November 7, 2014

Widener Football - No. 11 Football Placed Third in NCAA East Regional Rankings

Image: John Green
No. 11 Widener's perfect start through eight games led by its ferocious defense has placed the squad third in the first NCAA East Regional Rankings.
These rankings are the primary criteria in helping place schools for the 32-team NCAA Tournament, which begins November 22.
The Pride (8-0, 7-0 MAC) sit tied atop the Middle Atlantic Conference and have been nationally ranked most of the campaign for many reasons.  The aforementioned defense is the key principle by remaining number one in the country in rushing defense with only 41.6 yards allowed per contest.  Helping that figure was the fact the squad yielded minus-19 rushing yards last Saturday vs. Stevenson and minus-13 yards September 27 at FDU-Florham.
The unit also is third in the nation with 11 tackles for a loss per game, fourth in turnover ratio (23:6), fifth with a .524 red zone scoring percentage, sixth with 3.75 sacks per game, seventh with 10.6 points allowed per contest and 11th with 238.9 yards allowed per game.
It certainly does not hurt to have three all-conference returnees on the defensive line in Stacey Sunnerville (Freehold, NJ), fellow junior Shakore Philip (Bay Shore, NY) and senior John DiBiase (Mount Laurel, NJ).  Sunnerville, who was tabbed second team All-MAC, is third on the squad with 35 tackles and also has seven tackles for a loss.  Philip was first team All-MAC as well as second team All-ECAC South and DiBiase was Honorable Mention.
Linebacker Kevin Burns (Collingdale, PA) leads the team with 53 tackles and 15 for a loss with fellow senior Brandon Harper (Blackwood, NJ) second in both at 51 and nine.  Sophomore Alex Stewart (Pittsgrove, NJ) had a school-record three blocked punts October 18 against Wilkes and senior Ameer Sorrell (Port Norris, NJ) has four touchdowns this year that include three blocked punt returns.
Senior All-America receiver/returner Anthony Davis (Upland, PA) continues to be a menace for any opponent and once again is having another solid campaign.  He is 36th in the country with 757 receiving yards, 62nd with 132.1 all-purpose yards per game, third in the MAC with seven receiving touchdowns and sixth with 5.5 receptions per game.

Davis is first in school history with 231 career receptions, 6,092 all-purpose yards and 1,685 kickoff return yards.  He also is second with 38 touchdown catches, second with 3,468 receiving yards and fifth with 42 touchdowns.  He has been voted All-America the last two years, first team All-MAC all three seasons, is the reigning MAC and ECAC South Offensive Player of the Year and this year was cited a Preseason All-America by four publications.
Sophomore quarterback Seth Klein (Wernersville, PA) for the second straight year has excelled, one season after being picked the MAC and ECAC South Rookie of the Year.  This season, he is 14th in the country with 23 touchdown passes, 37th with 248.6 passing yards per game, 46th with a .628 completion percentage and second in the conference with 251.8 yards of total offense per contest.
Widener is 8-0 for the eighth time in school history and is level with No. 17 Delaware Valley atop the league.  The two face each other November 15 at Leslie C. Quick Jr. Stadium with the league title on the line.
This also means Mike Kelly has won his first eight games as head coach, the longest such winning and unbeaten streaks in school history.  The previous unbeaten run was held by Dutch Sommer, who went 5-0-2 during his only season in 1913.
The Pride have outscored their opponents this season 306-85 that includes 105-23 in the first quarter and 55-3 in the third.
Widener has one game left before Delaware Valley as it visits King's for a 1:00 pm contest Saturday in Wilkes-Barre, PA.
NCAA East Regional Rankings (overall record, regional record)
1. Delaware Valley (8-0, 8-0)
2. Hobart (8-0, 8-0)
3. Widener (8-0, 8-0)
4. St. John Fisher (7-1, 6-1)
5. Framingham State (7-1, 7-1)
6. St. Lawrence (7-1, 7-1)
7. MIT (7-0, 7-0)
8. Montclair State (7-1, 6-1)
9. Lycoming (6-2, 6-2)
10. Ithaca (6-2, 6-2)
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