STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. – A season-high five turnovers here Saturday brought Colgate’s NCAA football playoff run to a halt, helping Wagner advance with a 31-20 win.
The Raiders (8-4) were held to a season-low 296 total yards, or 203 yards below their season average of 503.7. Wagner capitalized on Colgate miscues to score 14 points on two of the turnovers, although the Raiders did get one back by recovering a blocked punt in the end zone late in the first half.
Colgate’s offense was so affected by the lost possessions that neither Gavin McCarney nor Jordan McCord reached 100 rushing yards in the game. The Raiders backfield combo had both topped 100 yards the previous six games and seven times this season. McCord’s streak of 11 straight games over the century mark also ended.
McCarney carried 19 times for 97, and McCord had 13 for 81.
Wagner (9-3) led 14-0 when McCarney reached paydirt on a 4-yard run with 8:25 left in the second quarter. The host Seahawks with a quick touchdown march to push the lead back to 14, but then Colgate forced a break when Demetrius Russell caught a blocked punt by Vince Myers in the end zone to narrow the gap to 21-14.
But Wagner drove for a 46-yard field goal that split the uprights at the halftime horn, giving the Seahawks all the points they would need to win their ninth consecutive game.
The teams tacked on a pair of touchdowns in the last nine minutes to close out the scoring, with Colgate’s coming on McCord’s 4-yard burst with just 5:54 to play.
Colgate tried an onside kick and appeared to recover, but replay confirmed the ball was touched before it traveled 10 yards and Wagner was able to run out the clock.
Patrick Friel led the Raiders defense with 14 tackles, while Mike Yeager added nine and Josh Ford eight.
RAIDERS DRAW WAGNER AS NCAA FOE
HAMILTON – Two teams with no history whatsoever on the football field but plenty in common for 2012 get together Saturday in the first round of the NCAA Division I Football Championship.
Colgate drew Wagner, and the Raiders travel to Staten Island for their playoff opener. Kickoff Saturday is noon, with ESPN3 carrying the live online telecast.
Both teams started this season slowly but are riding impressive winning streaks to identical 8-3 records. Wagner’s eight-game streak is the longest in the nation, followed by Colgate and Bethune-Cookman at seven apiece.
The team’s played four similar opponents in Albany, Sacred Heart, Holy Cross and Georgetown. Both went 3-1 against those common four.
“Sometimes, when you play someone you don’t know much about, it’s hard to prepare,” Raiders head coach Dick Biddle said. “But we’ve had common opponents so we should be able to get some idea of their strengths, their weaknesses and how we match up.
“The other positive is it’s in New York State. We can take a bus and it’s not a big travel thing for us; we’ve made the trip twice this year. We know the area and our kids should be comfortable with that.”
Colgate lost at Albany 40-23 in the Sept. 1 season opener, beat Sacred Heart 35-14 on Sept. 15, defeated Holy Cross 51-35 on Oct. 13, and beat Georgetown 57-36 on Oct. 20.
Wagner lost at Georgetown 13-10 on Sept. 8, won at Sacred Heart 12-3 on Oct. 6, blanked Albany 30-0 on Nov. 3, and then edged Holy Cross 31-30 on Nov. 10.
Both teams also qualified as conference champions. Colgate won its seventh Patriot League title under head coach Dick Biddle, and Wagner won its first Northeast Conference championship under 31-year head coach Walt Hameline.
Colgate is making its ninth NCAA playoff appearance and first since 2008. The Raiders are 4-8 all-time in the NCAAs, including a second-place finish in 2003.
This week’s winner travels to No. 2-seed Eastern Washington for a Dec. 1 second-round matchup. That game kicks off from Cheney, Wash., at 3:05 p.m. Pacific time (6:05 Eastern) and also is being carried online by ESPN3.
MCCARNEY ADDED TO WALTER PAYTON WATCH LIST
PHILADELPHIA, Pa. — Colgate’s Gavin McCarney is a superb rusher who keeps improving as a passer. Appalachian State’s Jamal Jackson is a terrific pocket passer who has the skills to roll out and run the ball effectively.
Both quarterbacks have dominated play this season, setting records along the way, while joining the 2012 Walter Payton Award Watch List on Tuesday.
The Payton Award, presented by The Sports Network, and in its 26th year, is presented to the outstanding player in the Football Championship Subdivision.
This year’s winner, to be chosen from 20 candidates, will join a list of Payton Award greats such as Steve McNair, Brian Westbrook, John Friesz, Tony Romo, Brian Finneran, Armanti Edwards and 2011 recipient Bo Levi Mitchell.
McCarney, a 6-foot-2, 192-pound junior, has helped Colgate compile a 7-3 record and capture the Patriot League title. He guides an offense that ranks No. 1 in the league and No. 3 in the FCS with a 41.2-point average.
He ranks first nationally in scoring (12.8 ppg), second in points responsible for (21.2 ppg), fourth in passing efficiency (159.65) and seventh in total offense (317.2 ypg). Among McCarney’s 12 school records are total offensive yards in a game (512), rushing yards by a quarterback in a game (288), rushing yards by a quarterback in a season (1,131), touchdowns in a season by a quarterback (21) and consecutive games with a touchdown pass (12).
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