Widener Gets A Playoff Bid After A Harrowing Escape

Posted: November 14, 1995

As a member of the kicking fraternity, Widener senior Brian Hamill does not like rooting against other kickers.

So Hamill was in a precarious position Saturday when, with 12 seconds left in the game, Susquehanna's Bill Lutz lined up for an 18-yard field goal that could have knocked Widener out of NCAA Division III playoff consideration.

"Actually, I was hoping for a bad snap," Hamill said.

Hamill got exactly what he wanted: The snap was bad, Lutz never attempted the kick, and Widener walked away with a 28-26 victory.

More important, the Pioneers (8-2) received an NCAA bid that had seemed out of reach when they fell to Lycoming, 16-15, on Oct. 21. Widener won its last three games and received plenty of outside help, including a 25-10 win by Washington and Jefferson over Wesley on Saturday that knocked Wesley out of the playoff picture.

Widener was ranked fifth in the South Region entering the weekend, and Wesley was third. The Pioneers' win, coupled with Wesley's loss, helped Widener claim one of the region's four playoff berths.

"I just think it was fate," Hamill said. "That field goal was shorter than an extra point."

Widener will visit Lycoming in first-round play Saturday. Hamill had the biggest game of his career against Lycoming, kicking five field goals in the loss.

RAMS FINISH STRONG. With its first losing season since 1979, West Chester did not make the Division II playoffs after having done so in 1994.

But the Golden Rams (4-6-1) went out on a high note Saturday by rallying

from a late 24-13 deficit to beat California (Pa.), 25-24.

Jim Lindsay started the comeback with a 25-yard touchdown run. Strath Haven graduate Jon Rydel capped it with a 20-yard TD catch with just over two minutes left.

West Chester senior Brian Penecale caught a 27-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter to tie a Division II career record for games with at least one touchdown catch. Penecale and South Dakota State's Jeff Tiefenthaler share the record at 25.

NIGHTMARE CONTINUES. It would have gone down in NCAA history as the first 82-yard touchdown pass off a reverse from one twin brother to another.

But Brian Finneran's first-quarter completion to his brother, Brad, was nullified by a penalty, and Villanova lost, 12-9, to New Hampshire on Saturday.

"That's just the way it's been going," Villanova coach Andy Talley said after the Wildcats dropped their sixth game by six points or fewer.

The play started with a toss to tailback Anthony Cowsette. Cowsette handed to Brian Finneran on a reverse, and he passed to Brad. But a lineman was downfield, and the Wildcats (2-8) were on their way to yet another close loss.

SWARTHMORE STORMS TO WIN. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and Swarthmore's 2-0 win in the mud, wind and rain Saturday at Washington and Lee was picture-perfect for Garnet coach Karl Miran.

"It was old-time football," Miran said. "All that was missing was the single wing and the drop kick."

Swarthmore (5-5) scored on a safety in the third quarter. A bad snap sailed into the end zone, and Washington and Lee quarterback Brooks Fischer kicked the ball past the end line to avert a Swarthmore touchdown.

The Garnet defense - with some help from the elements - took over after that. Swarthmore held Washington and Lee (5-3-1) to 145 yards and no points after giving up a total of 81 points in its previous two games.

"Winning a game, even if you don't get the ball into the end zone, feels good," Miran said.

SEEKING A FEW GOOD MEN. Cheyney coach Vincent Williams was hired July 26, too late to recruit this year, and his team suffered through an 0-10-1 season.

So Williams, who coached at Morehouse College in Atlanta last year, will try to make up for lost time when he hits the recruiting trail soon.

"One of the things I do best is recruit," Williams said. "I want to get some good student-athletes who want to turn a program around."

Williams, whose team lost, 55-0, to Bloomsburg on Saturday, does not have big scholarship money to spread around. But he has a lot of holes to fill.

"We'll be looking for a quarterback, running backs, linemen," he said. ''We need a little bit of everything, to be truthful."

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