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Saturday, November 6, 2010

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Men’s soccer Wrestling

football wins conference title;
earns ncaa bid

So Dan Deighan can beat you running the ball, throwing the ball and kicking the ball.

The sophomore quarterback accounted for all four touchdowns, and his quick kick helped the defense preserve the lead, as the Muhlenberg football team defeated Ursinus, 27-20, in a showdown between the two teams that came in tied for first in the Centennial Conference.

With the win, the Mules (7-2, 7-1) clinched a
Dan Deighan
Deighan is only the second sophomore quarterback to lead Muhlenberg to the Centennial Conference championship.
share of their ninth CC title, tying Dickinson for the most in the league’s 28-year history. And combined with Johns Hopkins’ 24-9 win at Franklin & Marshall, it gave Muhlenberg the CC’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. Even if the Mules lose their regular-season finale at Moravian next week, the only teams that could tie them for first place are teams (Ursinus and Johns Hopkins) that they have beaten.

Pairing and sites for the NCAA Tournament will be announced on Sunday, November 14.

“We’re very excited,” said linebacker Scott Gavin, one of 19 seniors honored before the game. “At the beginning of the season, we had a goal of getting back on top. We worked hard in the offseason, and we worked hard the whole season, and it definitely paid off.”

The game between the defenses that
Dan Deighan
Vaughn's 56-yard TD reception was the longest play allowed by Ursinus this season.
ranked 1-2 in the CC in six different categories was expected to be low scoring, but the offenses – and in one case, the special teams – had different ideas. In particular, Deighan stood out, passing for two touchdowns and rushing for two others. He carried 11 times for a career-high 75 yards against a defense that came in eighth in Division III against the run, allowing only 61.4 yards per game.

Meanwhile, the Mule defense held Ursinus to 33 rushing yards on 32 attempts. The defensive star of the game was junior Kenneth Cobb, who recorded 4½ sacks (one short of the school record and the most by a CC player in six years) for losses of 46 yards. Sophomore Shane O’Connor also had a big game, making a career-high 11 tackles.

The defensive performance was all the more impressive because Muhlenberg was without leading tackler and co-captain Patrick McDonough, who did not dress for the game, and lost another co-captain, Mark Accomando to an in-game injury. Accomando left the field in an ambulance early in the fourth quarter, giving the thumbs-up sign and pumping his fist before he was taken away.

“We have a very resilient team,” said Gavin, the only captain left on the field. “We’re going to have bumps and bruises, but we know how to play through adversity. Today we definitely showed that.”

Muhlenberg struck first on a 56-yard pass from Deighan to
Chris Hartzell
Junior Chris Hartzell set up the Mules' final touchdown with his second interception of the season.
sophomore Isaiah Vaughn with 3:48 left in the first quarter. The Bears (7-2, 6-2), ranked seventh in the South Region by the NCAA, tied the score on a fourth-down quarterback sneak early in the second quarter.

The Mules took advantage of good field position to go ahead for good late in the half, needing only four plays to move 37 yards for a touchdown, with Deighan running it in from 17 yards out with 2:02 showing on the clock.

The first half ended with a bizarre sequence of events. A bobbled snap on a Muhlenberg punt attempt set up Ursinus at the 9 with 1.8 seconds to play. The field goal try was blocked by Chase Nadell, and the ball bounced off the chest of Gavin and right back to the kicker, who ran 17 yards for a touchdown. (corrected 11/9)

“I’ve never seen anything like that before,” said Gavin, speaking for everyone in attendance. “It was wild.”

The extra point try was bobbled by the holder, however, leaving the Mules ahead 14-13.

Deighan scored from 3 yards out with 5:56 left in the third, then found senior Jon Liberty on a slant for a 20-yard touchdown to make it 27-13 three minutes later.

Another Ursinus fourth-down touchdown made it a one-possession game with 11:11 left. The Mules took almost six minutes off the clock on their next drive, which ended with a bit of trickery. They lined up to go for it on fourth-and-6 from the Bear 34, but instead Deighan took the snap and punted. His kick bounced to the 1-yard line, then took a left turn and rolled parallel to the goal line, putting Ursinus 99 yards from a tying score.

Ursinus drove to near midfield, and on fourth-and-4 from the Muhlenberg 49, junior Kevin Ryan immediately tackled a Bear receiver after he caught a pass a yard short of the first down. The Mules took over with 1:49 left and ran out the clock.

Muhlenberg finished with 299 yards of total offense, including 152 rushing yards. Sophomore Terrence Dandridge had his streak of consecutive 100-yard games snapped at six, finishing with 94 yards on 25 carries. Junior Mike Fiorillo, starting in place of McDonough, made five tackles, two for losses, and junior Matt Musick recorded seven stops, including a half of the Mules’ seven sacks.

“It was an awesome effort by everyone on the team,” said Gavin.
Click here for box score.
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