September 26, 2013

MIAC Football Preview - Week 4

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Wow. What a start.

Conference play kicked off Saturday for the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference's (MIAC) football teams in grand fashion. The day started with a conference rivalry game receiving a rare Division III mention on ESPN College GameDay, continued with three close battles and a top-five upset and finished with an overtime thriller under the lights. The four conference games were decided by a total of 12 points, each on the final play or in the final minutes.

Saint John's and first-year Head Coach Gary Fashing delivered the biggest shocker of the day, as the Johnnies traveled to St. Paul and stunned rival and second-ranked St. Thomas, 20-18. After some national TV publicity, Concordia survived a late rally to knock off St. Olaf in the Troll Bowl - as ESPN's Lee Corso predicted that morning - by four points, 33-29. Augsburg used a late touchdown to score a 19-16 win over Gustavus, and Carleton used a fourth-quarter touchdown and an overtime field goal to score the game's final 10 points in a 20-17 comeback win over Hamline Saturday night. In the lone nonconference game of the weekend, No. 5 Bethel defeated Buena Vista convincingly on the road, 47-14.

The weekend included a pair of significant records as well. Hamline's Austin Duncan set new Piper single-game rushing records in a transcendent performance, as he accumulated 298 yards on 48 carries. The crowd of 10,800 that crammed into St. Thomas' O'Shaughnessy Stadium was also a school record for the Tommies.

The result of a wild first weekend is even more of a national spotlight on the conference, evident talent on each campus, and parity throughout the league. The MIAC now has three ranked teams (No. 5 Bethel, No. 6 St. Thomas and No. 21 Saint John's) and two more on the cusp of the top 25 in Augsburg and Concordia. In fact, this is believed to be the time the MIAC has had five teams (more than half of the conference) receive at least 30 points in one of the two major in-season polls (D3football.com, AFCA).

MIAC fans will be treated to another outstanding slate of games this weekend, with four big conference matchups and St. Thomas (2-1, 0-1 MIAC) sitting idle after its winning streaks were snapped by Saint John's. The now-ranked Johnnies host Concordia in an outstanding matchup of 3-0 teams Saturday, and the first conference home game for Fasching as head coach. SJU will try to carry their immense momentum into Saturday's big game, while the Cobbers come to town also unbeaten. The Johnnies (3-0, 1-0 MIAC) hope Sam Sura can continue his emergence at running back, while Concordia (3-0, 1-0 MIAC) playmakers WR Brandon Zylstra and DB/KR Bryce Hengtes continue to come up big for the team from Moorhead.

Fifth-ranked Bethel (2-0, 0-0 MIAC) hopes to validate its new top-five ranking as it opens conference play on the road. Meanwhile, Carleton will try to build on its MIAC-opening win against Hamline in one of its toughest tests of the season. The Royals are led by star QB Erik Peterson and LB Seth Mathis, who was all over the field in Saturday's win at Buena Vista. Carleton will try to continue to integrate talented freshman Chris Madden, who scored the game-tying touchdown against Hamline, and hope for continued excellence from kicker Brandt Davis, who delivered a pair of field goals, including the overtime game-winner.

Augsburg hopes its home magic can continue a week after pulling out a narrow win in front of the home fans with a touchdown in the final three minutes. The Auggies continue to get dazzling play from QB Ayrton Scott, and RB Phil Putratz has emerged as a dual threat as well running and catching passes out of the backfield. The Augsburg defense, led by Michael Juberian, will be tested by Duncan and company, coming off their record-setting performance. Expect the Piper workhorse to continue to carry the load against the Auggies for first-year head coach Chad Rogosheske.

In Saturday's final game, Gustavus hosts St. Olaf in homecoming in a matchup of teams who will try to bounce back from heart-breaking losses a week ago. Gustie RB Jeffrey Dubose was magnificent against Augsburg a week ago with 227 yards and two scores, and the home fans hope for another great performance from the star back. It will likely be ground vs. air, as St. Olaf will continue to throw to talented receivers Stephen Asp and Jake Schmiesing, who combined for 10 catches, 206 yards and two scores a week ago.

It may be hard to top the first week of MIAC action in terms of drama and close calls, but the Week 4 slate certainly could provide some memorable matchups - particularly in Collegeville and St. Peter. With three-time defending conference champion St. Thomas putting a "1" in the loss column for the first time in the regular season since 2009, suddenly everyone's title aspirations take a serious step forward. The season-long battle continues Saturday, as does the weekly dose of clarity in the conference standings.

The MIAC thanks Supreme Images Photography for contributing graphics for the MIAC Football Preview throughout the season.


MIAC FOOTBALL WEEK 3 - SCHEDULE AND LINKS

Schedule | Scoreboard | Stats | Standings | App |

Sat. Sep. 28

Hamline

 

Augsburg

 

1:00 PM

Live stats Video Audio

 

Bethel

 

Carleton

 

1:00 PM

Live stats Video Audio

 

Concordia

 

Saint John's

 

1:00 PM

Live stats Audio Audio

 

St. Olaf

 

Gustavus

 

1:30 PM

Live stats Video Audio


CONCORDIA WINS FIRST-EVER MIAC FOOTBALL PLAY-OF-THE-WEEK

The MIAC debuted a new web feature this week to tremendous success - the MIAC Football Play-of-the-Week. The conference selected one highlight from each of the four conference games and asked fans to watch each clip and vote on their favorite. There were a total of 2,043 votes cast and the four video clips received a total of 4,394 views.

In a narrow vote, Concordia's Brandon Zylstra edged Saint John's Sam Sura for the victory. The Cobber end-around touchdown received 941 votes to defeat Sura's sprint up the middle by 73 votes.


MIAC MEDIA FOOTBALL COVERAGE

MIAC Media visited three of the four conference games on the first Saturday of league play. There are photo galleries online (with most photos available for purchase) from Augsburg-GustavusSaint John's-St. Thomas and Carleton-Hamline. MIAC Media also produced video highlights from the Knights and Pipers overtime clash, which was a rare night kickoff in the MIAC. Video is also available from the ESPN College GameDay spotlight on "The Troll Bowl" between Concordia and St. Olaf.


MIAC IN THE POLLS

As mentioned earlier in the preview, the MIAC had a historic week in the polls with three teams ranked in the top 21 in the nation, and two more receiving votes in both the D3football.com Top 25 and the first AFCA Division III Coaches' Poll of the 2013 season.

Bethel is the MIAC's top-ranked team, receiving 456 points and the No. 5 ranking from D3football.com and the No. 8 ranking (652 points) from the AFCA. St. Thomas is close behind in both, ranked No. 6 by D3football.com (422 points) and No. 12 by the AFCA (525 points). Saint John's is No. 21 in both polls this week, with 240 points in the AFCA ranking and 122 points in the D3football.com Top 25.

Augsburg is knocking on the door of the D3football.com Top 25 with 30 points and the second slot in the "Others receiving votes" section, essentially ranking it No. 27. The Auggies also received six points in the AFCA poll. Concordia received 39 points and was the fourth team mentioned in the "Others receiving votes" section of the AFCA ranking, and the Cobbers also received seven points from the D3football.com poll.

D3football.com Top 25 | AFCA Division III Coaches' Poll |


MIAC IN THE PRESS

Here's a look at the top MIAC football stories in the media over the past week.

9/22/2013            Missed field goal seals Johnnies' upset win over Tommies, 20-18 - St. Cloud Times
9/22/2013            St. John's notebook: Sura carries the load for Johnnies football - St. Cloud Times
9/22/2013            Concorida tops St. Olaf in MIAC football opener, keeps Troll trophy - Fargo Forum
9/22/2013            'Johnnie mystique' returns: St. John's scores a big upset - Star Tribune
9/22/2013            MIAC Roundup - Star Tribune
9/21/2013            St. John's beats Tommies in MIAC rivalry - Bring Me The News


ATHLETES-OF-THE-WEEK

Hamline's Austin Duncan received the MIAC Football Offensive Player-of-the-Week award after his historic performance in Saturday's night's overtime loss to Carleton (20-17). His 48 carries for 298 yards were both Piper school records, and he now leads all of Division III in rushing yards per game. Saint John'sNolan Lortz received the MIAC Football Defensive Player-of-the-Week award for his role in the Johnnies' 20-18 upset of No. 2 St. Thomas. Lortz led the team with 10 tackles, and his interception and 22-yard return set up the winning field goal. Concordia's Bryce Hentges received the MIAC Football Special Teams Player-of-the-Week award for his prowess in the return game. The Cobber senior scored an 85-yard kick return touchdown to answer a St. Olaf touchdown, and he also had returns to the Concordia 46 and 43 yard line in the 33-29 victory.

In addition to his MIAC honors, Duncan was named to the D3football.com Team of the Week as well. He was joined on the team by Bethel LB Seth Mathis, who had eight tackles an interception he returned for a touchdown, and a blocked field goal attempt in the fourth quarter.

MIAC Football Athletes-of-the-Week | D3football.com Team of the Week |


IN THE TRENCHES

After a record-setting performance, this week's featured offensive line was an easy choice. Hamline RB Austin Duncan's 48 carries and 298 yards Saturday now top the Piper all-time records, and his blockers up front deserve a ton of credit for his performance. Overall, Hamline's line paved the way for 365 total yards on the ground on 71 attempts - a good 5.1 average - and allowed just four negative-yardage plays all game long. The Piper starters up front were center Patrick Chilton, guards Austin Niederkorn and Alec Grimm and tackles Juan Burciaga and Charlie Miller.

The Saint John's defensive line had a big hand in slowing down the powerful St. Thomas offense in the Johnnies' big upset in St. Paul Saturday. SJU allowed just 18 points and 135 rushing yards on 39 attempts (3.5 average). The SJU defense racked up two sacks, seven tackles-for-a-loss and a game-changing five turnovers (three fumbles, two interceptions). The Johnnies' starters along the defensive line were defensive tackles Paul Plombon and Ben Rossini and defensive ends Blake Bellefeuille and Matt Workman.


BY THE NUMBERS

12 - The collective margin of victory in the four MIAC games Saturday was 12 points.

2 - Two winners - Saint John's and Carleton - survived game-winning field goal attempts by their opposition with two seconds or less remaining in the game.

298 - Rushing yards by Hamline's Austin Duncan which, along with his 48 carries, set a new Piper single-game record. Duncan leads the MIAC and all of Division III with 235.5 yards per game.

36, 27, 18 - The St. Thomas streaks that ended Saturday. Before the loss to Saint John's, UST had won 36-straight regular-season games, 27-consecutive MIAC games and 18-straight at home.

5 - Receiving touchdowns by St. Olaf WR Jake Schmiesing thus far in 2013, tops in the league.

14.0 - Tackles per game for Auggie LB Michael Juberian, which edges Carleton's Luke Reppe (12.5 per game) for the conference lead.

1 - The number of NCAA Division III games mentioned Saturday on ESPN's College GameDay. Host Chris FowlerLee CorsoDesmond Howard andKirk Herbstreit discussed the Concordia-St. Olaf battle for The Troll for just over a minute on the popular weekly pregame show.


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