Wednesday, September 30, 2015

ASN: James Madison Football's Vad Lee


Harrisonburg, VA - James Madison returns home this week to face CAA foe Stony Brook (2-1, 1-1) at Bridgeforth Stadium. They go into the game with a perfect 4-0 mark and a 48-45 victory over SMU last week on their 2015 résumé.

With Georgia Tech transfer Vad Lee under center, the Dukes are a threat to score at any time. - TF

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Wisconsin-Whitewater and Morningside (Iowa) Lock Horns in Battle of Unbeatens

Morningside football suffered its first loss of 2015 (Photo / MC Athletics)
Sioux City, IA - Last Thursday night, the Morningside College Mustangs (NAIA) hosted the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater Warhawks (NCAA, Division III) in America's best small college matchup of the week, and perhaps the season. The game was televised nationally on ESPN3.com

The UW-Whitewater Warhawks (4-0) are the two-time defending Division III champions and came into the game riding a 34-game winning streak and ranked #1 in the NCAA-Division III polls. Morningside was ranked #1 overall in the NAIA poll.

As a steady rain fell and winds gusted through Sioux City's Elwood-Olsen Stadium, the Warhawks pulled out a hard-earned 33-30 victory in the game's waning moments.

Wisconsin-Whitewater has captured six of the last eight NCAA III titles and extended their winning streak to 35 games with the win. It is the longest active win streak at any level in college football, and the Warhawks haven't dropped a game since October 2012.

The Mustangs offense countered the Warhawks' formidable team streak with strong individual performances. Running back Tyler Kavan rushed for 123 yards and two touchdowns and quarterback Ryan Kasdorf was good on 17 of 23 through the air for 261 yards and a touchdown. Of the 261, 137 yards were to receiver Connor Niles, who hauled in nine passes.

The Warhawks vaulted to a 7-0 in the first quarter on a five-yard keeper by Chris Nelson. They extended their lead to 10-0 when kicker Ben Franzen put through a 22-yard field goal early in the second quarter. 


Morningside closed within 10-7 after Kasdorf completed a 13-yard touchdown pass to Briar Evans to polish off an impressive 11-play, 75-yard drive. Shortly after the Warhawks caught a break when a Nelson pass was deflected by the Mustangs' defense but still found its way to the Warhawks' Tony Gumina. Gumina then sprinted to the end zone to complete a 54-yard touchdown pass play.


Morningside blocked the PAT, and the score was 16-7 with 9:44 left to go in the first half. 


The Mustangs’ defense forced a turnover to help the hosts close within 16-14 at the intermission. Walker stripped the ball from the Warhawks’ Joe Worth, and the Mustangs recovered and advanced the ball to the Wisconsin-Whitewater 23-yard line. Morningside scored four plays later on a two-yard touchdown run by Kasdorf.


Wisconsin-Whitewater used a pair of third-quarter scores with a 44-yard field goal by Lake Bachar and a three-yard touchdown run by Ratliffe to open its largest lead of the game at 26-14 with 2:00 left in the quarter.


Senior Zac Schlueger registered a game-high 13 tackles for the Mustangs including one sack and two TFLs totaling eight yards. Taylor James followed with ten tackles; Ethan Stofferan posted nine. And Christian Walker had his best night of the season with eight tackles, a forced fumble, and a blocked PAT. Sean Fitzgerald had eight tackles recovered a fumble, blocked a field goal and had a 1/2 sack along with Jason Lupkes. 


Momentum swung in the Mustangs favor as they scored 16 straight points to take the lead. The go-ahead touchdown was a 46-yard jaunt by running back Tyler Kavan with less than 30 seconds remaining in the third.

On their next possession, Morningside moved the ball 89 yards on a drive that included a Kasdorf to Niles connection for 59. Kavan again closed out the score with a 17-yard run. The Warhawks trailed 27-26 with 6:45 remaining. It was a rare deficit for the Wisconsin-Whitewater.

Nelson fumbled on the ensuing drive for Wisconsin-Whitewater and Morningside recovered at the Warhawks 17. Two penalties pushed them back out of touchdown range, and they settled for a 36-yard field goal from Jared Amundson. Given the elements, it was a solid kick. That put Morningside up 30-26 with 4:19 remaining.

Wisconsin-Whitewater proved their mettle when they returned fire by methodically marching 75 yards in eight plays, capping the drive with a six-yard touchdown run from senior Jordan Ratliffe. Ratliffe rushed for 198 yards on the afternoon and consistently moved the pile when he appeared to be stopped on the play.

The Warhawks took the lead with :38 left in the game and that ultimately proved the difference. 

Next week the Mustangs take on the NAIA's 10th-ranked Northwestern (Iowa) Red Raiders. The Red Raiders (3-1) are coming off a 28-21 setback to unbeaten Doane (Neb.) (4-0).

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

ASN: Denver Hockey, Lacrosse Tap Canadian Pipeline


Denver - The University of Denver men's lacrosse team captured its first national title this past spring, with major help from Northern talent. The hockey team is also a national power and taps the same athletic Canadian pipeline to propel it forward. Today's American Sports Network article delves into a common source of success for the two programs. - TF 

Thursday, September 17, 2015

NAIA Lacrosse: Aquinas College Develops in Upper Midwest


Grand Rapids, MI - The biggest lacrosse story in recent years from Michigan was the Wolverines' jump from the MCLA straight to Division I in 2012-2013. The move proved a key, early step in the development of a BIG-10 lacrosse conference, along with the addition of Rutgers and Maryland to the league ranks. Johns Hopkins joining as an affiliate was the critical final piece as the conference began play in 2015. 

There are many other upper Midwest programs developing, including the NAIA's Aquinas College Saints.  They play a joint MCLA / NAIA schedule and are a small college program on the rise under head coach Doug Seites.  - TF

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

ASN: Stellar Distance Runner & Coach, Sara Slattery


Phoenix - Grand Canyon University needed to look quickly for a replacement coach this summer for their Western Athletic Conference (WAC) Cross-Country teams. They found gold right in their backyard when Phoenix native and former NCAA Champion and U.S. Team member Sara Slattery accepted the post. ASN told the story of how it came about. - TF

Thursday, September 10, 2015

NAIA's SCAD Women's Lacrosse


Savannah, GA - Contributed an article to the NAIA website about the Savannah College of Art & Design's (SCAD) outstanding women's lacrosse program. They are working this fall to continue a history of program success.

Friday, September 4, 2015

ASN: University of New Orleans Privateers Model Resilience

UNO is pushing through the aftermath of Katrina (Photo / UNO)
New Orleans - Contributed an article to the American Sports Network on the University of New Orleans Privateers. The athletes of the University persist through repeated setbacks.

Johnson & Wales (Colo.), NAIA Lacrosse Following Tradition

Head Coach Dave Leach directs the Wildcats (Photo/ J&W)
Denver - Although the NAIA's Johnson & Wales (Colo.) may be a new program, there's nothing new about lacrosse excellence in the West. Head coach Dave Leach provided some insights into his program's 2016 potential. 

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Abilene Christian Standout on American Sports Network

Abilene Christian's Diana Garcia Munoz (Photo / Randy Bergeron/ACU
Abilene - If you're looking for an excuse not to work out, don't turn to Diana Garcia Munoz. The Abilene Christian junior is both a tremendous athlete and student and wakes up before dawn to get it all done. She was a pleasure to speak with and her story is on the American Sports Network website today. - TF

Another Western State Adds Varsity Lacrosse

For several years I've contributed lacrosse articles to the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA).  This week I w...