District college football preview: Geneva-Thomas More ready for PAC collision
Game of the week: Geneva at Thomas More
• When: 1:30 p.m., Saturday
• Records: G: 3-1, 2-0; TM: 3-0, 2-0
Geneva's game at Thomas More is a bit of a bellwether for the Presidents' Athletic Conference.
The Golden Tornadoes, who became a full-fledged conference member in 2011, have embraced the spread-fueled, high-scoring approach that pervades college football. They lead the PAC in scoring (45.2 ppg) and total offense (541 ypg).
Thomas More, PAC champion from 2008-11, enters the contest with a more methodical, defense-first style that's common among the conference members. The Saints have the conference-lows in both points allowed (9.3) and yards allowed (329.3) per game.
A year ago, Geneva shook up the PAC power structure by beating the Saints, 50-48, in four overtimes. The Golden Tornadoes, winless prior to the game, prevailed with a 5-yard touchdown run by Shenango grad Rocco Colavecchia, who had four scores on the day, and a 2-point conversion run by Zack Hayward, a Blackhawk alum who completed 32 of 49 pass attempts for 298 yards and rushed for 56 yards. Thomas More, which had also lost a week earlier, went from conference favorite to also-ran.
Colavecchia and Hayward remain the cogs of Geneva's offense. The 6-foot-3, 235-pound Colavecchia leads Division III in points per game (17.0); he has 11 touchdowns, including 10 rushing. Hayward, a 6-4, 185-pound dual threat quarterback, ranks second in D-III in total offense (388.5 ypg).
Junior Erick Butler anchors Thomas More's daunting defense, as the lineman has six stops for a loss among his 20 total tackles.
Saturday's other games to watch
• Bloomsburg at Gannon, Noon
Only one offense in Division II averages more rushing yards than Bloomsburg (4-0), which is No. 9 in the latest American Football Coaches Association poll. While Franklyn Quiteh (197 rushing ypg) will fuel Bloomsburg, Jansen Jones (164.3 rushing ypg) will pace Gannon (3-1), which averages 40 points per game.
• California (Pa.) at West Chester, 1 p.m.
The Vulcans (3-1) allow just 14 points per game, but their defense abilities will be tested by No. 17 West Chester (4-0), which ranks second in Division II in total offense (546.3 ypg) and features running back Rondell White, who leads Division II at 253.3 all-purpose yards per game.
• Westminster at Grove City, 2 p.m.
Eight of the last nine games between Westminster (1-2, 1-1) and Grove City (2-2, 0-2) were decided by seven points or fewer, with the Titans winning five of them. Grove City won, 23-21, with a touchdown in the game's final 18 seconds last year. The Wolverines rank second in the PAC in scoring defense (21.0 ppg), while the Titans are second in total defense (365.3).
• Last week, Indiana (Pa.) named the playing surface within George P. Miller Stadium “Frank Cignetti Field.” The school will hold a ceremony to honor the College Football Hall of Famer during Saturday's game against Millersville, which begins at 2 p.m.
• Since Mike Sirianni took over as coach in 2003, Washington & Jefferson has not lost a night game. The Presidents are 22-0 under the lights. They'll play at 7 p.m. Saturday at Bethany.
• Clarion (3-1), which fell from the ranks of the unbeaten last week, have a chance to regain some confidence this week, as they visit East Stroudsburg (3-1) in PSAC nondivision play. However, they'll proceed without 2012 PSAC first-team quarterback Ben Fiscus, an Indiana grad who suffered a season-ending leg injury Sept. 14. The Golden Eagles won, 31-27, a year ago to end a seven–game skid against East Stroudsburg.
•. These are tough times for Westmoreland County collegiate football: Seton Hill, the PSAC's new addition, is 0-4 and has been outscored, 176-43. It has a 17-game losing streak. Just down the road, St. Vincent is 0-3 and has been outscored 108-27, with 21 of its points coming last week in a seven-point loss. It has dropped 14 straight.
Player to watch: John Schademan
• School: Slippery Rock
• Position: Wide receiver
• Height: 6-foot-0
• Weight: 195 pounds
• Class: Senior
• Of note: Schademan, a Bethel Park alum, broke the team's single-game record for receiving yardage after gaining 229 yards on 11 catches last week. A beneficiary of Slippery Rock's hurry-up spread offense, he has 28 receptions for 569 yards and seven touchdowns. He ranks third in Division II in receiving (142.3 ypg) and is tied for second in touchdown catches. He started his college career at Colgate in 2009 and joined The Rock's lineup in 2011. Prior to this fall, his SRU career included 51 catches for 761 yards and four touchdowns.