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W&J, Waynesburg prepare for PAC showdown

| Tuesday, Oct. 23, 2007

Though it is Westminster (Pa.) that carries the nickname, Titans, in the Presidents' Athletic Conference, two other football teams from the league are preparing for what could be a titanic battle Saturday.

Washington & Jefferson (7-0, 3-0) and Waynesburg (7-0, 4-0), a pair of nationally ranked NCAA Division III teams, will meet at Waynesburg's Wiley Stadium in the continuation of a series that Washington & Jefferson has dominated, 31-3.

The game is likely to decide the PAC champion and provide the winner for the first time in conference history with an automatic bid to the Division III playoffs.

"I'm happy we've not looked ahead," Washington & Jefferson coach Mike Sirianni said following the Presidents' 49-14 victory at Grove City.

The game will feature the top two offenses in the PAC, despite contrasting styles.

No. 25 Waynesburg is led by freshman running back Robert Heller, a Ringgold High School graduate, who set two single-season school records in a 25-20 victory Saturday over Thiel. Heller has gained 1,305 yards on 238 carries.

No. 8 Washington & Jefferson enters the game ranked first in the conference with an average of 575 yards of total offense. Quarterback Bobby Swallow's passing efficiency of 218.89 leads all NCAA divisions.

Cal back on top

Unbeaten California (Pa.), one victory shy of its best-ever start, regained the top spot in the NCAA Division II Northeast Region football playoff rankings.

The Vulcans (8-0) climbed two places yesterday from No. 3 after falling from the top spot last week behind Bryant (7-0) and West Chester (7-1).

In both weeks, the team that advanced to No. 1 in the rankings defeated a regionally ranked team. Bryant defeated then-seventh-ranked Stonehill on Oct. 13, and California toppped then-ninth-ranked Edinboro on Saturday.

The top six teams in each of the nation's four regions will qualify for the Division II playoffs. California, ranked no. 8 in the American Football Coaches' Association national poll, plays Saturday at Slippery Rock, ranked seventh in the regional poll.

Indiana (Pa.) (6-1) is ranked fourth.

Tressel's former coach dies

Ohio State football coach Jim Tressel, who won four NCAA Division I-AA championships as coach of Youngstown State in the 1990s, lost a mentor, when former Baldwin-Wallace coach Bob Packard died Saturday of a heart attack.

Packard, who was 64, was the winningest football coach at Baldwin-Wallace, with a record of 156-54-2 (.741) and coached Tressel, who played quarterback for the Division III school.

"He touched many, many lives in his illustrious coaching career and will be dearly missed," Tressel said in a statement. "The Tressel family, specifically, lost a much-loved friend who had an important impact on our lives."

Time to regroup

After upsetting No. 8 Boston University and beating Wayne State (Mich.) to win the championship of the Nye Frontier Classic in Anchorage, Alaska, to open its season, the Robert Morris men's hockey team returned home with a .500 record after suffering a pair of lopsided losses to No. 13 Wisconsin.

The Colonials fell behind by three goals in the first period in both games and dropped 7-2 and 8-2 decisions to the Badgers.

Robert Morris opens its College Hockey America schedule this weekend with its home openers at RMU Island Sports Center against Wayne State.

Famous alums

Wheeling Jesuit inducted three former athletes into its Athletic Hall of Fame on Saturday. Jill Sassaman Neuhaus (women's soccer), Mike Gerrasch (men's basketball) and Jim Findlay (men's soccer) are the latest inductees. The 1993 men's soccer team also was honored.

District musings

Geneva football coach Geno DeMarco won his 100th career game Saturday, when the Golden Tornadoes edged Thomas More, 10-9. DeMarco is Geneva's all-time winningest coach with a career mark of 100-54. ... The Penn State men's golf team is ranked No. 20 in the Golf World/Nike Golf Division I Coaches' Poll, the highest ranking in the history of the Nittany Lions' program. In NCAA Division III, the Allegheny men's team is ranked No. 16. ... The Washington & Jefferson field hockey team, which compiled a combined record of 27-64 in its first six seasons, is ranked No. 3 in the North Atlantic Region playoff rankings. ... R.J. Bowers, the former star running back at Division III Grove City, must settle for second place on the NCAA all-divisions career rushing list after Chadron State's Danny Woodhead broke Bowers' mark of 7,353 yards earlier this month. Woodhead, who won the 2006 Harlon Hill Trophy as the outstanding player in Division II, set an all-division single-season record with 2,756 yards rushing last year.

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