along with 165 through the air.
           
"I thought we did a good job of stopping the run," McMartin said. "Dubuque is a good running team. They've got good backs and a great line. We needed to make them a little more one-dimensional and I thought we did a good job of that.
           
"If you look at what Dubuque has been able to do all season offensively, I think that our effort ranks up there as one of the best. I give our defense a lot of credit."
           
Punter Tyler Bryant (junior, Donnellson, Central Lee HS) averaged 40.2 yards on four punts, landing three of them inside the Dubuque 20-yard line.
           
It was the collegiate finale for 31 Central players and McMartin said they were the key to the team's strong finish.
           
"When you look at it, it's really remarkable," he said. "There are not a lot of programs at any level that go through their season with 31 seniors. Not every one of them was on the field a lot but what they did on the field, in the locker room and on campus in leading these guys has been impressive. I love every one of them and there's something special about each of them that I'll always remember. It's been a great class."
           
Yet the Dutch have much to be excited about in looking toward 2018.
           
"I really like our younger guys," McMartin said. "They had a really good start to the JV season, then some of them started playing varsity for us. We've got some big holes to fill without question, but we've got some good hard-working young men who I think are going to step up. They're going to need to step up."
           
One of those players—and a big reason for Central's late-season improvement—is Hawkins, who started the final six games after one appearance as a reserve and closed as the team's top rusher and passer. He completed 116 of 186 passes (62.4 percent) for a school freshman-record 1,691 yards and 18 touchdowns with just three interceptions while rushing for 593 yards on 86 carries and nine TDs, averaging 6.9 yards a carry and 84.7 per game.
           
"I can't say enough about what he did," McMartin said.
           
During the seniors' four years, the Dutch finished with a combined 29-11 record, including a 15-5 mark the past two seasons.
           
It was a satisfying finish, said center Josh Brunk (senior, West Des Moines, Valley HS).

"When I walked off the field, I just smiled," he said.

Oct. 19: All times Eastern
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Martin Luther 21, at Northwestern (Minn.) 6
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at Stevenson 33, Wilkes 21
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at RPI 31, Hobart 24
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at MIT 13, Coast Guard 0
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Norwich 15, at Maine Maritime 7
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at Moravian 31, Juniata 14
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at Dean 53, Gallaudet 21
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Endicott 45, at Becker 13
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Frostburg State 24, at Montclair State 17
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SUNY-Maritime 68, at Castleton 41
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at Trinity (Texas) 28, Sewanee 14
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Johns Hopkins 51, at Gettysburg 14
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N.C. Wesleyan 29, at Brevard 21
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at Misericordia 37, FDU-Florham 33
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Union 29, at St. Lawrence 7
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at Ithaca 28, Rochester 3
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at Colby 23, Hamilton 21
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at Middlebury 35, Bates 34
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Trinity (Conn.) 48, at Bowdoin 6
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Springfield 23, at Catholic 11
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Amherst 33, at Wesleyan 3
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at Plymouth State 17, Massachusetts Maritime 14
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at Husson 54, Anna Maria 14
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TCNJ 13, at Kean 8
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Carnegie Mellon 41, at Thiel 7
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Salve Regina 30, at Curry 21
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King's 37, at Albright 26
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Trine 31, at Finlandia 0
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Susquehanna 41, at Ursinus 35
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Delaware Valley 52, at Lebanon Valley 7
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at Western New England 70, University of New England 13
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Franklin and Marshall 35, at Dickinson 14
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at Wittenberg 38, DePauw 23
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at Emory and Henry 52, Shenandoah 50
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at Wabash 32, Oberlin 7
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at Westminster (Pa.) 27, Washington and Jefferson 20
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at Hampden-Sydney 38, Guilford 35
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at Randolph-Macon 44, Bridgewater 41
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Cortland 56, at Hartwick 3
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at Denison 27, Ohio Wesleyan 10
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Waynesburg 12, at St. Vincent 10
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Salisbury 33, at Southern Virginia 0
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at Methodist 42, Greensboro 6
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Christopher Newport 39, at William Paterson 10
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Albion 49, at Adrian 42
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Thomas More 35, at St. Scholastica 0
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at Westminster (Mo.) 25, Minnesota-Morris 7
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Lake Forest 24, at Grinnell 0
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at Greenville 41, Crown 14
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at Merchant Marine 25, WPI 24
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at John Carroll 27, Marietta 24
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at Tufts 28, Williams 21
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Ohio Northern 49, at Capital 46
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Baldwin Wallace 35, at Wilmington 33
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at Mount Union 54, Heidelberg 0
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at Lycoming 52, Alvernia 0
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at Rose-Hulman 44, Anderson 6
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at Franklin 64, Earlham 20
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Hanover 48, at Manchester 14
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Mount St. Joseph 20, at Defiance 0
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at Utica 30, Alfred 22
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Maryville (Tenn.) 37, at LaGrange 17
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Framingham State 27, at Westfield State 2
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Morrisville State 35, at St. John Fisher 7
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at Muskingum 21, Otterbein 14
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Final - OT
at Berry 28, Millsaps 21
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at Muhlenberg 42, McDaniel 18
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at Rowan 28, Wesley 27
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at Wooster 28, Hiram 21
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Allegheny 54, at Kenyon 10
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at Nebraska Wesleyan 23, Luther 15
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Wheaton (Ill.) 20, at Augustana 3
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at Eureka 50, Benedictine 20
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Mary Hardin-Baylor 49, at Belhaven 0
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at Hardin-Simmons 58, Texas Lutheran 14
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Chicago 63, at Beloit 0
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at Concordia (Wis.) 45, Concordia-Chicago 34
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Aurora 25, at Rockford 7
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at Bethel 41, Concordia-Moorhead 13
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Lakeland 38, at Wisconsin Lutheran 12
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at St. John's 57, St. Olaf 7
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at Gustavus Adolphus 42, Augsburg 0
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Dubuque 38, at Buena Vista 7
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North Central (Ill.) 26, at Carthage 14
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at Ripon 58, Macalester 34
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at Monmouth 51, Cornell 0
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at Simpson 38, Loras 33
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at Knox 20, Illinois College 6
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UW-Stout 31, at UW-Stevens Point 27
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Millikin 14, at Elmhurst 13
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at MacMurray 20, Iowa Wesleyan 13
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UW-Eau Claire 40, at UW-Platteville 16
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at St. Thomas 68, Carleton 0
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at Mass-Dartmouth 41, Worcester State 27
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at Wartburg 47, Central 20
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at UW-Oshkosh 24, UW-La Crosse 13
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at UW-Whitewater 44, UW-River Falls 7
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at Birmingham-Southern 47, Austin 35
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Centre 41, at Rhodes 14
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at Carroll 23, North Park 0
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at Kalamazoo 17, Alma 10
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at Pacific Lutheran 33, Willamette 20
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at Brockport 65, Buffalo State 7
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at Averett 45, Huntingdon 17
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Washington and Lee 38, at Ferrum 35
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at Pacific 54, Lewis and Clark 22
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Redlands 35, at La Verne 17
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Whitworth 47, at Puget Sound 13
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Claremont-Mudd-Scripps 27, at Occidental 7
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Linfield 14, at George Fox 0
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at Hope 35, Olivet 30
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at Western Connecticut 50, Bridgewater State 48
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Case Western Reserve 27, at Geneva 14
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at Sul Ross State 28, Howard Payne 27
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East Texas Baptist 48, at Louisiana College 27
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Illinois Wesleyan 27, at Washington U. 21
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St. Norbert 46, at Lawrence 0
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at Pomona-Pitzer 42, Whittier 17
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Chapman 33, at Cal Lutheran 29
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Oct. 20: All times Eastern
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Frostburg State 24, at Montclair State 17
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at RPI 31, Hobart 24
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Trine 31, at Finlandia 0
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at Wittenberg 38, DePauw 23
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at Westminster (Pa.) 27, Washington and Jefferson 20
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Delaware Valley 52, at Lebanon Valley 7
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Johns Hopkins 51, at Gettysburg 14
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at Mount Union 54, Heidelberg 0
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at John Carroll 27, Marietta 24
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Final - OT
at Berry 28, Millsaps 21
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at Rowan 28, Wesley 27
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at Muhlenberg 42, McDaniel 18
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Wheaton (Ill.) 20, at Augustana 3
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Mary Hardin-Baylor 49, at Belhaven 0
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at St. John's 57, St. Olaf 7
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at Hardin-Simmons 58, Texas Lutheran 14
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North Central (Ill.) 26, at Carthage 14
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at St. Thomas 68, Carleton 0
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at UW-Oshkosh 24, UW-La Crosse 13
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at UW-Whitewater 44, UW-River Falls 7
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at Brockport 65, Buffalo State 7
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Whitworth 47, at Puget Sound 13
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Linfield 14, at George Fox 0
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Final
Case Western Reserve 27, at Geneva 14
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Illinois Wesleyan 27, at Washington U. 21
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