No. 7 Welcomes WPI For Homecoming
WPI Engineers (2-4, 0-2 FFC)
at Springfield College Pride (No. 7, AFCA, 7-0, 4-0 FFC)
Sat., Oct. 25, 2003 • 1:30 p.m. • Benedum Field
What's At Stake:
With a win Saturday, SC can clinch at least a share of the Freedom Football Conference (FFC) championship. The Pride could win the title outright with a victory over Norwich (3-1 in the FFC).
SC leads, 24-0-2.
The Last Meeting:
The Pride defeated WPI, 31-22, on Oct. 26, 2002 in Worcester, Mass.
Last Time Out:
SC beat Plymouth State, 62-0, on Oct. 18 in Plymouth, N.H., WPI lost to Norwich, 35-28, on Oct. 11 in Worcester.
About the Pride:
SC moved up to No. 7 in the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) National poll, which is its highest ranking ever. The Pride is ranked No. 1 in both the ECAC Lambert Division III and the Division III New England polls. The ECAC Lambert poll ranks the 74 Division III teams in the East ... SC, which is one of just 16 Division III teams nationally that remains undefeated, tied the school record for most consecutive regular-season victories with 11 in last Saturday's win at Plymouth State. The Pride has also won 10 consecutive FFC contests ... the Pride has outscored the opposition 148-29 in the first half this season ... SC is 25-2 in games when it rushes for more than 300 yards over the past four seasons ... SC is three victories away from the first 10-0 season in school history. Against the next three opponents (WPI, Norwich and Union), the Pride has a combined 46-5-3 record. It's worth noting, however, that Union spoiled SC's last bid for a 10-0 season with a 48-12 win on Nov. 11, 2000, and Norwich beat SC, 14-13, on Nov. 3, 2001 in its last trip to Benedum Field.
Sylvia Is Gold:
Junior QB Ryan Sylvia was named the FFC co-Offensive Player of the Week (Oct. 19). This is the third time this season that Sylvia has been honored by the FFC ... in the win over Plymouth State (Oct. 18), he rushed for 109 yards and four TDs on just seven carries, marking the seventh time in his career he's eclipsed the 100-yard mark. It's also the second time this season Sylvia has rushed for four TDs, which he did in the season-opener at Salve Regina (Sept. 6). Sylvia leads the FFC in scoring (12.0 ppg, 7th nationally), and is fourth in rushing (104.0 ypg) and total offense (154.6 ypg). His season totals include 728 rushing yards and 14 touchdowns to go along with 354 yards passing and seven scores.
SC, which is nationally ranked in total defense (8th/224.4 ypg), rushing defense (9th/76.3 ypg) and scoring defense (16th/12.6 ppg), has allowed just 29 points in the first half this season. At Western Conn. (Oct. 11), the Pride allowed the FFC's highest-scoring offense just seven points and the conference's top-rated passing attack only 162 yards in the air ... at Montclair St. (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 ... coordinator Jack Holik's 3-4 set is anchored by senior captains DE Jason MacDonald, LB Jesse Baker and SS Ryan Santo.
Although it's Week 8 of the college football season, this is only the third home game of the '03 season for the Pride. SC has been very successful away from Benedum Field this season. The Pride is 5-0 on the road this season, including a 21-7 win at Western Connecticut (Oct. 11) ... SC is 9-2 in its last 11 trips dating back to the '01 campaign.
Can't Touch This:
The Pride, which is second in Division III in rushing (375.2 ypg), has three of the top-11 rushing performances in Division III in '03:
4th, 481 yards vs. Kings Point (Sept. 20)
10th, 433 yards at Plymouth State (Oct. 18)
11th, 417 yards at Coast Guard (Sept. 27)
... SC has gone over the 400-yard mark seven 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.
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 (36), is fourth all-time at SC with 267 career tackles. 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."
Get Used To Them:
Junior FB Tim Lutgens and junior QB Ryan Sylvia are part of an outstanding backfield comprised predominantly of juniors. In fact, six of SC's top seven most productive rushers will be back next season. Lutgens (108.0 ypg) and Sylvia (104.0 ypg) are third and fourth, respectively, in rushing in the FFC. Junior all-conference HB Kevin Domurat is ninth (55.0 ypg) ... Sylvia (five times), Lutgens (three times) and Domurat (twice) have all broken the 100-yard mark in '03 ... SC's backfield also includes junior QB Michael Judge (4 rushing TDs), junior HB Will Davis (9.4 ypr) and sophomore FB Mike Fiscella.
Although the Pride possesses one of the best running games in college football, it also uses the pass effectively. SC QBs are 15-of-31 for 467 yards with nine TDs and just one interception this season, and receivers are averaging 31.1 ypc ... junior QB Ryan Sylvia typifies the Pride's big-play capability with eight TD passes of 20 yards-or-more ... in the last two seasons, senior SE Farrand Violette has seven catches, including four TDs, and is averaging 35.4 ypc. Junior TE Louis Conte is another favorite target. He has three catches, all for TDs, for 96 yards (32.0 ypc).
Junior QB Ryan Sylvia is seventh in Division III in scoring (12.0 ppg), and the Pride ranks among Division III's leaders in five categories:
Rushing Offense: 375.7 ypg (rank: 2nd)
Scoring Offense: 41.7 ppg (rank: 9th)
Total Offense: 443.7 ypg (rank: 15th)
Total Defense: 224.4 ypg (rank: 8th)
Rushing Defense: 76.3 ypg (rank: 9th)
Scoring Defense: 12.6 ppg (rank: 16th)
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 40-of-41 PAT dating back to last season.
Pride of New England:
Entering this season, SC had the fifth winningest program currently playing Division III football in New England. SC had a 469-403-55 (.536) record in 110 seasons entering the '03 campaign. Williams (571 wins, 122 seasons), Amherst (554 wins, 123 seasons), Trinity (477 wins, 118 seasons) and Wesleyan (470 wins, 119 seasons) are the top four ... with 114 wins in 21 seasons (including two seasons at Maine Maritime), SC head coach Mike DeLong was second among active Division III New England coaches and was 20th in Division III.