Game Day from Minneapolis

Yes, game day on a Friday morning. And you have to be a real football junkie to take in five games in one day, even if you don’t have to move to do it.

Such is the UMAC’s Dome Day, a five game cross-divisional event held in the Metrodome in Minneapolis. Games start at 8 a.m. local time, and even Keith and I won’t be taking in all five. We leave that to Ryan Coleman, who’s coordinating photo efforts to shoot all five games for the league and shooting more than a few frames himself, we’re sure.

I’m standing on the sidelines with my laptop, jotting down thoughts between plays as Principia, which we ranked No. 238 out of 238 in Kickoff during the preseason, plays Trinity Bible, a non-Division III team that plays in this league, a non-Division III league at least for football terms. Principia has about 32 players in uniform this morning, with Trinity Bible about the same.

Already so far, both teams have passed up chip shot field goals, while Trinity Bible is 1-for-2 … in an ugly manner … on extra points. Such is the state of special teams at this level. The crowd is a little low but it’s early. Principia ran a fake punt from inside its 15 on fourth-and-16 and gained 15 yards, leading to Trinity Bible’s first score. It’s been an eventful first quarter-plus.

We’ll check back in throughout the day with observations from the booth and sidelines as the weekend gets started a little early.

15 thoughts on “Game Day from Minneapolis

  1. There’s also a game in the MAC tonight when Delaware Valley travels to Widener with the winner getting the Keystone Cup and a leg up in the conference title chase. Both teams are undefeated in the MAC and tied with Albright for first.

    Game time at 7 pm with audio coverage available at

  2. Gordon – I’m stunned that my main man (and fellow Eagles diehard……and we are dying hard this year!!), Keith, made no mention of this game in his Around The Nation piece this week…….and he’s a South Jersey guy!!

    Thanks for the mention… should be a good one…….even in the pouring rain. I’ll take close/exciting games in an evenly matched conference, a conference that probably will not be decided until the end of the last day of the regular season……….over the conferences where the top team (or teams) can basically name their score!!

    Let’s just hope that the “musical chairs” being played amongst these schools doesn’t ruin a few of these conferences down the road.

  3. Pat – Principia vs. Trinity Bible…….yikes……..could that be any further from Mount Union and UWWW!! (and I thought co-managing a hedge fund in this environment was tough!!!). My comment above was for Gordon (Mr. MAC), who if not knee-deep in D3 hoops business (as Keith mentioned himself), I’m sure would have included the above mentioned game in his version of Around The Nation’s “Games To Watch”. It’s all up to individual interpretation anyway. Each one of our opinions is just that, an opinion. They can’t be wrong unless stated as a fact and eventually proven false.

    The above mentioned game certainly doesn’t fall under “Week 9’s Five Top 25 Clashes”………but it certainly merits consideration under “Five More With Major Conference Title & Playoff Implications”……especially with NC Wesleyan (who lost by ten points to Widener) vs. CNU and the two games mentioned in the “playoff implicationLESS” NESCAC…….or a mention in the “Also Keep An Eye On” section.

    This is a just semi-meaningless conjecture given that on December 15…….Mount Youngstown State Union will be holding the trophy again. I’ll take the Mount and give anyone else the field……with odds (I trade derivatives so be careful) if anyone is interested!!

  4. Dukefin,
    I actually did defer that game on purpose in Triple Take, but I pored over that national schedule earlier in the week and missed that one in Around the Nation. In hindsight, I probably should have at least mentioned it in other games to keep an eye on. Cut a dude a break. My bad.

    Although truthfully, since it only decides who gets to battle Albright for the title later, it might not even be as big a game as the ones I mentioned. Certainly not CNU-NCW, which basically decides the conference championship. And I always make sure to pay attention to the NESCAC. They might not go to the playoffs, but they are D3. You can ignore them, I won’t.

    You’re about 10 months behind on that Mount Union bet though. I offered that action (kiddingly of course, NCAA peeps) to anyone that wanted to go 237-for-1 at the end of the Stagg Bowl last year. There were no takers. It might not be a gimme that they’ll win, but they’re a pretty sure bet to get to Salem.

    Anyway, I came here to post about Dome Day …

  5. So yeah, Dome Day.

    Honestly, from afar, I’ve always wondered if it’s one of those things that sounds good in theory but comes up short in execution.

    My plane landed 30 minutes early (Northworst, wha?) and despite a little traffic, I got downtown and to the Metrodome rather easily. I kind of had a dreary feeling, as I headed toward the 35W bridge that collapsed (a friend a former co-worker of mine, Garrett Ebling, was severely injured in the accident) and as I took the overpass to the dome, there’d been car accidents requiring emergency workers on both sides of the street. (I don’t think I’ve ever seen that before). The one on my side had a crushed hood, a broken windshield, deployed airbag and a continuously blaring horn.

    So you can imagine my mood as I walked into the building, definitely looking forward to something good happening. And it didn’t take long, since the third game of five on the day was in the final three minutes. Crown, trailing Blackburn 34-27, dinked and dunked its way to a touchdown with 42 seconds left.

    Then, bypassing the point after, they ran a reverse option pass and got the two-point conversion to go up 35-34. But they came back with a squib kick, a play I really hate unless there’s a super-dangerous returner back there. Blackburn returned the kick to midfield.

    After a short completion, the Beavers ran a halfback pass. Not to be fooled, Crown defeners gravitated toward the receiver streaking down the field. But Blackburn sneaked a second receiver down the backside of the play, and the running back stopped, gathered himself and chucked a spiral that led to a TD with 9 seconds left. Blackburn also went for 2 and got it.

    Blackburn bypassed the squib and kicked it deep. Well, sorta. The kick only went from the 30 to just beyond the other 30, and the Crown return man (sorry I had just sat down and hadn’t even learned the players’ names yet) sprinted forward, but couldn’t recover it as it shot forward off his knee. Crown recovered, but they were still about 60 yards from a hail mary, so with 4 seconds left they went for the 20-yard completion and running laterals. They managed two though before someone threw it forward.

    Still, for being here three minutes, it was a crazy Dome Day initiation for me.

    I’ll write some more about the overall atmosphere, probably tonight on the blog (and yes, I’ll see if I can tune Gordon’s broadcast in).

    Dome Day is actually pretty cool in execution, not just in theory.

    I’m actually going to go down to field level and get a feel for the size and speed of UMAC players. Martin Luther, up 14-10 against Westminster (Mo.) very early in the second quarter, is inside the 1 threatening again. I honestly haven’t seen much defense so far.

  6. In a game that isn’t being played in a dome but should be…

    Widener 3 Del Val 3 Half

    It’s raining monkeys and zebras (because cats and dogs are so cliche).

  7. Well this one is a total shootout. Martin Luther up 30-28 in the third.

    The DV-Widener game (3-3 at half at last look) is not.

    Dukefin, you’ll be happy to know the soft pretzels here in the dome aren’t half bad. Not quite Philly, but pretty close.

    OK, so yeah, football. My initial assessment of the talent level is that the speed is there and the effort is there, and some of the offensive schemes are as detailed as what other D3s are running, but the lines are definitely smaller and the defenses don’t appear to be as sharp.

    Speaking of which, Martin Luther just made it 36-28, with an extra point pending.

    Tell you what, fun game to watch. Back and forth.

    Crowd filing in for Game 5 too, the Rockford-Northwestern championship game.

    Interesting bit of history too. Today is the last 10-team Dome Day for the forseeable future, as five schools are departing for the SLIAC next year, but Dome Day will continue next season with three games. At least that’s what I’m told. Rockford also leaves for the NAC (the Midwestern one) to join with members of the MIAA and IBFC (mostly)

    Huge cheer just now for a great Martin Luther catch.

    Heading down to shoot some action.

  8. So I got to play photo geek for a while. I don’t really know what I’m doing, but if you’ve got an eye for action or scenery, with the quality of cameras these days, you’re bound to get a few decent shots.

    And failing that, I just got an up close look at Martin Luther concluding its season. They held on Westminster’s drive when it was 44-36, then added a late rushing TD to seal it at 51-36, complete with barely-made-it-through PAT. It was all smiles afterward, especially when the team made its way over to the near sideline to shake hands with parents. Being the end of the season (and me remembering that feeling), that’s one of the ones you don’t want to rush into the locker room. It’s cool to linger, hug family, give high fives to friends. This isn’t baseball, you can’t join the local softball league to approximate the game. Once you’re done with tackle football, that’s pretty much it.

    So it was definitely cool to see a super-excited coach (who I can only assume was head man Doug Lange) high five players, hug people in the stands and let out joyous whoop after joyous whoop. This was a team finishing a 6-3 season, but coming off a 1-2 stretch that included big losses to the two teams on the field right now. Northwestern (Minn.) and Rockford are underway in the UMAC championship game. Northwestern won the regular-season meeting 23-16 at home on Sept. 15.

    They’ve got mascot mischief going on on the sidelines right now, between the Eagle and the Regents’ Lion.

    How can you not like Dome Day? Assuming that you haven’t been here since 8 a.m. like a couple of my compadres, of course. 🙂

  9. Rockford just capped a 14-play, 76-yard TD drive to open the game.

    Adding on to my earlier point, Rockford and Maranatha Baptist are leaving next season for the Northern Athletics Conferece, so this is their last UMAC hurrah.

    That league next year will consist of those two, plus Wisconsin Lutheran from the MIAA and Lakeland, Aurora, Benedictine, Concordia, Wis., and Concordia, Ill. from the Illini-Badger (IBFC), which is folding.

    Meanwhile from the UMAC, Blackburn, Principia and Westminster will be joining the IBFC’s Greenville, Eureka and MacMurray in the SLIAC. Huntingdon and LaGrange will round out the conference for football only.

    The IBFC automatic bid comes off the books next season. And it’ll be two years before the SLIAC or NAC get bids, but I watch Rockford-Northwestern (7-7 at half) with great interest because eventually, these teams are going to make the playoffs.

    None of that was breaking news, it was partly for my own edification. But if you, like me, haven’t followed the future conference moves that closely (usually I try to figure it out before it’s implemented), it might help to see them in writing.

    So if we have all the departees correct, that leaves Crown, Minn.-Morris, Northwestern (Minn.), Martin Luther behind in the UMAC, along with Trinity Bible and new St. Scholastica. So I guess that’s the six that’ll be here next season.

  10. Keith or anyone else, how likely is Macalester to show up on some of the UMAC schedules?

    With 8 NAthCon teams, each needing in-region (Administrative Region #4) games, it looks like the UMAC will still have 5 conference games and 3-4 easily filled non-conference dates, (assuming the NAthCon uses weeks 5-11 for Conference play) and a Dome Day. The UMAC will still have a conference, but will be 2 teams shy of the Pool A bid. The UMAC will add teams to Pool B for the sake of allocating playoff bids.

  11. Well that was fun.

    Northwestern (Minn.) blocked a medium-length Rockford field goal, Rockford scored first in OT, but then had the PAT blocked, and then Northwestern converted a 4th in OT, scored and made their PAT.

    And all before midnight CST!

    Someone out there cares, I just know it!

  12. D3keith, I went to the Dome Day picture page and looked at some of the shots y’all took.

    The key feature in the eyes of those players was the “love of the game”.

    Thanks for the coverage.

  13. Thanks for the Dome Day updates. Your assessments seemed mostly fair. Northwestern and Rockford are pretty decent teams and can compete well with at least the bottom half of some of the better leagues. There are some really good players in the UMAC (especially the First Team All-conference players, which was just released), but unfortunately the team roster’s aren’t deep enough for the teams to rise up yet. Two teams did have very large lines: Rockford averaged about 294 on the o-line, and we at Crown averaged something like 6’3.5″ and 299. Our problem at Crown is we have a very strong offense, but lack of defense almost altogether. Part of our rallying cry this year was when we saw our 237 ranking. At least we were able to exceed that by some margin hopefully. We play Macalester tomorrow.

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