The No. 10 ranked John Carroll Blue Streaks welcome the No. 22 Wesley Wolverines on Saturday in the second round of the NCAA Division-III football playoffs. John Carroll went 9-1 this season and won the Ohio Athletic Conference (OAC). They then defeated the Olivet Comets in the first round to advance. Wesley won the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) after finished 8-2 this season, and defeated the Stevenson Mustangs in the first round.
How They Got Here
John Carroll opened the season with a tough loss at No. UW-Oshkosh, falling 33-14. They then went on a nine-game winning streak, winning all of their conference games. The Blue Streaks narrowly defeated Baldwin Wallace 17-10, then rolled over their next three opponents before narrowly defeating Ohio Northern 20-16. John Carroll then had three decisive victories before going to Mount Union on the final weekend of the season. The Blue Streaks pulled off the upset victory over the then No. 1 ranked Purple Raiders, 31-28, to win the OAC.
John Carroll jumped out to a 13-0 lead over Olivet in their first round contest. The Comets pulled within six, but two more touchdowns made it 25-6 heading into the half. Anthony Moeglin had two touchdown passes in the first half and Eddie Williamson had a 63-yard punt return for a touchdown less than two minutes before the break. Two more touchdown passes to start the second half move the Blue Streaks ahead by 31 and they would win 37-12.
Moeglin finished with 262-yards passing and 4-touchdowns. Marshall Howell had 9-catches for 118-yards and 2-TDs. Ray Brown led John Carroll with 10-tackles and 1.5-sacks. Jimmy Thomas added 1.5-sacks.
Wesley started out the season with a tough loss to Delaware Valley, 21-14. After a win over Frostburg State, the Wolverines fell to Christopher Newton. They were 1-2 and in a lot of danger of their season spiraling downward, but Wesley rattled off seven straight wins to get to 8-2. They dominated those seven games, only scoring less than 37-points one time.
In the first round of the playoffs, the Wesley Wolverines welcomed the Stevenson Mustangs. Stevenson scored first to take a 7-0 lead, but Wesley responded with 10 straight points. The Mustangs tied the score, then Wesley got two scores, one on a 37-yard touchdown reception by Bryce Shade and the other on a six-yard run from Jamar Baynard. Baynard would add two more touchdown runs as the Wolverines won 38-17.
Baynard finished with an impressive 265-yards and 3-touchdowns on 36-carries. Shade had 123-yards receiving and 2-TDs on 12-receptions. Roderick Caine was an absolute beast, recording 4-sacks and forcing two fumbles. Capp Miller had 2-interceptions.
John Carroll PPG: 36.9, Rushing YDs/Game: 193.2, Passing YDs/Game: 214.4, Total YDs Game: 407.5
Wesley PPG: 39.9, Rushing YDs/Game: 207.6, Passing YDs/Game: 262.2, Total YDs Game: 469.8
John Carroll PPG: 12.4, Rushing YDs/Game: 70.4, Passing YDs/Game: 146.4, Total YDs Game: 208.8
Wesley PPG: 16.8, Rushing YDs/Game: 130.3, Passing YDs/Game: 151.9, Total YDs Game: 222.3
Why John Carroll Will Win
- This team has proven that they can win big games. The victory over Mount Union was a huge one and should be the kind of momentum leading victory that should carry them to the semi-finals.
- There are a lot of weapons on this team so opponents cannot stop one guy and think that they are making any real difference.
- Led by Ray Brown, the Blue Streaks get a lot of pressure on the quarterback, and will make this a miserable day for Nick Falkenberg
Why Wesley Will Win
- John Carroll has an outstanding run defense, but they have not faced someone quite like Baynard. He is a load and has a lot of experience in games like this.
- The Wesley special teams unit wins the field position battle and will be a key to why the Wolverines will win.
- Wesley does not get the same kind of pressure on the QB that John Carroll does, but they are great at creating turnovers. Get four in this game and they are advancing.
John Carroll has defeated the big obstacle in their path the last dozen years, and now they look to take the momentum all the way. Wesley is a good team and will make this a great game, but they will fall short. Take the Blue Streaks 31-21.
By Robert Pannier