No. 6 Football, RPI Square Off in NCAA Tournament Saturday
No. 5 RPI Engineers (9-1) at No. 1 Springfield College Pride (10-0)
Sat., Nov. 29, 2003 • 12 p.m. • Benedum Field
NCAA Division III Tournament, 2nd round
Tickets are $8 for adults and $4 for children. Children under the age of two receive free admission.
What's At Stake:
The winner of Saturday's game advances to the NCAA Division III East Region Final against either Montclair State, the No. 2 seed, or Ithaca, the No. 6 seed. If SC wins, it will host the regional final on Dec. 6 at 12 p.m.
This is the sixth meeting between the teams, but the first since 1931. SC, which leads the series 4-1, shutout the Engineers four straight times from 1925 to 1931.
The Big Dance:
This is the Pride fourth trip to the NCAA Tournament since 1998. SC is 2-3 overall, and 1-2 on Benedum Field.
The Pride traveled where no other SC team in 111 years of the program had gone before when it beat Union, 21-18, on Nov. 15 to cap a 10-0 season. It has been 38 years since the last undefeated team at SC (the '65 team was 9-0), and, until this season, no SC team had gone 10-0.
Perfect 10, Part 2:
The Pride is one of eight unbeaten teams remaining in Division III.
No Place Like Home:
The Pride has been dominant at Benedum Field this season. SC is averaging 55 ppg and 473 yards rushing in four home games in '03.
SC is No. 6 in the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) National poll, which is its highest ranking ever, and No. 8 in the D3Football.com poll.
SC made its way to the NCAA Tournament by winning its fifth Freedom Football Conference (FFC) title since '96. The Pride registered a 6-0 league mark for the second-straight season, and the third time since 2000.
You Da Man!:
Junior QB Ryan Sylvia was named the FFC Offensive Player of the Year on Nov. 17. Sylvia headlined a group of 10 SC players honored on the all-conference team. Head coach Mike DeLong was tabbed the conference's coach of the year for the second time since 2000. SC also placed 16 individuals on the FFC All-Academic team.
On The Run:
The Pride, which enters the NCAA Tournament with the top rushing attack in Division III (394.4 ypg), has three of the top-8 single-game rushing performances in ’03:
• 3rd, 533 yards vs. Norwich (Nov. 8)
• 7th, 493 yards vs. WPI (Oct. 25)
• t-8th, 481 yards vs. Kings Point (Sept. 20)
... the Pride also rushed for 417 yards against Coast Guard (Sept. 27) ... SC has gone over the 400-yard mark nine times over the last two seasons, and its 586-yard effort in a 55-27 win over Union (Nov. 16, 2002) is the best performance by a D-III squad since the ’01 campaign.
Defense Never Rests:
While SC’s high-octane offense grabs a majority of the attention, SC is ranked 19th in Division III in total defense (261.9 ypg), 24th in rushing defense (106.1 ypg) and 24th in scoring defense (14.8 ppg) ... five SC defenders earned all-FFC honors: senior LB Jesse Baker, junior LB Justin Fletcher, senior DE Jason MacDonald and senior CB Chris Teel were first-team choices, and senior SS Ryan Santo made the second team ... five players won the FFC Defensive Player-of-the-Week Award this season. Junior LB Curtis Schmidt is the latest honoree (Nov. 16). Schmidt recorded 10 tackles, forced a fumble and returned a fumble for a TD at Union (Nov. 15). He joins Baker, Santo, Fletcher and senior CB Mike Kimmel as FFC award winners.
Sixteen SC players have scored this season, and 12 different players have a rush or a reception of 22 yards-or-more.
For only the second time in SC history, two backs eclipsed the 1,000-yard rushing mark in the regular season. Junior FB Tim Lutgens (team-high 1,191 yards) and QB Ryan Sylvia (1,009 yards) join Mark Doherty (1,292) and Shawn Tarpey (1,026), who accomplished this feat in 1996.
Although the Pride possesses the best running game in college football, it also uses the pass effectively. SC QBs are 18-of-41 for 541 yards with 10 TDs this season, and receivers are averaging 30.1 ypc ... junior QB Ryan Sylvia typifies the Pride’s big-play capability with seven TD passes of 20 yards-or-more ... in the last two seasons, senior SE Farrand Violette has nine catches, including six TD receptions, and is averaging 31.2 ypc.
Facts and Figures:
With the win at Union (Nov. 15), SC's school-record regular-season winning streak holds at 14 ... the Pride has outscored the opposition 246-56 in the first half this season ... SC is 27-2 in games when it rushes for more than 300 yards over the past four seasons ... junior all-conference HB Kevin Domurat averages a first-down per carry (10.3 avg.). He averaged 9.0 ypc in ‘02.
The Pride's '03 slate has certainly prepared the team for the post-season. SC's strength of schedule ranked third in Division III, according to the strength of schedule index posted on D3Football.com. In 2002, the NCAA developed this index to allow the selection committee to more easily calculate and compare teams' schedules ... SC, which is 6-0 on the road this season, won at Montclair St. (9-1 overall) and against Ithaca (9-2 overall) at home.
For The Record:
Besides its 10-0 mark, the Pride, set a school record with 432 points ... junior QB Ryan Sylvia set an NCAA Division III single-season record for rushing TDs by a quarterback with his 19th at Union (Nov. 15). The previous record was held by current SC assistant coach Kevin Cahill, who totaled 18 in 2000.
Junior QB Ryan Sylvia has rushed for 100 yards nine times in his career, including six of 10 games in '03. Junior FB Tim Lutgens (six times) and junior HB Kevin Domurat (twice) have also broken the 100-yard mark in '03. Lugtens has cracked the 100-yard barrier in five of the last six games ... in '02, five SC backs reached the 100-yard mark: junior HB Will Davis (145 yards vs. Salve Regina, Sept. 6), Domurat (three times), junior QB Michael Judge (twice), Lutgens (three times) and Sylvia (156 yards vs. Union, Nov. 16).
While My Guitar Gently Weeps:
Two hand injuries have not slowed down two-time all-conference senior LB Jesse Baker on the football field or on stage. Baker, a team captain who is the Pride's leading tackler (63), is fourth all-time at SC with 294 career tackles, fifth in tackles-for-loss (21.5) and ninth in interceptions (10). He tied a school-record with three INTs at Montclair State (Sept. 13). He is also a three-time FFC All-Academic team choice ... despite a heavily bandaged right hand, Baker continues to perform as the guitarist and vocalist in a local band called "Fading Still."
Sixteen members of SC's undefeated team were named to the FFC All-Academic Team. The Pride’s total was second to only WPI (18) in the seven-team league. To be named to the team, a student athlete must have a 3.0 grade-point average and play a significant role on his team ... included on the all-academic team are senior LB Jesse Baker, junior FB Kevin Domurat, junior LB Justin Fletcher and senior PK Greg Switaj, who were also all-FFC selections.Other notables include junior QB Michael Judge ... in '02, SC led the FFC with 19 academic all-conference selections last season.
It came as no surprise that senior PK Greg Switaj was selected to the D3Football.com and Don Hansen's Football Gazette Pre-season All-American teams. A first-team D3Football.com All-American in '02, Switaj was one of the nation's most efficient place-kickers, drilling 9-of-10 field goal attempts and converting 40-of-44 point-after touchdown attempts. He led all conference kickers in scoring (6.7 points-per-game, 26th nationally) and field-goal percentage (90%) on the way to winning FFC Special Teams Player-of-the-Year honors ... Switaj has converted 60-61 PATs dating back to last season.
SC Football Joins Empire 8:
On Oct. 11, 2001, Springfield College announced that it accepted an invitation to join the Empire 8 Athletic Conference as an affiliate member in the sport of football. SC, along with Norwich, will play in the Empire 8 beginning in the 2004 season ... in football, the Empire 8 is comprised of five small, private New York-based institutions: Alfred University, Hartwick College, Ithaca College, St. John Fisher College and Utica College. The conference sponsors 15 other sports but SC will only compete in football.
Get Used To Them:
While SC will have a new conference, the Empire 8, to play in next season, most of next season's team wil be very familiar to SC fans. The Pride expects 16 starters back for the '04 campaign ... junior FB Tim Lutgens and junior QB Ryan Sylvia are part of an outstanding backfield comprised predominantly of juniors. Seven of SC's top eight rushers will be back next season. Lutgens (119.1 ypg) and Sylvia (100.9 ypg) are second and fourth, respectively, in rushing in the FFC. Junior all-conference HB Kevin Domurat is 10th (52.3 ypg, also 10.3 yards-per-carry) ... SC's backfield also includes junior QB Michael Judge (6 rushing TDs, 3 passing TDs), junior HB Will Davis (10.7 avg.) and sophomore FBs Mike Fiscella (5.0 avg.) and Andre Clayton (4.9 avg., 2 TDs).
SC's efficiency in the red-zone is big reason it is one of Division III's top-scoring teams, averaging 43.2 ppg (3rd in D-III). SC is 41-of-46 (89.1%) in the red zone (39 TDs, two FG) ... last season, the Pride scored 24 of 28 times in the red zone (85.7%) and averaged 36.5 ppg.
The Pride In The Polls
American Football Coaches Association
Division III Final Regular-Season
National Poll (Nov. 18)
1. Mount Union (Ohio) (45), 10-0
2. St. John’s (Minn.) (1), 10-0
3. Linfield (Ore.), 9-0
4. Wheaton (Ill.), 10-0
5. Wartburg (Iowa), 10-0
6. SPRINGFIELD (Mass.), 10-0
7. Baldwin-Wallace (Ohio), 9-1
8. Bridgewater (Va.), 9-1
9. Wis.-La Crosse, 9-1
10. Brockport (N.Y.), 9-1
11. St. Norbert (Wis.), 10-0
12. Mary Hardin-Baylor (Texas), 9-1
13. Lycoming (Pa.), 8-1
14. Bethel (Minn.), 9-1
15. Hampden-Sydney (Va.), 9-1
16. Montclair State (N.J.), 8-1
17. Johns Hopkins (Md.), 9-1
18. Wis.-Stevens Point, 8-2
19. Hardin-Simmons (Texas), 8-2
20. Simpson (Iowa), 9-1
21. Waynesburg (Pa.), 9-1
22. Trinity (Conn.), 8-0
23. Christopher Newport (Va.), 7-2
24. Concordia (Wisc.), 9-1
25. East Texas Baptist, 8-2