Albion builds off its 2011 postseason stint

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Bretty McCarty has a team-best 108 tackles this year, and he could be looking at at least a couple of more games to add to that total.
Albion athletics photo

Brett McCarty was on the Albion team that got trounced by UW-Whitewater in the opening round of the playoffs two seasons ago. Albion was rocked 59-0 by the Warhawks, who would go on to win their third consecutive national championship.

"We took a whooping that year, but it was a great experience for us," McCarty said. "It taught us a lot about the level we need to play at to be a successful playoff team, and we have been working at that the last two years."

Albion is on the brink of finding out just how far it has come since the 2011 campaign. The Britons are undefeated in the MIAA, and with a win on Saturday over Hope in a crucial road game, they will clinch the outright title and march back into the postseason.

The Britons' latest win was a 13-0 victory over Adrian. It was their first shutout of the season and their fifth consecutive win.

"We feel good about the way we have been playing," said McCarty, who was a first-team All-MIAA pick a season ago and has racked up a team-best 108 tackles this season. "We are clicking as a team and have been focused on game at a time. We know we have another big game this week, but we're looking at it as just another game. We'll be ready."

Britons head coach Craig Rundle doesn't doubt that at all and is particularly pleased about the way his team handled a crucial test against 2012 MIAA champion Adrian this past weekend.

"I thought we were real focused for the game and played a very well," Rundle said. "Our goal is to win a championship and go to the playoffs, and we took another step toward that goal. We still have one more to go."

Albion believed it was capable of being an MIAA contender a season ago, but injuries derailed those title hopes. The Britons finished 6-4 overall and 3-3 in the league.

"Last year, we had one of the best teams we've had here in a long time," said Rundle, who is in his 17th season with the Britons. "But we had some injuries early in the year, and we were unable to overcome them. I thought we had a chance this year if we stayed healthy, and so far, we've been able to do that."

It's no surprise Albion (7-2, 5-0) is on the doorstep of a conference title. The Britons have been solid on both sides of the ball.

Offensively, they rely on a balanced attack that features quarterback Dominic Bona and running back Darrin Williams. Bona has thrown for 1,984 yards and 15 touchdowns while only being picked off eight times. Williams has churned out 788 yards and nine touchdowns.

Williams is also a threat to catch the ball as he has made 30 catches for 244 yards and a score. Zachary Brewer leads all receivers with 41 catches for 401 yards and five touchdowns. Cody Crawford has caught 27 passes for 322 yards and four touchdowns.

McCarty has played a pivotal role on the defense. In addition to tallying more than 100 tackles for the first time in his career, he has also recorded two sacks and has picked off two passes.

James Hartley has come through with 66 tackles and three sacks, and Mark Sheridan has racked up 56 tackles. Terron Bridgeman has come up big as well, tallying 50 tackles and picking off two passes. He has also recovered a fumble.

McCarty said he has done his best to be a leader on the defense.

"I've taken on more of a leadership role this year and have put in the work to make myself a better football player," McCarty said. "I've made improvements, and I'm playing hard. The main thing is I've been able to stay focused. Everyone on the team is focused."

Focus will have to be of the utmost importance for the Britons on Saturday as they prepare to take on Hope on the road. The Flying Dutchmen (7-2, 4-1) can clinch a share of the crown with a win.

"Any time you play on the road, it becomes even more of a challenge," Rundle said. "A lot of our guys have played in big games before, and they are eager to play this one. They are excited and ready to go. I have confidence in this team."

So does McCarty, and no matter how the rest of the season plays out, he is thankful he was able to play for Albion.

"I came here because I knew Albion had a great track record for success in the [MIAA], and I wanted to be a part of it," McCarty said. "I've had a great career and I'm
hoping to end it strong. We've gotten better every week and we have taken it one game at a time all year. If we play up to our potential this week, we'll be in a good position."

In the poll

Top-ranked Mount Union continued its push for another OAC championship by rolling to a 30-7 win over Baldwin Wallace on Saturday afternoon.

The Purple Raiders extended the nation's longest win streak to 24 games and have won 82 consecutive games in the regular season.

Bradley Mitchell turned in another stellar effort as he rushed for 114 yards in his third straight start. It was his third 100-yard game of the season.

Kevin Burke threw for 197 yards and two touchdowns while rushing for a touchdown as well as the Purple Raiders (9-0, 8-0) set the stage for next week's showdown with John Carroll for the outright conference championship.

Alex Kocheff racked up nine tackles and two sacks. Mount Union tallied a season-high seven sacks and allowed only 230 yards. The Purple Raiders racked up 435 yards of offense.

No. 9 John Carroll took on No. 18 Heidelberg in a pivotal OAC showdown on Saturday and dominated the battle of nationally ranked teams with a 48-7 victory.

The Blue Streaks reduced the second-best offensive team in the nation to a crawl as it allowed only 253 yards en route to improving to 9-0 for the first time since 1989.
John Carroll is 8-0 in the conference and plays Mount Union next Saturday for the outright title.

John Carroll rolled up 475 yards behind the play of Mark Myers, who was 31-of-44 for 387 yards and three touchdowns. Aramis Greenwood caught all three of those scoring strikes and finished with seven catches for 168 yards.

DaQuan Grobsmith rushed for 47 yards and two touchdowns in the victory.

Cartel Brooks churned out 124 yards for the Student Princes (7-2, 6-2). Michael Mees was 12-of-28 for 129 yards. He was sacked four times by the Blue Streaks and threw his only touchdown pass to Dontae Dye.

Matt Feeney led the Blue Streaks with 11 tackles while Mitch Krotz, Marty Gibbons and Brody Zangaro tallied six tackles apiece.

Clay Staib came through with 11 tackles to pace the Student Princes, who lost to a nationally ranked opponent for the second week in a row.

For the fourth time in five years, No. 12 Wittenberg has earned at least a share of the NCAC championship. The Tigers clinched the crown and an NCAA playoff berth with a 35-17 road win over No. 13 Wabash on Saturday.

Wittenberg (8-1, 8-0) has won 12 titles since coming into the conference in 1989 and got the job done behind 405 yards of offense.

Reed Florence threw for 260 yards and two scores, and did not turn the ball over against a Wabash team that leads the country in turnover margin. Sean Gary rushed for 144 yards and found the end zone three times while Brendon Cunningham caught nine passes for 145 yards. Cunningham caught two scoring strikes.

The Tigers were anchored on defense by Nick Gibson, who came through with 13 tackles. Spencer Leno racked up 11 tackles, and Mark Swope tallied nine tackles and forced a fumble.

Wabash (8-1, 7-1) struggled out of the gate against Wittenberg and was down 28-3 at halftime.

Michael Putko attempted 50 passes and completed 50. He threw for 316 yards and a touchdown while Grant Klembara rushed for 33 yards and a score.
Cody Buresh and Nate Scola paced the defense for the Little Giants with nine tackles apiece. Buresh rang up one sack.

Thomas More clinched at least a share of the PAC championship with a 49-14 win over Bethany on Saturday. The No. 25 Saints are now 8-1 overall and 6-1 in the PAC.

The Saints rolled behind the rushing effort of Domonique Hayden, who churned out 152 yards and set a single-season rushing record with 1,801 yards. Hayden torched the Bison for four touchdowns as well.

Jensen Gebhardt completed 16 of his 26 passes for 297 yards and two touchdowns while Bobby Leonard caught five catches for 108 yards and a score. He also rushed a touchdown on a day when the Saints rolled up 563 yards.

Adam Rauch came up big on defense as he racked up eight tackles. Kyle Fuller made seven tackles while Trey Wells and Alex Taylor tallied six tackles apiece. Taylor also picked off a pass in the win.

Austin Copeland finished with six tackles as well as the Saints used an aggressive defensive effort to limit the Bison to just 159 yards, including only 19 on the ground.

Inside the OAC

Joey Riley nailed a 20-yard field goal to lift Capital to a thrilling 27-24 overtime win against Muskingum on Saturday. The winning kick gave the Crusaders (2-7, 2-6)
their first home win of the season.

The Crusaders churned out 288 yards on the ground and was led by Brent Walton, who rushed for 100 yards and a touchdown in the fourth quarter that tied the score at 24-24.

Capital trailed 24-7 at one point in the first half but did not fold under the pressure. Chase Longwell rushed for a touchdown during the rally and Riley made a total of two field goals.

TJ Langermeier led the defense with seven tackles. He also recovered a fumble. Domenic Hebebrand finished with seven tackles as well.

Muskingum (1-8, 1-7) dominated early as Melvin Smith rushed for two scores and Cody Williams rushed for a touchdown as well. But the Muskies failed to score in the second half and finished with 273 yards on the day.

Williams rushed for 78 yards and threw for 33 while Zach Barry led the defense with 13 tackles and a fumble recovery. Damond Goggins added nine tackles.

Patrick Angle threw for 276 yards and three touchdowns to guide Ohio Northern to a 52-10 road win over Wilmington on Saturday.

Eight passes went to Devon Price, who finished with 128 yards and a touchdown for the Polar Bears (5-4. 4-4). Justin Magazine rushed for 48 yards and two touchdowns.

Josh Bryan anchored the defensive effort as he came through with seven tackles. Josh Colbert tallied six tackles and forced a fumble while Dillon Kwiat racked up five tackles. The Polar Bears limited the Quakers (0-9, 0-8) to 266 yards.

Brandon Arehart played well once again for Wilmington, throwing for 177 yards. Austin Jarbo saw time in a backup quarterback role and threw a touchdown pass to Zach Cooper.

Aaron Day made 18 tackles to lead Wilmington and Tarrell Starckey made 16 tackles to go along with a sack and a forced fumble. R.J. Zygarkowski became the first Wilmington defensive back to pick off a pass this season.

Inside the MIAA


won its first conference game of the season in thrilling fashion on Saturday as it rallied from a 14-point deficit to knock off Olivet 47-41 in overtime.

Christian Chase shined in a starting role as he was 25-of-49 for 273 yards and two touchdowns while Jimmy Bailey rushed for a career-best 60 yards and three scores, including the game-winning touchdown on a 4-yard run in overtime.

Gage Corner turned in another stellar performance at receiver, catching 11 passes for 143 yards. He pushed his career total to 58, which ranks third all-time in school history, and also has 884 receiving yards.

Tyler Guzy led the defense with 11 tackles and Louis Danesi and Caleb Nitz came through with 10 tackles apiece.

The Thunder trailed 35-20 early in the fourth but eventually tied the game on Jared Barton's 1-yard touchdown catch from Chase as time expired in regulation.

Trine (4-5, 1-4) racked up 410 yards and allowed 487 yards. The Thunder snapped a five-game losing streak.

Olivet (6-3, 2-3) was led by Braden Black, who threw for 396 yards and three touchdowns. Kyle Bryson caught all three scoring strikes and finished with 187 yards.
Nate Roberts tallied 13 tackles to pace the Comets on defense.

Blake Simon made 12 tackles and Kalamazoo limited Alma to 156 yards in a 21-3 win on Saturday. Dylan Zerki and Connor Rzeznik finished with 10 tackles apiece while Thomas Tabor returned an interception for a touchdown in the third quarter.

Justin Danzy threw for 242 yards and threw a touchdown pass to Josh Wise. Wise racked up six catches for 114 yards for the Hornets (5-4. 3-2).

Alma got its only points on Jack Pryde's 38-yard field goal. Jarrett Leister threw for 112 yards and Gavin Smith made 10 tackles. Alma (0-9, 0-5) allowed 279 yards.

Inside the NCAC

Mason Espinosa threw for 265 yards and a touchdown to help Ohio Wesleyan knock off Oberlin 28-14 on Saturday in the final home game for the Bishops.

Espinosa now has 10,751 career passing yards, putting him in 14th place all-time in Division III history, and Ohio Wesleyan rolled up 340 yards in the victory.

Calvin Cagney played a part in Espinosa's success as he made eight catches for 98 yards.  Kevin Herman rushed for 90 yards and a pair of touchdowns while Justin Segal led the defense with eight tackles.

Keaton Leppla added seven tackles and George Newcomb made six tackles as the Bishops (5-4, 4-4) limited the Yeomen (2-7, 1-7) to 208 yards.

Lucas Poggiali threw for 102 yards, while Nick Theofilos rushed for 31 yards and a touchdown.

Oberlin's other points came on a 30-yard interception return by Dan Bolotsky. Zach Kisley and Kyle Kessler led the defense with 11 tackles apiece.

Denison rolled up 458 yards of offense and edged Allegheny 24-21 to secure its first winning season since the 2008 campaign. It was also the Big Red's first win over
the Gators in Pennsylvania since 1986.

Brandon Sklenar completed 28 of his 34 passes for 342 yards and a touchdown to lead Denison (6-3, 5-3), which has won its last two games.

Colin Morris rushed for 114 yards and two touchdowns and John Wilson turned in a solid effort as he caught 12 passes for 173 yards, setting career-highs in both categories. It's the most catches and yards by a Denison receiver since the 2001 season.

Andrew Baird made nine tackles to lead Denison and Joel Elliott racked up eight tackles as the Big Red remained in the hunt for its first seven-win season since 1986.

Allegheny (0-9, 0-8) was limited to 226 yards. Jon Nigro threw for 101 yards and a touchdown while Nick Deichler rushed for a touchdown. Jonathon Opet broke
loose for an 85-yard kickoff return for the Gators' other points.

Raysean Glenn made 11 tackles to pace Allegheny. Pat Jameson added 10 tackles.

Inside the PAC

Mike Sirianni won his 100th career game as the head coach of Washington and Jefferson as the Presidents knocked off Geneva 49-34 on Saturday. The Presidents (7-2. 6-1) can clinch a share of their 23rd league title next Saturday against Waynesburg and earn the automatic bid to the playoffs.

Matt Bliss helped make it all possible as he threw for 258 yards and four touchdowns. Dan Lucas and Max Creighan each caught two scoring strikes as the Presidents won their fourth consecutive league game.

Alex Baroffio made nine catches for 81 yards and became only the second player in school history to have more than 3,000 receiving yards in a career. His total is at 3,039.

W&J rolled up 456 yards and held Geneva to 363 yards. The game featured 152 plays and 250 penalty yards. Dion Wiegand rushed for 125 yards against Geneva (5-4, 4-3).

The Golden Tornadoes wered led by Zack Hayward, who threw for 258 yards and two touchdowns. Lemuel Fuller caught eight passes for 100 yards and two scores.

John Onufer led Geneva defensively as he racked up 14 tackles. Dillon Goodell and Ed Schuster racked up nine tackles apiece.

Quick look at Tartans and Spartans

Carnegie Mellon nearly knocked off Chicago in a UAA game on Saturday but a fourth-quarter rally fell short in a 14-12 loss to the Maroons in Chicago.

Rob Kalkstein's 13-yard scoring strike with 1:39 to go closed the gap to 14-12 but the Tartans (3-6, 0-2) were unable to finish off the rally.

Carnegie Mellon finished with 357 yards while holding Chicago to 177 yards. Zachary Erra-Hernandez rushed for 68 yards and Kalkstein threw for 182 yards. His 14 completions on 28 attempts moved him into first on the all-time completion list with 383. He has thrown for 5,192 yards in his career and needs 186 more to be first
all-time on that list as well.

Ryan Kok racked up a career-high 12 tackles and Eric Rolfes tallied 10 tackles.

Case Western Reserve saw its shot at a conference championship fade away on Saturday in a 29-0 loss to Washington (Mo.) in St. Louis.

The Spartans (4-4, 1-1) have won four of the last six UAA titles but would need a Washington loss and a win over Carnegie Mellon this week to earn a share of the crown.

The Spartans managed only 153 yards, with Erik Olson throwing for 75 yards and John Mangelluzzi making six catches for 51 yards.

Aaron Weisberg and Scott Suren made 10 tackles apiece and Everett Dishong came through with seven tackles and a sack. The Spartans, who entered the showdown
on a three-game win streak, allowed 432 yards.

Notes: Drew Ervin rushed for 95 yards and two touchdowns to help Otterbein stay on track for  a winning season with a 29-21 win over Marietta. The Cardinals are 5-4 overall and 5-3 in the OAC. They churned out 375 yards and rushed for more than 200 yards (204) for the second time this season...Tommy First made a career-high 13 tackles for Adrian in its 13-0 loss to Albion on Saturday. Deontae Bridgeman added 10 tackles as the Bulldogs end their season at 6-4 overall and 3-3 in the MIAA...Armani Cato hit the 100-yard mark for the second time in his career as he helped DePauw knock off Hiram 24-13 on Saturday. Cato carried the ball 19 times for 105 yards and the Tigers held a 321-200 edge in total offense. He scored two touchdowns as the Tigers improved to 4-5 overall and to 4-4 in the NCAC...Thiel played in perhaps the wildest game in PAC history as it held off Westminster 45-37 in a four-overtime thriller under the lights Saturday night. The two teams combined for 878 yards, with the Tomcats racking up 419. Andrew Smith's 77-yard scoring strike to Tim Walker tied the score at 21-21 with 1:18 left in regulation and Smith's 7-yard touchdown pass to Josh Potter won the game for the Tomcats.

Contact Me: Feel free to get up with me anytime. You can email me or follow me on Twitter @BLester1993.

Joe Sager

Joe Sager is a freelance writer based in Pittsburgh. He has written about sports since 1996 for a variety of newspapers, magazines and websites. He first covered D-III football in 2000 with the New Castle (Pa.) News.

2012-14 columnist: Brian Lester
2011 columnist: Dean Jackson
2007-10 columnist: Matt Florjancic

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