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Ryan Kent of North Central enjoys breakout game in D-III playoffs

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Updated: December 5, 2013 12:25AM

When Ryan Kent scored on a 14-yard run in the first quarter of North Central’s 52-24 rout of visiting Wisconsin-Platteville on Saturday, it was a good start to the day. His second touchdown. A 24-yard run late in the quarter was a strong building block.

But the 60-yarder that gave the Cardinals a 28-10 lead midway through the second quarter? That’s when the junior running back really knew it was a special day in the NCAA Division III playoff second-round game.

“After that we really knew that we could move the ball against these guys,” said Kent, who wound up with 257 yards and four touchdowns on 27 carries. “We were just calling the same play, play after play, and they knew it was coming. Our offensive line was opening up huge holes.”

It was a breakthrough day for Kent, who leads North Central (12-0) with 1,013 yards on 155 carries this season. He’d broken 100 yards only once before, a 143-yard game in a 46-17 victory at Illinois Wesleyan. The Cardinals spread the carries around, with five runners having 300 or more yards this season.

“And Spencer [Stanek] is a great quarterback, so we throw the ball ‘x’ amount of times a game, and we have great receivers as well,” Kent said.

Stanek completed 19 of 24 passes for 274 yards and three touchdowns against Platteville and has thrown for 3,048 yards.

Next up for fourth-ranked North Central is a playoff quarterfinal on the road against No. 6 Bethel (12-0) in St. Paul, Minn.

“It’s going to be cold,” Kent said. “There’s a [forecast] high of 6 degrees and it seems to be dropping every day.”

It’s academic

North Central senior ­offensive lineman Alex Mann has been named to the Capital One Academic All-America second team for NCAA Division III by the College Sports Information Directors of America.

A third-year starter, Mann has missed time with injury in the second half of the season, but he became eligible for the All-America ballot after being named to the All-District Seven First Team last month. He and his linemates were named to’s Team of the Week after helping North Central to a school-record 674-yard game in the season-opening 41-24 victory over Wisconsin-La Crosse.

To be eligible for the CoSIDA honor, players must have a cumulative grade-point average of at least 3.3 on a 4-point in addition to their athletic credentials. CoSIDA members then vote among eligible candidates.

Marathon woman

St. Xavier senior Ashley Shares set a school record on Saturday and qualified for the NAIA Outdoor Track and Field National Championships next May by finishing the Schaumburg Half Marathon an “A” standard qualifying time of 1:23.32. The third female finisher and 28th overall, Shares topped her school record of 1:24:15 set last year.

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