Redlands' upset victory a Hollywood story

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Redlands has hit the ground running in 2011.
Redlands athletics photo 

Chad Hurst's first start could've very well been a major motion picture. There was excitement, adversity, determination, triumph and jubilation. 

The junior quarterback at Redlands scored on a 5-yard option rush with 24 seconds to go to lead his team to 35-29 victory over fourth-ranked North Central on Saturday afternoon. 

Hurst replaced Dan Selway, a four-year starter. Hurst patiently waited for his turn while dissecting every nuance like he was the starter.

"Chad prepared really well," Redlands coach Mike Maynard said. "On the scout team, he was always prepared, he'd take good notes in meetings, He was always ready for the chance."

Besides Saturday's debut, the only other time Hurst received playing time was against East Texas Baptist when Selway experienced some cramps in his leg. Hurst was 3-of-6 passing for 44 yards and a touchdown in the Bulldogs' 21-10 win.

"Chad had that's when we knew we were going to have a good player in Chad Hurst," Maynard said. "He played all those plays before in my mind, he had really very limited snaps in terms of game experience."

Despite going 26-for-45 for 275 yards and two touchdowns, Hurst was intercepted three times, including twice in the first half. Coincidentally, North Central forged a 19-7 lead at halftime.

"I thought he was amazing how calm and poised he was with adversity," Maynard said. "He got hit a few times, he got whacked, they had a phenomenal pass rush. He was able to bounce up and keep playing. As difficult of a game as it was never a time Chad seemed overwhelmed or overchallenged. He just kept getting back up and getting guys back to the huddle and mentally remained strong."

And now the Bulldogs, who cracked into the D3football.com poll at No.20, feel a little more confident about their situation at the quarterback position.

"We feel real good about our quarterback situation," Maynard said. "We found out a lot about our team in terms of attitude and effort. A half dozen times we could given up. This is a real pivotal experience and one we could continue to work on. We kept trying be persistent and gave us a chance to keep trying in the fourth quarter and our confidence our quarterback should really help us."

A road trip of devouring, winning
UW-Stevens Point spent its Labor Day weekend  traveling, eating, traveling some more, more eating, winning and traveling back home.

The Pointers made the trek to Salem, Ore., to face Willamette and came away with an grueling 8-6 win and lots of full stomachs.

Prior to the game, the team got their fill at area buffets along the way.

"I was getting full watching them eat," Pointers free safety Joe Mleziva said of the offensive linemen. "Some of the concoctions they would make. Linebacker Cody Siebel was all about potatoes, his plate was completely full of potatoes and drenched in gravy, the gravy was dripping on the floor and he didn't care."

However, the performance on the field sure mattered to the Pointers as they exacted revenge from a year ago.

Leadership was there in fourth quarter, felt very confident," Mleziva said. "Everyone was doing their part and doing what the defense was supposed to run. We lost to them last year. It was going to be a tough feeling. We just went out there on the field with a reason, everyone gave 110 percent and came away with the victory.

Last year in Stevens Point, Willamette trounced the Pointers 31-13. The Bearcats offense stalled in part to a key performance by Mleziva.

Mleziva, a senior captain, was a force for the Pointers as he was all over the field with 15 tackles and a key interception in the third quarter.

"Not many people could make that play that Joe Mleziva made," Pointers coach John Miech said of Mleziva's interception.

The game came down to the final minute as Willamette's Jamiere Abney scored on a 2-yard run with 27 seconds to bring the Bearcats within two points. On the two-point conversion play Jake Knecht caught a ball from quarterback Brian Widing near the right sideline that appeared to tie the game. But the points were taken off the board when Knecht stepped out of bounds then came back in to make the play, giving the Pointers the thrilling win.

"Luck is design and desire," Miech said.

Another factor the Pointers had to deal with was the hot temperatures into the 90s.

"We knew it was going to be hot," Miech said. "We told them we felt them to win this game was to shorten the game."

The game lasted 2 hours, 20 minutes and left many of the Pointers with a win but melted shoes.

"When some of the kids got to lockerroom," Miech said. "They threw their shoes away."
Now the Pointers will take a week off from planes, buses and buffets when they are back to fall Wisconsin weather and focusing on UW-Plateville at home.

"Our team goal is 1-0," Mleziva said. "Every game we've got to be ready. One week at a time, got done with film with Willamette, now on to Platteville."

First win in record-breaking style
Jesse Burleson didn't experience a Gatorade shower in his first win as Hardin-Simmons coach, but the Cowboys trounced Coe College 41-14 in its season opener Saturday afternoon.

"No Gatorade shower for me, Burleson said. "It's not about me. If anyone should get the Gatorade shower, it should be those guys, I didn't play one single snap."

The Cowboys frustrated Boyle, a D3football.com preseason All-American into throwing three interceptions. Boyle completed just 11 of 30 passes for 114 yards. Burleson said he wasn't surprised how well his team defending the standout quarterback.

"The secondary played great, the pass rush was good on him and it turned out on our favor." 

Hardin-Simmons also produced a record-breaking performance as Travis Tatsch caught 13 passes for a school-record 265 yards. He also produced two touchdowns. Quarterback Taylor Byrd also was on target as he completed 23-of-31 passes for 326 yards and three touchdowns.

With the win, the Cowboys jumped up to No.9 in the D3football.com rankings and now will travel to Salem, Ore., to face Willamette.

"I said after the game, enjoy the night, turn the page, flip the switch for Willamette," Burleson said.

Behind the number
31: Consecutive wins top-ranked and two-time defending national champion UW-Whitewater has put together after topping UW-La Crosse 26-7. The last loss came against Mount Union in a 31-26 loss at the Stagg Bowl, Dec.  20, 2008, for the Division III title.

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Josh Smith photo

Josh Smith has covered Division III sports for more than five years. He writes for multiple publications, including D3football.com beginning in 2012. He has won multiple awards for reporting and photography and lives in southern Wisconsin near UW-Whitewater, where he graduated with a degree in print journalism.

2011-12 columns: Jason Galleske
2010: Tim Walsh
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