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DSU ready for Div. II national title game

By Staff
FIGHTING FOR YARDS n Delta State quarterback Josh Bright (10) scrambles for yardage last week against North Dakota State. Photo by Paula Merritt/The Meridian Star
By Richard Dark/The Meridian Star
Dec. 7, 2000
FLORENCE, Ala. For all the marbles.
The summit of the Division II football mountain is within reach for the Delta State Statesmen.
Months of sweat, blood and toil have put Steve Campbell's squad in the coveted winner-take-all position of facing off against the Bloomsburg Huskies (12-2) in the NCAA Division II National Championship game.
The second-year DSU coach, who has compiled a 19-5 record and was the starting center for the 1987 National Champion Troy State Trojans, embarked for Alabama with his team this morning to complete the week-long build up to the title tilt.
Campbell can stop waxing nostalgic about those good old days with a win over the Huskies Saturday.
But it won't be easy.
The Huskies certainly plan to stake their claim to the title and proved that beyond a shadow of a doubt as they came storming back in the fourth quarter behind a game-total of 660 yards and 22 unanswered points on the road to defeat powerful California-Davis 58-48 in last week's semifinal matchup. It was the Huskies' 12th straight win of the season.
This is the first meeting between DSU and Bloomsburg, as well as both school's first-ever appearance in the NCAA championship game. DSU has compiled a 3-1 playoff record, having been eliminated in the first round of the playoffs in 1998 by Fort Valley State 21-14. The Huskies have two previous playoff appearances, getting as far as the semis in 1985 and losing in first-round action in 1996.
They can also score points.
Bloomsburg is averaging 36.5 points per game and averaging 234 yards on the ground and 228 through the air, upping that output to 246 yards rushing and 325 through the air in the second season.
If there's one athlete Huskies coach Danny Hale feels his team leans on, it's fifth-year senior quarterback Eric Miller.
This year, the fourth-year starter has completed 204-of-343 passes for 3,035 yards and 36 touchdowns. Miller loves to hook up with senior Mike Lelko, who has caught 84 passes for 1,288 yards and 19 TDs this year.
The Statesmen will also be charged with the formidable task of stopping the run like never before.
On the season, top Husky running back Marques Glaze has carried 278 times for 1,824 yards and 17 touchdowns, including 31 totes for 184 yards and a touchdown last week. He has not been held under 100 yards in any of the three playoff games. "Marques is strong with good vision and strength and has the ability to pull away from tackles," Hale said.
Arrastene Henry, now the backup running back after an earlier injury, has carried 165 times for 912 yards and eight TDs.
But the Huskies aren't the only team in Florence with an explosive array of skill players.
The Statesmen's magical run has been led by Conerly Trophy winner Josh Bright. Bright has thrown for 1,348 yards and rushed for another 1,320.
Running back Rico McDonald has turned in a workman-like effort with 260 rushes for 1,551 yards. Wide receiver Jason Franklin, a former Meridian High and East Mississippi Community College standout, completes the Okra offensive trifecta, catching 39 passes for 1,030 yards.
But it won't be all run and gun.
DSU is led on defense by Rory Bell who has racked up a team-leading 133 tackles, three interceptions, two fumble recoveries and a forced fumble.
Not bad for a guy who wasn't even on the team last season due to disciplinary reasons. The Statesmen defense gives up 21.6 points per game with a yield of 235 passing and 88 on the ground. 
Bloomsburg's defensive anchor is Jeremiah Dyer, who has collected 114 total stops. Teammate Greg Roskos has 107, including eight sacks. Speaking of sacks, for those that think DSU is simply happy to be here, the Statesmen's junior qb has a message.
Richard Dark is a sports writer for The Meridian Star. E-mail him at rdark@themeridianstar.com.