Nov 16, 2003
WALTHAM, Mass. - For the first time in the program's history, Bentley College has been selected for the NCAA Division II football playoffs. The Falcons, who completed a 10-0 regular season and clinched the Northeast-10 Conference championship Saturday with a 57-17 win over Stonehill College, were seeded second in the Northeast Region and will host defending national champion and third-seeded Grand Valley State this coming Saturday (Nov. 22) at 12 noon.
Bentley, ranked 19th in the most recent AFCA Division II poll, leads Division II in scoring, averaging 47.4 points a game after setting school records for points and touchdowns in a season. The Falcons, who were number one in Division II in turnover margin and in the top ten of all four
defensive categories in last week's statistics, are coached by Peter Yetten, who is 192-61-2 in 25 years at the helm, and 121-40-1 since the Bentley program gained varsity status in 1988.
While Bentley is a newcomer to the NCAA playoffs, Grand Valley State, ranked fourth in last week's AFCA Division II poll, will be making its second straight appearance and eighth overall. The Lakers, coached by Assumption College alumnus Brian Kelly, are 10-1 this fall, with the only blemish being a 34-20 home loss Oct. 18 to Saginaw Valley State, the number one ranked team in Division II and the top seed in the Northeast Region.
In the other Northeast Region game, Saginaw Valley (11-0) will be at home against Edinboro University (Pa.) (9-2). The two winners will square off in the regional final Nov. 29, with the Northeast Region champion facing the West champion Dec. 6 in the national semifinals. The national championship game will be played Dec. 13 in Florence, Ala.
Bentley is just the second Northeast-10 team to earn an NCAA playoff berth, with the C.W. Post the first a year ago. The Pioneers also faced Grand Valley in the first round, on the road, and came out on the short end of a 62-13 score. The 2002 Lakers, who featured Harlon Hill winner Curt Anes, won their first three playoff games by an average of 42.3 points before topping Valdosta State in the finals, 31-24, for their first-ever championship.
Bentley, 24-1 in its last 25 regular season games, is the first team from Massachusetts to compete in the NCAA Division II playoffs since UMass in 1977.
Yetten's high-powered offense, which topped 50 points five times this season, is led by the junior passing combo of Marc Eddy (Southboro/Algonquin Reg. HS) to Dallas Mall (Northboro/Algonquin Reg. HS), and senior running back Andy Breda (Hanover/Hanover HS). Eddy has thrown 31 TD passes this season and 85 already in his career, and Mall has 53 career TD catches, sixth in NCAA college football history, and 15 this fall. Breda, Bentley's all-time leading rusher, has strung together a school-record seven straight 100-yard games and has rushed for 1,136 yards this fall. Defensively, the Falcons have come up with 20 interceptions and 19 fumble recoveries while limiting the opponents to 238 yards a game.
NCAA DIVISION II FOOTBALL CHAMPIONSHIPS
Regional Semifinals - Saturday, Nov. 22
Grand Valley State (10-1) at Bentley (10-0), 12 noon
Edinboro (9-2) at Saginaw Valley State (11-0), 12 noon
Regional Championship - Saturday, Nov. 29