/playoffs/2011/coast-to-coast

Coast to coast

More news about: Linfield | Wesley

Mickey Inns, Shane McSweeny
Mickey Inns, left, and Shane McSweeny (with Steve Koudossou) lead their teams into Saturday's second-round game.
Inns by Rusty Rae, McSweeny and Koudossou Wesley athletics photo

By Andrew Lovell
D3sports.com

Safety Drew Fisher and cornerback Christian Hanna give the Linfield secondary senior experience.
Linfield athletics photo

One team has reached the NCAA semifinals four times since 2005, while the other is just seven seasons removed a Stagg Bowl title, the last by a team other than Mount Union or UW-Whitewater.

One calls Dover, Del., its home; the other, McMinnville, Ore. One is ranked No. 7 in the country, the other is ranked No. 5. But when this Saturday rolls around, and Linfield and Wesley line up for their second-round matchup, it will mark a first for both storied programs.

In a rare Division III battle of the coasts, Linfield will come east for the first time since the 2004 Stagg Bowl to face Wesley in arguably the best matchup so far of this year's playoffs.

This Linfield-Wesley matchup isn't your normal second-round game. In fact, it's one Linfield coach Joe Smith said deserves a better buildup.

"It's great for Division III [but] it's ridiculous that it's in round two," Smith said. "I think that's an absolute sham. This should be a semifinal-type matchup, or at least a quarterfinal matchup, and I think that's a disservice to the two programs, but there are seven or eight teams [that can win the Stagg Bowl] and these are two of them."

How do two of the top seven teams in the country end up playing in the second round of the playoffs? It's simply a byproduct of the NCAA's layout of this year's bracket. The Mary Hardin-Baylor quadrant, which features Linfield and Wesley, is loaded. All eight of the teams were ranked 31st or higher in the final D3football.com poll of the regular season. Like Smith, Wesley coach Mike Drass noticed that immediately upon viewing the bracket.

"I thought the eight teams in our region were extremely talented," Drass said. "I don't know what other people think, but in my humble opinion ... it seems like there's a heck of a lot of talent on the teams in our [bracket]."

While it was confirmed that Mary Hardin-Baylor was the No. 1 seed, seeds for the other seven teams weren't revealed. So Smith and Drass didn't find out until Sunday morning which team was hosting. With nearly 3,000 miles separating the two schools, there was a little more at stake than usual. Smith was discouraged to find out his squad drew the short end not only travelwise, but timewise as well. The noon ET kickoff will feel like 9 a.m. for coaches and players used to living out west.

"It's a huge challenge, and I think that's something that I'd like to see changed in Division III for teams that are facing a three-hour time difference earlier," Smith said. "It's really only the west teams. ... It's ridiculous. You're getting a wake-up call at, what seems to you, at 4:30 in the morning. That's just not very conducive."

Smith said the Wildcats have played four games in central time zone areas, such as Wisconsin and Minnesota, over the last eight years. To his knowledge, a 2004 matchup with Rowan stands as Linfield's only matchup with an East Coast team.

Drass, who has been forced to travel long distances in past postseasons, understands what Linfield is up against, but admitted he was relieved his team was selected to host.

"Without question [we're happy to be hosting]," Drass said. "We've been in this situation before. We had to fly to Texas around Thanksgiving and you're trying to do everything you can to take care of your families, take care of kids. You have to try and do your best to help your families, but you've got to travel your team."

The Wildcats will fly out to Delaware on Thanksgiving itself, Smith said. Ultimately, the travel and time zone difference only underscore the true value of this game -- a potentially classic matchup between two of Division III's best teams over the last decade.

The numbers speak for themselves -- Linfield is 93-15 since 2002, including 14-5 in the playoffs. That includes a Stagg Bowl title and another NCAA semifinals appearance in 2009. Wesley is 99-21 since 2002, including a 16-6 mark in the playoffs. That includes four NCAA semifinals appearances since 2005.

"I think it's an exciting game," Drass said. "... Here are two teams, when people talk about some of the better football teams in Division III, our names have both come up. It's a great opportunity for a West Coast school to play an East Coast school, and vice versa. That's exciting."

Wesley and Linfield both had to grind out wins in the first round, a theme that will likely continue for the winner of Saturday's contest.

Wesley held off a banged-up Hobart squad 35-28, but made the game closer than it should have by turning the ball over four times inside its own 20-yard line. The Wolverines also allowed a blocked punt, which Hobart returned for a third-quarter touchdown to keep things close.

Quarterback Shane McSweeny was sharp, completing 18 of 27 passes for 336 yards and five touchdowns, while rushing for 61 yards.

"Shane, obviously, is our leader," Drass said. "When he's having success, we're having success."

Mike Asiedu
Mike Asiedu is second on the Wolverines in tackles and has a 90-yard interception return to his credit.
Wesley athletics photo

Askia Jahad, a bigger back with above-average speed, has stepped in nicely for Brandon Wright, who was lost for the season with a torn ACL in the Wolverines' seventh game of the season. Tight end Sean McAndrew (30 receptions, seven touchdowns) is McSweeny's security blanket in the passing game. Wide receivers Matt Barile and Steve Koudossu are both big-play threats, while Jeremiah Howe is a reliable slot/possession-type of receiver.

Defensively, the Wolverines boast a fast, athletic unit, led by defensive end Chris Mayes. Defensive tackle Paul Gilstrop and linebackers Jeff Morgan, Mike Asiedu and Sosthene Kapepula are also key factors on one of the country's best defenses.

Linfield quarterback Mickey Inns (2,448 yards, 28 touchdowns, six interceptions) has been one of the country's most consistent signal callers this season. Inns threw for 152 yards and tossed touchdowns to three receivers in the Wildcats' 30-27 win over Cal Lutheran in the first round. Running back Josh Hill also had a strong day, rushing for 146 yards and 27 carries. Drass said Hill has 2,000-yard potential and will be a key focal point for Wesley's defense.

Linfield sits at 10-0 and is coming off a third straight Northwest Conference title. Wesley, an independent, enters the game with a 10-1 mark, its only loss coming in the second week to Kean. Drass said that loss served as a wake-up call. So much so, in fact, that Drass said the Wolverines tallied their "turning point" victory just three weeks later against Charleston Southern, a Division I FCS team with 60 scholarship players.

"After we lost to Kean, I thought, as a team, we had one of two directions to go," Drass said. "We went through that same situation in 2009 when we lost to Delaware Valley the first game of the season. We know the drill, you can't lose, especially if you're independent like we are, or in the Atlantic Central, which was only a four-team league back then."

The winner of Saturday's matchup will likely earn a quarterfinal matchup with Mary Hardin-Baylor, which faces McMurry in the second round. But for now, both coaches are focused on their new -- and quite formidable -- opponents.

"We're pretty excited about it," Smith said. "We've never been to Delaware, I've never been there. It's fun to go somewhere new and those guys are a good coaching staff. We're pretty excited about it, it'll be fun."

Oct. 13: All times Eastern
Final
Bridgewater State 24, at Mass-Dartmouth 22
Video Box Score Photos
Final
at UW-Whitewater 21, UW-La Crosse 14
Video Box Score Recap
Oct. 14: All times Eastern
Final
Salve Regina 45, at Nichols 10
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Final
Mount Ida 14, at Dean 7
Box Score
Final
at Thomas More 59, Waynesburg 7
Video Box Score Recap
Final
at Maine Maritime 34, Coast Guard 16
Video Box Score
Final
at Finlandia 27, Trinity Bible 21
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Final
Hamilton 28, at Bowdoin 7
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Final
at Delaware Valley 49, King's 14
Video Box Score Recap Recap
Final
at Olivet 47, Albion 26
Video Box Score Recap Photos
Final
at Wesleyan 41, Bates 23
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Final
Union 27, at Rochester 0
Video Box Score Recap
Final
Amherst 40, at Colby 7
Video Box Score
Final
at Western New England 41, Endicott 14
Video Video Box Score Recap
Final
at Brockport 48, Morrisville State 7
Video Box Score Recap
Final - OT
at Plymouth State 16, Framingham State 13
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Final
at RPI 27, Ithaca 14
Video Box Score Recap
Final
Hobart 49, at Hartwick 27
Video Box Score Recap Recap
Final
at Ferrum 34, LaGrange 20
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Final
at Carnegie Mellon 42, Geneva 27
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Final
Ohio Wesleyan 16, at Wabash 13
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Final
DePauw 26, at Denison 17
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Final
at Trine 42, Kalamazoo 7
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Final
at Washington and Lee 47, Guilford 26
Video Box Score Recap
Final
at Husson 49, Castleton 0
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Final
Gallaudet 35, at Alfred State 19
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Final
at Wittenberg 49, Allegheny 15
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Final
Brevard 41, at Methodist 17
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Final
at Lebanon Valley 31, Stevenson 24
Video Box Score Recap Recap
Final
Buffalo State 24, at St. Lawrence 21
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Final - OT
at Cortland 20, Alfred 17
Box Score Recap Live stats
Final
at Randolph-Macon 52, Emory and Henry 29
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Final
at Wesley 29, Kean 9
Video Box Score Recap
Final
at Hampden-Sydney 58, Apprentice 28
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Final
Frostburg State 59, at William Paterson 7
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Final
at N.C. Wesleyan 45, Greensboro 0
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Final
at Westminster (Pa.) 49, Grove City 27
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Final
Washington and Jefferson 49, at Bethany 14
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Final
at Westminster (Mo.) 56, Crown 15
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Final
at Northwestern (Minn.) 29, Iowa Wesleyan 7
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Final
at Knox 56, Grinnell 14
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Final
at Widener 31, Lycoming 17
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Final
Trinity (Conn.) 23, at Tufts 16
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Final
at Mount St. Joseph 66, Earlham 7
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Final - 2OT
Ohio Northern 27, at John Carroll 20
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Final
Baldwin Wallace 23, at Muskingum 20
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Final
at Mount Union 72, Capital 14
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Final
Rose-Hulman 44, at Manchester 13
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Final
at Hanover 31, Bluffton 28
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Final
Defiance 45, at Anderson 0
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Final
at Wartburg 42, Loras 11
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Final
Hiram 62, at Kenyon 56
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Final
Springfield 35, at Merchant Marine 13
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Final
Williams 27, at Middlebury 26
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Final
at Westfield State 33, Fitchburg State 21
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Final
Marietta 43, at Wilmington 33
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Final
at Berry 34, Hendrix 10
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Final
Curry 40, at Becker 0
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Final
TCNJ 20, at Rowan 14
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Final
at SUNY-Maritime 51, Anna Maria 15
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Final
Salisbury 28, at Montclair State 10
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Final
at Huntingdon 28, Maryville (Tenn.) 16
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Final
at Austin 33, Millsaps 19
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Final
at Mary Hardin-Baylor 65, Howard Payne 0
Video Box Score Recap
Final
at Washington U. 55, Buena Vista 20
Video Video Box Score Recap
Final
Alma 27, at Aurora 19
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Final
at Rockford 29, Concordia-Chicago 14
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Final
Wisconsin Lutheran 22, at Concordia (Wis.) 19
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Final
at Lakeland 57, Benedictine 21
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Final
at St. Norbert 10, Chicago 0
Video Box Score Recap
Final
Concordia-Moorhead 45, at Hamline 0
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Final
St. Olaf 22, at Augsburg 20
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Final
Bethel 24, at Gustavus Adolphus 3
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Final
St. John's 35, at Carleton 0
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Final
at Eureka 30, Greenville 19
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Final
Centre 27, at Trinity (Texas) 21
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Final
Dubuque 42, at Nebraska Wesleyan 27
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Final
Central 30, at Coe 19
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Final
Lake Forest 56, at Cornell 28
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Final
at Carthage 31, Elmhurst 8
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Final
at Illinois Wesleyan 30, Carroll 0
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Final
Millikin 28, at Augustana 27
Video Box Score Recap
Final
Ripon 52, at Beloit 28
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Final
MacMurray 49, at Minnesota-Morris 13
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Final
Macalester 21, at Lawrence 18
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Final
at Monmouth 59, Illinois College 14
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Final
at UW-Stevens Point 26, UW-Eau Claire 3
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Final
Case Western Reserve 63, at Thiel 28
Video Box Score Recap Photos
Final
at Wooster 38, Oberlin 28
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Final
Texas Lutheran 41, at East Texas Baptist 34
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Final
at UW-Stout 21, UW-River Falls 16
Box Score Recap
Final
UW-Oshkosh 28, at UW-Platteville 14
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Final
Sewanee 34, at Birmingham-Southern 13
Video Box Score Recap
Final
at Hope 22, Adrian 3
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Final
Linfield 49, at Lewis and Clark 14
Video Box Score
Cancelled
La Verne at Occidental
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Final
Whitworth 17, at Pacific Lutheran 14
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Final
at Cal Lutheran 42, Claremont-Mudd-Scripps 20
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Final
at George Fox 58, Willamette 12
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Final
at Pacific 35, Puget Sound 27
Video Box Score Recap
Final
Pomona-Pitzer 45, at Whittier 23
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Final
at Western Connecticut 28, Massachusetts Maritime 21
Video Box Score Recap
Final
at St. Scholastica 56, Martin Luther 21
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Final - 5OT
at St. John Fisher 39, Utica 36
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Final - OT
at Heidelberg 48, Otterbein 45
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Final
at Shenandoah 38, Bridgewater 20
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Final
Southwestern 60, at Belhaven 31
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Final
Hardin-Simmons 35, at Sul Ross State 10
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Final
at Louisiana College 52, McMurry 34
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Final
at Simpson 38, Luther 17
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Final
at Chapman 45, Redlands 26
Video Video Box Score Recap Recap
Oct. 16: All times Eastern
Final
at Wheaton (Ill.) 42, North Central (Ill.) 20
Recap Box Score
Oct. 14: All times Eastern
Final
at Delaware Valley 49, King's 14
Video Box Score Recap Recap
Final - OT
at Cortland 20, Alfred 17
Box Score Recap Live stats
Final
at Wesley 29, Kean 9
Video Box Score Recap
Final
Frostburg State 59, at William Paterson 7
Video Box Score Recap Recap
Final
at Wittenberg 49, Allegheny 15
Video Box Score
Final
at Brockport 48, Morrisville State 7
Video Box Score Recap
Final
Washington and Jefferson 49, at Bethany 14
Video Box Score
Final
Ohio Wesleyan 16, at Wabash 13
Video Box Score Recap
Final
at Mount Union 72, Capital 14
Video Box Score Photos
Final
at Wartburg 42, Loras 11
Video Box Score
Final
at Berry 34, Hendrix 10
Video Box Score Recap
Final
Springfield 35, at Merchant Marine 13
Video Box Score Photos
Final
at Mary Hardin-Baylor 65, Howard Payne 0
Video Box Score Recap
Final
St. John's 35, at Carleton 0
Video Box Score
Final
at Illinois Wesleyan 30, Carroll 0
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Final
Concordia-Moorhead 45, at Hamline 0
Video Box Score Recap
Final
Case Western Reserve 63, at Thiel 28
Video Box Score Recap Photos
Final
UW-Oshkosh 28, at UW-Platteville 14
Video Box Score Photos
Final
Linfield 49, at Lewis and Clark 14
Video Box Score
Final
at George Fox 58, Willamette 12
Video Video Box Score
Final
Hardin-Simmons 35, at Sul Ross State 10
Box Score
Oct. 16: All times Eastern
Final
at Wheaton (Ill.) 42, North Central (Ill.) 20
Recap Box Score