|Corey Stump, who caught two
touchdown passes, celebrates with his teammates after Wittenberg's
Wittenberg athletics photo
Wittenberg, Ithaca, Hobart and Chapman each clinched automatic bids in head-to-head battles and others clinched bids to the Field of 32 as well. Hobart and Wittenberg each won in dramatic fashion, as the Statesmen kicked a field goal with 63 seconds left to hold off St. Lawrence and Wittenberg survived at home vs. Wabash.
Will McCool lived up to his name with a pressure-packed 32-yard field goal on the grass at St. Lawrence with 1:03 left. The Saints had a shot to win in the closing seconds, with the ball at the 49-yard line, but were called for holding, then took a sack and ran out of time on a pass that got them into Hobart's red zone. Hobart had seven sacks, two by Tyre Coleman to move into fourth place in the Division III record book, and the Statesmen held St. Lawrence to minus-6 yards rushing. Hobart clinched the Liberty League automatic bid.
Bids clinchedThere are 24 automatic bids to the 2014 Division III football championships. Here are the teams that clinched bids:
Christopher Newport (USA South)
Hobart (Liberty League)
Ithaca (Empire 8)
Johns Hopkins (Centennial)
Mary Hardin-Baylor (ASC)
Mount Union (OAC)
St. John's (MIAC)
St. Scholastica (Upper Midwest)
Washington and Jefferson (PAC)
Wittenberg (North Coast)
No. 14 Wittenberg limited Michael Putko to 9-for-21 passing and defeated No. 9 Wabash despite having just 211 yards of total offense. Wabash remains alive for an at-large bid heading into next week's Monon Bell game vs. DePauw.
Ithaca wide receiver Vito Boffoli threw a touchdown pass and the Bomber defense picked off Tyler Fenti three times as the Bombers defeated St. John Fisher 19-8. Boffoli's touchdown pass to Andrew Tabbert put the Bombers up by two scores and Ithaca was able to hold on. St. John Fisher scored on a pair of field goals and a blocked extra point return. Noah Poskanzer had two of the three Ithaca interceptions.
Chapman picked up its first automatic bid to the Division III playoffs, bouncing back from a halftime deficit to beat Redlands 31-27. Johns Hopkins clinched the automatic bid for the Centennial, defeating Franklin and Marshall 33-14, outscoring the Diplomats 23-0 over the final 19 minutes of the game. It's the 10th Centennial Conference title for the Blue Jays, all of them since 2002.
Johnny Peltz threw for a touchdown and ran for another in the second quarter and Wheaton's defense did the rest of the work, holding Illinois Wesleyan in check in a 13-7 win, giving the Thunder the CCIW automatic bid and returning them to the playoffs after a three-year absence.
St. John's didn't clinch an automatic bid, but put itself in the driver's seat in the MIAC after the No. 18 Johnnies defeated No. 10 Bethel 31-8 in front of 7,825 in Collegeville. Bethel turned the ball over five times, as Erik Peterson threw two interceptions and fumbled twice. St. John's needs to beat St. Olaf (1-8) next week to clinch its first bid to the playoffs since 2009.
"Our job's not done," said Johnnies coach Gary Fasching. "We told (the players) that we knew we had to win out to win the championship and get into the playoffs and that's our plan and we'll practice the same way next week as we did this past week." (More postgame comments at right.)
Top-ranked UW-Whitewater cruised past UW-Stevens Point 49-17 to clinch the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference's automatic bid. It was the 26th consecutive win for the Warhawks, now the longest active streak in college football.
No. 16 Washington and Jefferson racked up 701 yards of total offense in rolling past Thiel 49-18 to clinch the Presidents' Athletic Conference automatic bid. The Presidents will be making their 24th appearance in the NCAA playoffs.
Pacific scored 24 unanswered points in the second quarter and held off Willamette at the end to defeat the No. 25 Bearcats 41-24 and claim a share of the Northwest Conference title. The Boxers face Linfield next weekend for the conference's automatic bid.
No. 3 Mount Union and No. 6 John Carroll remained unbeaten heading into their showdown next week, winning in similarly dominant fashion. The Purple Raiders crushed Baldwin Wallace 59-3, while John Carroll cruised past Otterbein 59-13. No. 13 Widener and No. 19 Delaware Valley did the same as Widener rolled over King's 55-6 and Delaware Valley crushed FDU-Florham 55-7.
Lemar Johnson threw for 246 yards and ran for 104 as Morrisville State kept its playoff hopes alive, knocking off No. 23 Montclair State 38-20. Cristian Pena ran for 128 and threw for 33 for the Mustangs as well. Morrisville needs TCNJ to defeat Rowan next week, however, to avoid a three-way tie.
Despite getting outgained and converting on just two of 13 third downs, No. 21 Centre remained unbeaten, defeating Millsaps 27-0. After learning last week that its conference doesn't have an automatic bid this year, Centre needs to finish the season unbeaten to make sure it gets into the playoffs.
No. 20 North Central kept its hopes alive for an at-large bid, as Dylan Warden threw five touchdown passes in a 43-14 win vs. Augustana. No. 17 UW-Platteville did as well, edging UW-La Crosse 24-17.