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Waynesburg loses after debut in poll

| Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2007

After finally breaking into the NCAA Division III rankings, Waynesburg lost a football game Saturday, but not to just any ordinary team.

The 21st-ranked Yellow Jackets suffered their first setback to unbeaten No. 7 Washington & Jefferson, 22-21, and only after leading for much of the contest.

There were at least two glaring reasons for the near-upset: Freshman running back Robert Heller gained a Waynesburg-record 289 yards, and senior Jackets defensive end Mike Czerwien consistently beat up the Washington & Jefferson offensive line while sacking Presidents quarterback Bobby Swallow three times.

"They had the best two players on the field," Washington & Jefferson coach Mike Sirianni said of the Waynesburg duo.

You'd get no argument from Waynesburg coach Rick Shepas, who singled out yet another strong performance by Czerwien, a North Hills High School product.

"There's no question that Mike is the best player in our league (Presidents' Athletic Conference)," Shepas said. "He's the best teammate, the best practice player, the best everything."

Washington & Jefferson (8-0, 4-0) survived when Swallow scored on a 1-yard run in the fourth quarter to erase a 21-16 deficit.

Elsewhere in weekend football highlights, California (Pa.), ranked No. 6 in NCAA Division II and No. 1 in the Northeast Region playoff rankings, lost star running back Brandon Lombardy to a knee injury during a 22-13 victory over Slippery Rock.

The extent of the injury remained unknown Monday because of intense swelling in the knee, said a school spokesman. Lombardy was ranked eighth in Division II in rushing last season with nearly 1,600 yards. He had gained 954 yards (106 ypg.) this season.

Coach John Luckhardt is expected to fill the opening with several players, led by Beaver Falls product Daine Williams, a transfer from Howard.

Despite four losses, Youngstown State (5-4, 1-3) remained in the NCAA Division I FCS rankings this week following a 14-13 Gateway Football Conference road loss to No. 1 Northern Iowa (8-0, 4-0). The Penguins, 22nd and 23rd in two major polls, failed to protect a 13-0 lead when Northern Iowa scored two fourth-quarter touchdowns.

They're No. 1

Penn State was ranked No. 1 in the latest CSTV/American Volleyball Coaches' Association Division I women's volleyball poll, supplanting defending national champion Nebraska, which had held the top spot in 41 of the past 43 weeks. The Cornhuskers (19-1) saw their 29-match winning streak end last week with a 3-0 loss at No. 3 Texas. Penn State (20-2, 12-0 Big Ten) received 26 first-place votes.

Four in a row

The Indiana (Pa.) field hockey team received its fourth consecutive bid to the NCAA Division II Tournament and earned a top seed and first-round bye in the South Region, where the Crimson Hawks (17-3) will meet either defending national champion Bloomsburg (18-4) or Kutztown (17-4) in the semifinals on Nov. 9 in Lowell, Mass. IUP is 2-4 in previous NCAA Tournament games.

Famous alumni

B.J. Barns, a former Atlantic 10 Conference baseball player of the year, heads a list of three inductees for the latest class of the Duquesne University Sports Hall of Fame. The others are Beth Friday, twice named an all-A-10 first-team women's basketball player; and John Rosato, who has played an integral role in the growth of the school's football program to NCAA Division I FCS from Division III as a coach and administrator.

District musings

Mercyhurst won the Division II Eastern Championship title in men's water polo, beating crosstown Erie-rival Gannon, 13-8, in Cambridge, Mass., to set a school record with 13 victories. The Lakers will face Division III Eastern Championship winner Massachusetts Tech on Sunday in the Small School championship match. ... Stanford wrestling coach Kerry McCoy, a former Penn State assistant who won NCAA Division I championships in 1994 and 1997 while competing for the Nittany Lions, is among five finalists to coach the U.S. Olympic fresstyle team.

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