/seasons/2017/contrib/201711184tefyu

Titans Kickoff NCAA Postseason With Shutout Victory

Nationally ranked UW-Oshkosh scored touchdowns on its first five possessions and cruised to a 63-0 win over Lakeland University during the first round of the NCAA Division III Football Championship on Saturday (Nov. 18) at J. J. Keller Field at Titan Stadium.

Brett Kasper threw for three touchdowns in one half of action as UW-Oshkosh amassed four total scores through the air while four Titans scored touchdowns on the ground and another recorded an interception return for a score.

UW-Oshkosh (10-0), ranked third in the country by D3football.com, owned a 42-0 lead at halftime and concluded the contest with a 490-305 advantage in scrimmage yards, including a 332-89 edge in the first half. The Titans matched their season high by creating four turnovers.

The Titans advance to play next Saturday (Nov. 25) in the second round of the NCAA postseason against ninth-ranked North Central College (Ill.). The Cardinals (10-1) won their opening-round home game, 17-7, over sixth-ranked Saint John's University (Minn.) (9-2) on Saturday.

UW-Oshkosh improved its NCAA postseason record to 10-3. The Titans, who rank third all-time with a .769 winning percentage in the Division III tournament, reached the national championship game last season after advancing to the semifinal round in 2012 and to the quarterfinal round in 2015.

Lakeland University (8-3) went into its third straight and fifth overall NCAA appearance leading the nation with 289 first downs while ranking second nationally with 577.7 yards per game, fifth with 46.5 points per contest and sixth with 331.4 passing yards per game.

UW-Oshkosh held the high-scoring Muskies to just five first downs and 2.7 yards per play during the first half en route to its second straight shutout. The Titans defeated UW-Stout, 31-0, in the regular season finale on Nov. 11.

Kasper completed 11 of 15 passes for 167 yards with three scores. UW-Oshkosh backup quarterback Jayden Essman went 3-for-5 passing for 46 yards with a touchdown during the second half.

Seven Titans combined to rush for 288 yards on 39 carries for a 7.1 average.

Chad Walton paced the Titans with a career-high 108 yards on nine rushes. Walton ran for his fourth touchdown of the year while Mitch Gerhartz, Dylan Hecker and JP Peerenboom each added rushing scores for UW-Oshkosh. Hecker extended his program records to 56 career rushing touchdowns and 342 points.

UW-Oshkosh's Sam Mentkowski and Dom Todarello both had a team-leading four receptions for 66 and 43 yards, respectively. Mentkowski, who became the school's career leader with 2,714 receiving yards, caught his ninth touchdown pass of the season while Todarello had a pair of touchdown catches against the Muskies.

Mitchell Gerend chipped in two receptions for 39 yards and his second touchdown grab of the year for the Titans.

Chris Bednarski spearheaded the UW-Oshkosh defense with a career-best eight tackles.

A total of 28 Titans collected tackles, including AJ Plewa, who made six stops, while Nick Boyd, Tyler Jensen, Jon Kallas, Trenton LaCombe and Tyler Watson each added five.

Plewa, Derrick Jennings Jr. and Mitch Ganassin registered interceptions, and Logan Heise recorded a fumble recovery for UW-Oshkosh. Ganassin returned his interception 73 yards for a score late in the fourth quarter.

UW-Oshkosh took the opening kickoff and marched 65 yards in six plays, culminating in a 20-yard touchdown run by Hecker, who rushed three times for 37 yards on the game's opening possession.

On the Muskies' first drive, Plewa intercepted a pass by Lakeland University quarterback Michael Whitley at the UW-Oshkosh 46-yard line. The Titans capitalized on the turnover by driving 54 yards in 10 plays as Kasper hit Todarello with a 5-yard shovel pass for a score.

Whitley engineered a drive that spanned 13 plays and lasted more than six minutes, but his pass on fourth-and-5 from the Titan 35-yard line was broken up by Jennings Jr. to preserve UW-Oshkosh's 14-0 lead. Whitley had completed all six of his passes for 22 yards until Jennings Jr. thwarted the drive.

UW-Oshkosh gained all 65 of its yards on the ground during the ensuing seven-play possession as Walton accounted for 41 yards on three carries and Todarello 10 yards on one rush before Gerhartz busted through the line for a 14-yard score.

The Muskies mustered seven yards in three plays over a span of 52 seconds on their third possession.

The Titans took over at their own 46-yard line following a 31-yard Lakeland University punt, and UW-Oshkosh reached the end zone five plays later on a 31-yard touchdown pass from Kasper to Mentkowski.

Jennings Jr. intercepted a Whitley pass on the Muskies' second play of the next possession. Starting at the Lakeland University 38-yard line, UW-Oshkosh reached the 2 on a 33-yard pass from Kasper to Andy Jones. Peerenboom finished the drive with a run on the next play as the Titans increased their lead to 35-0 with 4:52 left in the second quarter.

The teams exchanged punts on the following three possessions. The Muskies' third punt of the first half traveled 27 yards to the Lakeland University 38-yard line, and UW-Oshkosh reached the end zone three plays later, on a 25-yard pass from Kasper to Todarello with 47 seconds remaining in the second quarter.

UW-Oshkosh tacked on three more touchdowns during the second half, including a 28-yard run to the end zone by Walton that gave the Titans a 49-0 advantage with 1:57 left in the third quarter.

The Titans concluded the scoring on Essman's 13-yard touchdown pass to Gerend midway through the fourth quarter and Ganassin's 73-yard interception return. Turner Geisthardt converted each of his nine extra points for the Titans.

Lakeland University's first five drives of the second half resulted in three turnovers on downs, one fumble and one interception.

The Muskies' initial second-half drive ended as Jennings Jr. tackled Lakeland University receiver Eldrada Meeks for a 1-yard loss on fourth-and-7. Heise then recovered a fumble by Muskies running back Dezmon Eddie on the second Lakeland University possession of the third period.

UW-Oshkosh's Thayne Marlow stopped Meeks a yard shy on a fourth-down carry near midfield to thwart the Muskies' third second-half possession. The Titans later forced an incomplete pass by Whitley on fourth down following a 13-play Muskie drive early in the fourth quarter, and Ganassin preserved the shutout with his interception return on Lakeland University's 17th play of its penultimate possession.

Whitley concluded the contest 28-for-49 passing for 145 yards with three interceptions. Whitley, the two-time reigning Offensive Player of the Year in the Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference, went into the game ranked fourth in the country with 332.1 passing yards per game and ninth with 32 touchdown passes.

Meeks led the Muskies with 20 carries for 87 yards while Allante Gardner had a game-high nine receptions for 43 yards.

Mason Ross paced Lakeland University with eight tackles, including six solo.

UW-Oshkosh has won its four NCAA Division III First Round games – all at home – by a combined 215-23 score, including a 49-13 victory over Washington University in St. Louis (Mo.) last season.

2017 NCAA Division III Football Championship Interactive Bracket

Oct. 20: All times Eastern
Final
at Stevenson 33, Wilkes 21
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at RPI 31, Hobart 24
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Final
at MIT 13, Coast Guard 0
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Final
Norwich 15, at Maine Maritime 7
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Final
at Moravian 31, Juniata 14
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Final
at Dean 53, Gallaudet 21
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Final
Endicott 45, at Becker 13
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Frostburg State 24, at Montclair State 17
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Final
SUNY-Maritime 68, at Castleton 41
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Final
at Trinity (Texas) 28, Sewanee 14
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Final
Johns Hopkins 51, at Gettysburg 14
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Final
N.C. Wesleyan 29, at Brevard 21
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at Misericordia 37, FDU-Florham 33
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Final
Union 29, at St. Lawrence 7
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Final
at Ithaca 28, Rochester 3
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Final
at Colby 23, Hamilton 21
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Final
at Middlebury 35, Bates 34
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Final
Trinity (Conn.) 48, at Bowdoin 6
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Final
Springfield 23, at Catholic 11
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Final
Amherst 33, at Wesleyan 3
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Final
at Plymouth State 17, Massachusetts Maritime 14
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Final
at Husson 54, Anna Maria 14
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Final
TCNJ 13, at Kean 8
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Final
Carnegie Mellon 41, at Thiel 7
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Final
Salve Regina 30, at Curry 21
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Final
King's 37, at Albright 26
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Final
Trine 31, at Finlandia 0
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Final - OT
Susquehanna 41, at Ursinus 35
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Final
Delaware Valley 52, at Lebanon Valley 7
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Final
at Western New England 70, University of New England 13
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Final
Franklin and Marshall 35, at Dickinson 14
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Final
at Wittenberg 38, DePauw 23
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Final
at Emory and Henry 52, Shenandoah 50
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Final
at Wabash 32, Oberlin 7
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Final
at Westminster (Pa.) 27, Washington and Jefferson 20
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Final
at Hampden-Sydney 38, Guilford 35
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Final - OT
at Randolph-Macon 44, Bridgewater 41
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Final
Cortland 56, at Hartwick 3
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Final
at Denison 27, Ohio Wesleyan 10
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Final
Waynesburg 12, at St. Vincent 10
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Salisbury 33, at Southern Virginia 0
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Final
at Methodist 42, Greensboro 6
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Christopher Newport 39, at William Paterson 10
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Final
Albion 49, at Adrian 42
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Final
Thomas More 35, at St. Scholastica 0
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Final
at Westminster (Mo.) 25, Minnesota-Morris 7
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Final
Lake Forest 24, at Grinnell 0
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Final
at Greenville 41, Crown 14
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at Merchant Marine 25, WPI 24
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Final
at John Carroll 27, Marietta 24
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Final
at Tufts 28, Williams 21
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Final
Ohio Northern 49, at Capital 46
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Final
Baldwin Wallace 35, at Wilmington 33
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Final
at Mount Union 54, Heidelberg 0
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Final
at Lycoming 52, Alvernia 0
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Final
at Rose-Hulman 44, Anderson 6
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Final
at Franklin 64, Earlham 20
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Final
Hanover 48, at Manchester 14
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Mount St. Joseph 20, at Defiance 0
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Final
at Utica 30, Alfred 22
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Final
Maryville (Tenn.) 37, at LaGrange 17
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Final
Framingham State 27, at Westfield State 2
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Final
Morrisville State 35, at St. John Fisher 7
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Final
at Muskingum 21, Otterbein 14
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Final - OT
at Berry 28, Millsaps 21
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Final
at Muhlenberg 42, McDaniel 18
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Final
at Rowan 28, Wesley 27
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Final
at Wooster 28, Hiram 21
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Final
Allegheny 54, at Kenyon 10
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Final
at Nebraska Wesleyan 23, Luther 15
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Final
Wheaton (Ill.) 20, at Augustana 3
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Final
at Eureka 50, Benedictine 20
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Final
Mary Hardin-Baylor 49, at Belhaven 0
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Final
at Hardin-Simmons 58, Texas Lutheran 14
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Final
Chicago 63, at Beloit 0
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Final
at Concordia (Wis.) 45, Concordia-Chicago 34
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Final
Aurora 25, at Rockford 7
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Final
at Bethel 41, Concordia-Moorhead 13
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Final
Lakeland 38, at Wisconsin Lutheran 12
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at St. John's 57, St. Olaf 7
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Final
at Gustavus Adolphus 42, Augsburg 0
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Final
Dubuque 38, at Buena Vista 7
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Final
North Central (Ill.) 26, at Carthage 14
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Final
at Ripon 58, Macalester 34
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at Monmouth 51, Cornell 0
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Final
at Simpson 38, Loras 33
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at Knox 20, Illinois College 6
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Final
UW-Stout 31, at UW-Stevens Point 27
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Final
Millikin 14, at Elmhurst 13
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Final
at MacMurray 20, Iowa Wesleyan 13
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Final
UW-Eau Claire 40, at UW-Platteville 16
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Final
at St. Thomas 68, Carleton 0
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Final
at Mass-Dartmouth 41, Worcester State 27
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Final
at Wartburg 47, Central 20
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Final
at UW-Oshkosh 24, UW-La Crosse 13
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at UW-Whitewater 44, UW-River Falls 7
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Final
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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Final
at Pacific Lutheran 33, Willamette 20
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Final
at Brockport 65, Buffalo State 7
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Final
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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Final
Redlands 35, at La Verne 17
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Final
Whitworth 47, at Puget Sound 13
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Final
Claremont-Mudd-Scripps 27, at Occidental 7
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Final
Linfield 14, at George Fox 0
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Final
at Hope 35, Olivet 30
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Final - 4OT
at Western Connecticut 50, Bridgewater State 48
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Final
Case Western Reserve 27, at Geneva 14
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Final
at Sul Ross State 28, Howard Payne 27
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Final
East Texas Baptist 48, at Louisiana College 27
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Final
Illinois Wesleyan 27, at Washington U. 21
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Final
St. Norbert 46, at Lawrence 0
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Final
at Pomona-Pitzer 42, Whittier 17
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Final
Chapman 33, at Cal Lutheran 29
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Oct. 20: All times Eastern
Final
Frostburg State 24, at Montclair State 17
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Final
at RPI 31, Hobart 24
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Final
Trine 31, at Finlandia 0
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Final
at Wittenberg 38, DePauw 23
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Final
at Westminster (Pa.) 27, Washington and Jefferson 20
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Final
Delaware Valley 52, at Lebanon Valley 7
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Final
Johns Hopkins 51, at Gettysburg 14
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Final
at Mount Union 54, Heidelberg 0
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Final
at John Carroll 27, Marietta 24
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Final - OT
at Berry 28, Millsaps 21
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Final
at Rowan 28, Wesley 27
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Final
at Muhlenberg 42, McDaniel 18
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Final
Wheaton (Ill.) 20, at Augustana 3
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Final
Mary Hardin-Baylor 49, at Belhaven 0
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Final
at St. John's 57, St. Olaf 7
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Final
at Hardin-Simmons 58, Texas Lutheran 14
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Final
North Central (Ill.) 26, at Carthage 14
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Final
at St. Thomas 68, Carleton 0
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Final
at UW-Oshkosh 24, UW-La Crosse 13
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Final
at UW-Whitewater 44, UW-River Falls 7
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Final
at Brockport 65, Buffalo State 7
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Final
Whitworth 47, at Puget Sound 13
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Final
Linfield 14, at George Fox 0
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Final
Case Western Reserve 27, at Geneva 14
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Final
Illinois Wesleyan 27, at Washington U. 21
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