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NCAA Preview: Quarterfinal Berth on the Line as Golden Bears Travel to Alfred on Saturday

NCAA Preview: Quarterfinal Berth on the Line as Golden Bears Travel to Alfred on Saturday

Opening kickoff set for 12 p.m. at Yunevich Stadium

NCAA DIII Football Bracket

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SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (November 25, 2016) –
A berth in the quarterfinal round of the 2016 NCAA Division III Football Tournament will be on the line Saturday afternoon when Western New England University travels to Alfred University for a second round matchup at Yunevich Stadium.

Game Info
Opening kickoff is set for noon at Yunevich Stadium on the Alfred campus. Directions can be found here. For those unable to make the trip, both live stats and live streaming video will be available courtesy of Alfred Athletics.

Ticket Prices: Adults (17 and older) - $6; college students, children 3-16, members of the military (active or veteran) and senior citizens - $4. Children 2 and under will be admitted free of charge.

How They Got Here
Western New England reached the second round of the NCAA Tournament for the first time in program history with a 44-27 victory over Husson (Maine) last Saturday in Springfield. The Golden Bears completed their second consecutive 10-0 regular season and captured the New England Football Conference (NEFC) title in the final year of the league's existence, earning a spot in the NCAA's field of 32 by virtue of the NEFC's automatic bid. 

Alfred is also 11-0 for the first time in program history after defeating Bridgewater State, 33-27, in overtime last Saturday in the NCAA first round at Yunevich Stadium. The Saxons captured the Empire 8's automatic bid and became the first team in league history to finish the regular season unbeaten. 

Common Opponents
Although Saturday's matchup will serve as the first ever meeting between Western New England and Alfred, the two teams share a common opponent this season in Husson. The Saxons defeated the Eagles 35-28 in the season opener back on September 3, while the Golden Bears were also victorious in last weekend's NCAA first round showdown in Springfield.  

All-Conference Honors
Both programs were well represented on their respective league's All-Conference teams, as both Western New England and Alfred received 15 selections. Junior defensive lineman Sam Edouard (Roosevelt, N.Y.) garnered NEFC Defensive Player of the Year recognition for the Golden Bears, while the Saxons boast the Empire 8's Offensive and Defensive Players of the Year in senior quarterback Tyler Johnson (East Syracuse, N.Y.) and junior linebacker A.J. LiCata (Lake View, N.Y.), respectively. 

Additionally, Alfred's coaching staff was named the Empire 8's Coaching Staff of the Year, led by third year head coach Bob Rankl, while Western New England 12th year head coach Keith Emery collected his fourth NEFC Coach of the Year honor. 

Key Players
Anthony Service
, Western New England (Junior, QB, Lake Ronkonkoma, N.Y.) - Service collected All-NEFC first team accolades in his first full season as a starter and has completed 150-of-248 pass attempts (60.5%) for 2128 yards, 24 touchdowns and just three interceptions through 11 games.   

Obi Etuka, Western New England (Senior, CB, Middletown, Conn.) - Etuka, a three-time All-NEFC first team selection and the 2015 NEFC Defensive Player of the Year, is Western New England's all-time interceptions leader with 21 in 42 games.

Tyler Johnson, Alfred (Senior, QB, East Syracuse, N.Y.) - Johnson, who scored the game-winning touchdown in the Saxons' NCAA first round win over Bridgewater State last weekend, is a dual-threat quarterback with 2984 yards of total offense (2082 passing, 902 rushing) and 41 touchdowns (21 passing, 20 rushing). 

A.J. LiCata, Alfred (Junior, LB, Lake View, N.Y.) - LiCata ranked second in the Empire 8 in tackles during the regular season and has compiled a team-leading 122 stops heading into Saturday's contest.  He has nine tackles for loss (37 yards) and 3 ½ sacks (21 yards) to go with an interception and three pass breakups.

Turnover Margin
Western New England's +22 turnover differential ranks fourth in NCAA DIII. The Golden Bears have recorded 22 interceptions (5th in DIII) and seven fumble recoveries while turning the ball over just seven times all season. Alfred's +10 margin is tied for 26th nationally. 

National Rankings
The Golden Bears earned their first national ranking of 2016 (No. 23) in the final regular season edition of the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) DIII Coaches' Poll. Alfred is ranked No. 15 in the AFCA Poll and No. 14 in the Top 25. 

Up Next
The winner of the Western New England/Alfred matchup advances to the NCAA's quarterfinal round to take on the winner of the Johns Hopkins/Mount Union contest next Saturday, December 3.