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Linfield caps perfect season with D-III championship

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  • Linfield caps perfect season with D-III championship

    Dec. 18, 2004 wire reports

    SALEM, Va. -- The Linfield Wildcats showed they're more than just a star quarterback.


    Riley Jenkins turned a swing pass from Brett Elliott into a go-ahead touchdown with 5:51 to play Saturday as the Wildcats capped a perfect season with its first NCAA Division III national championship, beating Mary Hardin-Baylor 28-21.

    The scoring pass was the second of the game for Elliott and his NCAA record 61st of the season, but the special teams play that set it up and solid defense throughout were every bit as important to the guys from McMinnville, Ore.

    "The offense has gotten a lot of the publicity, but there's no question that to see the defense step up today and make big plays allowed us to win as a team," Linfield coach Jay Locey said.

    The 10-yard score came after Linfield (13-0) stymied the Crusaders on their 18 and Zach Fleming disrupted Hunter Hamrick's punt attempt, causing Hamrick to fumble the ball and fall on it on his 10.

    "That wasn't even a punt block," Fleming said, adding that the Wildcats were setting up for a return hoping to get good field position.

    "I came off the edge and I swam my man and it was just wide open, so I took it," he said. "I thought I had a penalty. I thought he kicked it."

    Instead, Linfield had the break it needed to end what had become a defensive struggle between two of Division III's highest scoring teams.

    They wasted no time.

    On the next play, Elliott hit Jenkins out of the backfield. Jenkins made a one-handed grab, eluded two defenders down the sideline and dived into the end zone.

    Elliott, a former starter at Utah who transferred after losing his starting job to Alex Smith, thought he had missed his chance when he threw the ball.

    "I overthrew him. I thought it was incomplete and I was thinking about the next play," he said. "Then all of a sudden, he sticks out his left arm and makes an unbelievable catch. That's been the story of our season."

    Elliott finished 20-for-34 for 282 yards with two interceptions. He also threw a swing pass that Brandon Hazenberg turned into a 39-yard touchdown on the third play of the game.

    Mary Hardin-Baylor (13-2) had tied the game with 9:01 remaining on Freddie Rollins' 18-yard run and then his 2-point conversion run.


    The Crusaders moved to the Linfield 19 on their last possession in a drive that featured a 55-yard pass to P.J. Williams. But the Wildcats ended the threat and preserved the win by sacking Welsh on a fourth-and-4.

    "In the huddle before we broke, everybody looked in each other's eyes and we knew that was the play to stop the game," said Linfield defensive end Kelley Bertrand, one of the Wildcats in on the sack.

    The championship is the first in Division III for Linfield, of McMinnville, Ore., which moved up to the division in 1998. The Wildcats also won NAIA Division II national titles in 1982, 1984 and 1986.

    Mary Hardin-Baylor, a women's college in Belton, Texas, until 1971 that didn't start playing football until 1998, also was bidding for its first NCAA title.

    The botched punt and other mistakes killed the Crusaders' chances.

    "There was a breakdown in protection" on the punt play, Crusaders coach Pete Fredenburg said. "We had the right protection in, but they gave us a little look and one of our guys didn't get out wide enough. ... You can't do that if you're going to win the national championship."

    Crusaders placekicker Zach Newcomb also missed an extra point and a 26-yard field goal.

    Linfield, the highest scoring team in Division III with an average of 51.8 points, seemed likely to roll easily at the outset. It took the Wildcats three plays and just 44 seconds to go 66 yards and lead 7-0.

    Williams caught a 30-yard scoring pass from Welch in the second quarter, answering a 14-yard run by Jenkins, but the Wildcats went up 21-13 on Elliott's 1-yard dive right before halftime.

    Williams finished with eight catches for 160 yards and two touchdowns

    Jenkins was named the game's most outstanding player after rushing for 81 yards on 18 carries and catching four passes for 64 yards.

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  • DJRamFan
    I-AA Wrapup: Shakedown Saturday
    by DJRamFan
    Changes in the elite are emerging

    Oct. 3, 2004

    By David Coulson, Senior Columnist,
    Special to from

    As a youngster, I used to watch reruns of Star Trek every day after school. And I always wondered what it would be like to have Scotty's transporter in my house.

    Just think about how cool it would be to quickly beam yourself from one place to another.

    I could have used that device on Saturday to keep track of some great matchups in I-AA football -- matchups that will have obvious repercussions on the NCAA playoffs in the next month and a half.

    I would have started my journey by beaming to Tubby Raymond Field for the Delaware-Maine showdown in the Atlantic 10. As it was, I had to settle for watching the No. 4 Blue Hens and No. 8 Black Bears play a instant classic on my trusty, though less flashy VCR.

    This was a game that many thought would be a defensive struggle, but instead the two teams combined for 81 points and 954 yards of total offense.

    Delaware, which had showed almost no offensive consistency this season, jumped to a 20-0 lead early in the second quarter and had beaten its best scoring output of the season by the middle of the second period with a 27-7 advantage.

    Maine, which usually likes to control the ball on the ground behind big, senior tailback Marcus Williams, was forced to almost completely abandon its rushing attack and came charging back behind the arm of sophomore quarterback Ron Whitcomb.

    Whitcomb completed 22-of-40 passes for 310 yards and three touchdowns, two of the scoring aerials to Christian Pereira (nine catches for 143 yards).

    When Whitcomb connected with Pereira on a 10-yard scoring strike early in the fourth quarter, the Black Bears pulled within 37-35 and Mike Mellow's 21-yard field goal finally gave Maine the lead with 7:12 to play, 38-37.

    But Saturday was the day that Delaware quarterback Sonny Riccio finally arrived. Much was expected when Riccio transferred last spring from Missouri to fill the void left by the graduation loss of I-AA.Org offensive player of the year Andy Hall.

    Riccio struggled in his first three games as a Blue Hen, games that included a loss to New Hampshire and two unimpressive wins over Towson and Division II West Chester.

    But Riccio hit 33-of-51 passes for 415 yards and a 28-yard touchdown and added a 12-yard scoring run against Maine. And he led Delaware on a clutch drive that resulted in a last-minute, game-winning touchdown.

    As soon as the gun sounded in Newark, Del., I would have been ready to say: "Scotty, beam me to Carbondale, Ill. for the Southern Illinois-Northern Iowa showdown."

    It looked for a half like it would be another week for the curse...
    -10-04-2004, 11:58 AM
  • DJRamFan
    Greene becomes Georgia's winningest QB in rout of Vanderbilt
    by DJRamFan
    Oct. 16, 2004 wire reports
    ATHENS, Ga. -- Except for one series, David Greene played about as well as he can for Georgia.

    It helps to have a pair of 100-yard runners in the backfield -- and Vanderbilt on the opposite side of the line.

    Greene passed for two touchdowns and ran for another, leading the 12th-ranked Bulldogs to a 33-3 rout of lowly Vanderbilt on Saturday.

    Greene found plenty of room to pass when the Commodores began crowding the line, trying without much success to stop Georgia's freshmen running backs.

    Danny Ware rushed for 127 yards and Thomas Brown had 122, including a touchdown. They were the first pair of Bulldog runners to go over 100 yards in the same game since Garrison Hearst and Mack Strong in 1992.

    "That's big," Ware said. "We want to do that every game."

    The Bulldogs (5-1, 3-1 Southeastern Conference) bounced back from their first loss of the season, a 19-14 setback to Tennessee.


    Greene became just the fifth player in SEC history to pass for 10,000 yards in his career. He also picked up his 37th victory, breaking a tie with College Football Hall of Famer Johnny Rauch as the winningest quarterback in Georgia history.

    "Wins are the thing," said Greene, just two wins away from Peyton Manning's NCAA record. "For a quarterback, that's what you're always going to be judged by. Wins mean more to me than anything else."

    The left-hander has struggled much of the season, coming into the game as only the ninth-rated quarterback in the SEC. But Greene had the right opponent to pad his numbers.

    Vanderbilt (1-5, 1-3) is only one defeat from its 22nd straight losing season. Georgia piled up a season-high 527 yards, holding the Commodores to just 187.

    Greene played seven possessions in the game, leading the Bulldogs to four touchdowns and a field goal, while another drive reached Vandy territory before stalling.

    The only time Greene looked out of sync was when he threw three straight incompletions late in the second quarter.

    "I felt like I played great except for one drive," he said.

    Greene completed 14 of 21 for 191 yards, including a pair of touchdowns in the third quarter that put the game out of reach.

    Georgia scored on its first two possessions and led 16-3 at halftime. The Bulldogs followed the same script in the second half.

    Greene finished off an eight-play, 80-yard drive with a 22-yard pass to Leonard Pope, the first touchdown of the sophomore's career and a 23-3 lead.

    On Georgia's next possession, Greene faced fourth-and-2 at the Vandy 38. He faked a handoff and lofted a perfect pass to Reggie Brown, who beat cornerback Bill Alford in...
    -10-16-2004, 02:42 PM
  • DJRamFan
    James Madison earns first Division I-AA championship
    by DJRamFan
    Dec. 17, 2004 wire reports
    CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. -- James Madison ran its way to its first Division I-AA national championship.

    Maurice Fenner had 164 yards and two touchdowns, and quarterback Justin Rascati also ran for two scores in a 31-21 victory over Montana on Friday night. The Dukes rolled up 314 yards rushing en route to their first national title.

    "It was two great quarterbacks. The difference was we could run it, and they couldn't," James Madison coach Mickey Matthews said.

    Rascati ran for 57 yards on 11 carries, and Fenner had 29 carries.

    The Dukes (13-2) were the first team to reach the title game by winning all three playoff games on the road, advancing past the second round for the first time.

    The two-time champion Grizzlies (12-3), playing in their fifth title game and led by Colorado transfer quarterback Craig Ochs, took a 21-17 lead in the third quarter, but couldn't stop James Madison's rushing attack.

    Trailing by four points, James Madison responded with a 72-yard drive -- all on the ground. Fenner capped the drive by pounding in for a score from the 1, putting the Dukes ahead for good.


    Montana missed a 31-yard field goal at the end of the third quarter that would have tied the game, and the Dukes all but sealed the title on their next drive.

    Rascati scored on a 6-yard run one down after getting hit in the head, a play that resulted in a roughing-the-passer penalty on Montana's Kerry Mullan that gave James Madison a first down.

    The Grizzlies had a chance to rally, but James Madison's Clint Kent intercepted Ochs' pass with 6:17 remaining, and Montana was unable to move the ball the rest of the game.

    "It's a dream come true," said Rascati, who transferred from Louisville after last season. "It's something I've always dreamed of throwing in the backyard."

    James Madison's fans threw yellow streamers and some even jumped down from the stands onto the field to celebrate with the team as the final seconds ticked off the clock. All stayed on the field during a short fireworks show while security officials took down the goal posts.

    Montana appeared to be in control in the first quarter after holding James Madison to 2 total yards on offense (minus-4 rushing, and 6 passing). The Grizzlies' score on their opening drive was the only touchdown James Madison allowed in the first quarter this season.

    But the Dukes eventually got rolling on the ground.

    "I think they decided they were going to do it," Montana coach Bobby Hauck said. "They played a great game and deserved to win."

    Montana was trying to win the school's third title, a championship that would have provided a perfect ending...
    -12-18-2004, 01:50 PM
  • DJRamFan
    Gators give Zook big win over FSU in final game
    by DJRamFan
    Nov. 20, 2004 wire reports
    TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- This one was for The Zooker.

    Chris Leak threw a touchdown, Ciatrick Fason ran for a score, and Florida upset No. 10 Florida State 20-13 to win in Tallahassee for the first time since 1986.

    It also gave fired coach Ron Zook a victory in his final regular-season game.

    Condemned since the day he replaced Steve Spurrier in 2002, Zook finally did something the ol' ball coach didn't in his 12 glorious seasons with the Gators. He won at Florida State.

    The players carried Zook off the field, and the coach flashed a big smile that had been missing for much of his three seasons.

    "I congratulated them for a great job, a great effort," Zook said he told his players after the game. "I thanked them for just hanging in there and not quitting."

    The Gators (7-4) ended any legitimate chance the Seminoles had of earning a third straight Bowl Championship Series berth. Florida State (8-3) still could finish tied for the Atlantic Coast Conference title but probably would lose all tiebreaker scenarios because of its BCS ranking, which is expected to drop Monday.


    Florida also spoiled a special night for longtime Seminoles coach Bobby Bowden. Before the game, the school named its playing surface "Bobby Bowden Field" and unveiled a 20-by-30 foot stained glass window at the stadium featuring Bowden's likeness.

    Spurrier --- 0-5-1 in six trips to Tallahassee -- must have loved the upset, too.

    The Gators threw with relative ease against Florida State's vaunted defense. Leak finished 19-for-39 for 231 yards with an interception.

    "He's very mature for a sophomore," Bowden said. "He plays like a senior. He did a great job."

    Fason's 8-yard touchdown run with 4:59 remaining put the Gators ahead for good.

    "I saw a lot of guys leaving everything on the field and we won it for Coach," Fason said. "I think this will help him in looking for a job."

    Zook's farewell fairy tale almost turned into a redemption story for Florida State, though.

    Embattled quarterback Chris Rix came off the bench and threw a touchdown pass with 8:30 to play that cut the lead to 13-10.

    He rolled right and heaved a pass into the end zone that Chauncey Stovall caught over Vernell Brown. The pass was reminiscent of Rix's 52-yard touchdown pass to P.K. Sam with 55 seconds remaining last season that gave the Seminoles a 38-34 win.

    Rix also drove the Seminoles to the 18-yard line in the waning seconds, but his last pass was intercepted by Jarvis Harris with 8 seconds to play. Rix finished 9-of-16 for 150 yards.

    "He brought us back and nearly pulled it...
    -11-21-2004, 05:03 PM
  • DJRamFan
    Badgers win ugly, stay undefeated
    by DJRamFan
    By Ben Hubner The Daily Cardinal
    Madison, WI (U-WIRE) -- After gaining 214 total yards against Michigan, Wisconsin running back Brian Calhoun came into Saturday's game with a bulls-eye on his back. The Hoosiers stacked the line and did their best to hit their target-doing so successfully, holding Calhoun to just 101 yards on 26 carries and a touchdown. Unfortunately for Indiana, they were too busy waiting for hand-offs to notice that the stars of the game Saturday were lined up wide.

    Senior receivers Brandon Williams and Jonathan Orr had three touchdowns and 241 yards between them-Williams leading the way in catches (six) and scores (two) and Orr having the edge in yards (128). Orr and Williams became the first UW receiving duo to each have 100-yards in a game since 1993.

    While the game was never really in question, the Badgers came into the game a bit hung-over from the dramatic comeback win against the Wolverines the week before and it showed. Quarterback John Stocco-one of last week's heroes-threw two early interceptions and the secondary gave up several big plays in the first half, even allowing Indiana's James Hardy to catch two touchdowns on 157 yards for the game.

    "They had some deep passes on us," said Wisconsin junior defensive back Roderick Rogers. "Teams can see that they can be successful against us on the deep pass. So as a secondary we just have to get better and defend that more."

    While Indiana attacked the inexperience in the Badger secondary, the defense made plays to compensate.

    Wisconsin forced four turnovers; two fumbles and two interceptions. The first interception was a beautiful read across the middle by seldom-used freshman defensive back Jack Ikegwuonu, which set up Williams' second touchdown catch of the day.

    "It was surreal ... a dream come true," Ikegwuono said of his pick. "I think every kid growing dreams about making a big play like that for the Badgers."

    Fellow freshman Allen Langford grabbed the other interception, but Stocco gave the ball right back as UW was unable to capitalize on the turnover. In the end, however, the story was the offense, which took to the air and showed the Big Ten that the Badgers have a not-so-secret second dimension.

    "Our offense has been so successful so far this season but like we have been saying every week there is still things that we can improve on," Orr said. "We did think that this would be a good game to try and open things up a little bit and it worked out."

    To say the least. Indiana's anticipation of the run allowed the Badgers to call the same play-action play twice-early in the first quarter and then again in the fourth-which led to a pair of Jonathan Orr receptions for 47 yards down the middle of the field. The first of Orr's home...
    -10-03-2005, 04:25 PM