|North Central had a big day on offense at Illinois Wesleyan.
North Central athletics file photo by Steve Woltmann
Wesley knocked off its unbeaten archrival, North Central handled Illinois Wesleyan, St. Thomas had to rally down two scores in the fourth quarter and Bethel made sure everyone knew it was ranked for a reason in Saturday's Division III football Top 25 action.
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Wesley missed an extra point with 61 seconds to play, missed another in overtime, Khaaliq Burroughs threw five interceptions and Wesley still knocked off its archrival, defeating No. 18 Salisbury 19-13. The loss is the first on the season for the Sea Gulls after eight consecutive wins. The Wolverines held the option offense of the Sea Gulls to 195 yards, all of them on the ground. Wesley improved to 6-3, 5-3 in the NJAC, with all three losses coming by one point apiece.
Devinne Greene had three of the five Sea Gull interceptions, one of which set Salisbury up on the 41-yard line and led to its second touchdown, giving his team a 13-0 lead.
North Central scored 24 consecutive points from the second to fourth quarter and the No. 10 Cardinals pulled away to a 38-20 victory at No. 13 Illinois Wesleyan. After a 24-yard touchdown pass by Brandon Bauer tied the game at 14 apiece late in the second quarter, the Cardinals immediately answered,as Cameron Moore returned the ensuing kickoff 94 yards for a touchdown to allow NCC to retake the lead. The Cardinals opened the second half with a 63-yard touchdown drive to take the lead, then followed with a 98-yard drive early in the fourth. Broc Rutter made an 86-yard completion to Michael Sfikas on third-and-14, then ran the ball in from 6 yards out on the next play to give North Central a three-touchdown advantage.
In the tournament
The following teams have qualified for the 2018 NCAA Division III playoffs:
St. Thomas took its first lead with 2:28 left in the game and the No. 7-ranked Tommies rallied to win 14-13 at Gustavus Adolphus. The Tommies, who were shut out through three quarters for the first time since the 2011 national semifinals at UW-Whitewater, brought in Ronnie Jones at quarterback after Jacques Perra went 10-for-17 for 54 yards with two interceptions. Jones led the Tommies on a touchdown drive early in the fourth quarter to cut the lead to 13-7. Later in the quarter, Mark Dowdle ran out of the end zone with a fake punt to keep the Tommies' drive alive and Jones followed by hitting Gabe Green for a 28-yard touchdown pass on fourth-and-8 to take the lead.
It was just Jones' fifth completion on the afternoon. He attempted 17 passes.
"Sometimes you need a little spark," Tommies coach Glenn Caruso said on St. Thomas' radio postgame show. "Sometimes that comes through defensive pressure, sometimes no-huddle offense, sometimes a personnel change."
Bethel picked off Augsburg quarterbacks four times and six players scored rushing touchdowns as the No. 25 Royals rolled past Augsburg 75-0. The Auggies managed just 155 yards of total offense. Bethel and St. Thomas square off at Bethel next Saturday, with the winner in good shape for an at-large bid to the playoffs.
Joseph Ortiz caught 18 passes for 170 yards and Brockport's Rashad Baker caught four passes, all of them on defense and one in the end zone in the closing seconds of a 21-16 win vs. Cortland. The Red Dragons fell to 7-2, 5-2 in the Empire 8, while Brockport improved to 9-0, 6-0 and clinched the conference's automatic bid. Cortland managed 66 rushing yards, but just 171 passing yards on 44 attempts, including five interceptions.
Leading 37-13 with 10 and a half minutes left, Linfield seemed to have its game well in hand. But Puget Sound came back to score 22 points in six minutes, taking a 41-40 lead with less than a minute to play. That only set up Wyatt Smith for some last-minute heroics, however, as he hit J.D. Lasswell for a 59-yard touchdown pass with 35 seconds to go to give No. 23 Linfield the 47-41 win.
D'Angelo Fulford completed 14 of 18 passes for 236 yards and three scores, and Ernie Burkes ran for 126 yards and a touchdown as No. 1 Mount Union defeated Muskingum 52-10, clinching the automatic bid from the Ohio Athletic Conference for the second consecutive season. Danny Robinson had a pair of sacks and Andrew Roesch had four tackles for loss in the win.
No. 14 Trine clinched the automatic bid from the MIAA on Saturday as the Thunder defeated Adrian and Hope defeated Kalamazoo. Lamar Carswell finished 1 yard shy of averaging 10.0 yards per carry, going 26 carries for 259 yards and three touchdowns in Trine's 42-47 win. Brandon Winter threw for two touchdowns in nine pass attempts. Kalamazoo lost to Hope 33-7.
Conor Davies scored a pair of touchdowns and the No. 15 RPI defense held St. Lawrence to 19 yards rushing as the Engineers defeated the Saints, 27-20, to clinch the Liberty League title and the conference's automatic bid into the NCAA playoffs. RPI improved to 8-0, 4-0 in the LL heading into the regular season finale with archrival Union.
No. 16 Delaware Valley registered two defensive touchdowns and eight sacks as the Aggies rolled over King's 49-0. Michael Nobile tallied four tackles for loss and three sacks for Delaware Valley. Stevenson intentionally took a safety with three seconds left to ensure a 33-32 win over Lycoming which guarantees the Mustangs will finish in front of FDU-Florham in the MAC standings. If Delaware Valley and Misericordia finish tied for first without playing each other, Stevenson's position relative to FDU-Florham could decide which team gets the automatic bid.