/seasons/2011/contrib/20110827cswbae

Yellow Jackets Set Sights on Strong 2011 Campaign

More news about: Defiance

DEFIANCE, Ohio – On the verge of opening the tenth season since claiming the 2001 Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference Championship, Defiance College has its eyes locked on repeating history and earning the 13th conference championship in the storied history on the gridiron for the Purple and Gold.

That goal of returning to the NCAA playoffs is within reach for Defiance and head coach Rob Taylor thanks to a strong and determined core of veteran student-athletes on the 2011 roster.

One year after posting a 6-2 record in HCAC play and keeping its title hopes alive into the final week of the regular season, Defiance will return 18 starters and eight All-HCAC performers. The team will look to grow from the experience it gained one year ago with the hopes of ending the 2011 campaign at the top of the HCAC.

The Jackets will return 10-of-11 starters on the offensive side of the ball, one year after averaging 25.2 points per game against conference foes and equaling their highest scoring average for a season since the 2001 squad. DC put nearly 30 points per game on the board in its six victories and set a Justin F. Coressel Stadium scoring record in a 49-7 thrashing of Anderson on October 23.

Other highlights for the offense included a 33-0 victory at Earlham in the first-ever HCAC clash between the two programs and a three-week stretch in which Defiance outscored Earlham, Anderson and Rose-Hulman by a combined score of 123-28 in a trio of lopsided victories.

The high-powered attack was charged by the explosive thunder and lightning tandem of Drew Kuesel and Rick Powell. Each half of the duo averaged over 85 yards on the ground per outing to help Defiance churn out 198.8 yards per game. That clip rose to an HCAC-best 218.2 rushing yards per contest in eight conference tilts.

The improved offense allowed the traditionally stout Yellow Jacket defense to stay fresh throughout the season, resulting in opponents managing just 11.7 points per game over the final six contests.

While the Jackets will need to overcome the loss of All-American Kyle Longsdorf and his HCAC-leading 139 tackles, the squad should have plenty of options for the leadership role with eight returning starters in the lineup.

The tenacious and experienced defensive unit ranked second among all HCAC teams in scoring defense, total defense, rushing defense, pass efficiency defense and sacks in 2010 and should continue to improve with another year together on the gridiron.

Others have taken notice of the Yellow Jackets as well, with Defiance getting picked second in the HCAC Preseason Poll. All signs point to a very exciting season for the Purple and Gold but it will be up to the team to translate those lofty preseason expectations into a reality on the field in 2011.

Rick Powell will lead the DC offense once again in 2011, marking the fourth-straight season that the two-time All-HCAC signal caller has been under center for the Purple and Gold. Powell came into his own as a junior, rushing for 998 yards, throwing for 1,257 and accounting for 18 of the team's 25 touchdowns. He enters his final collegiate campaign looking to build upon that breakout season, in which he ranked fifth among all NCAA Division III quarterbacks in rushing yards per game. Powell also finished second among all HCAC players in both rushing yards and total yards of offense per outing. While Powell will see the vast majority of the snaps, sophomores Garrett Teague and Aaron Spence ensure that the quarterback position will remain in good hands for the foreseeable future.

A key to the success of the Jackets in 2011 will be the health of All-HCAC running back Drew Kuesel, who set career highs one year ago with 702 rushing yards and six scores in eight games of work. The senior provides DC with a power option to keep opposing defenses on edge. Sophomore Joey Chester has also recovered from an injury-shortened rookie campaign and will spell Kuesel after carrying the rock 35 times in 2010.

Another All-HCAC performer will return at the tight end slot for DC, as senior Andy Cessna gives the Jackets a large target in the passing game and a valuable blocker in the ground attack. Cessna will be backed up by junior Patrick Hartman.

Although the Defiance offense does most of its damage on the turf, it is not for lack of options at the wide receiver position. Senior Nick Wiedenhoft will be joined by junior Jon Carrabino in the starting lineup, with senior Keaton Wolfe, junior Aaron Choice and second-year players Brian Mircovich and Mo Garces also set to see time.

A source of concern throughout the preseason has been the front line for DC. While the starting unit is missing just one piece from 2010, injuries have depleted the Jackets of depth at the vital unit. One spot that is not in question will be the center position, where All-HCAC standout Ryan Black is set to anchor the line during his senior season. Black is projected to be flanked by fellow seniors Kent Corthell and Bryant Green, with sophomores Todd Oliver, Mitch Smith and Corey Williams also in the mix.

The HCAC's leading sack artist, Joemese Scott, will return for his final year with the Purple and Gold, after earning All-HCAC honors by ranking 34th in the nation with 8.5 sacks last season. Scott added 47 hits, with 12 coming for lost yardage and will be joined in the trenches by juniors D.J. Brigham and Gregg Pickett. Sophomores Michael Carrabino and Pat Rieg will team with rookie Jamario Belton to relieve the starters.

A pair of All-HCAC playmakers will anchor the Jackets from their linebacker slots, as junior Hunter Robertson and sophomore Patrick McDonald finished second and third on the roster in tackles in 2010, teaming for 125 hits, 13.5 stops for lost yardage and four sacks. The duo will have help, with junior James Buari, sophomore Blaine McGowan and newcomer Darshawn Walker expected to contribute.

The one player that will be leaned on the most to fill the shoes of Longsdorf will be Tony Sierra. The two-time First-Team All-HCAC safety posted 38 tackles, eight passes defended and two interceptions as a sophomore and is joined in the secondary by senior safety Eric Rubio. Junior Kyle Keegan and sophomore Chrys Killebrew will man the cornerback positions, while a host of underclassmen are also set to battle for time.

For the first time in four seasons, DC will not have the leg of Tom Foos to power the special teams. Sophomore Aaron Spence could step in to handle the punting duties, while the kicking responsibilities will need to be clarified as the season approaches. Tony Sierra will anchor the returns team, after ranking first in the HCAC will 11.0 yards per punt return one year ago.

The Jackets will open the 2011 season on September 3, when they welcome Muskingum into Coressel Stadium for a 1:30 pm start.

Oct. 14: All times Eastern
Final
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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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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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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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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Final
Case Western Reserve 63, at Thiel 28
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Final
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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Final
at Hope 22, Adrian 3
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Final
Linfield 49, at Lewis and Clark 14
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La Verne at Occidental
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Whitworth 17, at Pacific Lutheran 14
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Final
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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Final
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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Final
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
Final
at Wheaton (Ill.) 42, North Central (Ill.) 20
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Oct. 20: All times Eastern
7:00 PM
Gettysburg at Johns Hopkins
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Oct. 14: All times Eastern
Final
at Delaware Valley 49, King's 14
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Final - OT
at Cortland 20, Alfred 17
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Final
at Wesley 29, Kean 9
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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
Final
at Wheaton (Ill.) 42, North Central (Ill.) 20
Box Score Recap
Oct. 20: All times Eastern
7:00 PM
Gettysburg at Johns Hopkins
Video Video Live stats Live stats