Last year when Springfield traveled to St. John Fisher in mid-October, I was able to witness one of most amazing performances by a single player of the season and perhaps in Springfield football history. In my D3sports.com travels, I’ve seen Allison Coleman of Eastern Connecticut State take over a women’s basketball game and will her team to win in the NCAA tournament. In my first year with D3football.com, I was able to see an injured Tom Arth drag John Carroll into the national semifinals with a gutty performance against Brockport on a frigid day in Rochester. Those are just two of many that come to mind.
But, nothing tops the performance last October by Springfield quarterback Chris Sharpe. Sharpe ran for seven touchdowns and 280 yards in a 55-38 win by Springfield over St. John Fisher. Each run was more mind-boggling than the next, including a 69-yard scamper for a touchdown on a broken play.
The two teams met in the playoffs at Springfield and St. John Fisher came away with a victory and generally held Sharpe in check.
Today, the Cardinals and the Pride step onto the new turf at Benedum Field for their third meeting in the last two years. The game will be videocast as part of the D3football.com East Region Game of the Week. Before the season, I’d have told you this would be a barnburner and be a battle of top 10 teams. And I still think it will be a scorefest since Sharpe is one of the most versatile quarterbacks in Division III and St. John Fisher’s offense can light up the scoreboard; the two teams have just taken different roads to get here.
Each team will be fighting potentially for their playoff lives as opposed to battling for first place a season ago. After haughty preseason expectations, Springfield’s come back down to earth and enters today’s game 3-3. Teams have slowed up Chris Sharpe and his numbers this year appear mortal. The good news for Springfield is that the majority of their remaining games are at home (after five of its first six on the road) and they can boost their own stock over the next few weeks with wins over teams in front of them in the Empire 8 – Fisher, Ithaca, and Hartwick.
While St. John Fisher is ranked eighth nationally, the Cardinals need a victory this afternoon. The Cardinals loss to Hartwick several weeks ago means that they need to win out in conference play and hope that Alfred stumbles in the final weeks of the season to clinch the Empire 8 auto bid. Alfred has yet to lose in conference, Fisher has one loss. The two teams will meet in the final week of the regular season. St. John Fisher certainly has a chance at a Pool C bid, but a second loss may knock them out of contention.
What will happen in this year’s meeting between St. John Fisher and Springfield? Tune in to the this afternoon to find out.
Elsewhere this afternoon, every Top 25 team is in action and St. Norbert can virtually clinch a playoff berth with a win today. The only game where two Top 25 teams will meet is in Wisconsin where No. 20 UW-Stevens Point will host No. 3 UW-Whitewater.
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