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Liberty Finalists Set as We Check on NCR D1AA Playoffs

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Liberty Finalists Set as We Check on NCR D1AA Playoffs

Thumbs up for Boston College.

UMass and Boston College will face off in the Liberty Conference DIAA final after both won semifinals over the weekend.

Once again UMass unleashed their stifling defense to get past Columbia.

"It was a grind," said UMass Head Coach Phil Ciccarelli. "But it was a great team effort."

The key to the Minutemen defense has probably been the center pairing of Conneely Mullan and captain Derek Tang. 

Helping keep Columbia in check on the outside was wing Rob Conklin.

With flyhalf John McGoey scoring a try and kicking a key penalty UMass is now in the championship game.

UMass will face Boston College, which defended very well also with a 27-7 victory over Binghamton. The first half was a close one, with the teams changing ends tied 7-7 with senior lock James Devaney going over. In the second half, wing Pat McMahon broke through to score from long range. Center  Patrick Lively punished a turnover for another try, and then captain and flanker Matt Ricciardelli capped it off.

For Boston College this was an impressive showing as they corralled a fairly potential Binghamton offense on the road.

All of this sets up a final in Fairfield, Conn. this coming weekend. Regardless of the result, both teams will be in the NCR DIAA quarterfinals on November 18.

Who Else Makes Playoffs?

The Mid-Atlantic final is set with West Chester taking on Virginia Tech. Both have finished 5-0 in conference play. West Chester beat Rutgers 47-19 to finish unbeaten, led by a Man of the Match performance from Tyriek Rivera who had a hard-working shift on both sides of the ball.

Virginia Tech beat Temple 52-14 behind four tries from wing Cooper Anderson and two from No. 8 Zach Harding. Both of these teams are into the NCR quarterfinals, but who hosts depends most likely on the conference final.

The MAC, despite being one of the conferences that sent a team to the final in 2022, has just the one spot guaranteed in the quarters. But there remains two at-large spots, and it's likely the NCR brain trust is waiting to see how competitive the final is. The MAC isn't done, of course. They have games this coming weekend with Bowling Green at Cincinnati, Louisville at IUPUI, Dayton at Western Michigan, and Pitt at Ohio.

There is really no suspense in those games as the only thing that could change the semifinals is if Cincinnati upsets Bowling Green and IUPUI (currently 1-5) upsets Louisville, thus putting Cincy in the #3 spot. Each of those things is unlikely; having both happen exponentially so. Because of that we'll see Bowling Green vs Cincinnati again a week later in the semis, and Louisville vs Western Michigan, with the final on Sunday November 12. Because the MAC has its finals weekend on November 11, there can be no play-in, so there's a question as to whether their 2nd place team can go to the playoffs.

The SCRC does the same thing and their champion will be in the quarterfinals. Their runner-up also might be hoping to be close enough to get that invite. Their final is November 11 in Hendersonville, Tenn.

The Southern Conference looks to have NC State set to be their D1AA candidate, and that then leaves one more play-in spot. With the way the schedule is shaking down, it's likely to be a MARC #3 or a Liberty #3.