December 8, 2011

Once more, with feeling

More news about: Mount Union | Wesley

By Jason Galleske
D3sports.com

Shane McSweeny has passed for 31 touchdowns and run for 12 more.

In 13 games this season, Shane McSweeny has passed for 31 touchdowns and run for 12 more.
Wesley athletics phot

Shane McSweeny's mind kept going back to one thought while preparing for his final season at Wesley.

"Every time I was working out, I was thinking about national championship," said the senior quarterback. "You play for this big achievement. It's right here knocking on the door and we got to get finally over this hump."

For the third consecutive season, Wesley is one game away from making it to Salem. Standing in its way is 10-time national champion Mount Union, which has made the Stagg Bowl the past six seasons, including via a 24-7 semifinal win over the Wolverines in 2009. The two will battle again in Alliance, Ohio, Saturday at noon.

"We talked at practice Monday night, there are four teams in the country practicing and we're one of them," Drass said. "Let's enjoy this experience, let's leave it on the field. For our seniors this is it. There's a certain finality. You don't want to play that last game, but it's sure a lot sweeter if it's in the national championship."

Wesley made it to the semifinals by holding off Mary Hardin-Baylor, 27-24, last Saturday in Belton, Tex. A key factor in the game was the Wolverines' first drive: a 17-play drive that ate up over nine minutes of clock. McSweeny capped the drive with a 15-yard touchdown pass to 6-foot-4 tight end Sean McAndrew.

"If we were going to be able to stand toe to toe with them, that drive answered the question," Drass said. "Their defense is outstanding from top to bottom. We've only seen one better and we'll see them Saturday."

Wesley also staved off a late-charging Crusaders team that cut a 27-10 deficit to three with 5:43 left in the fourth quarter.

"It didn't surprise me that they battled back, they have that type of talent," Drass said.

Now the Purple Raiders await.

In the 2009 semifinal matchup, Mount Union led Wesley, 10-7, early in the fourth quarter before pulling away with two back-breaking touchdowns authored by Cecil Shorts III - who is now playing for the Jacksonville Jaguars.

"They put the game in his hands and he really responded well," Drass said. "Mount Union has been a perennial power, we're excited to play them and do whatever we can to advance."

Getting to the Stagg Bowl for the first time would be unprecedented, but the Wolverines are dedicating the season to a different cause. On Oct. 21, Ben Knapp, offensive coordinator Chip Knapp's 16-year-old son, suffered cardiac arrest while sleeping. Knapp was placed into an induced coma and ended up at Children's Hospital in Pittsburgh.

The team was on their way to play Walsh Univeristy in Canton, Ohio. The Wolverines dedicated that game to Ben and gave him a team football in his hospital room. Wesley now is dedicating the season to someone that is an extended part of Wolverines family.

"When we're talking to the team, we treat football like its life and death," Drass said. "When you go though situation like this is just a cold slap in the face, football is just a game that we love, it's not life and death."

Ben is making progress and is currently in Wilmington, Del., an hour away from campus.

"He's doing a little better," Chip Knapp said. "He left the ICU and is now in the rehab unit. He gets intense therapy, speech therapy and the care he needs to get to bring him back and see how far he can come."

The elder Knapp said he has been floored by the outpouring of support.

"The support it's been overwhelming from people everywhere," Chip said. "The starting right tackle at Mount Union sent Ben a e-card, the Mary Hardin-Baylor SID sent a hand-written letter. Just the fact that people have kept him in their thoughts and prayers."

Especially his players.

McAndrew and McSweeny have visited Ben, who served as team videographer. 

Since Ben Knapp's incident, Wesley players have been more inspired, saying they're playing for something more than the game.

 

"It kind of hit home," McAndrew said. "We both have younger brothers, we kind of look at them like that and it was a real scary situation. You've got to put all personal agendas aside, you've got to worry about winning and giving something positive. We dedicated all wins to Ben and the Knapp family and it definitely gave him something positive. Every time we break down at practice or a game, (we chant) 'Ben Knapp'. We have prayers daily, he's always in our thoughts and prayers."

The Drass and Knapp families have been together since 1989, when the two joined the staff as rookie assistants.

"Ben's been a part of my life since he's been born," Drass said. "I've known Chip since 1989, we used watch Stagg Bowls together in early 90s. We were watching those games and dreaming about it being us."

The two, along with the Wesley family, have a chance to make it real Saturday.

Sep. 23: All times Eastern
Final
at Bridgewater State 34, Fitchburg State 25
Box Score
Sep. 24: All times Eastern
Final
Christopher Newport 17, at TCNJ 0
Final
at Hobart 27, Union 23
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Final
at Thomas More 20, Carnegie Mellon 16
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Final
at Massachusetts Maritime 32, Worcester State 14
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at Endicott 37, Nichols 0
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Final
MIT 30, at Maine Maritime 13
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at Buffalo State 40, Morrisville State 24
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at Salve Regina 48, Coast Guard 10
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St. Lawrence 20, at RPI 14
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at Framingham State 23, Western Connecticut 17
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at Montclair State 21, Rowan 14
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at Stevenson 54, FDU-Florham 15
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at Trinity (Conn.) 38, Bates 7
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at Western New England 59, Curry 28
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at Utica 24, Cortland 13
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Final
Colby 9, at Williams 7
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Final
at Middlebury 40, Bowdoin 3
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at Amherst 34, Hamilton 0
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Kean 24, at William Paterson 13
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at DePauw 66, Hiram 17
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Final
Franklin and Marshall 45, at Juniata 22
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at Kenyon 31, Allegheny 7
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Salisbury 35, at Southern Virginia 0
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Albright 20, at Delaware Valley 17
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Lycoming 28, at Misericordia 24
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at Plymouth State 30, Mass-Dartmouth 14
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at Husson 35, Alfred State 0
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at Springfield 28, WPI 23
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at Moravian 24, Dickinson 10
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at Denison 45, Wooster 7
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at Wittenberg 24, Wabash 14
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at St. Vincent 57, Grove City 32
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at Susquehanna 55, Gettysburg 40
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at King's 21, Lebanon Valley 17
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at Alfred 20, Ithaca 6
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at Widener 25, Wilkes 23
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at McDaniel 30, Ursinus 27
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at Muskingum 28, Marietta 10
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Final
at Minnesota-Morris 28, Iowa Wesleyan 27
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at John Carroll 42, Heidelberg 14
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Ohio Northern 16, at Otterbein 10
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Case Western Reserve 35, at Waynesburg 7
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at Franklin 44, Bluffton 38
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Rose-Hulman 23, at Defiance 15
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at Centre 49, Chicago 27
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at Mount St. Joseph 38, Manchester 19
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Hanover 49, at Anderson 25
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at Merchant Marine 55, Rochester 7
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Johns Hopkins 30, at Muhlenberg 24
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Concordia-Chicago 42, at Maranatha Baptist 10
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Washington U. 36, at Birmingham-Southern 21
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UW-Platteville 56, at Lakeland 0
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at Northwestern (Minn.) 38, Martin Luther 20
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at Eureka 28, MacMurray 13
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at Westminster (Mo.) 35, Greenville 14
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Dubuque 30, at Luther 17
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Monmouth 52, at Lake Forest 6
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St. Thomas 33, at St. John's 21
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Final
at Augsburg 49, Carleton 17
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Final
Bethel 44, at St. Olaf 7
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at Hamline 42, Gustavus Adolphus 40
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Final
at UW-Whitewater 35, Morningside 21
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Final
at Hardin-Simmons 48, Texas Lutheran 38
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Final
at UW-River Falls 42, Southwestern 22
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Simpson 17, at Buena Vista 9
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at St. Scholastica 49, Crown 13
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Cornell 46, at Beloit 41
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at Carthage 27, Augustana 24
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Coe 48, at Nebraska Wesleyan 17
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at Wartburg 56, Finlandia 0
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at Wheaton (Ill.) 10, Elmhurst 6
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Hendrix 42, at Millsaps 14
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Illinois Wesleyan 45, at North Park 10
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at Macalester 34, Grinnell 0
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at Ripon 33, Knox 19
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Illinois College 40, at Lawrence 15
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UW-Oshkosh 77, at Morthland College (Ill.) 0
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Central 42, at Loras 34
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at Geneva 35, Thiel 27
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UW-Eau Claire 40, at Wisconsin Lutheran 14
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St. John Fisher 42, at Brockport 38
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UW-Stevens Point 44, at Adrian 19
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UW-La Crosse 41, at Carroll 7
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at Berry 41, Sewanee 3
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Final
Westminster (Pa.) 38, at Bethany 9
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Ohio Wesleyan 29, at Oberlin 16
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at Tufts 17, Wesleyan 14
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Final
Mount Union 49, at Baldwin Wallace 7
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Final
at Capital 35, Wilmington 21
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Final
at Southwestern Assemblies 23, Austin 17
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Cancelled
Langston at McMurry
Video Live Stats
Final
at North Central (Ill.) 42, Millikin 7
Box Score Recap
Final
at Chapman 19, Trinity (Texas) 17
Box Score Recap
Sep. 29: All times Eastern
6:30 PM
Randolph-Macon at Shenandoah
Live Stats
Sep. 24: All times Eastern
Final
at Thomas More 20, Carnegie Mellon 16
Box Score Recap
Final
at Hobart 27, Union 23
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Final
Christopher Newport 17, at TCNJ 0
Final
at Wittenberg 24, Wabash 14
Box Score
Final
Salisbury 35, at Southern Virginia 0
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Final
Albright 20, at Delaware Valley 17
Box Score Recap
Final
at Utica 24, Cortland 13
Box Score Recap Recap
Final
at Stevenson 54, FDU-Florham 15
Box Score Recap
Final
at Franklin 44, Bluffton 38
Box Score Recap
Final
Johns Hopkins 30, at Muhlenberg 24
Box Score Recap
Final
St. Thomas 33, at St. John's 21
Box Score Recap Photos
Final
at UW-Whitewater 35, Morningside 21
Box Score Recap
Final
at Hardin-Simmons 48, Texas Lutheran 38
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Final
at Wheaton (Ill.) 10, Elmhurst 6
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Final
UW-Platteville 56, at Lakeland 0
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Final
UW-Oshkosh 77, at Morthland College (Ill.) 0
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Final
Central 42, at Loras 34
Box Score Recap
Final
St. John Fisher 42, at Brockport 38
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Final
Mount Union 49, at Baldwin Wallace 7
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Final
at North Central (Ill.) 42, Millikin 7
Box Score Recap