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NCAA Tournament Preview: Western New England Set to Take on No. 5/7 Delaware Valley in First Round Matchup on Saturday

NCAA Tournament Preview: Western New England Set to Take on No. 5/7 Delaware Valley in First Round Matchup on Saturday

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (November 17, 2017) - Western New England University will take on No. 5/7 nationally ranked Delaware Valley University in the first round of the 2017 NCAA Division III Football Championship on Saturday afternoon at 12 p.m. at James Work Memorial Stadium in Doylestown, Pa.

How They Got Here – Western New England (8-2, 5-0 CCC Football) secured its spot in the NCAA Tournament by capturing the inaugural Commonwealth Coast Football (CCC Football) title and the league's automatic bid.

Delaware Valley (10-0, 9-0 MAC) won the Middle Atlantic Conference title and completed an undefeated regular season with a 47-13 triumph over Widener University on November 11.

NCAA Tournament History – Western New England is making its third straight and fourth overall appearance in the NCAA playoffs. The Golden Bears have a record of 1-3 in four games.

2011 – Salisbury (Md.) 62, Western New England 24
2015 – Johns Hopkins (Md.) 52, Western New England 20
2016 – Western New England 44, Husson (Maine) 27
            Alfred (N.Y.) 30, Western New England 24

Delaware Valley is making its seventh all-time appearance in the NCAA Division III Tournament and first since 2014. The Aggies reached the quarterfinals in 2004 and 2005 and were bumped out in the second round three straight years from 2009 to 2011.

All-Conference Performers – Seventeen Golden Bears earned spots on the All-Commonwealth Coast Football (CCC Football) teams, including a trio of major award winners.

Senior quarterback Anthony Service (Lake Ronkonkoma, N.Y.) • Co-Offensive Player of the Year
Senior nose tackle Sam Edouard (Roosevelt, N.Y.) • Defensive Lineman of the Year
Freshman cornerback Zhaire House (Greenwich, Conn.) • Defensive Rookie of the Year

Nineteen Aggies garnered All-MAC accolades, including Offensive Player of the Year Devauntay Ellis, who ran for 1,141 yards and 16 touchdowns this season.

Coach's Corner – Now in his 13th season at Western New England, head coach Keith Emery owns a career record of 86-48 (.642). Emery has led the Golden Bears to a 29-4 (.879) mark and three conference titles over the last three seasons.

Duke Greco is in his fourth season as head at his alma mater with an overall record of 37-6.

Balanced Offense – Through ten games this season, the Western New England offense is averaging 399.5 yards per game, with 193.3 coming on the ground and 206.2 through the air.

The DelVal offense also features a balanced attack as the Aggies average 431.5 yards per outing with 255.4 yards coming on the ground (16th in Division III) and 176.1 yards through the air.

Stingy Defense – The Golden Bears ranked second in CCC Football in scoring defense at 19.2 points per game during the regular season. Western New England was also tied for the conference lead with 21 takeaways (11 interceptions, ten fumble recoveries).

DelVal is ranked third in all of Division III as the unit is giving up just nine points per game. They are also ninth in defensive touchdowns (4), ninth in rushing defense (66.5 yards per game) and 12th in total defense (239 yards per game).

Record Breakers – Service and senior wide receiver Mark Dietrich (Cheshire, Conn.) both established new program records this fall. Service became Western New England's all-time passing touchdown leader after throwing for two scores in the Golden Bears' 45-0 victory at Becker on October 21, surpassing the mark of 39 touchdown passes set by 2017 Downes Athletic Hall of Fame inductee Justin Walz '10. Dietrich, who was on the receiving end of three touchdown passes from Service in last Saturday's 55-14 win over Nichols, broke the program record for touchdown receptions (21) set by Walz's younger brother Andrew.

Strength of Schedule – Western New England's 2017 regular schedule featured the most challenging non-conference slate in program history. The Golden Bears played three teams that reached the NCAA Tournament this season – Springfield College, Husson University, and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. According to D3football.com, Western New England's strength of schedule is ranked 23rd among 250 DIII programs – Delaware Valley's schedule is ranked 59th.

Streaks – The Golden Bears have won seven games in a row since they rallied to defeat Husson on September 23, with House's 94-yard fumble return helping to swing the momentum in the contest.

Up Next – The winner of the Western New England – Delaware Valley contest advances to the second round to face the winner of the Springfield – Husson matchup.