By Matt Leon
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — There are just eight teams left standing in the Division III NCAA Football Tournament and one of them calls Chester home.
Widener University is 12-0 and on Saturday they will welcome Linfield College to Leslie C. Quick Jr. Stadium for a national quarterfinal.
The Pride have dispatched Muhlenberg and Christopher Newport in the first two rounds of the tournament, continuing an impressive ride for first-year head coach Mike Kelly.
“I can’t even describe how much fun it’s been,” Kelly tells KYW Newsradio. “These guys have been unbelievable. I’ve enjoyed every minute of being around them. It’s a mutual respect thing and it’s going both ways right now and these guys have just been phenomenal. I’ve been doing this a long time, this is a rare group.”
Listen to the entire interview with Widener’s Mike Kelly
It’s a group that is led by sophomore quarterback Seth Klein. He threw two touchdown passes in last week’s 37-27 win over Christopher Newport and he has 33 touchdown strikes this season, with just 4 interceptions. Now this will actually be the fourth straight home game for Widener. They wrapped up the regular season with a home win over rival Delaware Valley College and their first two tournament wins came in Chester. Klein is really enjoying this run of home cooking.
“It’s awesome for the Elite 8 and everything,” Klein tells KYW Newsradio, “but to play here and have four home games in a row and play an Elite 8 game here, it’s awesome. Especially for this team, these fans and the brotherhood that we have, it’s real special for everybody.”
Linfield, located in Oregon, is 10-1 and coming off a second round win over a powerful Mary Hardin-Baylor squad, 31-28.
“They do everything well,” Kelly says. “They are a storied program. That goes back to the days when they were NAIA and then transitioning to Division III and they continued their tradition of success.”
In their 10 wins this season, Linfield has outscored its opponents this season by an average of more than 38 points a game and Kelly says there is a good reason for that.
“They don’t make a whole lot of mistakes,” Kelly says. “They will not beat themselves.”
Listen to the entire interview with Widener’s Seth Klein
“They do a lot of things defensively that have put them in this position,” Klein adds. “So obviously it’s a really good defense. They have playmakers all over the field and it’s going to be a good game.”
This is the second time in three seasons that Widener has advanced to the national quarterfinals. In 2012, they lost to Mount Union.
The winner of this game plays the winner of Wisconsin-Whitewater and Wartburg in the national semifinals.
Saturday’s game in Chester will kick-off at noon.
You can follow Matt on Twitter @mattleonkyw
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