October 6, 2011

A midseason roundup

We are six weeks into the season and I thought I'd take this opportunity to look at some storylines developing in the region.

Stories of the Year
Same story, different season

Mount Union continues to be the class of the Great Lakes Region. No suprise here. And as per recent history, Wittenberg, Wabash and Thomas More are making strong cases to be included in the region's elite.

The 700 Club
Any discussion about the great programs in NCAA Division III football has to include Wittenberg. The Tigers added more food for thought as they became the first D-III team to reach 700-win level in September.

Football Utopia?
Thomas More continues to climb in the polls. The team is currently sitting at No. 8 in the D3football.com poll and No. 6 in AFCA poll. It's the highest ranking ever for the Saints.

Fish biting
Muskingum's defense has propelled the Muskies to a 4-0 season and on the verge of a Top 25 ranking. Defensively, the Fighting Muskies are ranked in the top-25 in seven defensive statistical catergories, including leading the national in sacks, third in tackles for loss, plus fifth in run defense and defensive scoring.

Bullish on Adrian
After three-straight second-place finishes in the MIAA, Adrian is pushing its own mandate for change att the top of the heap in the conference. After waiting in the wings for three seasons, AC is clearly in the drivers seat. It's hard to pass on the Bulldogs, they boast a stingy and attacking defense that's limiting opponents to around 10 points a contest.

Can we get a hand
Trine may have been ousted from the driver's seat in its bid for a fourth conseutive MIAA title and NCAA playoffs. While their margin for error has shrunk greatly, don't think the race is won. If Adrian holds serve, Trine is going to have to make a strong case on the field. The MIAA typically flies solo come playoff time.

With two losses Ohio Northern surely has to win out and hope that someone hands Mount Union and Muskingum (and probably many other teams nationall) a loss or two. Historically, the Ohio Athletic Conference has sent two teams to the playoffs.

Player of the Year
Jeremy Murray, Mount Union
Averaging nearly 170 yards a game, Murray has been remarkably consistent, for a program that is known for its consistency. Through four games, he's rushed for 676 yards and 10 touchdowns.

Coach of the Year
Jim Deere, Adrian/Al Logan, Muskingum
It's essentially the same path to success, careful attention to building a championship quality defense and knocking off nationally ranked oppponents.

Game Notes

Devin O'Brien threw for 216 yards and ran for 185 yards in John Carroll's 47-41 double overtime win against Otterbein.

Michael Mees connected for three scores and 265 yards in Heidelberg's 55-3 win over Capital. Josh Lynch had four catches for 102 yards and a touchdown. Mario Escalante had five catches for 98 yards and a score. Troy Spiker recorded 16 total tackles (13 solo) for the Crusaders.

Nick Karabin led Carnegie Mellon with 11 tackles, three for a loss of five yards, and added an interception as the Tartans beat Hiram 24-7.Jon Hull had 20 tackles, one for loss and a fumble recovery for Hiram.

Michael Cooper grabbed seven passes for 129 yards. Ben Zoeller had 296 yards passing and two touchdowns as Wittenberg crushed Oberlin 41-19. Bill Sommers had 12 tackles, eight solo and an inteception for Oberlin.

Derron Hamilton had 11 tackles and recorded 3.5 sacks as Baldwin-Wallace notched a 17-7 win over Marietta. Marietta's Jake Green had a hand in 12 tackles and an interception.

Muskingum's Alex Thomas had 10 tackles, one sack, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery in a 14-3 victory over Wilmington.

Geneva's quarterback tandem of Zach Hayward and Rocco Collavecchia combined for 305 yards passing in a 23-20 overtime win over Saint Vincent. Corey O'Patchen had five receptions for 116 yards. Huey Ehredt rushed for 155 yards for Saint Vincent.

Adrian's Bryan Garbarino recorded 10 tackles and an interception as the Bulldogs beat Trine 20-6. Brandon Miller threw for 205 yards and one score.

In the mud and the muck, Mount Union held the Polar Bears to 65 yards rushing, ONU limited the second-ranked Purple Raiders to 77 yards passing. Jeremy Murray rushed 41 times, yes, 41 times for 130 yards and two touchdowns.

Erik Olson connected for 228 yards and two touchdowns. The game-winner came with just 45 seconds remaining as Case Western Reserve squeaked out a 17-10 win over Allegheny. Doug Williams had 13 tackles and a sack for the Gators.

Denison topped Wooster 27-13. Sam Fioroni rushed for 125 yards. Quinton Howard had 11 tackles in the loss.

Denison's Max Paulus had 260 yards passing in a 27-13 win over Wooster. Scot quarterback Brett Frongillo tallied 240 yards.

Ben Zoeller threw for 301 yards and two scores in a 41-19 Wittenberg win over Oberlin. Michael Cooper hauled in 7 passes for 129 yards.

Spencer Krauss threw for 434 yards and three touchdowns to lead Albion to a 36-26 shootout win over Kalamazoo. Nick Jones had 235 yards passing and three touchdowns for the Hornets. J.C. Cruse had six catches for 225 yards and a touchdown. Zach Brewer also had six catches for 112 yards and two scores.

Matt Bliss finished 251 yards passing as Washington and Jefferson topped Westminster 20-16. For Westminster Shawn Lehocky threw for 253 with two touchdowns. Tim McNerney for W&J rushed for 141 yards. Alex Kernicky had 15 tackles, including a sack, for Westminster.

Shawn Jackson rushed 26 times for 154 yards and four touchdowns in Hope's 38-15 win over Alma.

Wabash blanked Kenyon 49-0. Chase Belton passed for three scores and rushed for two more. In limited action Belton passed 203 yards and tallied110 yards on five carries. Kenyon's Charles Small grabbed 10 catches for 101 yards.

Great Lakes Region teams in D3football.com’s Top 25 poll this week
No. 2 - Mount Union (OAC) – Stays atop the OAC with a win over then No. 24 Ohio Northern. 14-6. Earned four first place votes.
No. 8 - Thomas More (PAC) – Steady at No. 8. Smothers Thiel 50-7
No. 15 - Wabash (NCAC) - Jumps three spots, after blanking Kenyon 49-0
No. 16 – Wittenberg (NCAC) – Up two spots Beat Oberlin 41-19
Dropped out: Trine (was 17), Ohio Northern (OAC, was 2w4)
Receiving votes: Ohio Northern (OAC), Adrian (MIAA), Muskingum (OAC), Trine (MIAA), Baldwin-Wallace (OAC).

Streaks:
Wilmington has lost 20 in a row dating to 2008.

Wabash won its 15th consecutive Homecoming contest in its triumph over Kenyon.

Since 1981, Mount Union has won 31 in a row against Marietta.

Sean Williams of Wittenberg has hit 50 consecutive extra point attempt to set a Tiger high-water mark for PAT accuracy.

Remember When:
Mount Union's nine passes against Ohio Northern, are the fewest since Dec. 12, 2009. In that game, a national semifinal, the Purple Raiders completed six of 17 passes for 113 yards.

Denison captured the Old Red Lantern for the first time in 16 years with their 27-13 win over Wooster. It is also the first win in 10 ties against Wooster.

Adrian's win over Trine, was the first conference loss for Trine since 2007. In all, Trine reeled off 20 in a row.

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Brian Lester

Brian Lester is a reporter in Findlay, Ohio. He has 14 years of experience at newspapers in Virginia, North Carolina and Ohio, spending the last 10 at The Courier in Findlay. Lester also writes an Around the Region column for D3hoops.com. He is a graduate of Eastern Illinois.

2011 columnist: Dean Jackson
2007-10 columnist: Matt Florjancic

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