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Muhlenberg College

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

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football ranked second in the country

There are No. 2 pencils, bachelor No. 2 and the character Number 2 in the Austin Powers movies. And now, for the first time ever, Muhlenberg is No. 2 in a Division III poll.

The Muhlenberg football team moved up to the second spot in the American Football Coaches Association poll following Saturday’s 17-6 win vs. Franklin & Marshall. It is the highest Division III ranking for any Mule team in any sport. The previous best was the No. 3 ranking of the men’s soccer team in 1994, 1995 and 1996.

Muhlenberg (7-0) was ranked fourth last week, but losses by then-No. 2 Wis.-Whitewater and then-No. 3 Mary Hardin-Baylor opened the door for the Mules to jump up. Holding John DeLuca down the top spot is Mt. Union, which received 39 of 40 first-place votes. Despite its loss, defending national champion Wis.-Whitewater (now ranked 10th) received the other first-place vote.

The ranking puts Muhlenberg among the elite of Division III football. Only 13 schools have been ranked No. 1 or 2 since the poll’s inception in 1999. Muhlenberg’s No. 2 ranking marks the first time in 46 polls dating back to Sept. 14, 2004, that a school other than Mt. Union, Wis.-Whitewater, Mary Hardin-Baylor, Linfield, St. John’s or Rowan has occupied one of the top two spots in the AFCA Top 25.

Wabash and North Central occupy the positions just behind the Mules; the three are separated by only 15 points. The poll has North Central second, Wabash third and Muhlenberg fourth.

The Mules have won 18 consecutive regular-season games and 13 straight Centennial Conference contests. They are one of 17 remaining undefeated teams in Division III and one of only four that are 17-0 over the last two regular seasons. The others are Mt. Union, Washington & Jefferson and Case Western Reserve.

Muhlenberg has a two-game lead in the CC with three games to play but still has to face two of the three two-loss teams on the road. The Mules travel to Dickinson (4-3, 3-2) this Saturday and close out the regular season at Moravian (6-2, 4-2) on Nov. 15. In between, they host Ursinus (3-4, 2-3) in their last home game.

In the NCAA statistical rankings, Muhlenberg is seventh in pass efficiency defense (87.07), 12th in fewest sacks allowed (0.71 per game), 18th in total defense (254.9 yards per game) and 19th in passing efficiency (155.7). Senior John DeLuca (left) is eighth in rushing yards per game (159.0) and 14th in all-purpose yards per game (186.7). Senior Eric Santagato comes in 16th in passing efficiency (163.1), while junior Phil Cresta ranks 18th in receiving yards per game (107.0).

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