Match-up: On Saturday at noon Eastern Time the Delaware Valley College Aggies (Middle Atlantic Conference, 9-1, 8-1) will play host to the Christopher Newport University Captains (USA South Athletic Conference, 7-3, 7-1) at their campus in Doylestown, PA in their first round match in the Division-III Football playoffs. The Aggies enter the contest ranked No. 16 in the latest D3Football poll. The Captains were not ranked.
Coaches: Matt Kelchner is in his 14th season as the head coach of the Christopher Newport University Captains. Coach Kelchner has an impressive 97-50 mark with the Captains and this is his 10th appearance in the NCAA Division-III playoffs. He has two career post-season wins. Coach Kelchner is the only coach the Captains football program has ever known.
Duke Greco is in his first season as the head coach of the Delaware Valley College Aggies. He was the team’s offensive coordinator for eight years before taking over the squad, and finished 9-1 in his first year, losing only to conference champion Widener.
The Christopher Newport Captains offense is led by their quarterback, senior Marcus Morrast. Morrast is arguably the best duel threat quarterback in the country, passing for 2246 yards and 21 scores, and adding 737 more yards on the ground and 10 rushing touchdowns. His passer efficiency of 165.2 is ranked 18th and he had a solid 59.1 completion percentage. He makes things happen and his play will be a key to the game.
Duquan Davis finished second on the team in rushing behind Morrast. He carried the ball 165 times for 749 yards and 8 touchdowns. At 5-7, 160 the sophomore is quite small to be an everyday back, but he has a great deal of heart.
Senior Rudy Rudolph led the Captains in receiving and finished fourth in the nation with 1289 yards. He made 63 catches and recorded 7 touchdowns. He knows how to get open and use his speed as evidenced by his 20.5 yards per catch average.
Junior safety Tyrell Eaton leads the Captains in tackles with 59, plus he has 2 interceptions and 8 pass defenses/breakups. He seems to always be in the play and loves to hit. Junior linebacker Mic Edwards is second with 58 tackles.
CNU’s defense recorded 16 sacks, 11 interceptions and 9 fumble recoveries. Cameron Barlow led the team in interceptions with 4, and Shaun Copening had 5 sacks.
The Delaware Valley Aggies don’t have a duel threat, dynamic playmaker like Morrast. They don’t need one. They are perfectly happy with senior quarterback Aaron Wilmer. The Aggies QB finished with 3064 yards passing, ranked seventh in the country, and he threw 30 touchdowns, ranked eighth. This young man has a strong arm and makes good decisions, throwing just 8 interceptions in 290 attempts.
On the ground, Chris Smallwood has established himself as one of the best backs in the country. His 1316 yards ranks 1oth in Division-III, and his 19 touchdowns places him fourth. The 5-11, 205 pound senior has proven to be a load to bring down, as his 5.8 yards per carry average attests to.
Five players on the Aggies caught at least 10 passes, but senior Rasheed Bailey set himself apart. He leads Division-III in yards (1634) and receiving touchdowns (19), and added 75 catches. The senior is an incredible deep threat, averaging 21.8 yards per catch. Unreal is the best word to describe his performance this season.
The Aggies have an outstanding defense that brings pressure. They recorded 31 sacks during the regular season, but only 14 turnovers (7 interceptions, 7 fumbles). Rasheed Lighty is the leading sack master with 8.5 to go along with his 52 tackles. Danny Wynne leads the team with 99 tackles and Frank Law added 62 tackles and 5 sacks.
Christopher Newport: 424.3 yards per game. 36.1 points per game
Delaware Valley: 307.2 yards per game, 43.4 points per game
Christopher Newport: 408.8 yards per game, 31.3 points allowed per game
Delaware Valley: 214.8 yards per game, 25.4 points allowed per game
Outlook: These are two big play offenses, who have incredible skill players that are fun to watch. Both are also fairly limited in their focus, in that one receiver dominates the passing game for both teams, but the two combatants have outstanding ground attacks and quarterbacks who know how to move the ball. This becomes a battle of which defense can be trusted more. The Captains are better at creating turnovers and the Aggies at getting pressure. Let home field advantage be a determining factor and call this a 27-20 Delaware Valley Aggies win.
By Robert Pannier