November 12, 2011

Del Val sprints into the playoffs

A young Delaware Valley offense exploded in the win against Widener.
Delaware Valley athletics photo

Down 28-14 after big plays by Widener in the first half, the Delaware Valley offense caught fire and made sure it left no doubt that a playoff bid was in their future, defeating Widener 56-28.

It's the first perfect regular season for the Aggies since 2005, and keeps Delaware Valley at least in contention for a playoff top seed. The bracket will be announced on Sunday evening.

Delaware Valley scored touchdowns on five consecutive second half possessions. Freshman quarterback Aaron Wilmer threw for 333 yards and four touchdowns and ran for another score in the victory. The Aggies converted eight of 17 third down attempts and held the ball for 39 minutes.

The loss leaves Widener well on the outside, at 8-2 and with a low strength of schedule.

Kean finished its surprise regular season with a 27-14 win at Montclair State, picking off Red Hawks quarterback five times. The win clinched the NJAC title and automatic bid. Tom D'Ambrisi completed just eight of 23 passes himself for Kean, but the Cougars scored four times on drives of 20 yards or less.

Western New England capped its thrilling afternoon with a win in overtime.
Western New England athletics photo

Western New England scored two touchdowns in the final four minutes and went on to beat Framingham State 20-13 in overtime to win the New England Football Conference title game, while Hobart rallied past Rochester to clinch the Liberty League automatic bid behind five takeaways and four sacks. Linfield clinched the Northwest Conference automatic bid with ease, rolling past Lewis and Clark 47-14. The best L&C season in decades finishes at 7-2.

In Pool B, Wesley rolled out to a 41-0 halftime lead and cruised past Huntingdon 54-13 to make a statement that it deserves the one playoff bid set aside for teams not in conferences with automatic bids. Case Western Reserve beat Carnegie Mellon to keep pace and keep its at-large bid hopes alive as well.

Baldwin-Wallace kept its somewhat remote at-large playoff hopes alive with a 45-37 win against John Carroll. Illinois Wesleyan, one of the top contenders for an at-large bid, had little trouble with Augustana in a 34-12 win. Centre defeated Rhodes 41-28 to solidify its at-large hopes at 9-1. D.J. Baiza had an 85-yard punt return for a touchdown and Jeret Smith returned a kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown in the first half to help McMurry beat Mississippi College 63-38 and remain in the postseason hunt. Redlands survived a final-week upset bid, winning 19-13 at Chapman after stopping the Panthers at the Redlands 4-yard line.

Two teams that had already clinched narrowly avoided upsets on Saturday, as Johns Hopkins squeaked past McDaniel 28-24 and Thomas More scored 12 fourth-quarter points to rally past rival Mount St. Joseph 33-28. But Hampden-Sydney could not avoid the Week 11 loss, as archrival Randolph-Macon ran for 301 yards and had five touchdowns on the ground in beating the Tigers 48-34. Benedictine, already destined for a low seed, sunk even lower with a 23-21 loss to Wisconsin Lutheran.

In the other big Week 11 rivalry games, Wabash had no trouble with DePauw for the second year in a row, jumping out to a 24-0 lead in the first quarter and rolling to a 45-7 win in the Monon Bell game. Amherst finished its season 7-1 with a win against archrival Williams, jumping out to a 31-6 lead before beating the Ephs 31-18 in the teams' 126th meeting. Dan Pitcher threw for 280 yards and ran for 94 more as Cortland State kept the Cortaca Jug with a 27-3 win against Ithaca.

UW-Whitewater won its 40th consecutive game, defeating UW-La Crosse 17-3 in the teams' second meeting of the season. (Photo gallery) Mount Union pitched a shutout with a 28-0 win at Muskingum, capping its sixth consecutive undefeated regular season. Mary Hardin-Baylor had no problem in defeating Texas Lutheran 56-17, while North Central rested some of its baged-up starters and still shut out North Park 35-0.

Elsewhere, Juniata snapped a 21-game losing streak in dramatic fashion, with a field goal with two seconds left to beat Susquehanna 17-16. Juniata has won just seven games in the past eight seasons. Oberlin ended the season with a surprising 14-13 win at Allegheny, finishing 3-7. Bridgewater scored with five seconds left to beat Catholic 22-19, ending a cardiac Cardinals 5-5 season in which the game was tied or the lead changed hands in the fourth quarter of six of the 10 games.

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