Montclair, NJ (11/14/10) – Montclair State is heading back to NCAA Division III Football Playoffs. The Red Hawks received one of the six at-large bids to the field of 32-teams, which was announced on Sunday. While it’s a good bet that the NCAA Committee wasn’t sensing a bit of nostalgia, it matched MSU against Hampden-Sydney in the first round, which will take place on Saturday, November 20 at Fulton Field at Lewis C. Everett Stadium in Hampden-Sydney, Virginia with kickoff slated for Noon.
The winner will face the winner of the Wesley / Muhlenberg contest in the second round on November 27.
The game has been 40 years in the making as Montclair and Hampden-Sydney last met in the 1970 Knute Rockne Bowl which back then was the NCAA East Region championship (The West championship was the Amos Alonzo Stagg Bowl, which is now the Division III championship contest). On November 28, Montclair edged Hampden-Sydney, 7-6 in the Atlantic City Convention Center as the then-Indians stopped a two-point conversion attempt to preserve the victory. A grass field was installed for the contest.
The appearance in the NCAA Division III Playoffs will be Montclair’s 10th overall and second straight marking the first time MSU has made back-to-back appearances since a run of three straight playoffs from 1999-2001. Last season the Red Hawks knocked off Maine Maritime at home, 38-22 in the opening round before falling to eventual national-runner-up Mount Union the following week. Overall, Montclair is 8-9 in its NCAA Division III Playoff history and 9-9 in total NCAA trips which includes the aforementioned Knute Rockne Bowl.
MSU closed out the regular season for the second straight year at 9-1 overall and 8-1 in the New Jersey Athletic Conference. The Red Hawks finished tied with Cortland and Rowan for the league crown with Cortland getting the league’s automatic bid based on tie-breaking procedures. Montclair won its first seven contests and was ranked No. 1 in the East Region until a 10-9 loss at Cortland on October 30. From there, MSU spent the next two weeks behind Rowan in the regional rankings, despite its 26-7 win over the Profs on September 18. However, when the final selection came, Montclair was the name placed in the playoff field.
Like MSU, Hampden-Sydney got in as an at-large selection as well. The Tigers finished off its regular-season against a rival as HSC scored 28 unanswered points en route to a 31-28 victory that put Hampden-Sydney at 9-1 also.