By Matt Leon
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Widener is still very much alive in the Division III NCAA College Football Tournament.
The Pride (10-0, champions of the MAC) won their first round game last weekend over Bridgewater State in Chester, 44-14. That earned them the right to host Salisbury State (9-2) in the second round this coming Saturday.
While the game against Bridgewater ended up being a blowout, it was actually tied at seven at the half. But the Pride dominated the final 30 minutes to win going away. Widener has shown the ability to break open games in a hurry all season long (average more than 50 points a game) and head coach Isaac Collins says that allowed him to be patient when his team's offense wasn't quite clicking on all cylinders early in the game.
"That was the big part of just talking about just staying with the game plan and not deviating," Collins tells KYW Newsradio. "Making sure that we're executing. And I think when you have had the experiences that we have had this past season, with some of the close games and even with some of the games that we were able to score a bunch of points and get guys out of the stadium, it really gives you a lot of confidence this time of year that if you just stay the course, and you're patient, you keep playing good defense, keep doing a good job on special teams, I think the scoring will take care of itself, eventually."
Salisbury advanced with a hard fought 17-9 win over a very good Rowan team in the opening round. They run the triple-option offense and Collins says that makes for an important week of preparation.
"It's a major challenge because it's not anything that our kids see," Collins says. "You're getting away from your base defense and base coverages, because you've got to play assignment football. You've got to account for all aspects of the triple option - you've got to take care of the dive guy, you've got to take care of the quarterback, you've got to take care of the pitch man, you've got to get off of blocks, you've got to stay on your feet. All the things that go into when you are typically doing your installation in preseason and you're kind of putting a defense in for the first time, you're really kind of doing that this week because it is so different then what we've seen to this point."
The winner of this Widener/Salisbury game faces the winner of Mount Union and Johns Hopkins in the quarterfinals.
Kickoff on Saturday is set for noon on Saturday at Leslie C. Quick Jr. Stadium in Chester.
You can follow Matt on Twitter @mattleonkyw.
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