Jeannette's Batts, IUP finish season with victory
A victory helped to temper the pain.
The season is over for the IUP football team and Jeannette High School graduated Jordan Batts.
And, unlike last year, there will be no trip to the NCAA playoffs.
That's painful for Batts, a redshirt sophomore defensive lineman, and his teammates as they had their sights set on a national title entering this season.
However, beating Shippensburg 44-21 in the season finale on Saturday helped to make the season coming to an end a little easier to take.
“It takes a lot of the sting away because we beat a good team,” said Batts. “Their quarterback (Zach Zulli) is one of the best, if not the best, in the PSAC. To beat him is a great accomplishment.”
IUP finished the year 9-2 overall and 5-2 in the Division II Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference, but that wasn't enough to qualify for a post-season spot.
“We all played a great game, but it's sad that we didn't make the playoffs,” said Batts. “There's always next year.”
The Crimson Hawks jumped out to a 21-7 lead and cruised the rest of the game. Batts had two tackles in the contest, including one for a 14-yard loss.
He finished the year with 25 total tackles, five tackles-for-a-loss and two-and-a-half quarterback sacks.
He was primarily a starter for IUP, after serving as a reserve much of last season. Batts said he enjoyed the extended playing time and is looking to contribute even more in the future.
“I worked hard this summer and I worked hard this season,” he said.
“I've already started lifting and training for next year, and I'll work all the way through the summer and spring ball.”
With two key IUP defensive linemen graduating, Batts knows he'll be counted on even more in 2014.
“I'll keep working hard and make the coaches believe in me,” he said.
“That's the main focus, next year. I'm going to try to get better every day so I can help the team.”
Paulone, Waynesburg headed for bowl
For Thomas Paulone and the Waynesburg University football team, it's not over yet.
The Yellow Jackets lost to Washington & Jefferson 38-13 in their final regular season game on Saturday.
That left Paulone, a Jeannette grad and senior running back with Waynesburg, and his teammates out of the Division III playoff picture. That meant, when the game ended, Paulone realized that his college football days might be complete.
However, the team found out late Sunday night that it was selected to take on the College at Brockport in the East Coast Athletic Conference (ECAC) Northwest Bowl game this Saturday.
The game will be held at Brockport's Bob Boozer Field in Brockport, N.Y. Kickoff is at noon and the game will be broadcast at waynesburgsports.com.
“It feels great to be able to play another week of football,” said Paulone.
“More importantly, we have a chance to win a championship. I can't wait to get this sour taste out of my mouth from Saturday. I will be sure to enjoy every moment I have with my teammates on the practice field, in the locker room, on the playing field, and in the team hotel knowing this will be my last ride with our team.”
Paulone, who has emerged as Waynesburg's feature running back late this season, led the team with 13 carries for 42 yards in Saturday's loss.
“It was definitely disappointing. As an offensive player, it was a classic situation of we didn't execute,” he said.
“We had a great game plan, we just didn't execute.”
Waynesburg finished the regular season 7-3 overall and 5-3 in the Presidents' Athletic Conference.
Brockport is also 7-3 and won a share of the New Jersey Athletic Conference title with a 6-1 conference record; the Golden Eagles have won six straight games.
“Brockport is going to be a good opponent, especially when you start thinking into the psychology of your opponent,” said Paulone.
“They are thinking this is the last home game for their seniors and they will want to knock us off.
“We are preparing for a dog fight.”
Mount Union wins conference
As the regular season closes, the Mount Union football team finds itself in a familiar spot: conference champions.
With a 42-34 win over John Carroll Saturday, the Purple Raiders — feature Jeannette native and Greensburg Central Catholic grad Pat Mahoney at guard — won the Ohio Athletic Conference for an astounding 22nd consecutive year.
They finish the regular season 10-0 overall and 9-0 in the OAC and have currently won 83 consecutive regular season games.
Next up for Mount Union is the NCAA Division III playoffs. The defending national champs host Washington & Jefferson on Saturday. W&J went 8-2 overall this season and won the Presidents' Athletic Conference with a 7-1 mark.
Kickoff is scheduled for noon and the game will be broadcast at athletics.mountunion.edu.
Hall out as Ohio State wins
In Division I play, Ohio State won its 22nd straight game on Saturday, downing Illinois 60-35. This season, the Buckeyes are 10-0, including a 6-0 mark in the Big Ten conference, and have clinched the Big Ten Leaders Division title. They're ranked No. 3 in the Bowl Championship Series rankings and No. 4 in the Associated Press poll.
Jeannette grad Jordan Hall, a senior running back, sat out with a knee injury that has kept him sidelined for the past three games. It is unclear whether Hall will play when the Buckeyes host Indiana (4-6, 2-4) Saturday.
Kickoff is at 3:30 p.m. and the game will be broadcast on ABC.
Cox, Michigan State in title hunt
Michigan State — featuring Jeannette grad Demetrious Cox as a reserve safety — clinched at least a share of the Big Ten Legends Division championship with a 41-28 win over Nebraska on Saturday.
If they win the division, the Spartans will take on Ohio State in the Big Ten Championship Game.
The Spartans are now 9-1 overall, 6-0 in the Big Ten and ranked No. 13 in both the AP and BCS rankings.
They play at Northwestern (4-6, 0-6) Saturday; kickoff is at noon and the game will be broadcast on ESPN.
Brian Knavish is a contributing writer.