Widener, Hampden-Sydney, Macalester all clinch bids

More news about: Hampden-Sydney | Macalester | Widener
d3photography.com file photo by Steve Frommell

Bids clinched

There are 24 automatic bids to the 2014 Division III football championships. Here are the teams that clinched bids:
Adrian (MIAA)
Benedictine (NACC)
Chapman (SCIAC)
Christopher Newport (USA South)
Franklin (HCAC)
Hampden-Sydney (ODAC)
Hobart (Liberty League)
Husson (ECFC)
Ithaca (Empire 8)
Johns Hopkins (Centennial)
Linfield (NWC)
Macalester (MWC)
Mary Hardin-Baylor (ASC)
Mount Union (OAC)
Rowan (NJAC)
St. John's (MIAC)
St. Scholastica (Upper Midwest)
UW-Whitewater (WIAC)
Wartburg (IIAC)
Washington and Jefferson (PAC)
Wheaton (CCIW)
Widener (MAC)
Wittenberg (North Coast)

Macalester clinched its first-ever trip to the NCAA playoffs, Hampden-Sydney backed in despite losing to archrival Randolph-Macon and Widener won its automatic bid in a head-to-head matchup with an unbeaten rival as the remaining nine automatic bids were handed out in Saturday's Week 11 games.

Widener's offense awoke for a 30-point second half as the No. 12 Pride defeated No. 16 Delaware Valley 44-28 to finish a perfect regular season and capture the MAC's automatic bid. 

Anthony Davis had 121 yards on four catches in the second half. The Aggies posted 527 yards of offense but turned the ball over six times as Aaron Wilmer was just 24-for-54 passing and threw five interceptions.

Macalester, whose program was in danger of being shut down before it left the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference more than a decade ago, found itself a new home this fall and then acted like it owned the place, running the table. Michael Abramson kicked a 21-yard field goal with 52 seconds to play and Phil Wettersten intercepted a pass at the Macalester 29-yard line on Illinois College's final drive as the Scots claimed the Midwest Conference title with a 30-27 win.

The Old Dominion Athletic Conference ended its season with a four-way tie for first place, after Randolph-Macon defeated archrival Hampden-Sydney and Guilford knocked off Emory and Henry. H-SC, Guilford, E&H and Bridgewater ended up knotted atop the conference, and Hampden-Sydney won the tiebreaker. Randolph-Macon held Nash Nance to just 16-for-44 passing and picked him off twice in the win. 

Husson clinched the automatic bid from the ECFC, defeating Mount Ida 41-21. Because of Husson's distance from the rest of Division III, there are only a couple of possible first-round playoff opponents for the Eagles, who will be making their first trip to the NCAA postseason. Rowan clinched its third consecutive playoff appearance with a Friday night 14-6 win at TCNJ.

Waynesburg knocked off No. 14 Washington and Jefferson 31-28 in overtime, possibly denying the Presidents a home game in the playoffs. Trailing 28-21 with 2:01 left in regulation, W&J took over at its own 5-yard line and engineered an 11-play, 95-yard drive in 1:19 to get the Presidents into the end zone. He hit Max Creighan along the left side of the end zone from 28 yards out. W&J had a field goal blocked in overtime, while Waynesburg's Scott Lewis hit a 34-yarder for the win.

Adrian jumped out on top early and it was never really a game after that as the Bulldogs took the MIAA title and automatic bid with a 40-7 win vs. Trine. Emmanuel Stewart and Dae'Von Robinson each went for more than 100 yards on the ground in the win. Nick Martin threw two touchdown passes to Josh Bungum and Sam Sura ran for 136 yards and two scores as St. John's wrapped up the MIAC title with a 26-6 win at St. Olaf.

Wesley finally found its match on Saturday, and it was a D-I FCS team. Charlotte, who you might better know as UNC-Charlotte, defeated the No. 4 Wolverines 38-33, in front of 10,704 fans in Charlotte. Joe Callahan was picked off twice, just his third and fourth interceptions of the season. Wesley is 9-1, unbeaten vs. Division III opponents.

Jerise Washington goes airborne on his way into the end zone for Augsburg in a wild win that knocked Bethel out of the playoff hunt.
Photo by Scott Pierson, d3photography.com 

The bubble

Augsburg knocked Bethel out of playoff consideration and snapped a 16-game losing streak to the Royals, defeating them in double overtime, 62-61. Joey Sonnenfeld caught 15 passes for 334 yards and three touchdowns for the Auggies, knocking the Royals to 7-3 and out of the playoff picture.

UW-Oshkosh also made it a very interesting night for the West Region playoff committee, as the Titans defeated No. 15 UW-Platteville 30-27 in triple overtime. UW-Oshkosh is just 6-4 overall, but 6-1 vs. Division III competition, which is one of the primary criteria the selection committee considers. Oshkosh lost its first three games of the season to Marian (Ind.) and Robert Morris-Chicago of the NAIA, a combined 16-5, and Division I FCS South Dakota State (6-4).

If Saturday was John Thorne's last game as head coach for North Central, then the Cardinals sent him out a winner. Elmhurst led until late in the third quarter and the Bluejays had a shot at the end zone before John Skokna, in his third week at cornerback after moving from wide receiver, intercepted the pass in the end zone. 

Louisiana College got out to a 42-21 lead in the fourth quarter and then held on against a furious comeback to defeat Hardin-Simmons 42-35. HSU wasn't exactly in the center of the playoff picture on its own accord, but because the Cowboys were in the South Region rankings, they had been a key win for Texas Lutheran. HSU's loss might mean Texas Lutheran is on the bubble, as the Bulldogs play in a conference that is too small to receive an automatic bid.