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Benedict Tigers, Lenoir-Rhyne Bears Preview NCAA Division II Playoff Battle

The Benedict Tigers will battle the Lenoir-Rhyne Bears in the second round of the NCAA Division II Playoffs.

The Benedict College Tigers (No. 4) will host the Lenoir-Rhyne Bears (No. 11) in the second round of the NCAA Division II football playoffs at 1 PM ET in Charlie W. Johnson Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 25.  Benedict, the top seed, faces a dangerous Lenoir-Rhyne team who defeated Shepherd 63-14 at home in the first round.  However, the Bears are less effective in road playoff games, dropping all three in the team's history.  

Last season, Benedict lost 23-6 to Wingate in the first round.  The Tigers are hopeful they've learned how to rectify falling at home as the Bears come to Columbia, SC.

"That was learning lessons," Berry said. "It comes down to discipline. It's not going to be about a maximum of talent from another team, it's about us and making sure we take care of the small things. It was a good experience for us to get the opportunity to go through the playoffs last year, but it's a new team and a new season, but the same mission doesn't change – try to go 1-0. We've just got to focus on us and work on winning the day."

Loobert Denelus III


"It's going to be a good football game," Benedict head coach Chennis Berry said. "But it's never about the opponent. We're going to respect all our opponents, but we've got to make sure we focus on us, and focus on the small things we always talk about – winning the effort battle, winning the penalty battle, winning the turnover battle, and winning the explosive battle. We feel if we can win those four battles, we have a chance to win a football game."

The 11-0 Tigers are the No. 1 seed in Super Region 2 for the second year in a row and had a bye last week. Last year, the Tigers were upset by Wingate 23-6 in the second round. And for the second year in a row, the Tigers will be up against a stellar defense.

Benedict comes into the contest with the nation's best scoring defense, allowing opponents 8.5 points per game. The 11-1 Bears, the champions out of the South Atlantic Conference, are third in that stat category, allowing just 11.1 points per game. Benedict ranks second in total defense, allowing just 207.7 yards per game, while Lenoir-Rhyne ranks fourth, allowing 232.6 yards per game. The Bears rank eighth-best against the run (79.7 yards per game), while Benedict ranks first in passing yards allowed (121.4).

It will be a battle to see which top-ranked defense prevails against a potent offense. The Bears average 40.2 points per game and are coming off a 63-17 first-round playoff victory over Shepherd. Standout running back Dwayne McGee has rushed for more than 1,200 yards with nine touchdowns. Benedict averaged 41 points per game and have not scored less than 27 points in a game this season. The Tigers are coming off a 47-10 victory over Albany State two weeks ago in the SIAC championship game, where they amassed a season-high 563 yards of offense.

"Defense wins championships," Berry said. "There are two good defenses, and two good offenses. We'll see what it looks like when it's all said and done. Lenoir-Rhyne is a good football team, a good football program, but so are we. So, it's going to come down, like I tell our guys all the time, it's going to come down to discipline and leadership."

Senior defensive lineman Loobert Denelus, the two-time SIAC Defensive Player of the Year, said the team learned they need to have more focus in the playoffs.

"Last year kind of left a bad taste in our mouth, so we want to learn from our mistakes," Denelus said. "We know we haven't played our best ball yet, so we want to go do that this Saturday. We know it's going to take a lot of discipline and a lot of leadership on our part, and for us to execute our assignments."

The winner will face the winner between second-seed Delta State and third-seed Valdosta State next week in the quarterfinals.

*Original Post on Benedict Athletics Website

Lenoir-Rhyne Athletics



» Lenoir-Rhyne will be looking for just the first NCAA playoff road victory in program history.

» The Bears are 0-3 in true road playoff games and 0-1 at neutral venues.

» Lenoir-Rhyne dropped road games at Carson-Newman (38-35) in 2012, at Valdosta St. (61-21) in 2018, and at Bowie State (31-10) in 2021. The Bears also dropped the 2013 NCAA National Championship in Florence, Ala. in 2013.

» LR is 9-2 in home playoff games in program history, including last week's 63-17 drubbing of Shepherd.

» Benedict is looking for their first NCAA Playoff victory in program history. The Tigers are in the Postseason for the second time in team history but fell to Wingate in their first game of the 2022 playoffs.

» Benedict is the 1-seed for the second straight season and will play at home for consecutive seasons.


» As the top seed in the region, Benedict was off last week and earned a week of rest.

» However, the Bears had a record-setting week 12 game against Shepherd. Meeting the Rams for just the third time in program history, LR took the opening kick and marched down the field for a touchdown. The Bears would go on to set a mark for most total yards in a playoff game in program history with 617 total yards of offense.

» Sean White broke the program record for most passing yards in a game with 398, topping Brian Bryson's mark of 392, which stood since 1992.

» Songa Yates broke the team record for most receiving yards in an NCAA Playoff game with 141.

» White tied his own program record for most TD passes in a game with five, and LR tied its own program record for most TD passes as a team with six. In the 104-year history of LR Football, the

Bears never threw for six touchdowns as a team. However, the Bears have accomplished that feat in the past two weeks, with six against Shepherd and Tusculum.


» Since the AFCA poll originated in 2000, Lenoir-Rhyne owns 13 wins over nationally ranked teams.

» However, LR has never beaten a top-10 team in that time.

» The highest-ranked opponent LR has taken down was No. 12 Wingate 20-13 in 2019. The Bears are 13-34 since 2000 against nationally ranked teams.

*Original Post on Lenoir-Rhyne's Athletics