No. 14 Football Faces No. 13 In Ithaca In Division III Showdown
Ithaca College Bombers (No. 13, AFCA, 3-0) at
Springfield College Pride (No. 14, AFCA, 4-0)
Sat., Oct. 4, 2003 • 1:30 p.m. • Benedum Field
Ithaca leads, 22-7.
The Last Meeting:
The Bombers defeated the Pride, 44-20, on Oct. 5, 2002, in Ithaca, N.Y.
Last Time Out:
SC defeated Coast Guard, 49-10, on Sept. 27 in New London, Conn.; Ithaca beat St. John Fisher, 20-19, in Ithaca, N.Y.
About the Pride:
This weekend’s game marks the fourth Ithaca-SC game in the past six seasons to feature two unbeaten teams ... according to the national polls, the SC-Ithaca game is one of college football's premier contests. It is one of four games pitting teams ranked nationally in the top 15. The others: No. 14 Texas-No. 13 Kansas State, No. 2 Western Illinois-No. 6 Western Kentucky (Div. I-AA), and No. 11 Wisconsin-Stevens Point-No. 8 Wisconsin-Lacrosse (Div. III) ... SC's has a 19-6 record in regular-season home games dating back to the '98 season, but the Bombers have won their last three visits to Benedum Field, including a 17-16 victory in '01 and a 45-42 decision in '99... the Pride has won eight straight regular-season games dating back to last season's loss at Ithaca, and has gone over the 40-point mark seven times in the last 13 regular-season games ... SC, which is currently second in Division III in rushing (362.8 ypg), is 22-2 in games when it rushes for more than 300 yards over the past four seasons ... its does not get much easier for the Pride next week, when it travels to Danbury, Conn., to play Western Connecticut. Since '98, the winner of the SC-Western Conn. game has gone on to win at least a share of the FFC championship and has earned the conference’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
Back To the Future:
Today's game is a renewal of a long-time rivalry between two of the East's best teams. Its also a preview of things to come beginning in 2004, when the Pride makes the jump from the FFC to join Ithaca in the Empire 8 Conference. This move shifts the focus of the SC-Ithaca game from a traditional battle between two regional powers to an annual conference match-up with the Empire 8's automatic berth to the NCAA Division III Tournament potentially at stake. The Bombers won the first and only E-8 title in '02 ... other E-8 teams include Hartwick, St. John Fisher, Alfred, Utica and Norwich, which also joins the league in '04.
SC moved up to No. 14 in this week's American Football Coaches Association Division III National Poll. This is the Pride's highest national ranking since SC finished No. 10 in the final AFCA poll in 2000. In the latest D3Football.com poll, the Pride is No. 21 ... SC is 1-0 against nationally ranked opponents in '03 (W, 49-28 vs. No. 25 Kings Point). SC is 6-6 against teams in the top 25 since 2000.
SC's efficiency in the red-zone is big reason it is one of Division's III top-scoring teams, averaging 39.5 ppg. SC is 16-of-17 (94.1%) in the red zone (15 TDs, one FG) ... in '02, the Pride scored 24 of 28 times in the red zone (85.7%), and averaged 36.5 ppg.
SC's 481 rushing yards in the win over Kings Point (Sept. 20) are the most by a Division III team this season, and are fourth only to Division I-AA Northeastern (593 rushing yards) and Nicholls State (515 and 496 rushing yards) in college football ... the Pride rushed for 898 yards and 11 TDs in wins over Kings Point (Sept. 20) and Coast Guard (Sept. 27).
When junior QB Ryan Sylvia rushed for 117 yards vs. Kings Point (Sept. 20), it marked the fifth time he had eclipsed the 100-yard mark in his career, and the second time in '03 (135 yards at Salve Regina) ... junior FB Tim Lutgens, who had a career-best 172 yards vs. Kings Point (Sept. 20) and has rushed for 100+ yards four times in his career, and Sylvia are the only SC backs to crack the 100-yard mark this season ... in '02, five SC backs reached the 100-yard mark as the Pride led Division III in rushing (356.7 ypg): junior HB Will Davis (145 yards vs. Salve Regina), junior HB Kevin Domurat (three times), junior QB Michael Judge (twice), Lutgens (three times) and Sylvia (156 yards vs. Union).
Although the Pride possesses one of the best running games in college football, it also uses the pass effectively. SC QBs are 12-of-23 for 356 yards with six TDs this season, and receivers are averaging 29.7 ypc ... junior QB Ryan Sylvia typifies the Pride's big-play capability with five TDs passes of 20 yards-or-more ... at Salve Regina (Sept. 6), junior QB Michael Judge hooked up with junior HB Kevin Domurat for a 45-yard score ... in the last two seasons, senior SE Farrand Violette has seven catches, including four TDs, and is averaging 35.4 ypc ... in '02, SC completed 23 passes for an average of 24.0 ypc and 11 TDs.
The Pride ranks among Division III's leaders in five categories:
Rushing Offense: 362.8 ypg (rank: 2nd)
Total Offense: 451.8 ypg (rank: 14th)
Scoring Offense: 39.5 ppg (rank: 19th)
Rushing Defense: 69.5 ypg (rank: 13th)
Total Defense: 231.0 ypg (rank: 21st)
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 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 28 consecutive PAT dating back to last season.
Junior QB Ryan Sylvia and senior SS Ryan Santo were honored by the FFC on Sept. 22. Sylvia was the FFC co-Offensive Player of the Week after rushing for 117 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries, and throwing for 128 yards and three scores against Kings Point (Sept. 20). Sylvia was also the FFC's offensive player of the week on Sept. 7, and won the conference’s rookie-of-the-week award twice in the 2001 season ... Santo, who was also the ECAC Division III Northeast Defensive Player of the Week and a D3football.com Defensive Team-of-the-Week honoree, had a huge day in the victory over Kings Point. He made 11 tackles (8 solo), had a pass defended and forced a fumble.
SC, which is nationally ranked in rushing defense (69.5 ypg, 13th) and total defense (231.0 ypg, 21st), has allowed just 22 points in the first half through four games ... in the season-opener at Salve Regina (Sept. 6), the Pride allowed the just three first downs and 58 yards in the first half. At Montclair State (Sept. 13), SC forced five turnovers and blocked two field goal attempts. Against No. 25 Kings Point (Sept. 20), SC held All-America back David McNeal to 56 yards on 20 carries, which was 87 yards below his average ... last season, coordinator Jack Holik’s 3-4 defense ranked at the top of the FFC in scoring defense (17.5 ppg) and rushing defense (117.9 ypg). SC recorded five turnover returns of at least 30 yards, and scored three touchdowns. The Pride ranked 14th nationally in pass efficiency defense (86.3) and 22nd in total defense (253.5 yards-per-game) ... three of SC captains are defensive stalwarts: senior LB Jesse Baker, senior DE Jason MacDonald and senior SS Ryan Santo.