CI Week 10 Football Highlights

As we head into the second week of November, the stakes grow higher each week for non-FBS teams jockeying for playoff position. Some Division II programs have already wrapped up their regular season while others still have one more game to play. With two weeks remaining in the FCS regular season, a total of 13 CI coaches are ranked in the top 25 and poised to make a playoff run: #10 James Madison (RB Coach De'Rail Sims), #12 Delaware (Head Coach Danny Rocco and Offensive Coor./RB Matt Simon), #14 Wofford (RB Coach Dane Romero and DB Coach Rob Greene), #15 Stony Brook (WR Coach Darren Paige), #20 Towson (Head Coach Rob Ambrose, Offensive Coor./QB Jared Ambrose, Defensive Coor./LB Lyndon Johnson, DL Coach Gus Kosmakos, and Defensive Assistant DJ Bryant), #22 Illinois State (OL Coach Harold Etheridge), and #24 Northern Iowa (Defensive Coor./Safeties Jeremiah Johnson). Please find more highlights from Week 10 below.

Redblacks cruise into playoffs with 24-9 win over Argos
One of the toughest decisions for a coaching staff that has already wrapped up homefield advantage for the playoffs is deciding which starters to rest at the end of the regular season. On the one hand, losing key players to injury can be devastating, especially in a game that doesn't have any impact on the standings. At the same time, no team wants to enter the playoffs rusty as a result of players being out of rhythm. Fortunately for Ottawa Offensive Coordinator Jaime Elizondo (@CoachElizondo) and WR Coach Winston October (@CoachOctober), the Redblacks were able to have their cake and eat it too when they opted to rest several starters and still rolled to a win over Toronto in their regular season finale. Filling in for starting QB Trevor Harris, Dominique Davis got Ottawa off to a fast start when he led the team to a field goal on its opening drive and later connected with WR Julian Feoli-Gudino for a 23-yard touchdown to put the Redblacks up 10-3 in the second quarter. Near the end of the third quarter, the Ottawa offensive line paved the way for RB Mossis Madu to score from one yard out, and OL Jon Gott celebrated in the most fitting manner possible for an offensive lineman - he chugged a beer. Madu's touchdown put the Redblacks up 24-9, which proved to be the final score as Ottawa now turns its attention to the playoffs where it will face either the BC Lions or the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in the East Division Finals. Congratulations to Elizondo and October on the win and a terrific regular season! Despite not playing against Toronto, Harris surpassed 5,000 passing yards for the first time in his career while WR Brad Sinopoli led the league and set a new record for receptions by a Canadian player with 116. Elizondo is in his third season with the Redblacks and in 2016 he helped guide the franchise to its first Grey Cup. He previously spent three years as the offensive coordinator at Columbia and also has experience as the wide receivers coach at Syracuse and Hofstra. October is in his first season in Ottawa after serving as the wide receivers coach at William & Mary and VMI. While this season marks October's first as a CFL coach, he excelled as a player in the league. He reached three Grey Cups finals, including winning the title in 2003, and finished his career with the fifth most punt return yards in league history.

Strong finish gives Flashes first MAC victory
As with any first-year coaching staff, there have been growing pains this season for Kent State. If anything was clear from Tuesday night's win over Bowling Green, though, it's that this is a program headed in the right direction. Nowhere are signs of growth more apparent than at the inside linebacker position where Dalton Hicks and Cepeda Phillips made their first starts of the season and contributed in a big way. Hicks posted a team-high 14 tackles while Phillips finished second with eight of his own. Describing the pair's rise to starting roles, Kent State Head Coach Sean Lewis commented, "Dalton and Cepeda have both been doing a great job...they really seized an opportunity. The infectious energy that they bring and the way they bring people down in the open field, they do a really nice job." As a unit, the Kent State defense yielded only 86 rushing yards to the Falcons while its offense churned out 157 yards on the ground. The Flashes' final 18 rushing yards came courtesy of a game-winning touchdown run by Jo-El Shaw to put Kent State up 35-28. Congratulations on the win to Kent State ILB Coach Will Windham (@CoachWindham)! Windham is in his first season with the Flashes after two years at Georgia where he served as a defensive assistant. Last season, he helped the Bulldogs win the SEC and reach the National Championship Game. Previously, Windham coached the defensive line at Davidson and has also served on staffs at Penn State and Mississippi State.

UTEP has number of firsts in victory
Another first-year coaching staff that is starting to turn the corner is UTEP. After going winless in 2017, the Miners brought in new head coach Dana Dimel and veteran special teams guru Joe Robinson (@CoachJoeRob). UTEP started the season slowly but had shown signs of growth in recent one-possession losses against North Texas and Louisiana Tech. Against Rice, the Miners finally got over the hump and earned their first win since 2016. QB Kai Locksley and RB Quardraiz Wadley each scored two rushing touchdowns in the first half as UTEP jumped out to a 27-0 lead. The Owls got on the board with a field goal as time expired in the first half, but the Miners' special teams quickly shot down any hopes Rice had of a comeback early in the third quarter. On its first possession of the second half, UTEP went three-and-out, but Rice muffed the ensuing punt and DB Nik Needham was there to recover the fumble for the Miners. Three plays later, RB Treyvon Hughes scored on a 19-yard run to put the Miners up 34-3, and they held on to win 34-26. Congratulations to Robinson who arrived in El Paso after serving as the special teams coordinator at Texas Tech for the past two seasons. One of the most well respected special teams coaches in the business, he was named FootballScoop's Special Teams Coordinator of the Year in 2010 for his work with LSU's units. Robinson, who also has experience coaching defensive line, linebackers, running backs and tight ends, has served on staffs at South Carolina, UNC, Arizona and UCF among others.

Hawks handle Charleston Southern, improve to 7-2
When Monmouth Special Teams Coordinator/RB Sam Dorsett (@CoachSamDorsett) and WR Coach TJ DiMuzio (@CoachTJD) review the tape from their 37-3 win over Charleston Southern, it may not be easy for them to find many areas in need of improvement. The Hawks thoroughly demolished the Buccaneers as running backs Pete Guerriero and Juwon Farri each went over 100 yards rushing, WR Terrance Green Jr. set a new career-high with six receptions, the defense was dominant, and kicker Matt Mosquera made all three of his field goal attempts. Guerriero started things off for Monmouth when he capped a nine-play drive with an eight-yard touchdown run near the end of the first quarter to put the hosts up 7-0. WR Vinny Grasso doubled the advantage midway through the second quarter when he hauled in a six-yard scoring pass from QB Kenji Bahar, and by halftime the Hawks had extended their lead to 24-0. In the fourth quarter, WR Reggie White Jr. put the finishing touch on the victory when he caught an 18-yard touchdown pass to put Monmouth up 37-3. White's catch marked the fifth consecutive game in which he has recorded a touchdown reception. Congratulations to Dorsett and DiMuzio who now turn their focus towards #2 Kennesaw State in a battle for first place in the Big South. Dorsett is in his sixth season with the Hawks after stints as the running backs coach at St. Francis and Robert Morris. As a player, Dorsett was an All-American and finished his career as Robert Morris' all-time leading rusher. DiMuzio, the newest addition to the CI Family, is in his fifth season at Monmouth where he has mentored three All-Big South wide receivers. He previously served as the assistant head coach and offensive coordinator at Widener and also boasts experience at Bowling Green, Hofstra and Delaware.

Kutztown routs Millersville
In five seasons at the helm, Jim Clements (@KUHC_Clements) has already established himself as the winningest head coach in Kutztown history based on winning percentage. The Golden Bears have posted a winning season in each of the past four years and reached the PSAC Championship Game in 2016 for just the third team in program history. This season, Clements has Kutztown poised to raise the bar yet again as the Golden Bears currently sit at 8-1 and are ranked #21 nationally according to the D2 AFCA Coaches Poll. Kutztown's lone setback thus far came last week against #9 West Chester in a battle of unbeatens. While the hangover from that game may have carried over into Saturday's game at Millersville, it didn't take long for Clements' squad to bounce back and roll to its best offensive output of the year. At the end of the first quarter Millersville held a 10-7 lead, but Kutztown rattled off 55 unanswered points in cruising to a 62-10 victory. DB Majid Abdur-Rahman provided the spark when he returned a blocked punt 25 yards for a touchdown to give the Golden Bears a 13-10 lead. From there, the Eric Nickel Show kicked into overdrive. Making just his second career start, the redshirt sophomore quarterback completed 19-of-31 passes for 182 yards and four passing touchdowns. Nickel also did extensive damage on the ground as he rushed 17 times for 141 yards and one touchdown en route to earning PSAC Offensive Player of the Week honors. RB Craig Reynolds also had a big game, finishing with 78 rushing yards and two touchdowns for the Golden Bears. Overall, Kutztown outgained Millersville by a margin of 471-277, including a 289-56 edge in rushing yards. Congratulations to Clements, who earlier this season won his 100th career game as a head coach. From 2006-13, he served as the head coach at Delaware Valley College where he won four conference titles, reached the second round of the NCAA playoffs three times, and left as the program's all-time winningest head coach.

Kansas Wesleyan claims KCAC Championship with 34-31 win over Avila
Since taking over as head coach in 2014, Matt Drinkall (@DrinkallKWU) has steadily built Kansas Wesleyan into a powerhouse. After posting a 2-9 record in his first season, KWU posted the three winningest seasons in school history from 2015-17 as the Coyotes went 27-6 overall and reached the NAIA playoffs in 2015. Still, the one goal that had eluded Drinkall's club was a conference championship. After Saturday's win over Avila, the Coyotes can check that milestone off the list now, too. Perhaps fittingly, the goal that Kansas Wesleyan had worked so hard to pursue for so long wouldn't come easily. After winning their first nine games by an average score of 59-15, the Coyotes found themselves in a dog fight against Avila and trailed 17-7 midway through the second quarter. After a third straight three-and-out from KWU's offense, its defense provided the spark needed when LB Warren Singletary came up with a sack to get the Coyotes' offense right back on the field. Five plays later, KWU QB Johnny Feauto connected with RB Demarco Prewitt for a 27-yard touchdown to cut the deficit to 17-13. Another touchdown pass from Feauto, this one to FB Marquez Gilmore, put the Coyotes up for good at 20-13. For the game, Feauto completed 13-of-21 passes for 151 yards and three touchdowns. On the ground, Prewitt rushed 36 times for 162 yards and one touchdown. With one regular season game still to play, Prewitt has already broken the school record for single-season rushing yards with 1,730 and currently leads all of the NAIA in the category. Prior to arriving at KWU, Drinkall served as the offensive coordinator at St. Ambrose and has also coached tight ends at Western Illinois. He began his career as a student assistant coach at Iowa. Last winter, Drinkall was selected to participate in the AFCA's 35 Under 35 Leadership Institute.

Virginia Union crushes Virginia State, keeps playoff hopes alive
Virginia Union was originally scheduled to play Johnson C. Smith on September 13, but the game was called off due to Hurricane Florence. At the time, it was determined that the game would only be played if postseason implications hung in the balance. Fast forward seven weeks and the Panthers are eager for one more chance to state their claim for a playoff bid. But before reaching this position, VUU first had to take care of business against its arch rival, Virginia State. The Trojans jumped out to a quick 6-0 lead with a touchdown on their first drive, but the Panthers blocked the extra point and returned it for a two-point conversion to cut the deficit to 6-2. Four plays later, VUU RB Tabyus Taylor scored on a 46-yard touchdown run to give the hosts a three-point lead. VSU briefly retook the lead at 12-9, but VUU responded when WR Lavatiae Kelly caught a seven-yard touchdown pass from QB Darius Taylor near the end of the first quarter and the Panthers never trailed again. For the game, Taylor rushed for a total of 180 yards and two touchdowns while also catching two passes for 58 yards and another touchdown. As a team, VUU's offensive line paved the way for the Panthers to rush for 259 yards in the 46-19 victory. The performance continued a season-long trend for VUU as the Panthers led the CIAA with over 256 rushing yards per game. Congratulations on the win and dominant rushing stats to Run Game Coordinator/OL Mike Morita (@CoachMorita)! Morita is in his second season at VUU after a three-year stint as an offensive quality control assistant at Vanderbilt. He previously spent seven seasons as the offensive line coach at Albany where he helped guide the Great Danes to four conference championships. Morita also boasts experience as an offensive coordinator during a stint at Shaw.

Quick Hits
  • Mecole Hardman returned a punt 65 yards to setup #6 Georgia's opening touchdown in the Bulldogs' 34-17 win over #9 Kentucky to clinch the SEC East. Congratulations to Special Teams Coordinator Scott Fountain (@CoachSFountain)!
  • NC State secured bowl eligibility in emphatic fashion, rolling to a 47-28 win over Florida State. Congratulations to Asst. Head Coach/CB George Barlow (@CoachGBarlow)!
  • Elsewhere in the ACC, Pitt moved into first place in the Coastal Division with a 23-13 win over Virginia. Congratulations to Offensive Assistant James Patton (@Coachjpatton)!
  • Villanova earned its first CAA victory of the year by defeating Richmond, 45-21. Congratulations to Special Teams Coordinator/CB Ola Adams (@CoachOlaAdams)!

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