#20 Rochester to Play Lackawanna in Bowl

The Rochester Sports Commission in Rochester, Minn., for many years has been at the forefront of the NJCAA. The commission, along with the support of Rochester CTC, helps put on the NJCAA Div. III Volleyball Championship, the Women's Div. III Basketball Championship, the Div. III Softball Championship and for over 10 years has hosted the NJCAA Wrestling Championship.

This Saturday, it will put on the first-ever North Star Bowl at UCR Regional Stadium in Rochester.

Kickoff is slated for 10 a.m. this Saturday with the forecast calling for a balmy 37 degrees and snow flurries. It's a good thing both teams competing are used to the cold. The inaugural contest will feature the No. 20 hometown Rochester CTC Yellowjackets (7-2) and the Lackawanna College (7-3) Falcons from Scranton, Pa.

Lackawanna, out of the Northeast Football Conference, appears to have an advantage coming into the game as they are fresh off a one-point loss to third-ranked Georgia Military College last Saturday. By contrast, the Yellowjackets have not played since their 38-19 victory over Minnesota West CTC on Oct. 25th. Rochester finished their regular season in a three-way tie for the South Division of the Minnesota College Athletic Conference but was left out of the league playoffs via losing a coin flip.

After their first five contests this year Rochester was just 3-2. However, they finished by winning their last four contests in dominating fashion. The Yellowjackets defeated their last four opponents by an average of 25.5 points and scored over 37 points in their final three games. The North Star Bowl berth will be the 16th bowl appearance for the program and third under head coach Brad LaPlant (5th season, 42-12). Their last appearance was in 2005 at the Graphic Edge Bowl where the Yellowjackets fell 17-6 to Iowa Central Community College.

Rochester has a great defense that ranks fourth in the NJCAA. They allow just under 200 yards of total offense per game from their opponents and 14.8 points per game. Linebacker Trevor Glomski leads the team and ranks 21st in the nation with 94 total tackles.

Offensively, the Yellowjackets have a very balanced attack, averaging 155 on the ground and 130 yards passing. Seth Karlsrud leads the team with 593 rushing yards and seven touchdowns. Stephen Owens has been effective at quarterback, throwing for 1,097 yards this season and 11 touchdowns. Anthony Aker, a 2007 First-Team All-American, has six receiving touchdowns.

Lackawanna had the third best scoring offence in the Northeast Conference (28.5 pts) while also having the third best scoring defense in the league (18.0 pts). The Falcons are making their sixth bowl appearance under the direction of head coach Mark Duda who in 14 seasons has a 107-53 overall record. Duda's 107 wins ranks him second among all active NJCAA coaches. The Falcons were victorious in the last bowl appearance: a 17-16 win over Glendale Community College (Ariz.) in the 2006 Valley of the Sun Bowl.

The Falcons have the nation's third best rushing attack, averaging 238 yards a game. Alan Singletary amassed 1,059 rushing yards this season with eight touchdowns to lead the conference. However, Singletary has not played in the last three games for the Falcons. Keith Carlos, who is listed as a wide receiver, led the team with 130 rushing yards and a touchdown in Lackawanna's 27-26 loss to No. 3 Georgia Military last weekend.

Quarterback Michael Eargle is the second leading rusher for the Falcons with 430 yards and eight touchdowns. He has also thrown for 630 yards and seven scores this season.

Defensively, Lackawanna is led by linebacker Tressor Baptiste and defensive back Hugh Thorton. Baptiste has 9.5 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks this season, while Thorton is second on the team with 46 total tackles.

For more information on the game visit www.rochsports.org/2008northstarbowl

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