SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – The Western New England University football team hosts the College at Brockport in the first round of the 2019 NCAA Division III Tournament on Saturday afternoon at Golden Bear Stadium. Opening kickoff is set for 12 p.m.
Ticket Prices: $10 for adults, $5 for students/senior citizens
How They Got Here: Western New England (9-1) earned the Commonwealth Coast Football (CCC) automatic qualifier to the NCAA Tournament after capturing the league crown with an unbeaten 7-0 record. Brockport (8-2) won the Empire 8 title with a 5-1 conference record to secure the E8 automatic bid.
NCAA Tournament Experience: Western New England is making its fifth consecutive and sixth overall appearance in the NCAA playoffs. The Golden Bears first reached the NCAA Tournament in 2011, and have now made five straight trips from 2015-19. Western New England is 1-5 in six NCAA Tourney contests, with the only win coming in 2016 when the Golden Bears defeated Husson 44-27 in a first round contest at Golden Bear Stadium. That game also marked the only other time Western New England has hosted an NCAA Tournament matchup.
Brockport is making its third straight and seventh overall appearance in the NCAA Championship. The Golden Eagles first reached the national stage back in 2000, which started a streak of four straight appearances from 2000-03. Brockport then endured a 13-year absence before making consecutive trips to the NCAA Tournament over the past two seasons (2017-18). The Golden Eagles, who are 6-6 in 12 all-time NCAA postseason contests, advanced all the way to the national semifinals in 2017.
Series History: Western New England and Brockport are meeting for the first time on Saturday. The Golden Bears last played an Empire 8 opponent in 2016, falling to Alfred 30-24 in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
Conference Dominance: Western New England and Brockport have both dominated their respective conferences in recent years. The Golden Bears have won five straight league championships, including New England Football Conference (NEFC) titles in 2015 and 2016, followed by CCC crowns in 2017, 2018 and 2019. Over the last five seasons, the Golden Bears are 31-1 (.968) in conference play.
Brockport, which secured its third consecutive Empire 8 title this season, owns a 19-1 record against league opponents from 2017-19.
Coaching: Western New England head coach Jason Lebeau '10, who was named the CCC Coach of the Year earlier this week, is in his second season at the helm of his alma mater. Lebeau was a three-year starter on the WNE offensive line during his time as a student-athlete and later served as an assistant coach for eight years on Keith Emery's staff, including six as offensive coordinator. Since taking over as head coach, Lebeau has guided the Golden Bears to consecutive CCC championships and an overall record of 17-4 (.809).
Brockport seventh-year head coach Jason Mangone and his staff were recently named the Empire 8 Coaching Staff of the Year for the third straight season. Mangone has led the Golden Eagles to a 32-4 record over the past three seasons and a 57-21 (.730) mark overall. Following Brockport's historic 2017 campaign, Mangone was named the AFCA National Coach of the Year.
All-Conference Accolades: Both Western New England and Brockport were heavily represented on their respective All-Conference teams. The Golden Bears received 13 All-CCC selections, highlighted by the Co-Offensive Player of the Year, senior quarterback Alec Coleman (Arlington, Mass.) and the Co-Defensive Player of the Year, junior linebacker Erich Keutmann (Washingtonville, N.Y.).
Brockport also landed 13 student-athletes on the Empire 8 All-Conference teams, while freshman defensive back Raylens Boutin (Nyack, N.Y.) was named the E8 Rookie of the Year. Five Golden Eagles garnered first team accolades, including four on the defensive side.
Team Statistics: Western New England was the top offensive team in the CCC this season, leading the conference in scoring offense (40.6 points per game), total offense (487.2 yards per game) and third down conversion rate (48%). WNE currently ranks 11th nationally in total offense and 21st in scoring offense. The Golden Bears also led the CCC in passing yards per game (290) and rushing touchdowns (30) and ranked third in rushing yards per game (198.2).
Brockport ranks 30th nationally in rushing yards per game (233.3), and the Golden Eagles also average 183.0 passing yards per game. Overall, the team ranked third in the Empire 8 in both total offense (406.4 YPG) and scoring offense (29.6 PPG). The Golden Eagles have been one of the top teams in the nation on defense all season, ranking 12th in NCAA Division III in scoring defense (13.2 PPG), fifth in total defense (222.8 YPG), second in third down conversion defense (19.7%), third in interceptions (19) and 25th in tackles for loss per game (8.1). Brockport has been particularly effective at stopping the run, as the Golden Eagles lead all levels of college football (Divisions I, II and III) in run defense at 28.3 yards per game. The Brockport defense has held its opponents to negative rushing yards in three of the past six games.
Individual Leaders | Western New England:
QB | Alec Coleman | Sr. | Arlington, Mass. | 146-214, 1,994 yards, 16 TD, 5 INT, 305 rush yards (4.9 avg.), 9 rush TD
RB | Jamyre Soberanis | Sr. | Dorchester, Mass. | 929 rush yards (6.7 avg.), 14 TD
WR | Steven Fedorchak | Jr. | Guilderland, N.Y. | 53 receptions, 979 yards, 10 TD
LB | Erich Keutmann | Jr. | Washingtonville, N.Y. | 119 tackles, 3 sacks, 7 TFL, 3 PB
DB | Bailey Devine-Scott | So. | 58 tackles, 2 TFL, 1 FF, 1 FR, 14 PBU
Individual Leaders | Brockport:
QB | Jason Hellwig | Sr. | Medina, N.Y. | 53-112, 735 yards, 1 TD, 6 INT, 113 rush yards, 1 TD
RB | Jala Coad | So. | Amityville, N.Y. | 822 rush yards (4.4 avg.), 16 TD
LB | Alex West | Sr. | Dansville, N.Y. | 56 tackles, 9 sacks, 17 TFL, 2 PBU
DE | Josh Greenwood | Jr. | Endicott, N.Y. | 35 tackles, 9 TFL, 1 sack
DB | Raylens Boutin | Fr. | Nyack, N.Y. | 37 tackles, 4 INT, 14 PBU, 1 FF, 1 FR
Up Next: The winner of Saturday's game between Western New England and Brockport advances to the second round of the NCAA Tournament on Saturday, 11/30 to face the winner of the Muhlenberg/MIT matchup.