Friday, October 15, 2010

The Friday Tailgate

Forgive us for "borrowing" an ESPN term ... but it's "Showdown Saturday" in the Conference on what promises to be a windy mid-October day. The two Centennial unbeatens - Ursinus and Muhlenberg - face major challenges from a pair of teams with one CC loss - Johns Hopkins and McDaniel. The other one-loss team - Franklin & Marshall - heads to the Lehigh Valley to take on Moravian, trying not to get caught looking ahead to a game with the Mules next week.

Johns Hopkins (3-1 CC, 3-2) at Ursinus (4-0, 5-0)
Audio: Ursinus Sports Network. Live Stats: Yes.
Irresistible force meets immovable object as the Conference's top offense (JHU-433.8) and defense (UC-248.2) square off in Collegeville. The two schools have met every season since 1958 with JHU holding a 29-19-4 series advantage. Ursinus has won four of the last five meetings, but the Blue Jays won the last contest at Patterson Field in 2008 (14-0). The teams have split their series in Collegeville (12-12-2). Will turnovers be the story? In Hopkins' three wins, the Jays have committed two turnovers. In the two losses ... eight turnovers. Ursinus leads the CC in turnover margin (+1.40). JHU's Hewitt Tomlin became the school's all-time winningest starting QB, picking up his 20th victory vs. Dickinson. WR Sam Wernick is second in the CC in all-purpose yards (145.4). Ursinus, the Conference's lone unbeaten, was idle last week. The Bears are 2-7 in games following their bye week since 2001. QB Justin Decristofaro, the lone senior signal-calling starter in the Conference, has thrown for 998 yards and nine TDs. Freshman RB Bryan Ellis leads the Centennial with 88.4 yards per game. Ursinus looks to go 6-0 for the first time since 1996 - the only time that the Bears have won the Conference title.

Muhlenberg (4-0, 4-1) at McDaniel (3-1, 4-1)
Audio: WTTR-AM 1470. Live Stats: Yes.
This is the 41st meeting between the Mules and the Green Terror in a series that began in 1927. McDaniel captured a 16-9 decision last year in Allentown to increase its all-time series advantage to 22-15-3. Muhlenberg won the last meeting in Westminster in 2008 to break a nine-game losing streak on The Hill. Terror coach Tim Keating is 13-3-1 against 'Berg, while counterpart Mike Donnelly is 2-11 against the Green and Gold. Muhlenberg is one of two unbeatens in Conference play. Keep your eye on the special teams ... particularly if a team is in a kicking formation. McDaniel has successfully executed four fake punts this season, while Muhlenberg is known for pulling rabbits of its hat on fourth down situations. But don't ignore the other side, as Terror WR Nick Bender has blocked four punts in his career, while the Mules' Chase Nadell has returned two kickoffs for touchdowns. McDaniel WR Matt Cahill needs two catches to move into second place on the all-time reception list at the school and 220 yards to amass 2,000 for his career. Muhlenberg LB Pat McDonough leads the Conference with 52 tackles. RB Terrence Dandridge ran for 100 yards for the third straight game, gaining 104 on just nine carries. The last two Mules to gain 100 yards on fewer than nine carries - John DeLuca and Justin Jones - went onto earn CC Player of the Year honors in future seasons.

Franklin & Marshall (3-1, 4-1) at Moravian (2-3, 2-4)
Audio: WSAN-AM 1470, F&M Sports Network.
This is the 23rd renewal of a series that began in 1932 with the Diplomats holding a 17-5 overall lead. F&M also has a 5-3 advantage in games played in Bethlehem, but the 'Hounds hold a 2-1 lead on games in Centennial play. The Diplomats were idle last week and are 2-0 under coach John Troxell after a bye. WR Jay Ridinger is 254 yards shy of 2,000 for his career. RB John Kaschak needs 75 yards to become the sixth F&M back to gain 1,600 in a career. Moravian WR Shawn Sylvainus needs two more receptions to reach 100 for his career. Greyhound QB Matt Johnson has taken over as the starter since beginning the season in the defensive secondary.

Dickinson (1-3, 1-4) at Susquehanna (1-5, 1-5)
Video: Yes. Audio: WQSU-FM 88.9, WDCV-FM 88.3. Live Stats: Yes.
This is the 22nd meeting between the Red Devils and the Crusaders and first since the 2000 camnpaign. Dickinson holds a 14-7-1 overall lead, but Susquehanna has taken the last two games and four of the seven played in Selinsgrove. Red Devil WR Craig Helfer is fifth in the Conference with 22 receptions for 342 yards and four scores. PR Mike Shimkin is second in the CC with a 14.1 average on punt returns. Crusader RB Greg Tellish is third among Centennial backs with 79.0 yards per game. WR Mike Ritter tops the league with 33 catches for 447 yards and five TDs. P Bobby Eppleman averages 37.5 yards per punt.

Gettysburg (1-3, 2-3) at Juniata (0-5, 0-5)
Live Stats: Yes.
This is the 25th time that the Bullets and Eagles have teed it up with Gettysburg winning four in a row to extend its series lead to 16-8. Juniata's last victory was a 28-14 win at the Battlefield in 1979 with its last home win coming in 1976. Bullet WB Charles Curcio became the third player to register 100 career receptions and the fifth player to amass over 4,000 career all-purpose yards. Gettysburg has yet to trail in the opening quarter this season. QB Kyle Whitmoyer is second in the CC in total offense (232.6). Bullet offensive coordinator Kevin Burke was the head coach at Juniata from 1998-2003. The Eagles are struggling on both sides of the ball, placing 10th in the CC in scoring offense and defense. RB Derek Kramer is 10th in the Conference in rushing (55.8), while DE Matthew Walton is second in sacks (4.5).

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