November 16, 2014

Widener Postseason - No.10 Pride to host No. 24 Muhlenberg in the first round of the NCAA Tournament

Image: John Green
Chester, PA (Nov. 16, 2014) – For 10th-ranked Widener’s 14th trip to the NCAA Division III Tournament, the squad will open against No. 24 Muhlenberg this Saturday at Leslie C. Quick Jr. Stadium.

The Pride are 17-11 in the NCAA Tournament that include national championships in 1977 and 1981.

Game time is at noon and ticket prices will be announced this week. No complimentary tickets are available and all need to pay admission to gain entrance.

Widener (10-0, 9-0) secured its league-record 20th Middle Atlantic Conference title with Saturday’s 44-28 victory over No. 15 Delaware Valley, moving to 10-0 for the sixth time in school history. The win gets the Pride into the NCAA Tournament for the second time in three years, allowed them to nail down the 12th undefeated regular season in school history and kept the Keystone Cup in Chester for the 25th time in the trophy’s 34-year history.

The Pride are 17-11 in the NCAA Tournament that include national championships in 1977 and 1981. The squad also is 5-0 in NCAA Tournament games at Quick Stadium and 3-1 in the “Round of 32” in the NCAA Tournament.

Widener has been nationally ranked most of the campaign for many reasons. The defense is the key principle by remaining number one in the country in rushing defense as of last week with only 42.9 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 as of last week is second in the nation with 11.2 tackles for a loss per game, fifth in turnover ratio (26:7), third with a .458 red zone scoring percentage, sixth with 4.00 sacks per game, sixth with 10.1 points allowed per contest and 15th with 251.9 yards allowed per game.

It certainly does not hurt to have three all-conference returnees on the defensive line in Stacey Sunnerville (Freehold, NJ/Freehold), fellow junior Shakore Philip (Bay Shore, NY) and senior John DiBiase (Mount Laurel, NJ/Lenape). Sunnerville, who was tabbed second team All-MAC, is third on the squad with 48 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 17 1/2 for a loss and is tied with fellow senior Brandon Harper (Blackwood, NJ) with 68 tackles. Sophomore Alex Stewart (Pittsgrove, NJ/Arthur P. Schalick)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.

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.

Senior All-America receiver/returner Anthony Davis (Upland, PA/Chester) continues to be a menace for any opponent and once again is having another solid campaign. He is 42nd in the country with 963 receiving yards, 90th with 126.3 all-purpose yards per game, fourth in the MAC with 10 receiving touchdowns and sixth with 5.4 receptions per game.

Davis is first in school history with 241 career receptions, 6,298 all-purpose yards, 3,674 receiving yards and 1,685 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 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/Wilson West Lawn) 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 18th in the country with 29 touchdown passes, 37th with 256.7 passing yards per game, 38th with a .614 completion percentage and 51st with 262.7 yards of total offense per contest.

Mike Kelly has won his first 10 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 405-119 that includes 126-30 in the first quarter and 76-10 in the third.

Muhlenberg (9-1, 8-1 CC) received an at-large berth out of the Centennial Conference and enters with a six-game winning streak. The two have one shared opponent this season in Wilkes, which Widener upended, 59-12, on October 18 and Muhlenberg dispatched, 34-0, on September 6.

Widener holds an 8-7-1 edge against its former MAC foe and this will be the teams’ first meeting since 1982. The Pride have won the last five meetings.