/seasons/2010/contrib/20101217269wed

Linebacker Tyler Russell Shares Experience From DIII North-South All-Star Game

More news about: Worcester State

As soon as he tried on the North jersey #35, linebacker Tyler Russell knew it was a perfect fit, just like the uniform he wore for Worcester State University this past season.

Russell recently had the opportunity to play in the Division III North-South Football Senior Classic as one of 10 representatives from the New England Football Conference on the 41 man Northern roster. Russell, the Co-NEFC Bogan Division Player of the Year, finished the 2010 campaign second in Division III with 167 tackles while he led the nation in with 92 solo stops.

The game was shown in primetime on cable television on Friday, December 3 on Fox College Sports Net and anyone can still watch the game online at this link. When Russell was interviewed on the Tuesday after he had made the trip down to Salem Football Stadium in Virginia, things were still sinking in.

"It was a once in a lifetime experience," said Russell. "It was great to see all the talent that Division III football has to offer."

Russell said that the day after he arrived, they started to practice right away on Thursday. The North squad was guided on the field throughout the weekend by the coaching staff from Springfield College.

"There were two practices before the game," said Russell. "After we met with our positional coaches, most of practice was dedicated practicing as a team and what we were going to be doing as a team during the game. In total it was about three hours worth of practice; two hour and a half sessions."

 It was quite evident that there was a lot of talent around him as he began to practice with his teammates.

"It was an interesting environment," said Russell. "There were kids from all over the nation, from California, Florida and Texas all getting together. Just by watching practice you could tell that everyone was an all-star from their own conference. There were kids who were bigger and faster and it helped raise the level of competition up."

As an inside linebacker, Russell got the chance to split time with a couple of other linebackers from New England. There was certainly the presence of the North-South rivalry, but the competitors were amiable towards each other during the course of the contest.

"It wasn't as chippy as a normal football game, it was a little more relaxing," said Russell. "For most of the people playing, this was their last football game. After a play, there were kids who were helping each other up after a tackle was made."

Russell said that it was different playing along side or on the same team with players who he had played against during the season.

"It was great that everyone was able to get along," said Russell. "We set our rivalries aside and played as a team."

During the season at Worcester State, Russell played on special teams on punt and punt return, but for this game, he had the unique opportunity to be on kickoff, kick return, field goal and PAT attempts. While he did not play a snap on offense during the game, he got to take some reps at fullback as well during practice.

"We just didn't have a lot of depth, so they had a lot of the cornerbacks and linebackers playing on special teams," said Russell.

The game itself had a wild and dramatic finish as Russell's play on special teams helped win the game for the North in the final period of play.

The North team was ahead early and for a majority of the game until the South team took their first lead with 3:32 remaining in the fourth quarter.

With the score 17-18, South opted to go for the two-point conversion, in the off chance of a last second field goal. Quarterback Justin Feaster of of Mary-Hardin Simmons (TX) took the snap, but it was too high and as Feaster hit the ground to cover up the ball, it was Russell who came off the neutral zone to cover him up.

The failed two-point attempt would prove to be a big play as North quarterback Jacob Caron of Pomona-Pitzer (CA) led the offense down the field and got them within field goal range for Dan Winsley of Concordia (WI) to kick the go-ahead boot.

With the South team trailing 20-18 with two seconds remaining in the game, the squad decided to try to lateral their way into the opposite end-zone.

On the ensuing kickoff, Russell tracked down the first person to receive the opening lateral. Once he had him within his sights, Russell intuitively tried to tackle his opponent. In doing so he forced an awkward backward pass that went right to South's Terryl Monroe of Frostburg (MD) who passed it into the hands of North's Leer Biddle of William Patterson (NJ). Biddle then tipped the bad pass to himself for the extra score to seal the victory for the Northern team.

"I was the first person to congratulate my teammate (Biddle) after he scored the touchdown," said Russell. "I instinctively did what you are supposed to do in that kind of situation and it forced a turnover."

This weekend, Russell will have the opportunity to showcase his talents to NFL and other semi-pro football scouts at the All-American Bowl at the University of Minnesota indoor sports complex. On Saturday, there will be two games at 12 and 3 PM featuring a mix of rosters from both Division II and III football.

"They are going to have practice sessions where they are going to test our speed and agility," said Russell. "I am not sure how much playing time I will get, but it's going to be a very intense atmosphere."

The contest will be televised on the Internet and Russell will be playing in the noontime game on the Blue "Stars" team. He is one of three student-athletes playing in either contest from a Division III New England school. The other two are Kyle Callahan, a punter from Fitchburg State and Paul Shaughnessy a wide receiver/running back from Mount Ida.

After the game in Minnesota this weekend, Russell will try to stay in shape for another competition in May which will pit a group of All Stars from the US and the UK against the Amsterdam Panthers. He said that he was also going to try to showcase himself at every local combine he could during the summer.

 "(American) Football in Europe is becoming more popular and maybe there will be more opportunities for Americans to play," said Russell. "There is just a lot of untapped potential out there with pro football teams looking for players to sign to their practice squad."

Russell will walk across the stage in May with his degree in Criminal Justice. He said that he was happy to help lead this year's football team to a successful season.

"It was great to help bring the program back onto a winning track," said Russell. "I hope that next year the team will be able to get back to its winning ways with all of the people from this years team coming back."

 Russell himself had a record-breaking season as he shattered the school mark for tackles in a season while he also finished his career second on the all-time tackles list with 398 stops – 380 of which came in his last three seasons.

"This year we had high expectations and I put a little more pressure on myself to perform, but all I did was just did what I always have done and that was play football," said Russell.

 "I couldn't have done what I did without the teammates around me. Because teams were able to game plan around someone like me, it added more of a challenge to (opposing) offenses. Our defense was stronger because we were able to play into each others abilities. Anytime you can make (another offense) feel uncomfortable, that plays into an advantage for the defense."

 Russell said that playing Division III football helped him reach his potential as a student-athlete in several ways. He felt that by going to a state school, it helped him to do well in both aspects both in the field and in the classroom.

"Through the years I was playing with kids who were working themselves night and day in order to play the game they love, all while balancing jobs, school and football," said Russell. "At the DIII level, many kids are playing simply because they love the game, they love strapping on the pads and going out there and leaving it on the field."

"The DIII player is definitely a different breed of athlete. It's the kids that love the game so much that they will do just about anything to play given all the obstacles they must overcome."

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