District notebook: Ground game key factor for PAC teams
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Waynesburg is off and running to an impressive 2-0 start but the Yellow Jackets have yet to play a conference game. That will change today when they play host to Saint Vincent (0-2) in their Presidents' Athletic Conference opener.
Through two games, the Yellow Jackets have done a great job in the running game -- both in defending against the run and in running the ball themselves.
That's not a surprise because it is the way the Yellow Jackets have played in recent years under Rich Shepas and it has been a formula for success so far this year.
Waynesburg's dominance in the trenches is also why Saint Vincent coach Bob Colbert said that in order to beat the Yellow Jackets, the Bearcats must match their physicality in the running game and at the line of scrimmage.
"Waynesburg always presents a challenge physically," Colbert said. "They are a big, strong, physical team and as a result I believe they will be in the hunt [for the conference title] at the end of the year. We need to maintain the intensity we have had, eliminate our mistakes and if we do that, I believe we can compete with them."
"Every time we play Waynesburg it is a tough, physical game and I'd expect this one to be no different."
Waynesburg has averaged 221.5 yards per game on the ground and leads the PAC with 423 total rushing yards through two games.
Duquesne (2-0) at Valparaiso (0-2), 1 p.m., Brown Field -- The Dukes are looking to get their final tune up before they get into the grind of the Northeast Conference and it appears as if Valparaiso is the perfect team for that.
The Crusaders have lost 31 of their past 32 games and had a 29-game losing streak going into their season finale last year before snapping it with a 34-31 win over Campbell.
Duquesne grinded out an impressive 17-7 win over Dayton last Saturday and showed some grit and character in coming from behind to win.
Robert Morris (0-2) vs. Dayton (0-2), 1 p.m., Welcome Stadium -- The good news for the Colonials is that this season can't get any tougher for them as they opened the season with No. 1 North Dakota State and then played defending NEC champion Albany in week two.
The bad news is that the Colonials weren't very competitive in either game and lost by a combined score of 87-10.
Obviously the competition had a lot to do with Robert Morris' struggles, which is why today's matchup with Dayton-- a team that is reeling as well -- is such a key game.
A victory would at least get the Colonials on the right track but this one won't be easy either as the Flyers have owned them in this series.
Dayton has won 12 of 14 games against Robert Morris, including the past nine.
Robert Morris lost to Dayton, 19-13, when the two teams met last season but held the Flyers to only 21 yards rushing on 26 carries.
Gannon (1-1) at Slippery Rock (1-1), 6 p.m., Mihalik-Thompson Stadium -- Revenge is on the Rockets' minds as Gannon upset them in their season finale last year, a loss that prevented Slippery Rock from winning the PSAC West outright and played a big part in denying them an NCAA playoff berth.
Slippery Rock is averaging 199 rushing yards per game and only allowing 99 yards per game on the ground so for the Rockets to avenge their loss from a year ago, it will start with the ground game.
California (2-0) at Edinboro (0-1), 3 p.m., Sox Harrison Stadium -- The Vulcans have won seven in a row against Edinboro and given that they have scored 38 points per game -- and Edinboro gave up 30 points in a loss to Bloomsburg -- this could be another long day for the Scots.
California is picked to win the PSAC West and sent a clear statement that they are a legitimate contender by knocking off PSAC East favorite Kutztown, 48-45. The Vulcans will have to avoid an upset in this one.
First Published September 15, 2012 12:13 am