Playoff Preview - Wesley vs. Cortland State

By Sean Greene 1:50am, November 24, 2012
VIDEO: Sean Greene speaks with Mike Drass
GameDay Preview - No. 5 Wesley vs. Cortland State

Where: Scott D. Miller Stadium - Dover, Delaware
When: 12:00pm (EST)
Broadcast: 1150AM WDEL, and WDEL Mobile App - Sean Greene and Jason Bowen
What: NCAA Division III Football Tournament 2nd Round - UMHB Bracket
Who: #3 Cortland State (9-1, NJAC Champs) at #2 Wesley (9-1, Independent)
On the Line: National Quarterfinal Game with winner of #1 Mary Hardin-Baylor and #5 Franklin
Series History: 1st Ever Meeting
NCAA Tournament History: Wesley 19-8, Cortland State 5-7
Coaches: Wesley - Mike Drass (176-48-1, 20th year), Cortland State - Dan MacNeill (108-55, 16th year)

Wesley looks to improve to 7-1 all-time in Division III 2nd round games when they face off with the champions of the dangerous New Jersey Athletic Conference. Last year's 2nd round game for Wesley was the dramatic come-from-behind 49-34 victory over Linfield when Wesley trailed by 20 points. SUNY-Cortland only advanced past the second round once, when they defeated Curry 42-0 back in 2008.

Players to Watch:


Justin Sottilare (QB - 6'3" Senior - 29 touchdowns - 2,626 yards passing) - Wesley's gunslinger was on target against Mount Ida, throwing for a career-high-tying six touchdowns. Cortland likes to run a 3-4 defense, so Justin must account for underneath linebackers and ballhawking corners to avoid making costly turnovers.

Sean Hopkins (Safety/PR - 5'9" Junior - 19.6 punt return average) - Hopkins' versatility could be tested in two ways: First he must deal with the spread passing, and running, game from the Red Dragons. Secondly, he was very quiet in the punt return game against Mount Ida, and if given the opportunity due to the strong leg of Cortland punter Mike DeBole, he must be ready to pounce and give the Wolverines momentum bursts.

Cortland State:

Chris Rose (QB - 6'2" Senior - 21 passing touchdowns) - Another week, another senior quarterback for the Wesley defense to contend with. Rose has been effective at getting the ball to a host of wide receivers. While not a flashy runner, he does have 234 yards on the ground so Wesley must keep him under control.

Wesley Will Win If: They hold onto the football. NJAC teams have a way of playing tough defense, and this Cortland State team appears no different. They've held six of their ten opponents to 19 points or less, so Wesley will not want to make things easier for a gritty defense.

Wesley Will Lose If: They get turnover happy. Wesley was minus-5 in turnovers against Hobart last year in the 2 vs. 7 game and it nearly cost them. Justin Sottilare's turnover count has dropped late in the season, but he must be careful with the football to not give Mount Ida confidence on the road.

Cortland State Will Win If: They get defensive scores. Wesley gave up a pick-six last week to Mount Ida, although Wesley quickly responded with a kickoff return for touchdown. Cortland looks more secure in the special teams game, so if their defense can flip the script on Wesley and keep the game close, the 4th quarter could be interesting.

Cortland State Will Lose If: They can't find the end zone. They've been forced to kick 9 field goals from inside the 25 yard line in the last 3 weeks. That is not the recipe for defeating a top 5 football team. If they can drive on Wesley, they must finish the deal.

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