No. 19 Football Squares Off With No. 25 Kings Point
Kings Point Mariners (No. 25, d3football.com, 2-0, 1-0 FFC) at Springfield College Pride (No. 19, AFCA, 2-0, 0-0 FFC)
Sat., Sept. 20, 2003 • 2 p.m. • Benedum Field
SC leads, 6-2. The Pride has won the last five meetings.
The Last Meeting:
The Pride held off the Mariners, 26-13, on Sept. 21, 2002 in Kings Point, N.Y.
Last Time Out:
SC beat Montclair State, 22-14, on Sept. 13 in Upper Montclair, N.J.; the Mariners defeated Norwich, 24-13, last Saturday in Kings Point, N.Y.
About the Pride:
Saturday's game pits the Freedom Football Conference's top rushing team (SC, 276.5 ypg) and the FFC's best defense against the run (KP, 55.0 ypg) ... this is the FFC-opener for the Pride. SC is 7-1 in conference openers since joining the FFC for the 1995 season. The lone loss was in '97 to Kings Point by a 42-28 score ... it's not surprising that Hurricane Isabel could be a factor on Saturday. Expect the unexpected when these teams meet in Springfield. In '97, the Pride opened the season with an impressive 31-14 win over Division II AIC only to drop a 42-28 decision to Kings Point the following week. In '99, SC PK Rob Dickson picked up a blocked field goal attempt and raced six yards for the game-winning TD on the final play of a 41-35 SC win. The play was CNN's 'Play of the Day.' Dickson's score capped a wild fourth-quarter in which 34 points were scored. The '01 meeting, which was scheduled for Sept. 15, was postponed because of the Sept. 11 tragedy. Six weeks later, SC won, 35-13 ... SC is 20-2 in games when it rushes for more than 300 yards over the past four seasons ... with a win Saturday, the Pride will go to 3-0 for the fourth time since 1996, but it would be the first time SC was 3-0 in an odd-numbered season as a Division III program. The Pride started 3-0 in '96, '98, 2000 and '02.
And the Winner Is ... :
SC senior linebacker Jesse Baker was selected the FFC Defensive Player of the Week (Sept. 14). Baker, a team captain, tied a school record with three interceptions in the Pride’s 22-14 victory at Montclair State (Sept. 13). He became the sixth player in SC history to record three interceptions in a game. Baker made his final pick on the Pride’s goal line with 2:11 to play and the Red Hawks attempting to tie the score. He also recorded five tackles and recovered a fumble ... with the three interceptions, Baker moved into ninth place on SC’s all-time list with nine.
SC is ranked No. 19 in this week's American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) poll, while the Mariners are ranked No. 25 in the d3football.com poll ... the Pride faces its first nationally ranked opponent of the '03 campaign this Saturday. SC is 5-6 against teams in the top 25 since 2000.
Two Headed QB:
Juniors Michael Judge and Ryan Sylvia continue to share the quarterback duties. The duo rotated every three series at quarterback for the entire '02 season, and their numbers were nearly identical. Judge rushed for 625 yards and eight touchdowns, and Sylvia had 600 yards rushing and eight scores. Judge threw for six touchdowns and was picked off just once, and Sylvia had five touchdowns passes and threw only one interception ... Sylvia was selected the FFC and the ECAC Division III Northeast Offensive Player of the Week (Sept. 7) after rushing for 135 yards and four TDs in a 38-7 win at Salve Regina. Sylvia is fourth in the FFC in rushing (94.0) and fifth in scoring (12.0 ppg).
When junior QB Ryan Sylvia rushed for 135 yards in the win over Salve Regina (Sept. 6), it marked the fourth time he had eclipsed the 100-yard mark in his career. Sylvia is the only SC back to run for 100+ yards through two games in '03 ... 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), junior HB Tim Lutgens (three times) and Sylvia (156 yards vs. Union).
Although the Pride is known for its running game, it also uses the pass effectively. SC QBs are 5-of-12 for 133 yards and three TDs this season ... in the 22-14 win over Montclair State (Sept. 13), junior QB Ryan Sylvia completed two passes and both went for scores (38 and 27 yards). At Salve Regina (Sept. 6), junior QB Michael Judge hooked up with junior HB Kevin Domurat for a 45-yard score ... in '02, SC completed 23 passes for an average of 24.0 yards-per-catch and 11 touchdowns.
SC's efficiency in the red-zone was a major reason why it averaged 36.5 points in '02. The Pride scored 24 of 28 times in the red zone (85.7%) last season ... in '03, SC is 6-of-6 in the red zone (five TDs, one FG).
Seven starters return from a relentless defense that ranked at the top of the FFC in scoring defense (17.5 ppg) and rushing defense (117.9 ypg) in '02 ... 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 ... last season, coordinator Jack Holik’s 3-4 defense 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.
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-America 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 13 consecutive PAT dating back to last season.
Game #2: SC 22, Montclair State 14:
SC senior LB Jesse Baker tied a school record with three interceptions and recovered a fumble as the Pride held off Montclair State, 22-14, in messy conditions at Sprague Field.
Baker, a team captain, became the sixth player in school history to pick off three passes in a game to propel the Pride to 2-0. The last three times SC started 2-0, it has gone on to win the FFC title ('98, 2000, '02).
The Pride defense held the Red Hawks to just 88 yards rushing and 3-of-12 on third-down conversion attempts. Junior LB Mark Bartelini led the defense with nine tackles and sophomore DB Mitch Dupuis added eight stops. Senior DB Chris Teel blocked two field goal attempts.
Offensively, junior QB Ryan Sylvia threw two TD passes and rushed for 53 yards. Junior TE Luis Conte and junior SE Mike Grendal both caught their first career touchdowns. Junior FB Tim Lutgens led the Pride with 66 yards on the ground and had a one-yard TD run in the first quarter.