NEWPORT NEWS, VA- The Captains of Christopher Newport University earned their seventh NCAA bid in 10 seasons of CNU football Saturday. Christopher Newport defeated Methodist University at POMOCO Stadium, 49-10.
CNU and North Carolina Wesleyan finish the season tied atop the USA South Athletic Conference standings at 6-1. The Captains will represent the conference in the NCAA's thanks to CNU's head-to-head win over the Bishops in Rocky Mount on October 16th.
"This is really something special," head coach Matt Kelchner said. "A lot of people wrote us off when we were 1-4, but our entire staff and our entire team kept working hard. Every week has been like a playoff game for us, and we keep getting it done."
Christopher Newport senior running back Keith Gaines (Roanoke, Va.) led the way with three touchdowns and 180 yards on 21 carries. Gaines needs just 17 yards for 1,000 this season. He scored on runs of four, three, and 18 yards and has now scored 11 times this year.
Senior wide receiver T.J. Foster (Randolph, Va.) caught two scoring passes of 27 and eight yards. Foster caught eight balls for 119 yards and need just eight yards for 1,000 in receiving. Foster now has nine TD receptions this season.
"We don't have superstars on this team," Kelchner said. "It's a hard-working unit that is led by 21 seniors...the most we've ever had...and they've committed themselves to being successful. It's a unique group of kids."
The Captains jumped to a 35-3 lead at the half and coasted to their fifth straight win. CNU ends the regular season with a 6-4 overall record and the 6-1 conference mark.
The game marked the final game in the 18-year coaching career of Methodist coach Jim Sypult, who announced his retirement prior to the start of the season. Methodist concludes the season with a 2-8 record and a 1-6 league mark.
A crowd of 2,378 watched the Captains out-gain the Monarchs, 445-271, in total yards. CNU starting quarterback, sophomore Christian Woelfel-Monsivais (Fredericksburg, Va.), was 11 of 21 for 124 yards and a touchdown.
On defense, CNU senior linebacker Adrin Diggs (Smithfield, Va.) led the squad with 10 stops.
"We were able to play a lot of people in the second half," Kelchner continued. "It takes a lot of hard work to be a part of something like this, and it's nice to be able to reward kids who put in the time and effort with game experience."
The Captains have now won eight of 10 meetings with the Monarchs.
Christopher Newport will play in the NCAA Tournament for the seventh time since the inception of the program in 2001. The bracket for the Division III tournament will be released Sunday afternoon.