Division-III Football Playoffs: Round 2 Preview: Wesley vs. MIT
Match-Up: On Saturday at noon Eastern Time the Wesley College will face off against the MIT University Engineers in the second round of the NCAA Division-III Football playoffs. Wesley finished the regular season ranked fourth in the D3Football poll. MIT received six points but was not ranked.
How They Got Here:
MIT was 10-0 in the regular season and faced off against the Husson Eagles this last weekend. The Eagles were leading by three with 48 seconds left in the game, and were looking like they had their bags packed for the next round, but QB Peter Williams had other plans. Starting from his own 30-yard line Williams completed 3 of 5 passes for 34-yards and the Engineers were aided by an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty that gave them 15 more yards. At the Husson 21 with just a few seconds on the clock kicker Tucker Cheyne drilled a 38-yard field goal as time expired to send the game into overtime.
In OT the Engineers got the ball first. On third and 5 Williams scrambled for the first down to the Eagles 13. On the next play the MIT QB completed a 13-yard pass to Seve Esparrago to put the Engineers up 27-20. The Engineers forced a turnover on downs on fourth and 4, and with the victory they now move on to face Wesley College.
Wesley College left no doubt that they were going to advance. They put up 42-points in the first quarter, aided by two interceptions that were returned for touchdowns. Brenton Barnes had an 18-yard interception return for a score and Sosthene Kapepula had a 44-yard return. Joe Callahan passed for four touchdowns in the quarter, including three to Steve Koudossou, a 25-, 75- and 59-yarder.
Callahan finished with 336 yards passing and 5 touchdown passes. Koudossou had 4-catches for 238-yards, an NCAA record 59.5 yards per catch average. His 4 touchdown receptions gave him 51 career touchdowns, a school record, and he also set a record for most points at Wesley with 310.
It’s easy to see that the Wolverines have the weapons to put up points and to do it quickly. Wesley averaged 51.2 points per game entering the playoffs, and the 52 they put up in their first round matchup keeps them on par. Callahan ranks in the top-10 in passer efficiency in all of Division-III football, and has passed for 3167 yards and 39 touchdowns. Koudossou now has 52 catches for 1100 yards and 14 touchdowns, and Martin’s 103 yards moved him just shy of 500 for the season (496).
Kapepula continues to prove why he is one of the most dynamic linebackers in the country. His 9 tackles against the Tigers led the team, and he now has 3 interceptions, to go along with 9 pass breakups/defenses, 1.5 sacks and 2 fumble recoveries. This is a defense that makes things happen. The Wolverines had 6 interceptions and a fumble recovery against the Tigers, and now have 19 fumble recoveries and 22 interceptions for the season. They are ball-hawks and play sound, disciplined defense.
The MIT Engineers play a bend but don’t break style of defense, and it served them well this last Saturday. They only had a sack and one turnover, but they also only gave up 20 points. Linebacker Cameron Wagar made 21 tackles on Saturday, 18 solo, demonstrating why he is such a relentless defender.
Williams showed incredible poise, the kind of poise you expect out of an MIT student. He now has over 2300 yards passing on the season with 22 touchdowns. He creates time in the pocket and has a great football IQ. Justin Wallace added 144 yards on the ground this last Saturday, giving him 1713 yards, tops in the country now. He also scored his 18th touchdown of the season.
This is an offense that loves to pound the ball. Their defense is so good at keeping teams out of the end zone, because they are well rested from the long drives fueled by Wallace and Williams.
This looks like another one of those classic David vs. Goliath scenarios. The MIT Engineers are not going to produce a lot of turnovers, but they don’t make mistakes either. The Wesley Wolverines, on the other hand, create turnovers, and force mistakes out of their opponents. When they get the ball they are deadly on offense, and know how to score. A 42-point first quarter shows how quickly they can hurt opponents, on both sides of the ball. It has been a great run for MIT, but it is about to come to an end. Take the Wolverines 52-12.
By Robert Pannier