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BREAKING NEWS: At week’s end Lions’ boast nation’s top scoring offense

September 28, 2009

It must feel good to be the king…

After its most recent update of stats, rankings and scores from this weekend’s action, the NCAA reports that the Lions’ scoring offense ranks first in all the land.

Entering the fourth week of the regular season ranked second (averaged 52.0 ppg in Weeks 1-3), the Lions’ offensive fireworks display during a 67-34 quirky win over Morrisville State on Saturday propelled the small liberal arts institution–past Massachusetts’ Springfield College of the Empire Eight Conference–to best in Division III.

Though the RBs couldn't maintain its 325 ypg average on Saturday, its four rush TDs in addition to Mike Yetka's (above) 44-yard TD reception thrust the Lions to 1st in NCAA scoring

Though the RBs couldn't maintain its 325 ypg average on Saturday, its four rush TDs in addition to Mike Yetka's (above) 44-yard TD reception thrust the Lions to 1st in NCAA scoring

Ahead of each of the nation’s other 234 teams, the unit’s average now sits at 57.33 ppg–two points more than Wabash College of Indiana (55.33 ppg).

Inching toward the nation’s summit elsewhere in the statisticians’ notebooks, the Lions’ most recent outing further elevated its national status.  Despite failing to out-gain an opponent for the first time this season (486 yds to Mustangs’ 519 yds), the team cleared the country’s 3rd-place hurdle, safely landing at D3’s 2nd-place slot in total offense.

While both teams’ averages fell (Week 3: Lions-564.5; Tigers-594.33) the Lions’ season resume to-date proved adequate enough to maintain a 500+ yards per game average, now trailing Hampden-Sydney by fewer than ten yards per appearance (Week 4: Lions-538.33 ypg; Tigers-546.75).

Individually, Lions’ four-year starter Chris James jumped in the national rankings, finishing only behind Dan Whalen (Case) in passing efficiency (James-226.66; Whalen-228.89) at the end of Week Four. Well on pace to smash a handful of individual school records, James casually tossed for 323 yards and thrice found pay dirt through the air (rushed for 13 yds on nine carries, TD) while completing 82.6% of his passes.

Best of all–the only pick thrown for the Lions was a 35 yard laser hauled in by the team’s QB-turned-TD machine Bill Picatagi, affectionately nicknamed “Pic.”

James has only found an opposing defender’s hands once in 2009 (season-opener vs. Buffalo St.).

The team’s rushing ranking suffered after this weekend’s win, falling out of the nation’s top-ten from 5th-best, now to 12th following a season-low 163 yards on Saturday afternoon. Entering its interconference duel against Morrisville State, the Lions averaged 325.5 rush yards per game. After, the digit fell to a human 271.33–still best in the NJAC by over one-hundred yards (Rowan-168.0 ypg).

Not quite in the national spotlight themselves, James has largely been the greatest benefactor of the team’s astounding production from its wide receivers, namely seniors Mark Gardner and Colin Weber. In the absence of two-time All-NJAC performer and team co-captain, Cam Richardson, the tandem currently occupies the conference’s two top spots for receiving yards per game (Weber-104.0 rec. ypg, 1st in NJAC; Gardner-84.67 rec. ypg, 2nd in NJAC).

Filling in splendidly for ailing WR Cam Richardson, receivers Mark Gardner (above) and Colin Weber hoard the NJAC's two top spots for rec. ypg

Filling in splendidly for ailing WR Cam Richardson, receivers Mark Gardner (above) and Colin Weber hoard the NJAC's two top spots for rec. ypg

Mediocre only by its own standards, the stellar touchdown party wagon driven by the team’s trio of tailbacks–Donoloski, Misura and Yetka–still managed to produce four scores en route to the team’s demolition of yet another school record (points per game, originally 64, set in 1921 vs. Cathedral).

And who says the kicker gets no love?

Punting footballs like golfers drive Titleists in a performance that earned the former-Louisville transfer his second NJAC Special Teams Player of the Week Award, punter Marc Zucconi’s 58.5 yards per punt on Saturday sent the Lions’ team net punting stock soaring from 68th in the nation (33.75 ypp) to fourth in the NCAA’s Division III (38.67 ypp).

Neither Zucconi’s contribution for the Lions, nor national leader Redlands’ Dan Selway (40.25 ypp) qualify for indiviudal accolades, which require performers to average at least 3.6 punts per game. On the season, Zucconi’s number has been called six times, while Selway has only booted three.

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