Division-III Football Playoffs: Wesley Wolverines vs. Hampden-Sydney Tigers
Match-up: On Saturday at Noon Eastern Time the Wesley Wolverines (Independent, 9-1) will host the Hampden-Sydney Tigers (Old Dominion Athletic Conference, 7-3, 5-2) in Dover, Delaware. Wesley enters the game as the No. 4 team in the country according to D3Football, while Hampden-Sydney is unranked. Wesley enters the playoffs with an at-large bid, while the Tigers enter as the Old Dominion Athletic Conference champions despite losing their last game of the season.
Coaches: Marty Favret is finishing his 15th season at the helm of the Tigers. He has a career mark at the school of 112-42, including 12 straight winning seasons. This is H-SC’s sixth playoff appearance under Favret.
Mike Drass is finishing his 22nd season running the Wolverines program and is 196-53-1. His 196 wins currently rank him third among active coaches and his 78.7 winning percentage ranks in the top-10 all-time. Drass has led his team to the Division-III playoffs in 10 straight seasons and he his teams have 22 playoff wins during that time.
On offense, Hampden-Sydney is led by senior quarterback Nash Nance. Nance has thrown for 2786 yards and 28 touchdowns in 10 games this season. He has posted a 60.6 completion percentage, and he has been careful with the ball, yielding just 9 interceptions. The senior is also second on the team with 401 yards rushing and 9 TDs.
Senior Brady Macko led the team in rushing with 551 yards, plus he added 6 touchdowns and 4.7 yards per carry average. At the wide receiver position the Tigers have a dangerous threat in Holton Walker. The senior finished with 1144 yards receiving, fifth most in the country, and his 11 TD grabs rank him 13th.
On defense, Hampden-Sydney has an incredible group of linebackers, who move to the ball well and always seem to be in the action. Senior Josh Doggett led the team with 82 tackles, including seven for loss. Junior Nick Martin was second with 63 and he added 1.5 sacks and a fumble recovery. FS Larry Haskins is a real ball-hawk, who can make plays at the line or drop back into coverage. The Tigers created 17 turnovers on the season (5 fumble recoveries, 12 interceptions).
The Wolverines offense is led by junior Joe Callahan, who threw for 2831 yards during the season, with 34 touchdowns and a 67.4 completion percentage. His 34 touchdowns was ranked third during the regular season nationally, and he was ranked third in passer efficiency at 195.3. What makes Callahan so deadly is that he does not make mistakes that cost his team games, throwing just four interceptions this year.
Jamar Baynard is the team’s primary tailback, rushing for 669 yards and 9 scores. Another sophomore, Ben Martin, has received playing time the last two months and has delivered 393 yards on just 42 carries, a 9.4 per carry average. He scored 4 touchdowns.
Callahan likes to spread the ball around, but his favorite target is Steve Koudossou, who caught 48 balls for 862 yards and 10 touchdowns. Three other receivers caught at least 31 passes, including Kyle George (33 receptions, 504 yards, 5 TDs), Bryce Shade (32, 265, 3), and Baynard (31, 536, 4).
Two senior linebackers led the Wolverines in tackles, Sosthene Kapepula and Jordan Wescott. Both recorded 59 tackles with Kapepula adding 1.5 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, 2 fumble recoveries and 3 pass breakups, and Wescott adding 2.5 sacks, 2 forced fumbles and an interception. Add in defensive tackle Payton Rose (41 tackles, 3.5 sacks, 11.5 tackles for loss) and defensive end Roderick Caine (34 tackles, 5.5 sacks, 2 forced fumbles and 2 fumble recoveries) and it is easy to see that Wesley has one of the best front sevens in the Division-III, and we haven’t even mentioned Aamir Petrose, who had 9.5 sacks (9th nationally) and 19 tackles for loss. This is a defense that gets after people and creates turnovers (18 forced fumbles, 16 interceptions).
Hampden-Sydney: 421.5 yards per game. 37.7 points per game
Wesley: 480.9 yards per game, 51.2 points per game
Hampden Sydney: 372.4 yards per game, 25.0 points allowed per game
Wesley: 237.4 yards per game, 11.2 points allowed per game
Outlook: The Hampden-Sydney Tigers have the offense to keep up in this game. They play smart and they have playmakers on both sides of the ball that can keep them competitive. The Wesley Wolverines are just flat out beasts, however. The key to their success is they have given up 11 turnovers and have produced 34. Their defense gets after the quarterback, and they make teams completely one-dimensional, which feeds into their talented group of defensive backs. Sorry Tigers but the Wolverines are just too good. Take Wesley 44-21.
Tomorrow’s Previews on the Minor League Sports Report will look at:
Wheaton vs. Benedictine
John Carroll vs. Centre
Wittenberg vs. Washington & Jefferson
Mount Union vs. Adrian
By Robert Pannier