WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. – No. 23/24 Stevenson University claimed its first-ever Middle Atlantic Conference football championship with a 28-10 win over Lycoming College Saturday afternoon at David Person Field. The Mustangs (9-1, 8-1 MAC) earn the conference's automatic berth into the 32-team NCAA Division III Football Championship field.
Stevenson came into the day tied with Albright at 7-1 in the league, but held the tiebreaker over the Lions for the NCAA berth. However, the Mustangs can lay claim to the conference crown outright, as Albright fell 28-25 at Lebanon Valley as a last-second field goal attempt was blocked.
Stevenson, which is in just its sixth year as a varsity football program, will learn its next opponent Sunday evening at 6:00 pm as the NCAA Division III football selection show airs on NCAA.com. First round action commences on Saturday, November 19.
Leading 14-7 at halftime, the Mustangs took control of the game in the third quarter. Lycoming (3-7, 2-7) had the ball to start the second half and marched 70 yards on 11 plays before a 20-yard field goal by Devon Flynn made it 14-10 with 10:10 to go in the third. Stevenson countered with an eight-play, 65-yard drive capped by a three-yard pass from junior Dan Williams to junior Devin Salisbury to make it 21-10 with 6:49 left.
Lycoming started its next drive at its own 30 and got to the 42 before quarterback Chase Whiteman was picked off by senior Austin Tennessee at the Mustang 40 and was returned to the Lycoming 41. Six plays later, a one-yard run by sophomore Dontea Ayres made it 28-10 with 2:30 left in the third.
The Warriors worked their way into Mustang territory twice in the fourth quarter, including down to the 12 on their second drive, but came away empty both times. On the first drive, a 35-yard pass into the end zone was knocked away by freshman Zach May. Lycoming's final drive started with 2:30 remaining at midfield, but was ended quickly as an interception by junior Mike Datu sealed the win.
After a scoreless opening quarter, Stevenson took a 7-0 lead with 11:41 to go in the first half when a one-yard run by senior Devonte Williams capped an 11-play, 80-yard drive that took just over five minutes. Eight of the 11 plays on the drive were runs and the Mustangs were also 3-3 passing on the drive.
On the ensuing drive, Lycoming worked its way down to the Mustang 17, marching 54 yards on nine plays, but the drive stalled, and a 34-yard field goal attempt by the Warriors was missed wide right. Stevenson capitalized and on the first play from scrimmage at its own 20, Dan Williams found junior Preston Addo for an 80-yard completion to make it 14-0.
The guests got on the board with 1:55 left in the first half as a five-yard Whiteman keeper capped an 11-play, 76-yard drive to make it 14-7, which would be the halftime score.
Stevenson was outgained 344-297 and the Warriors won the time of possession battle, holding the ball for nearly 35 minutes. Dan Williams finished 12-20 passing for 190 yards and two touchdowns, but did not throw an interception, the fourth time in five games he did not have an interception. As a team, the Mustangs did not have a turnover for the third time this season, while defensively, Stevenson had a takeaway for the 43rd straight game and an interception in the 25th consecutive contest.
Devonte Williams carried 19 times for 108 yards, while Ayres ended up with seven rushes for 23 yards. Salisbury caught seven balls for 60 yards, while Addo finished with four grabs for 115 yards. Junior Dequan Ellison had the other Stevenson reception.
Defensively, sophomore Ashton Leschke finished with 13 tackles for the Mustangs, including two for a loss. Sophomore Izaiha Pitts made eight stops, including a half-sack, while Datu had six tackles including a 10-yard sack, as the Mustangs had three on the afternoon.