Football, Fitchburg State Face-off In ECAC Championship
Fitchburg State Falcons (8-3) at Springfield College Pride (7-2)
ECAC Division III North Atlantic Championship
Sat., Nov. 20,
Game Day Quick Facts
What's At Stake:
The Pride and the Falcons are battling for the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) Division III North Atlantic Football Championship.
About The ECAC Championships:
Six teams from New England and upstate New York are competing in the three ECAC Championship games Saturday. Ithaca welcomes UMass-Dartmouth in the Northwest Championship, and Alfred plays host to Norwich in the Northeast Championship.
This is the first meeting ever between the teams.
The Last Time Out:
The Pride pounded Norwich, 49-13, in Northfield, Vt., last Saturday; the Falcons lost to Curry, 17-7, in the NEFC Championship game.
About Saturday's Game:
A win would give SC eight wins for the fifth time in seven seasons … preseason All-American senior FB Tim Lutgens, who is just 19 yards shy of 3,000 rushing yards (2,981), was knocked out of the Norwich game last Saturday with an ankle injury in the second quarter, but junior FB Andre Clayton filled Lutgens' big shoes. Clayton picked up a career-best 178 yards on 19 carries (9.3 ypc) and scored on a five-yard rush. He leads the team in yards-per-carry (7.6) and is third in rushing yards (481) … the Pride leads the Empire 8 in four offensive statistical categories: rushing (384.9), pass efficiency (158.6), fourth-down conversions (15-18, 83.3%) and sacks allowed (seven) ... the Falcons (8-3 overall) were runner-up in the NEFC after dropping a 17-7 decision to Curry in the conference championship game last Saturday. Prior to Saturday's loss to Curry, they had won eight games in row … the only common opponent is Western Connecticut. The Pride defeated Western Conn., 56-27, on Oct. 9 in Danbury, Conn., while the Falcons lost 31-17 on the road to the Colonials on Sept. 3
News & Notes
This is the Pride's third-consecutive post-season berth, a first in the program's 111-year history. Saturday's game is SC's sixth post-season appearance in the nine seasons since the program moved to D-III for the 1995 campaign.
ECAC D-III Championship-at SC 49, Cortland (N.Y.) 26
NCAA D-III Tour., 1st rd.- Buffalo State 38, at SC 35
NCAA D-III Tour., 1st rd.-at SC 31, Montclair (N.J.) St. 29
NCAA D-III Tour., 2nd rd.-SC 10, at Brockport (N.Y.) 6
NCAA D-III Tour., East Regional Final-Widener 61, at SC 27
NCAA D-III Tour., 1st rd.-at Brockport 16, SC 0
NCAA D-III Tour., 2nd.- RPI 40, at SC 34
The Home Front:
The Pride is 15-1 on Benedum Field since 2002, including a 5-0 mark this season. In five wins in '04, SC averaged 42.4 points and 415.6 yards rushing. The Pride's defense has pitched two shutouts, and allowed an average of 9.4 points and 47 rushing yards ... in four regular-season games in ‘03, SC averaged 50.6 ppg and 466.5 yards rushing.
In its last two games, SC has allowed minus-28 yards rushing. The Pride set a school record by holding Hartwick (Nov. 6) to minus-83 yards rushing, which is 29 yards shy of the NCAA D-III record for fewest rushing yards allowed. Last Saturday at Norwich, the Pride allowed just 55 yards on the ground ... the Pride ranks among the Empire 8 leaders in opponent first downs (1st/114), opponent fourth-down conversion (1st/6-16, 43%), rushing defense (2nd/87.8) and red-zone defense (2nd, 17-25, 68%) ... preseason All-American senior LB Justin Fletcher (team-high 60 tackles, 5.0 tfl, 1 int.), sophomore LB Andrew Madigan (54 tackles, 3.5 tfl), senior DE Curtis Schmidt (team-high 9.5 tfl and 4.5 sacks) and senior DT Brian McLellan (50 tackles, 6.5 tfl, 2.5 sacks) lead the Pride's defense.
SC, the second-ranked rushing team (384.9 ypg) in D-III, has rolled up 400+ yards on the ground five times in '04, including a season-best 517 yards against Norwich (Nov. 13). Since the '02 campaign, the Pride has cracked the 400-yard barrier 14 times in 30 games, and is 14-0 in those games ... the Pride has won three of the last four D-III national rushing titles (2000, '02 and '03). Last season, SC led all D-I, II and III teams at 398.5 ypg and set a D-III record with 4,384 rushing yards.
The Pride, which scored touchdowns on all six of its trip to the red zone at Norwich (Nov. 13), has scored on 13 of its last 14 times inside the 20-yard line. This season, SC has scored 32 times (29 TDs) in 37 red-zone appearances (86.5%), which is second in the E-8 to only St. John Fisher (46-51, 90.2 %)
Senior FB Tim Lutgens and QB Ryan Sylvia are among best backfield combinations in D-III. Lutgens and Sylvia have combined for 28 rushing TDs and 1,784 rushing yards in '04 ... Lutgens, whois the first SC back to crack the 1,000-yard in two consecutive seasons, ranks second in rushing (112.6) and third in scoring (9.6) the E-8, while Sylvia is fifth in rushing (85.7) and scoring (9.3) … in '03, Lutgens (team-high 1,307 yards) and Sylvia (1,122 yards) became the first D-III duo to eclipse the 1,000-yard mark in the same season since 1997 … Sylvia enters Saturday's game with 14-career 100-yard rushing efforts, while Lutgens has 13. Lutgens has five 100-yard games in '04, and Sylvia has three.
The Empire Reigns:
Saturday is a big day for the Empire 8 Conference with five of seven teams in the postseason. League-champion St. John Fisher earned the E-8's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament, and plays host to Muhlenberg (Pa.) in a first-round game. Ithaca, SC, Alfred and Norwich compete in ECAC championships.
Preseason All-American LB Justin Fletcher was named to the Academic All-District I Football team for the second-straight season on Nov. 15. Fletcher, the Pride's leading tackler with 60, carries a 3.48 grade-point average as a business major. He moves on to the ballot for the Academic All-America team, which will be announced Dec. 1.
Top Of The (SC) World:
Senior QB Ryan Sylvia holds school records for career rushing touchdowns (48) and points (288). Last season, he set a D-III record for most rushing TDs by a QB with 20. Here's a look at where Sylvia ranks on SC's all-time lists:
1. Kevin Cahill, 4,842 yards
2. Ryan Sylvia 4,293 yards
1. Kevin Cahill, 3,209 yards
2. Ryan Sylvia 2,985 yards
1. Jim Collis, 28 TDs
5. Dave Bennett, 15 TDs
t6. Ryan Sylvia and Jim D'Antuono, 14 TDs
SC 49, Norwich 13
Sat., Nov. 13, Northfield, Vt.
SC wrapped up the 2004 regular season with a 49-13 victory over Norwich in an Empire 8 Conference game on Sabine Field.
SC rushed for a season-high 517 yards against Norwich. Junior FB Andre Clayton led the Pride's ground game with a career-best 178 yards on 19 carries. Senior QB Ryan Sylvia scored three second-half touchdowns, and became SC's all-time leading scorer with 288 points.
The Pride defense smothered the Cadets, yielding just 55 yards on the ground and allowing Norwich’s high-powered offense to a meaningless fourth-quarter TD. Senior LB Justin Fletcher had a team-high six tackles, and senior DE Curtis Schmidt had two-tackles-for-loss and one sack. Schmidt's blocked punt with 3:21 left in the first half resulted in a safety and gave SC a 23-6 lead. After getting the ball back on a free kick, Clayton capped a four-play, 47-yard drive with a five-yard TD rush to give the visitors a 30-6 lead at the half.
The Pride controlled the clock with a commanding 39:22 to 20:38 time-of-possession advantage.
SC jumped out to a 7-0 lead on its first possession when senior HB Kevin Domurat raced 17 yards for a TD. Senior FB Tim Lutgens (10 yards) and senior HB Will Davis (16 yards) scored second quarter TDs and the Pride led, 21-6, late in the first half. Schmidt's blocked punt with 3:21 on the clock resulted in a safety and a 17-point SC lead. Just 1:31 later following a free kick, Clayton punched one in from five yards out for a 30-6 cushion.
Sylvia scored on runs of six, five and one yards in the second half to extend the Pride's lead to 43-6 with 10:21 left in the game.