Congratulations, Lycoming. That was some win Saturday afternoon on the road at Widener.
Your prize for winning? Another matchup with a top-25 team.
Ugghh Some prize.
The adrenaline was flowing through players and coaches as they walked around Leslie C. Quick Jr. Stadium on Saturday following a thrilling 16-14 win over Widener. Players bounced around the field to find their families. But after the formalities were discussed, the exhaustion was evident.
Saturday's game was draining, both physically and emotionally. It showed through in head coach Mike Clark as he recapped the game, picking apart mistakes, trying to be upbeat about the positives and trying to enjoy the moment.
But the truth is, the Warriors are only six days from playing Delaware Valley, the only other team in the Middle Atlantic Conference besides Lycoming to still be unbeaten in the MAC.
"You can't change the schedule," Clark said. "I guess I can make some phone calls and see if (Delaware Valley head coach Jim Clements) will move it to the bye week."
There's intrigue in Saturday's game between the Warriors and Aggies, though, for more than just what is on the line. As draining as Saturday's game was for Lycoming, Delaware Valley went through a similar battle.
Delaware Valley didn't face a nationally-ranked team the way Lycoming did, but it did play an undefeated Stevenson team which had a 17-7 lead in the first half. It wasn't until the second half of the game in which the Aggies finally took control and won, 41-23.
So Lycoming is now facing a crucial test Saturday which will have a tremendous bearing on whether it reaches the NCAA playoffs for the first time since 2008 or not. The winner will be the only unbeaten team remaining in the MAC and in the driver's seat for the MAC championship.
And to get in that driver's seat, all Lycoming has to do is beat its second nationally-ranked team in as many weeks. Delaware Valley is ranked 21st in the country by d3football.com.
It's tough enough to beat a Delaware Valley program which has won five MAC titles since 2003, but the Warriors are also battling history. Lycoming hasn't beaten Delaware Valley two years in a row since the 2001 and 2002 seasons (the Warriors beat the Aggies, 24-14, a year ago). Lycoming has also beaten both Widener and Delaware Valley in the same season only once since the turn of the century, and that came in its MAC championship season of 2008.
So while there's clear exhaustion, it's not as if the Warriors will struggle to find ways to get energized for Saturday's game.
"It's not going to be tough at all," Lycoming linebacker Kabongo Bukasa said. "We're going to come out next week and be ready to play. We're going to come out and hit someone in the mouth and play football."
Mitch Rupert can be reached at 326-1551, ext. 3129, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/Mitch_Rupert.