By Sean Greene 6:25pm, November 28, 2012
VIDEO: Sean Greene speaks with center Tim PutmanMany times when teams are evenly matched, it comes down to execution and line play, and those are two areas Wesley will look to improve in when they face Mary Hardin-Baylor in the Division III South Region Title game Saturday in Texas.
UMHB won in Dover 32-25 thanks in large part to holding Wesley to minus-4 rushing yards. The stat can be slightly misleading because the NCAA counts sack yardage (4 sacks for 36 yards), but the point holds, Wesley could not effectively move the football in the first meeting against one of the top defensive lines in the country.
The rematch brings many of the same players, although Wesley has switched to freshman Devin Filliben at right guard, hoping he can bring the toughness needed to deal with players like Silvio Diaz, who had 3 sacks in the September battle.
Another change is the health of running back Askia Jahad, who only had one carry against the Cru due to injury. He says he's feeling now, but Wesley's traditional run game has struggled against Mary Hardin-Baylor. In last December's 27-24 victory, Wesley rushed the ball 39 times for 136, which sounds impressive until you remove quarterback Shane McSweeny's 25 carries for 114 yards from the equation, then it was just 14 carries for 22 yards. Jahad was only Wesley's third leading rusher (behind McSweeny and wide receiver Steve Koudossou) earning 8 yards on 6 touches.
A berth in the National Semifinals is on the line when the game is played Saturday at 1pm in Belton, Texas. You can hear the game on WDEL beginning with pre-game coverage at 12:30pmET.
This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.