No. 6 Football Attempts To Make History On Saturday At Union
Springfield College Pride (No. 6, AFCA, 9-0, 6-0 FFC)
at Union College Dutchmen (5-4)
Sat., Nov. 15, 2003 • 1 p.m. • Schnectady, N.Y.
What's At Stake:
If the Pride wins Saturday’s regular-season finale at Union, it would be the first time in the program’s 111-year history that an SC team has gone 10-0. A win would also lock up the No. 1 seed in the East region (and possibly a first-round bye) in the upcoming NCAA Division III Tournament – that’s also a first. The NCAA Division III Football Selection Show is Sun., Nov. 16 at 1 p.m. on ESPNews.
The series is tied, 3-3-1, but the Pride has won the last two meetings.
The Last Meeting:
The Pride beat the Dutchmen, 55-27, on Nov. 16, 2002.
SC is 5-0 away from Benedum Field in '03, and has a 9-2 road record in the last two seasons.
In 1998 and 2000, 9-0 SC teams squared off with Union and both times the Pride lost (38-7 in '98 and 48-12 in 2000) ... in '01, a struggling SC squad limped into its final regular-season game at Union with a 3-5 mark and beat the 8-1 Dutchmen, 49-35, spoiling their hopes of an NCAA Tournament bid.
For The Record:
Besides going for a 10-0 mark, the Pride, which has scored 411 points, needs 20 to break the school record of 430 set in 2000 ... SC needs 344 yards to become the 3rd Division III team ever to rush for 4,000 yards in the regular season. The '00 Pride totaled 4,275 yards, which is an NCAA Division III record ...junior QB Ryan Sylvia needs one more rushing TD to break Kevin Cahill's NCAA Division III record for rushing TDs by a quarterback. Sylvia has 18 entering Saturday's game.
SC moved up to No. 6 in the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) National poll, which is its highest ranking ever. The Pride is ranked No. 1 in the NCAA Division III Football Committee East Regional and the ECAC Lambert Division III polls.
Fourteen SC offensive players have scored this season, and 12 different players have a rush or a reception of 22 yards-or-more.
If junior QB Ryan Sylvia rushes for 51 yards on Saturday, it will mark the second time in school history that SC has had two 1,000-yard rushers in the regular season (junior FB Tim Lutgens has 1,052 yards). In '96, Mark Doherty (1,292) and Shawn Tarpey (1,026) were the first to accomplish this feat.
Facts and Figures:
SC is in the midst of a school-record 13-game regular-season winning streak ... the Pride has outscored the opposition 225-50 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 ... in its last three games, SC is averaging 60.3 points and 486.3 yards rushing … junior all-conference HB Kevin Domurat averages a first-down per carry (10.6 avg.). He averaged 9.0 ypc in ‘02 … junior QBs Ryan Sylvia (18 rushing TDs, 7 passing TDs) and Michael Judge (6 rushing TDs, 3 passing TDs) have combined for 34 scores in '03.
Can’t Touch This:
The Pride has three of the top-8 single-game rushing performances in Division III in ’03:
• 3rd, 533 yards vs. Norwich (Nov. 8)
• 7th, 493 yards vs. WPI (Oct. 25)
• 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 13th in Division III in total defense (245.0 ypg), 15th in rushing defense (91.8 ypg) and 28th in scoring defense (14.4 ppg) ... an SC defender won the FFC Defensive Player-of-the-Week Award four times this season. Junior LB Justin Fletcher is the latest honoree (Oct. 26). Fletcher made a game-high 11 tackles in the 56-10 win over WPI. He joins seniors Jesse Baker, a linebacker, CB Mike Kimmel and SS Ryan Santo as FFC award winners.
While My Guitar Gently Weeps:
Two hand injuries have not slowed down all-conference senior LB Jesse Baker on the football field or on stage. Baker, a team captain who is the Pride's leading tackler (51), is fourth all-time at SC with 282 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) ... despite a heavily bandaged right hand, Baker continues to perform as the guitarist and vocalist in a local band called "Fading Still."
And The Winners Is ... :
Junior FB Tim Lutgens was named the FFC co-Offensive Player of the Week on Sunday. He shared the award with Coast Guard's Jon Tillman ... Lutgens is the seventh SC player to win an FFC weekly award in '03 ... Lutgens, who cracked the 1,000-yard mark (1,052), rushed for 185 yards and five touchdowns vs. Norwich (Nov. 8). He scored four times in the first 24 minutes to stake the Pride to a 42-3 lead midway through the second quarter.
The Pride's '03 slate has certainly prepared the team for the post-season. SC's strength of schedule ranked seventh in Division III, according to the strength of schedule index posted on D3Football.com (Oct. 28). In 2002, the NCAA developed this index to allow the selection committee to more easily calculate and compare teams' schedules ... SC has won at Montclair St. (No. 21 nationally, 7-1 overall) and at Western Conn. (6-3 overall), and posted victories over Ithaca (No. 13, 8-1 overall) and Kings Point (6-3 overall).
Although the Pride possesses the best running game in college football, it also uses the pass effectively. SC QBs are 18-of-39 for 541 yards with 10 TDs and just three interceptions 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 five TD receptions, and is averaging 31.2 ypc.
SC's efficiency in the red-zone is big reason it is one of Division III's top-scoring teams, averaging 45.7 ppg. SC is 40-of-45 (88.9%) in the red zone (38 TDs, two FG) ... this trend began last season, when the Pride scored 24 of 28 times in the red zone (85.7%), and averaged 36.5 ppg.
In The Classroom:
SC led the FFC with 19 academic all-conference selections last season. To be named to the team, a student athlete must have a 3.0 grade-point average and play a significant role ... included on the academic all-conference team were junior HB Kevin Domurat, junior LB Justin Fletcher, junior FS Jeremiah Goodnow and senior PK Greg Switaj, who were also all-FFC choices in '02. Other notables include junior QB Michael Judge.
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 on the way to winning FFC Special Teams Player-of-the-Year honors ... Switaj has converted 57-58 PAT dating back to last season.