Prior to Saturday, Nov. 5, the football team had been undefeated until their most recent game on Senior Day against Wilkes College. By a final score of 38-35, the Mustangs were disappointed with their first loss, but are determined to not let this loss affect the rest of their season, now with a 8-1 record.
Entering the final week of the regular season, The Mustangs are ranked No. 23 in the D3football.com poll and No. 24 in the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) poll.
The Mustangs also fell in the NCAA Division III Regional rankings, dropping three spots to No. 5 in the East region.
The Mustangs started strong as senior defensive back Austin Tennessee had an interception on the opening play from scrimmage. Following the interception, junior quarterback Dan Williams hit junior receiver Preston Addo with a 33-yard pass, making it 7-0 in the opening minutes of the first quarter. The offense continued the scoring shortly after with a 27-yard pass from Williams to senior receiver Tyler Cherigo to make it 14-0 in the first.
Wilkes stopped the bleeding with 6:34 left in the first quarter to make it 14-7, and then scored two more times to take the lead at 21-14 in the third quarter. Both teams continued to trade touchdowns as the game went on. Unfortunately, Wilkes scored consecutive unanswered touchdowns in the fourth quarter for a final score of 38-35.
Williams finished the game going 19-for-37 passing for 322 yards and four touchdowns while junior receiver Devin Salisbury reeled in 4 passes for 105 yards. Tennessee finished with seven tackles and two interceptions as sophomore linebacker Izaiha Pitts led the defense in tackles with a career-high 15 tackles and an interception.
Head coach Ed Hottle still has complete faith in his team.
“We owe our success this season to the guys’ hard work ethic, their focus and our great assistant coaching staff,” he said. Hottle is confident that although they faltered in the Wilkes game, these positive attributes will carry them to more wins in the rest of their season.
“We lost. We didn’t get beat. It was a big game and the guys weren’t prepared mentally. We’ll be ready for the next game,” said Hottle.
Junior quarterback Mike Edwards said, “It was a tough loss, but we’re a confident group and we know what we have to do to get back on track. This game was a learning experience, but it’s important that we focus on the upcoming week.”
With one loss on the season, the Mustangs sit atop of the Middle Atlantic Conference (MAC) standings. The loss snapped a 10-game win streak dating back to last season.
The Mustangs will take on Lycoming College on the road in their last regular season game on Saturday, Nov. 12 at 1 p.m. With a win over Lycoming, the Mustangs will clinch the MAC conference and get a NCAA berth as an automatic qualifier for the first time in program history. The Warriors are 3-6 overall, with a recent 28-26 loss to Wilkes and a one-touchdown loss to Delaware Valley. Last year, the Mustangs beat Lycoming 38-14.