By Alan Babbitt and Eva Dean Folkert
The Hope College football team will be staying home to play in the 2019 NCAA Division III Football Championship. Hope has been chosen as a host for a first-round game and will take on Wartburg College (Iowa) on Saturday, November 23 at 12 noon at Ray and Sue Smith Stadium.
Ticket information will be announced early this week.
Hope is 9-1 on the season and automatically qualified for the NCAA championship by winning the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association title.
The Wartburg Knights are also 9-1. They were co-champs with Central College (Iowa) of the American Rivers Conference. Central secured the ARC's automatic bid in a tiebreaker due to its head-to-head win over the Knights, 57-56, in overtime. Wartburg received one of five at-large bids to play in this year's championship.
This is Hope's fifth all-time postseason appearance and first since 2006. The Flying Dutchmen are 0-3 on the road and 0-2 at home. They lost at home in 2000 to Hanover College (Indiana), 20-3, and in 1986 to Augustana College (Illinois), 34-10.
Hope heads into playoffs on a nine-game win streak. The Flying Dutchmen have not lost since a 27-21 defeat at Millikin University (Illinois) in the September 6 season opener.
Hope earned the first postseason bid under head coach Peter Stuursma by winning the MIAA with a 7-0 league record, including a 42-7 Senior Day victory against Adrian College on Saturday at Ray and Sue Smith Stadium.
Stuursma is in his fourth season as head coach at his alma mater. He has guided Hope to a 32-8 record during his tenure.
This season, Hope is among the NCAA leaders in points per game at 26.0 and rushing yards per game at 288.0 gained. The Flying Dutchmen are No. 1 in Division III in fewest turnovers with three in 10 games.