August 28, 2012

2012 Johns Hopkins season preview

More news about: Johns Hopkins

BALTIMORE, MD -- Johns Hopkins head coach Jim Margraff knows a little something about handling expectations. After all, his Blue Jays have won seven Centennial Conference titles in the last 10 years and only the first, in 2002, came as that much of a surprise. The others, including last season's, which came on the strength of a perfect 10-0 regular season, all came after the Blue Jays were picked at or near the top of the league's preseason poll of coaches and SIDs.

Margraff and his Blue Jays find themselves in familiar territory entering the 2012 season as they were once again selected as the team to beat in the Centennial preseason poll, a spot Margraff feels could have easily been occupied by four or five other teams as well. It's also a spot the Blue Jays have become accustomed to occupying as this is the seventh time in the last nine years they have been the league's preseason favorite.

If Johns Hopkins is to claim its fourth straight Centennial title and make a fourth appearance in the NCAA Playoffs since 2005, the Blue Jays will need to replace perhaps the finest single class in school history. All the departed seniors did during their four years was tie the school record for wins by a class (36), win three Centennial titles (2009, 2010, 2011) , make two trips to the NCAA Playoffs (2009, 2011) and win an ECAC title (2010).

While the losses to graduation were significant, Margraff knows he won't get any sympathy from his fellow Centennial head coaches. They know the Blue Jays feature some of the top returning players in the league and will carry 14-game regular season and 13-game Centennial Conference winning streaks in to the league. Couple that returning talent with a strong freshman class and the Blue Jays may just have what it takes to extend their run atop the league and meet their own lofty expectations.

Below is a position-by-position breakdown of the Blue Jays as they enter the 2012 season with key returning personnel included.

Quarterback
Quite simply, the second-most prolific quarterback in school history (Margraff) must replace the most prolific quarterback in school history as Hewitt Tomlin graduated in May and took his more than 40 school records with him.

Under normal circumstances this would be cause for a alarm, but Margraff and offensive coordinator Dan Swanstrom have the luxury of returning junior Robbie Matey, who served as Tomlin's primary backup last season.

All Matey did was complete 61-of-84 (.726) attempts for 598 yards with three touchdowns against just one interception. He also guided JHU to a pair of wins early in the season, including a 27-17 win over Muhlenberg, when Tomlin was out with an injury. He has a tremendous understanding of Swanstrom's offense and plays with an infectious energy level on the field.

Sophomore Braden Anderson saw action in four games a year ago and threw for 127 yards on 10-of-16 passing and is a big, strong-armed quarterback. He and Matey provide the Blue Jays with a solid returning tandem and both are capable of running the offense at a high level.

Running Backs
Any first-year starting quarterback relishes the opportunity to have a solid running game and the Blue Jays should have just that with the return of running back Jonathan Rigaud, a Second Team All-Centennial selection last season, and fullback Scott Barletta, who has a nose for the end zone. Rigaud averaged 6.5 yards per carry last season and totaled 905 yards and 11 touchdowns. He was at his best in some of JHU's biggest games as he racked up a career-high 166 yards in a key late-season win over Ursinus and added a personal-best 230 all-purpose yards against St. John Fisher in the NCAA Playoffs. His ability to take pressure off the Blue Jay passing attack will be a key to any success JHU enjoys in 2012.

Barletta provides the Blue Jays with a strong blocking fullback who is also a threat with the ball in his hands. He rushed for 177 yards on 43 carries a year ago and finished second on the team with eight rushing touchdowns. He has scored 13 times on just 84 carries in his career and provides the power to complement Rigaud's big-play capabilities.

Junior JD Abbott and sophomores Matt Berry and Jason Blades are also back this season and looking to build on last season, when they combined for 270 yards and two touchdowns.

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
If returning a strong running game is number one on the wish list of a first-year starter at quarterback, then a talented receiving corps is not far behind and the Blue Jays return as good a tandem as any team in the nation in junior Dan Wodicka and senior Scott Cremens.

Wodicka is coming off one of the great seasons in school history as he posted a school-record 87 receptions for 1,245 yards and seven touchdowns en route to earning First Team All-Centennial and First Team d3football.com All-South honors. He already ranks among JHU's all-time leaders in receptions (122) and receiving yards (1,775) and has firmly established himself as one of the premier receivers in the country.

Cremens led the team with nine touchdown receptions a year ago and counted 59 catches for 705 yards to his credit. He has 95 receptions for 1,114 yards and 12 touchdowns for his career and will become just the 12th player in school history to reach the 100-reception mark with five more catches.

The Blue Jays will need to replace Sam Wernick, who graduated with 228 receptions for 3,023 yards and 30 touchdowns, but have several capable returnees and a talented group of freshmen competing for playing time alongside Wodicka and Cremens.

Juniors Bob D'Orazio, Jared Beekman and Jonathan Monteiro all saw limited action behind the big three and combined for 14 receptions a year ago. They are joined by A.J. Safi, who returned for a fifth year after missing virtually all of the 2011 season with an injury. The foursome will look to make up for the 71 receptions and eight scores Wernick contributed a year ago.

Although not used extensively in the passing game, the Blue Jays do return a pair of tight ends who saw time a year ago in junior Brendan Hartman and sophomore Brad Foulke. Both have good size and could develop into dangerous threats inside the red zone.

Offensive Line
The Blue Jays took some hits on the offensive line, where three-year starters Ed Rodger and Doug Drummond and two-year starter Roland Massimino departed after earning All-Centennial honors last season.

While the loss of those three provides perhaps the biggest challenge to the Blue Jay offense, the two returning starters offer a solid nucleus to rebuild the line around.

The headliner up front is junior Armand Jenifer, who has started every game of his career and is firmly established as one of the top offensive linemen in the nation. He garnered First Team All-Centennial and Second Team d3football.com All-South honors last season and has landed a pair of preseason All-America nods entering the 2012 season. He is a fixture at right tackle and is equally effective as a pass blocker or run blocker.

Junior Ben Cranston transferred to JHU prior to last season and immediately stepped into a starting spot at guard. After helping a unit that paved the way for an offense that averaged more than 39 points and 490 yards per game, he slides over to center, where he takes over Rodger and is primed to become the latest in JHU's long line of accomplished centers.

Although short on starting experience, JHU's other returning offensive linemen bring plenty of game experience and should seamlessly transition into larger roles.

Juniors Vincenzo Bonaddio and Kevin Quinn are slotted to take over at left tackle and left guard, respectively, while seniors Rich Dulski and Sean Reeder will likely split time at right guard. Reeder is one of the most versatile linemen the Blue Jays have had in recent years and could line up at several spots.

Other returning linemen who could figure into the rotation include seniors Patrick Kiernan (C) and Keith Graeff (T) and sophomore Zach Lorenz (G). Margraff is also excited about the prospects of several of the newcomers, who could also push for playing time early this season.

Defensive Line
Defensive coordinator Frank Colaprete has long seen the value in using a deep rotation to keep players fresh and develop depth. His philosophy will pay dividends this season on the defensive line, where the Blue Jays lost four starters to graduation, but return four players who played in 10 or more games last season and several others who saw regular action.

Colaprete will build from the inside out along the line as three of his four most experienced returning linemen play on the interior.

Juniors Joe DiTrolio and Mike Zikoski are likely to share time at nose guard after the two combined for 37 tackles and four tackles for losses a year ago. DiTrolio posted 20 stops and one sack before missing JHU's NCAA Playoff game with an injury, while Zikoski added 17 tackles, including 2.5 for losses, last season.

Sophomore Michael Rocca appears ready for a breakout season after playing in 10 of JHU's 11 games as a freshman. He counted three tackles for loss and two sacks among his nine tackles last season and has the size (6-6/245) to be a disruptive force inside.

Senior Jordan Randolph, who has added 20 pounds to his 6-4 frame, has enjoyed a tremendous preseason and will team with Rocca to give the Blue Jays a strong tandem at defensive tackle.

Colaprete utilizes a pair of versatile ends in the Blue Jays' 4-4-3 alignment and a pair of sophomores – Matthew Connery and Michael Longo – are the leaders of this group. Both played in all 11 games last season and each registered six tackles as freshmen. The duo is being called on to replace a pair of First Team All-Centennial performers - Kale Sweeney and Tyler Brown - and have shown tremendous growth and understanding of the system.

A pair of talented juniors, Wesley Shoap and Andy Laychur, also figure to see time on the ends after both played in six games last season.

Linebackers
The key to the Blue Jays' 4-4-3 alignment is an active group of linebackers that excel against the run and pass. This figures to be a team strength this season as seniors Taylor MaciowAdam Schweyer and P.J. Caufield return to anchor the defense after combining for nearly 200 tackles a year ago.

Senior Taylor Maciow posted a team-high 88 tackles last season.


On a senior-laden defense, it was Maciow and Schweyer who led the team in tackles last season as Maciow punched up a team and career-high 88 from his spot in the middle, while Schweyer finished second on the team with 64 stops.

Maciow grabbed Second Team All-Centennial honors a year ago and counted 6.5 tackles for losses, 4.5 sacks and five pass breakups to his credit, while Schweyer, one of the top special teams performers in school history, added 3.5 tackles for loss and three sacks from his outside position.

Caufield enjoyed the finest season of his career last season as he totaled 37 tackles, including 4.5 for losses, and four pass breakups at the outside spot opposite Schweyer. He also added one of the memorable moments of the 2011 season when he intercepted an extra point attempt by Ursinus and returned it 100 yards in the driving rain and snow.

The lone newcomer to the projected starting lineup was one of Hopkins' top freshmen last season as rising sophomore Hani Annabi played in all 11 games and registered 32 tackles. His ability to take over for Ryan Piatek, a First Team All-Centennial performer, will be a key for the Blue Jays this season.

While several newcomers have been impressive and could push for time in the rotation here, a group of returning players – seniors Joshua Heft and Ben Williams and juniors Nate Winek and J.P. Marquess – provide experienced depth and should all see increased playing time this season.

Defensive Backs
Colaprete must replace a pair of three-time All-Centennial performers in the secondary as safety Michael Milano and cornerback Sam Eagleson departed after enjoying outstanding careers.

Sophomore Ryan Rice returns to lead the way in the secondary after he stepped right into a starting spot at cornerback last season and totaled 23 tackles and four pass breakups from his spot opposite Eagleson. He demonstrated the ability to play the run effectively while also emerging as one of the top young cover corners in the Centennial.

Although not technically a returning starter, senior Alex Logue returns with plenty of game experience and should take over for Eagleson at cornerback. He played in all 11 games and had 18 tackles to his credit last season.

Junior John Arena may have the largest shoes to fill as the departure of Milano is a key loss for the Blue Jays, who rely heavily on their lone safety in both run support and against the pass in their 4-4-3 alignment. Arena, who played primarily OLB in his first two years, has a strong understanding of the Blue Jays' system and played in all 11 games with 21 tackles and two interceptions a year ago.

There is no shortage of young players who have demonstrated the ability in preseason camp to contribute in the secondary. Many of these younger players will be given an early opportunity to contribute as the Blue Jays adjust to several of the pass-happy offenses they'll face in the Centennial Conference this season.

Special Teams
Junior Richie Carbone returns for a second year handling both the place-kicking and punting chores. He set a JHU record with 55 extra points and added a pair of field goals last season, when he also averaged 34.5 yards on 42 punts.

Senior Jun Park, a former member of the Blue Jay soccer team, joined the team in the spring and demonstrated a strong leg and could figure into the team's plans on kickoffs.

In the return game, Wodicka averaged 13.7 yards on 13 punt returns, while Rigaud averaged 21.9 yards on nine kickoff returns. Both could handle the responsibilities again, although this is also an area where several newcomers could figure prominently into the rotation.

2012 Johns Hopkins Football Schedule
2012 Johns Hopkins Football Roster

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Sep. 20: All times Eastern
Final
RPI 41, at Castleton State 13
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Final - 2OT
at Massachusetts Maritime 26, Maine Maritime 20
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at Rochester 30, Gallaudet 2
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at Husson 34, Alfred State 28
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at Randolph-Macon 34, Sewanee 20
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at Johns Hopkins 33, Moravian 14
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at Utica 20, Frostburg State 12
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Alfred 29, at Buffalo State 21
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at Nichols 10, Becker 3
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Wesleyan 22, at Middlebury 14
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Bridgewater State 51, at Worcester State 27
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at Tufts 24, Hamilton 17
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at Amherst 14, Bates 6
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at Trinity (Conn.) 32, Colby 7
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at William Paterson 36, Salve Regina 32
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at Stevenson 20, Lebanon Valley 14
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Allegheny 24, at Hiram 21
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at Merchant Marine 34, SUNY-Maritime 17
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at St. Vincent 23, Case Western Reserve 20
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Thomas More 66, at Thiel 27
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Ursinus 31, at Franklin and Marshall 24
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Endicott 41, at Kean 28
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at Hampden-Sydney 56, Coast Guard 0
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Final
Maryville (Tenn.) 40, at Averett 17
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Final
at Widener 41, Albright 23
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Hobart 43, at Curry 13
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at Greensboro 37, LaGrange 35
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at Dickinson 29, Susquehanna 28
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at Wesley 37, Rowan 7
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at St. Lawrence 31, Morrisville State 14
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at Misericordia 35, FDU-Florham 0
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at Gettysburg 31, Juniata 17
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at Montclair State 27, Lincoln (Pa.) 14
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Wabash 31, at Denison 12
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Bethany 21, at Westminster (Pa.) 14
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at Springfield 47, Mount Ida 16
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at Ithaca 42, Hartwick 7
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at Norwich 10, WPI 7
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Iowa Wesleyan 13, at Minnesota-Morris 7
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Ohio Northern 37, at Baldwin Wallace 35
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Franklin 62, at Anderson 14
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Mount Union 62, at Muskingum 6
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Mount St. Joseph 24, at Defiance 21
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at Manchester 55, Earlham 7
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at Williams 36, Bowdoin 0
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Muhlenberg 59, at McDaniel 10
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UW-Whitewater 48, at TCNJ 0
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at Otterbein 20, Marietta 0
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Hope 25, at Lakeland 22
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Olivet 49, at Aurora 20
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Albion 57, at Concordia (Wis.) 20
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at Washington U. 24, North Park 19
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at Wisconsin Lutheran 32, Kalamazoo 20
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at Wheaton (Ill.) 17, UW-Eau Claire 0
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Concordia-Moorhead 23, at St. John's 14
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at Bethel 40, St. Olaf 0
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Augsburg 42, at Carleton 14
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at Gustavus Adolphus 48, Hamline 19
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Stetson 37, at Birmingham-Southern 19
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Trinity (Texas) 14, at Sul Ross State 6
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at Austin 21, Occidental 12
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at Howard Payne 38, Southwestern Assemblies 25
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at Central 65, Maranatha Baptist 12
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at Luther 49, Grinnell 21
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UW-Stevens Point 37, at Coe 21
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at Greenville 30, Eureka 27
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Westminster (Mo.) 27, at MacMurray 21
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Texas Lutheran 38, at Louisiana College 32
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at Simpson 13, Illinois Wesleyan 3
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Trine 27, at Rockford 7
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Rose-Hulman 48, at Hanover 42
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at Western Connecticut 45, Plymouth State 7
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Hardin-Simmons 37, at Wayland Baptist 23
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Final
at Whittier 23, Lewis and Clark 10
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Final
Willamette 42, at Cal Lutheran 24
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Final
Alma 24, at Concordia-Chicago 21
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Carroll 28, at Lake Forest 7
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Final
Whitworth 50, at La Verne 48
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Westfield State 14, at Mass-Dartmouth 13
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at St. Scholastica 48, Crown 14
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at Wittenberg 34, DePauw 17
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St. John Fisher 36, at Brockport State 20
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Guilford 35, at Southern Virginia 27
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Wooster 63, at Oberlin 10
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at Shenandoah 45, Ferrum 20
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Centre 28, at Washington and Lee 23
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at Ohio Wesleyan 35, Kenyon 25
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at Delaware Valley 54, Wilkes 35
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UW-River Falls 43, at South Dakota Mines 28
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at Augustana 34, Loras 17
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at Dubuque 16, Pacific 10
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at North Central (Ill.) 28, UW-Platteville 7
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Chicago 29, at Elmhurst 17
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Mary Hardin-Baylor 41, at UW-La Crosse 22
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at South Dakota State 41, UW-Oshkosh 3
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Adrian 23, at Benedictine 6
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at Wartburg 45, UW-Stout 14
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at Northwestern (Minn.) 34, Martin Luther 27
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at East Texas Baptist 58, Southwestern 34
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Final
Rhodes 42, at Pomona-Pitzer 21
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Final
Linfield 36, at Redlands 3
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Baldwin Wallace at John Carroll
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Kean at Mary Hardin-Baylor
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Pacific Lutheran at Trinity (Texas)
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2:00 PM
Allegheny at Wabash
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2:00 PM
Johns Hopkins at Muhlenberg
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2:00 PM
Ohio Northern at Heidelberg
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1:30 PM
Westminster (Pa.) at Thomas More
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1:30 PM
Ithaca at Alfred
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1:00 PM
Southern Virginia at Wesley
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1:00 PM
St. John Fisher at Frostburg State
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1:00 PM
Wittenberg at Oberlin
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1:00 PM
Merchant Marine at Hobart
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1:00 PM
Lycoming at Wilkes
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3:00 PM
North Central (Ill.) at UW-Stevens Point
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2:10 PM
St. John's at St. Thomas
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2:00 PM
Bethel at Carleton
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Sep. 20: All times Eastern
Final
St. John Fisher 36, at Brockport State 20
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Final
at Wittenberg 34, DePauw 17
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Final
at Wartburg 45, UW-Stout 14
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at South Dakota State 41, UW-Oshkosh 3
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Final
at North Central (Ill.) 28, UW-Platteville 7
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Final
Mary Hardin-Baylor 41, at UW-La Crosse 22
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Final
Linfield 36, at Redlands 3
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Final
UW-Whitewater 48, at TCNJ 0
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Final
Mount Union 62, at Muskingum 6
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Final
at John Carroll 43, Heidelberg 16
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Final
at Lycoming 28, King's 13
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Final
at Wesley 37, Rowan 7
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Final
at Hampden-Sydney 56, Coast Guard 0
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Final
Wabash 31, at Denison 12
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Final
Thomas More 66, at Thiel 27
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Final
at Ithaca 42, Hartwick 7
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Final
Hobart 43, at Curry 13
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Final
at Johns Hopkins 33, Moravian 14
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Final
at Bethel 40, St. Olaf 0
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Final
at Wheaton (Ill.) 17, UW-Eau Claire 0
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Final
at Simpson 13, Illinois Wesleyan 3
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