November 24, 2014

Widener Football - Pride to host Christopher Newport in the Second Round of the NCAA Tournament

Image: John Green
Chester, PA (Nov. 24, 2014) – After a thrilling victory to get the NCAA Tournament off to a rousing start, No. 10 Widener is back at home Saturday against Christopher Newport at Leslie C. Quick Jr. Stadium in the second round.

Game time is at noon and tickets are $8 for adults and $4 for students.  No complimentary tickets are available and all need to pay admission to gain entrance.

Widener (11-0, 9-0 MAC) advanced thanks to Saturday’s thrilling 36-35 victory over Muhlenberg as junior Ryan O’Hara (Royersford, PA/Spring-Ford) kicked a 32-yard field goal with 10.2 seconds left.  Sophomore Seth Klein (Wernersville, PA/Wilson West Lawn) completed 28-of-47 passes for 364 yards, senior All-America Anthony Davis (Upland, PA/Chester) posted seven catches for 114 yards and junior Travon Barnes (Randallstown, MD) closed with a career-best 16 tackles.

The berth was clinched November 15 when Widener upended No. 15 Delaware Valley, 44-28, for the school’s league-record 20th Middle Atlantic Conference title. 

Widener is 18-11 in the NCAA Tournament that includes national championships in 1977 and 1981. The squad also is 6-0 in NCAA Tournament games at Quick Stadium and 4-2 in the “Sweet 16” of the NCAA Tournament.  The Pride also are 11-0 for the fifth time in school history.

Widener has been nationally ranked most of the campaign for many reasons.  The defense is the key principle by sitting number two in the country in rushing defense with only 58.5 yards allowed per contest.  Helping that figure was the fact the squad yielded minus-19 rushing yards November 1 vs. Stevenson and minus-13 rushing yards September 27 at FDU-Florham.

The unit also is fifth in the nation with 10.4 tackles for a loss per game, second in turnover ratio (36:9), third with a .515 red zone scoring percentage, sixth with 3.73 sacks per game, 15th with 14.0 points allowed per contest and 35th with 300.4 yards allowed per game.

It certainly does not hurt to have three all-conference returnees on the defensive line in Stacey Sunnerville (Freehold, NJ/Freehold), fellow junior Shakore Philip (Bay Shore, NY) and senior John DiBiase (Mount Laurel, NJ/Lenape). Sunnerville, who was tabbed second team All-MAC a second straight year, is third on the squad with 53 tackles and also has 9 1/2 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/West Catholic) has a league-leading 20 tackles and also paces the team with 82 tackles and was tabbed first team All-MAC.  Fellow senior Brandon Harper (Blackwood, NJ), named the MAC Defensive Player of the Year, is second on the team with 73 tackles.  Sophomore and MAC Honorable Mention pick Alex Stewart (Pittsgrove, NJ/Arthur P. Schalick) had a school-record three blocked punts October 18 against Wilkes and first team All-MAC senior senior Ameer Sorrell (Port Norris, NJ) has four touchdowns this year that include three blocked punt returns.

First team All-MAC sophomore Sean Titus (Lancaster, PA/Lancaster Catholic) has had a monster year at safety.  He has a league-best nine interceptions for 220 yards, including a 96-yard return for a touchdown November 8 vs. King’s.

Davis continues to be a menace for any opponent and once again is having another solid campaign.  He is 19th in the country with 1,077 receiving yards, 82nd with 126.9 all-purpose yards per game, tied for second in the MAC with 10 receiving touchdowns and sixth with 5.5 receptions per game.

Davis is first in school history with 248 career receptions, 6,431 all-purpose yards, 3,788 receiving yards and 1,704 kickoff return yards.  He also is second with 41 touchdown catches and third with 45 touchdowns.  He has been voted All-America the last two years, first team All-MAC all four seasons and this year was cited a Preseason All-America by four publications.

Klein was tabbed second team All-MAC, one season after being picked the MAC and ECAC South Rookie of the Year.  This season, he is 10th in the country with 31 touchdown passes, 32nd with 266.5 passing yards per game, 57th with a .611 completion percentage and 41st with 268.8 yards of total offense per contest.

Mike Kelly has won his first 11 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 441-154 that includes 133-44 in the first quarter and 83-17 in the third.

Christopher Newport (8-3, 7-1 USA South) also needed a last-second field goal to advance, getting a 38-yard boot from Mason Studer as time expired for a 29-26 win at No. 15 Delaware Valley for its fifth straight victory.  The Captains won USA South in their final year in the league before moving to the New Jersey Athletic Conference.

Widener won the only meeting between these schools, 56-7 on November 17, 2001 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.  The then Pioneers advanced to the quarterfinals that season.