|Eureka had a big day on offense on Saturday, rushing for 387 yards and eight touchdowns in a win at Martin Luther.
Eureka athletics photo
The following teams have qualified for the 2017 NCAA Division III playoffs:
Eureka is bound for the Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference next season. But Saturday, in its final season as a member of the Upper Midwest Athletic Conference, the Red Devils took the UMAC title, earning their first-ever trip to the NCAA Division III football playoffs in the process.
Meanwhile, Plymouth State returned to the playoffs for the first time in nearly a decade; Trine earned its way back into the dance; and Husson, Lakeland and Western New England all booked return trips in Saturday's action.
Eureka (8-2) and Martin Luther went back-and-forth for the first 30 minutes, but Eureka and running back LeAnthony Reasnover pulled away in the second half to a 63-26 win. Reasnover scored seven rushing touchdowns, one shy of the NCAA Division III record for a single game, and ran for 252 yards on 25 carries.
"It's an exciting day for our program and for our kids," said Red Devils coach Kurt Barth. "These guys have been through a lot, our seniors have been through a lot all four years, especially this year getting off to a slower expected start, but I'm proud of them and their leadership and the way we've bounced back.
Martin Luther ended the season at 5-5, a year after going 0-10.
Plymouth State won its seventh consecutive game, defeating Fitchburg State 24-7, then clinched the automatic bid for the MASCAC when Framingham State won in the closing seconds against Western Connecticut. Plymouth, which finished tied with Framingham State for the conference title, had defeated Framingham in overtime in Week 7.
Trine defeated Alma 41-6 to remain unbeaten, then locked away the MIAA's automatic bid to the playoffs when Adrian defeated Olivet. Trine broke open a 6-6 game with three touchdowns in the first 7:03 of the third quarter. Lamar Carswell had four touchdowns on the afternoon, including a 44-yarder and a 74-yarder. Adrian jumped out to a 33-8 lead at Olivet after a long pregame lightning delay and held on for a 33-22 win, making Olivet's game at Trine next week relevant only for Trine's seeding in the playoffs.
Dezmon Eddie rushed for 308 yards, breaking a 27-year old school record, and Lakeland clinched its third straight playoff appearance with a 49-13 romp over Concordia-Chicago. On a wet day, the new turf at Lakeland came in handy, as Lakeland ran for 400-plus yards for the third time this season. Eddie had 258 yards at halftime.
Huntingdon claimed the USA South title in efficient fashion, rolling up 9.2 yards of offense per snap en route to a 55-7 home win vs. Methodist. Three quarterbacks were a combined 12-for-14 passing in the win. Husson won its 14th consecutive conference game and clinched its second ECFC automatic bid in as many years in easy fashion, rolling over Alfred State 63-0. Dante Aiken and Peter Hoff rushed for more than 100 yards apiece as Western New England won the first automatic bid from the Commonwealth Coast Conference, defeating Curry 42-28. (The CCC is made up primarily of teams from the old New England Football Conference and the automatic bid carried over from that league.)
Ithaca moved back atop the Liberty League standings by a half-game and kept itself in contention for the conference's automatic bid as the Bombers defeated Union 20-3. Ithaca will win the automatic bid if Union defeats archrival RPI for The Dutchman Shoes next week. Ithaca held Union to just 188 yards of offense and forced three turnovers in winning its eighth consecutive meeting with Union. The Dutchmen entered the game at 7-1, riding a seven-game win streak.
Baldwin Wallace assured the Ohio Athletic Conference of being a one-bid league by handing Heidelberg its third loss of the season, by the score of 27-10. UW-La Crosse kept its playoff hopes alive with 14 fourth-quarter points in defeating UW-Stout 21-7. The Eagles lead the all-time series 71-15 with six ties.
Needing a win to retain a share of the conference title, St. Scholastica had a huge day through the air, but turned the ball over four times and allowed 111 yards rushing to Chazz Middlebrook as MacMurray won, 34-26. The Saints end the season at 7-3, with two consecutive losses.
With a chance to clinch a winning season, Luther's attempt at a 26-yard game-winning field goal sailed wide left with two seconds left and Central hung on for a 23-21 road win. Blaine Hawkins had 317 yards of total offense for the Dutch (6-3, 5-2). Luther fell to 5-4, 4-3.