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Chuck Bitner

PSAC Championship Game is set, other Headlines from Week 10

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IUP outlasts Gannon, advances to PSAC Championship game

IUP got the help they needed from Mercyhurst to vault them into the PSAC Championship game, but the Lakers nearly got a HUGE assist from-ross town rival Gannon that would have put them into the title round. Mercyhurst was alive for the PSAC west championship when play started on Saturday, but in order to secure the title, they would need 2-7 Gannon to upset 8-1 IUP. No one, including me, thought there was even a small chance of that happening. But it very nearly did.

Gannon took the lead three times in the second half and as late as the seven minute mark of the fourth quarter. IUP rallied to take back the lead with three minutes to go but had to make two defensive stands and survive a “hail mary” on the last play. It certainly didn’t play out the way anyone expected but give credit to Gannon for a heck of an effort and face the reality that the only thing that matters is that IUP got the win, and advances to the championship.

The worst thing about this game for IUP is that Shippensburg (the best offense in the country) has a week to break down how Gannon was able to have the best day any offense has had against IUP this year. The Crimson Hawks have shown no weaknesses on defense, but the Golden Knights may have exposed some vulnerabilities that Shippensburg can take advantage of.

Championship game set, will be televised live on PCN

With divisional play in the books, the Championship game is now set. IUP will host Shippensburg on Saturday at 2:00. The PSAC announced this past Saturday that a deal has been reached with PCN to broadcast the game live state-wide. Additional details about online streaming will also be available later in the week.

I will have a preview of the game later in the week, and it may take me a few days to figure out who I am favoring. The league’s best offense will go up against the league’s best defense for the overall title. We can’t ask for more than that in a championship game.

Additional note: IUP becomes for the fourth western division team and eighth overall to participate in the PSAC Championship game that was re-introduced in 2008. It is remarkable that in just five seasons, exactly half of the PSAC members have participated in the championship game.

Cal loses second straight, falls out of playoff contention

California started the day with control of its destiny and an opportunity to move on to the PSAC Championship game. Unfortunately for the Vulcans, Mercyhurst was in complete control of the game from start to finish. The Lakers put together their most impressive performance of the year in trouncing visiting California 40-7. The Lakers’ top ranked pass defense lived up to its reputation by limiting Cal to just 133 yards on 15 completions. The Lakers’ passing game was an efficient 10 of 15 for 191 yards, and the running game put up 209. Mercyhurst finishes tied for first in the PSAC West, although IUP owns the head to head tie breaker and will play in the championship game. California will likely fall out of the regional rankings and miss out on the post season for the first time since 2006.

Bloomsburg hangs on to defeat Rondell White 24-23

Rondell White carried West Chester on his back Saturday afternoon. The senior running back carried 30 times for 219 yards and caught 9 passes for 94 yards in accounting for 313 of the Golden Rams’ 422 total yards. Unfortunately for White, the most significant play of the game was most likely a red zone fumble with 4:39 to play. The Rams had marched 89 yards on 12 plays and were within easy scoring distance when Bloomsburg’s Dan Haverstock and Matt Heilig forced White to fumble at the 12 yard line. Bloomsburg still had to make two more defensive stands to seal the game but a turnover on downs and another forced fumble secured the Huskies’ ninth win of the season.

Shippensburg sails to 10th victory

Shippensburg started slow, but rolled to an easy victory over Cheyeny. Okay, what I mean by “started slow” is that they did not score on their first possession. After receiving the opening kickoff, the Raiders turned the ball over on the second play of the game. But any thoughts of a let-down performance were put to rest when the Raiders scored on the next four drives and chipped in a defensive touchdown as well. More school records fell as the Raiders wrapped up an undefeated PSAC East schedule. The Raiders established new records for defensive touchdowns (5) and first downs in a season (287). Zach Zulli became the school’s career passing leader with 6,586 yards in just 21 appearances. Cheyney ran the ball for 204 yards, but had zero pass completions and zero passing yards.

Harris has career day, Edinboro offense explodes in 48-13 victory

Cody Harris threw for 460 yards and five touchdowns (both career highs) as Edinboro’s offense took out three weeks of frustration at Clarion. Harris also ran for a touchdown, accounting for a total of six on the day. Clarion held the advantage in time of possession and accumulated almost 400 yards of offense, but 10 penalties and three turnovers were very costly. The Golden Eagles have lost 9 of their last 10 games against Edinboro.

Slippery Rock wins fourth straight

Lock Haven hoped to continue their recent trend of hanging around and staying in contention for a win, but Slippery Rock quickly proved there would be no chance of an upset. The Rock took advantage of two early turnovers and scored on their first four possessions of the game in rolling up a 28-0 first quarter lead. Nigel Barksdale completed only 50% of his passes, but had four touchdowns. The second half was uneventful and scoreless, but the Rock picked up their fourth straight win and moved into a tie for third place in the division.


East Stroudsburg offense continues to roll

East Stroudsburg effortlessly torched Millersville for 588 total yards on their way to a 41-0 half time lead and a 62-14 victory. Matt Soltes ran for 126 yards and threw for 256 in a performance that earned him PSAC East player of the week for the third time. Millersville had a decent day offensively with 168 rushing yards and 218 passing but it was way too little, too late.

Reminder: Kutztown v. LIU-Post has been rescheduled for Saturday, November 17.

Regional Rankings
The latest round of regional rankings will come out on Monday afternoon. California and West Chester will likely fall out of the top ten, and I expect Mercyhurst to make an appearance, probably in the 9th or 10th position. Shippensburg (first) and Bloomsburg (fourth) should maintain their positions and IUP should advance to fifth or sixth.


Questions, comments, complaints, etc. can be sent to me at chuck.bitner@d2football.com

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Updated 11-05-2012 at 08:01 AM by Chuck Bitner

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Comments

  1. shiplb54's Avatar
    Chuck, I would like your take on the whole East v. West Offense v. Defense thing.

    IUP has a great D, but they haven't played any of the top offenses from the East, who happen to all be in the top 6 in the country for total offense. However, it has been suggested that these stats are padded because of weak defenses in the East. Are the East offenses that good or their Defenses that weak?
  2. Chuck Bitner's Avatar
    I don't really think of it as East = offense, West = defense. We've seen it go both ways. Bloom, West Chester, Ship and Post have all had great defenses in the past couple of years. We've also seen good offenses from Slippery Rock, Mercyhurst, Edinboro, Cal and IUP. This year however, the East is loaded with better offenses.
  3. Chuck Bitner's Avatar
    Stats don't give a complete picture either. Gannon is fourth in total defense, and I didn't much out of them live or on tape. Bloomsburg is down in ninth in total D but they have a knack for making stops in critical junctures. The Ship-IUP matchup is fantastic because its the best offense against the best defense. But both teams can play pretty well on the other side of the ball too. We could get a game like Auburn v. Oregon from two years ago, which did not play out the way anyone expected.
  4. shiplb54's Avatar
    Thanks Chuck! Great thoughts.
  5. IUP'01's Avatar
    If IUP beats Ship, both teams make the playoffs. But if Ship beats IUP, how do you see the playoff picture? I'm hoping that a close loss would allow them to hold on to the 6 seed at least.