SPRINGFIELD, Mass., November 4, 2006 – Chris Sharpe, the nation’s leading rusher and scorer in Division III, did little to hurt his standing by rushing for 272 yards and scoring two touchdowns in leading Springfield College to an important, 44-20 Empire 8 victory over Hartwick College this afternoon on 'Senior Day' at SC’s Benedum Field.
With the win, Springfield, ranked No. 2 in New England and as high as No. 15 in the nation in one poll, ups its record to 8-1 overall, and 4-1 in the Empire 8. Hartwick, meanwhile, falls to 3-6 overall, and 1-4 in the conference.
On the afternoon, Sharpe set one NCAA Division III record, extended another NCAA Division III record, and set one more school record. Sharpe now has 1,575 rushing yards on the season. That breaks the NCAA Division III record for most yards rushing by a quarterback in a single season. The old record was 1,345 by Kevin Cahill of Springfield College in 1999. Sharpe broke the Springfield College school record for most yards rushing in a single season. The old record was 1,348 by Jay Miller (a running back) in 2000. The NCAA Division III record that Sharpe extended was his own. He now has 28 rushing TD’s on the season, most ever by a Division III quarterback. The old record, which Sharpe broke two weeks ago, was 20 by Springfield College QB Ryan Sylvia in 2003. Sylvia is currently Sharpe’s quarterback coach. Sharpe also extended another school record, most points in a single season, with 168. He had also broken that record two weeks ago.
Springfield’s victory, combined with Alfred’s 28-17 win over Ithaca this afternoon, means that Springfield finds itself in the driver’s seat for the conference title. If SC can defeat Norwich (2-7, 0-5) next Saturday in Northfield, Vermont, then the Pride can do no worse than a tie with St. John Fisher or Alfred for the Empire 8 title. But Springfield holds the advantage over St. John Fisher and Alfred in head-to-head competition. Two weeks ago, Springfield defeated St. John Fisher in Pittsford, N.Y. by a score of 55-38. Earlier this year, in SC's week #3, SC had beaten Alfred, 41-34. Thus, a win over Norwich Saturday would give Springfield the automatic NCAA Division III post-season berth for the Empire 8.
A junior quarterback from Derry, N.H., Sharpe ran for 272 yards and two touchdowns, including a 92-yarder early in the fourth quarter that really broke the game open. SC led 30-14 following that score. Earlier, Sharpe had run one in from six yards out with 4:23 left in the second quarter. Sharpe had entered the day ranked #1 in the nation in Division III in rushing offense with 162.9 yards per game. He emerged averaging 175.0 yards per game. He also had entered the day ranked #1 in the nation in scoring offense at 19.5 points per game. He emerged averaging 18.7 points per game.
Springfield jumped out to an 18-0 lead. The game’s first touchdown was scored with 1:59 left in the first quarter by sophomore fullback Andrew Jackson (Pennsville, N.J.) from three yards out. The drive was all of nine yards on two plays. SC had taken advantage of a fumble by Hartwick sophomore QB Jason Boltus (Baldwinsville, N.Y.), which was recovered in the air by SC outside linebacker Ian Johnson (New Britain, Conn.). Freshman Chris Bush (Creek, N.Y.) missed the extra point (he would make just 2-of-5 attempts on the day).
With 9:32 left in the second quarter, Jackson scored again on a two-yard plunge. SC had marched 10 plays on 56 yards. SC went for two, but the rush failed. Thus, SC led 12-0.
Sharpe then scored on his 6-yard run with 4:23 left in the second. The drive went 30 yards on seven plays. SC had taken advantage of a short field after Boltus had been intercepted by senior free safety Lucas Maciarello (Stillwater, N.Y.). The Bush kick failed, so SC led, 18-0.
Hartwick then came to life as starring junior RB Lindy Crea ran one in from 10 yards away. He capped a 72-yard, six-play drive with just 1:26 left in the half. The extra point by senior Joe Gatta cut SC’s halftime lead to 18-7.
In the second half, the Hawks took their opening drive 71 yards on six plays, scoring on another Crea touchdown, this one from 28 yards out. Gatta’s kick cut SC’s lead to just 18-14 with 12:32 left in the third quarter.
But from here on, it was a game mostly dominated by the Pride the rest of the way. SC freshman FB Bret Manning (Acton, Mass.) scored his first collegiate touchdown from five yards away with 4:17 left in the third period. That 14-play, 80-yard march was SC’s most-sustained drive of the day. Manning had taken over for an injured Jackson late in the first half. That made it, 24-14, SC.
Next came an important sequence. Boltus had driven the Hawks all the way to the SC 4-yard line, traveling 71 yards on 15 plays. But on a third-and goal, Boltus threw his third interception of the day, right into the waiting arms of senior SS Kevin Fessette (Plattsburgh, N.Y.) at the SC 2.
Just three plays later, Sharpe ran for his 92-yard score, breaking a few tackles, and finally getting free on the left sideline. That made it, 30-14 SC, with 12:48 left. After that, Springfield scored touchdowns by Manning ( six yards with 7:37 left) and by sophomore RB Nick Tymoczko (seven yards with 4:57 left).
With 3:31 left, Boltus found freshman Joseph Vanella in the end zone for a five-yard score with 3:31 left. That made the final, 44-20, SC.
SC finished with 22 first downs to Hartwick’s 13. SC outgained the Hawks, 472 yards (all on the ground) to Hartwick’s 312. Of those 312, the Hawks gained 207 through the air. Time of possession was in SC’s favor, 38:01 to 21:59.
Sharpe finished with 272 yards and 2 TD’s on 29 carries. Manning, in a relief role for Jackson, finished with 81 yards and 2 TD’s on 13 carries. Jackson ended with 58 yards and 2 TD’s on 15 carries. Sharpe was 0-for-1 passing.
For Hartwick, Crea finished with 93 yards and 2 TD’s on 12 carries. Crea also had 81 yards on four receptions. In addition, Crea had 78 more yards on five kick-off returns. Not included in those totals was a 90-yard kickoff return for touchdown that was called back due to penalty. Boltus was 14-of-31 for 207 yards and one TD passing, but he was intercepted four times. He was also sacked once.
On the defensive side of the ball, senior ILB Andrew Madigan (New Britain, Conn.) led his SC squad with six tackles, one forced fumble, and one pass deflection. Of the four interceptions, two were picked off by Maciarello, one by junior CB Joe Harasymiak (Waldwick, N.J.), his eighth of the season, and one by Fessette.
For Hartwick, the game’s leading tackler was sophomore DB Juston Oelgeschlager with 13 (including 11 solos). Senior OLB Joe Flaherty finished with 10 tackles, including 3.5 for loss, and one sack.
Next week, Springfield plays at Norwich University at 1:00 p.m. Meanwhile, Hartwick hosts Utica at 1:00 p.m.