Guilford Ranks Prominently Among Final Division III Football Leaders

Photo by Emily Zegel '18
Photo by Emily Zegel '18

GREENSBORO, N.C. – Guilford College's football team finished first in the final NCAA Division III statistical rankings in five different categories. As a team Guilford led the nation in net punting (39.22), fewest passes intercepted (2), and fewest turnovers lost (5). Senior punter Tyler Hunt led the nation in punting average with 42.9 yards per attempt. Senior quarterback Matt Pawlowski ranked first nationally with just two interceptions thrown in 350 passing attempts.

Guilford threw the football exceptionally well this season, averaging 363.2 yards a game, good for Division III's fourth-highest total. The Quakers posted a 175.12 team pass-efficiency rating that was second in school history and fifth in Division III. Guilford also ranked 10th in scoring offense (45.2 ppg.), fifth in total offense (523.1 ypg.) and 14th in turnover margin (1.20). The Quakers set school records for points (452) and touchdowns (63) in a season. The team's 84% success rate in the red zone ranked 29th in the country and contributed to the prolific scoring totals. Guilford's .900 winning percentage ranked 12th nationally.

Sophomore De'Eric Bell's all-purpose play from scrimmage contributed a great deal to the Quakers' success. With Bell serving as a return man on special teams, Guilford ranked 15th nationally in kickoff returns (23.14 ypr.) and 22nd in punt returns (14.10 ypr.) both figures led the Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC). Bell ranked second among Division III leaders in all-purpose yards (223.5 ypg.) and combined kick return yards (995). His two kickoff returns for touchdowns ranked first nationally and his two punt return touchdowns placed second. He was fourth in kickoff returns with an average of 30.7 yards per attempt and 21st in punt returns (13.0 ypr.).

Hunt totaled 1,543 yards on 36 punts, becoming the fourth two-time Division III punting champion. Hunt, who also won the honor in 2013, also set a new school record by earning his sixth all-conference selection which included three all-league honors as a place-kicker and as a punter. For his career Hunt averaged a school- and league-record 41.4 yards per punt on 141 attempts, which ranks 13th in Division III.

Pawlowski's passing helped Guilford enjoy its best season in school history, finishing at 9-1. He led the ODAC in pass efficiency (180.5), and ranked fifth in the nation. He finished the season with 3,333 passing yards, sixth-best in Division III. His 39 passing touchdowns placed fourth in the country and bettered his previous Guilford season record of 38 set in 2014. Pawlowski was responsible for a league-leading 23.8 points per game, which stood fifth nationally.

One of Pawlowski's favorite targets was senior wide receiver Adam Smith, who ranked fourth in the country with a league-leading and school-record 18 receiving touchdowns. He also topped the ODAC in receiving yards with 1,262, which stood ninth in the nation. Smith ranked sixth in Division III and first in the ODAC in receiving yards per game (126.2). His 8.9 receptions per game stood sixth nationally and second in the league. Smith led the ODAC in scoring with 11.0 points per game, 17th-best among national leaders.

On defense, strong safety Karl Roberts was 13th among Division III leaders in fumble recoveries (3) and junior Ke'Desh Edwards rankedd 11th with three blocked kicks.

Head coach Chris Rusiewicz's Quakers topped the school record for wins in a season with an 9-1 overall mark. Guilford went 6-1 in the ODAC, finishing in second place behind Washington and Lee University.