SEWANEE, Tenn. - The 2017 Sewanee football is trending in the right direction for head coach Travis Rundle after one season at the helm of the program. The team broke two significant losing streaks in the regular season.
Sewanee finished the 2017 season with a 3-7 record, snapping two significant losing streaks. The first one was a historical one for the program. In Week 1's contest vs. Kenyon (Ohio) on Sept. 2, the Tigers were trailing 7-0 with about 10:30 left in the opening half.
The Lords were threatening again to double the score on the home team. On a second down and six yards away from the end zone, William Phillips forced the fumble at the two-yard line, picked it up and ran it back for a 98-yard fumble recovery for a touchdown. The Tigers would snap their 19-game losing streak with a 45-20 win.
One key change from a year ago has been the defensive presence that the Tigers produced on the gridiron last season, improving in seven of the nine statistical categories.
One stat that saw the most improvement is interceptions. The Tigers finished 2016 with just six interceptions, 206th out of 240 ranked teams. In 2017, John Cleveland matched last year's team total with six, 17th-best in all of NCAA Division III. Phillips and Wesley Porter each added five of the team's 21 picks, good for 10th-best in all of NCAA Division III, one better than National runner-up Mary Hardin-Baylor (Texas).
Lee Menefee was a key tackler in the 2017 squad, as he was ranked 31st in total tackles with 10.6 per game. Finishing with 95 total tackles, the Guntersville, Ala. native recorded 20 tackles in the matchup against Washington & Lee.
On the offensive side of the ball, Alex Darras posted a 56.6 percentage from the air, completing 103-of-182 for 1,412 yards, averaging 202 yards per game, and eight touchdowns.
Memorable Game | Sewanee at Austin, Sept. 16
Most people would believe that the memorable game from the 2017 season was the Week 1 victory at home against Kenyon that snapped a 19-game losing streak. However, it was the game two weeks later that helped snap a 17-game SAA losing streak.
After the Tigers were downed at Washington & Lee, 63-30, in week 2, they turned their attention to Austin in the second game of a three-game road swing. This was the SAA opener for both teams.
Trailing 9-6 after the first quarter, the Tigers and Roos were held scoreless until 55 seconds remaining, as Allan Puri caught a 23 yard pass from Alex Darras to give the Tigers the 13-9 lead at the intermission.
Sewanee added a touchdown on their first possession of the second half thanks to a 10-play, 75-yard drive capped by a one-yard touchdown run by Warren Holland to push the score to 20-9.
After Austin made two field goals to cut the deficit to five points, 20-15, the Tigers scored nine of the final 11 points in the game to secure the contest.
William Phillips - Newcomer of the Year, Second Team Defense
Lee Menefee - First Team Defense
John Cleveland - First Team Defense
John Gaither - Second Team Offense
James Hewell - Honorable Mention Offense
Jo Jo Matlock - Honorable Mention Defense
Wesley Porter - Honorable Mention Defense
SAA Sportsmanship Team
SAA Academic Honor Roll
Tennessee Sports Writers Association
Player of the Week
Oct. 24 - John Cleveland (Defensive)
Middle Tennessee Chapter, C.R. Bickerstaff/Coach Bill Pace University Scholar Award