CI Week 11 Football Highlights

The postseason picture is beginning to take shape at all levels of the game, and a number of CI coaches are poised to make deep playoff runs. In the NFL, four coaches solidified their positions atop their respective divisions with wins on Sunday including: Chargers RB Coach Alfredo Roberts and WR Coach Phil McGeoghan, Rams RB Coach Skip Peete and Redskins DB Coach Torrian Gray. In the CFL, conference semifinal matchups were held yesterday and two CI coaches advanced to the next round: Winnipeg Special Teams Coordinator Paul Boudreau and Hamilton LB Coach Robert Lyles. Hamilton will take on #1 seed Ottawa (Offensive Coordinator Jaime Elizondo and WR Coach Winston October) in the Eastern Conference Final next Sunday. Five FBS coaches secured bowl eligibility on Saturday with their sixth wins of the year: Georgia Tech (Special Teams Coordinator/A-backs Lamar Owens, Safeties Coach Shiel Wood and DL Coach Jerome Riase), Marshall LB Coach Byron Thweatt, and Memphis DL Coach Paul Randolph. The Division II playoff bracket was also released with three CI coaches qualifying: Kutztown Head Coach Jim Clements, West Alabama Offensive Coordinator/QB Don Bailey and Colorado School of Mines Co-Defensive Coordinator/LB Brandon Moore. Kansas Wesleyan Head Coach Matt Drinkall will be the flag bearer for the CI Family at the NAIA level as the Coyotes finished the regular season ranked #6 with a perfect 11-0 record. Keep reading for more highlights from Week 11.

Tom Flacco throws three touchdowns as #20 Towson routs #5 Elon
Arguably the most impressive performance of the weekend belonged to Rob Ambrose's (@Coach_Ambrose) Towson Tigers. The Tigers cruised to a 41-10 win on the road against Elon, marking the program's first win over an opponent ranked in the top 5 since 2013 and its largest margin of victory this season. As he has all season, junior QB Tom Flacco set the tone early, giving Towson a 7-0 lead when he connected with TE Chris Clark for a four-yard touchdown pass midway through the first quarter. The score remained that way until the Phoenix got on the board with a field goal at the start of the second quarter. But before Elon could get any closer, Towson Offensive Coordinator/QB Jared Ambrose (@CoachJambrose) dialed up two more scores for Flacco, both coming via passes to WR Shane Leatherbury, the first on a 16-yard pass in the second quarter and the second on a nine-yard pass in the third quarter. Elon would cut Towson's lead to 21-10 late in the third quarter, but would get no closer as Defensive Coordinator/LB Lyndon Johnson's (@lyndonjohnson19) unit pitched a shutout in the fourth quarter. Individually, LB Robert Heyward led all players with 13 tackles, including 3.5 tackles-for-loss and one sack en route to earning CAA Defensive Player of the Week honors. LB Keon Paye chipped in with four tackles and a fumble recovery, while DL Bryce Carter finished with four tackles, two tackles-for-loss and one sack. Overall, the 10 points allowed were the fewest that Towson has given up all season. Congratulations to Rob, Jared and Lyndon, as well as to DL Coach Gus Kosmakos (@Coach_Kosmakos) and Defensive Assistant DJ Bryant (@djbryant13)! Since being named the head coach at his alma mater in 2009, Rob Ambrose has led the Tigers on an historic turnaround that includes two CAA Championships, two playoff appearances and a run to the 2013 FCS National Championship Game. Prior to returning to Towson, he served as the offensive coordinator at UConn where we coached with Johnson, who worked with the Huskies' linebackers and special teams units. Johnson arrived at Towson in 2015 after serving as Maryland's assistant head coach and outside linebackers coach. Jared Ambrose began at Towson in 2009 as the tight ends and fullbacks coach and was promoted to offensive coordinator in 2012. He also boasts experience at Delaware and Shepherd. Kosmakos played at Towson from 2002-05 and joined the coaching staff in 2008. He has served as the team's defensive line coach since 2013 after stints working with the offensive line and outside linebackers. Bryant joined the Tiger staff this season after serving as a defensive quality control assistant at James Madison in 2017. He previously worked with the defensive lines at Furman and the Edmonton Eskimos. As a player, he was part of the 2012 Baltimore Ravens team that won Super Bowl XLVII.

Defense, run game lead Herd over Charlotte, 30-13
As mentioned above, Marshall defeated Charlotte to win its sixth game of the season and punch its ticket to a bowl game. However, the main inspiration for the Thundering Herd community came before kickoff, when the program honored the 75 victims of Southern Airways Flight 932, a flight that crashed in 1970 while carrying Marshall football players, staff and boosters back home from a game at East Carolina. The current team served their memories well, outscoring the 49ers 17-3 in the third quarter to take control of the contest. Charlotte scored a touchdown on its first possession to take a 7-0 lead, but the Herd defense tightened the rest of the way, limiting the visitors to just 110 total yards and two field goals on their next 11 drives. Byron Thweatt's (@Thweattster32) linebacker corps led the way for the Herd defensively as Frankie Hernandez tallied a game-high 11 tackles, 2.5 tackles-for-loss and 1.5 sacks. Fellow LB Omari Cobb finished second with nine tackles while LB Chase Hancock registered seven tackles and one sack. Speaking to reporters after the game, Hancock said, "I can't stress enough the importance of this game. There's no better way to honor those who lost their lives than to win this game." Congratulations on the win to Thweatt who is in his first year at Marshall. Thweatt arrived in Huntington after a two-year stint at stint as the inside linebackers coach at James Madison, where he helped guide the Dukes to the 2016 FCS National Championship and an appearance in the 2017 title game. He previously served as the head coach at Virginia State and also coached the linebackers at Richmond.

JMU bounces back with win over Rhode Island
Compared to 2016 and 2017, when James Madison posted a combined record of 21-1 in the regular season, this season has come with a few more obstacles for the Dukes. Yet despite two setbacks in CAA games, the Dukes remain in contention for a conference title as well as another national crown. Against Rhode Island, JMU got back on track with a 48-31 win and strengthened its case for a national seed when the FCS playoff bracket is announced next week. The Rams scored on their first possession to take a 7-0 lead, but JMU answered right back when QB Ben DiNucci connected with WR Riley Stapleton for a 10-yard touchdown pass to knot the score at 7-7. DiNucci added two more touchdown passes and a pair of field goals from kicker Tyler Gray had the Dukes out in front at halftime, 27-14. URI cut the margin to 27-17 early in the third quarter, but JMU RB Cardon Johnson ripped off a 14-yard touchdown run to push the cushion back to 17. For the game, DiNucci completed 18-of-25 passes for 227 yards and a career-high four touchdowns en route to earning CAA Offensive Player of the Week honors. Johnson led all rushers with 73 yards and one touchdown on 14 carries. Congratulations on the win to JMU RB Coach De'Rail Sims (@DeRailSims)! Sims is in his third season with the Dukes and in 2016 he directed a rushing attack that broke the CAA single-season rushing record with 4,125 yards. He joined the JMU staff after serving in the same role at Western Carolina from 2013-15. Following the 2014 season, Sims was selected to participate in the NCAA and NFL Coaches Academy.

Crusaders rally for 17-13 victory over Fordham
It took Holy Cross a little longer to find its stride this year than the first-year coaching staff would have liked, but Saturday's win over Fordham marked the the team's third straight heading into next week's finale at Georgetown. In the previous two weeks, the Crusaders' offense was on fire, scoring 96 total points and racking up 971 yards of offense. Against the Rams, Holy Cross was shut out in the first half but came alive in the third quarter to secure a win on Senior Day. After a 23-yard touchdown pass from QB Geoff Wade to TE Derek Mountain midway through the third quarter cut Fordham's lead to 10-7, Wade found WR Martin Dorsey for a five-yard scoring strike at the end of the quarter to take the lead. The Crusaders tacked on a field goal in the fourth quarter and the defense closed out the 17-13 win. For the game, Dorsey caught four passes for 57 yards and his touchdown gave him six on the season, the most of any receiver in the Patriot League. Congratulations on the win and Dorsey's performance to Holy Cross Pass Game Coordinator/WR Coach Ari Confesor (@CoachAC3)! Confesor is in his first season coaching at his alma mater after spending the past eight seasons at Rhode Island. At URI, he worked in a variety of capacities including coaching wide receivers, defensive backs, linebackers and co-coordinating special teams. From 2012-13, Confesor also served as a scouting assistant for the Kansas City Chiefs. As a player, he was a two-time All-American and remains the Crusaders' all-time leader in receiving yards, kickoff return yards and all-purpose yards.

Late field goal by Lopers tops Ichabods, 17-16
The past month had been a trying one for Nebraska-Kearney Head Coach Josh Lynn (@Countonmefb) and his staff as the Lopers had dropped four in a row, the past three all being one-possession games. Throughout the adversity, UNK persevered and was rewarded for its efforts by finally winning a close contest to end its season. In the process, they accomplished something that no UNK team had done since 1985 - beating Washburn. The Lopers jumped out to a quick start, going up 7-0 in the first quarter when QB Alex McGinnis hit WR Trey Lansman for a six-yard touchdown pass. They doubled their lead on the second play of the second quarter when RB Dayton Sealey capped a six-play, 98-yard drive with a two-yard touchdown run. Washburn would not go quietly, though, and stormed back to take a 16-14 lead with 4:34 left in the fourth quarter. That's when UNK's rushing attack went to work. All year, the Lopers have boasted one of the top ground games in the country, rushing for over 268 yards per game. True to form, running backs Darrius Webb, David Goodwin and Dayton combined to rush seven times for 30 yards on the final drive to setup Brian Covarrubias' 24-yard winning field goal in the final seconds. Congratulations to Lynn on the landmark win! After inheriting a UNK program that won a total of one game from 2015-16, Lynn guided the Lopers to three wins in 2017 and five wins this season. A specialist at rebuilding projects, Lynn spent the previous five seasons as the head coach at his alma mater, Eastern New Mexico. The Greyhounds went 3-7 in 2012, but turned things around the following season, winning the 2013 Lone Star Conference Championship with an 8-3 record while Lynn was named a finalist for national coach of the year. In 2011, he engineered a similar turnaround in one season as the head coach at New Mexico Military Institute, as the team improved upon a 3-8 record in 2010 to go 9-2 and finish the season ranked 6th in the nation.

Montana State gets big win on Senior Day over Northern Colorado
Winter has officially arrived in Bozeman, Montana and that suits the Bobcats just fine. Montana State QB Troy Andersen accounted for four touchdowns and the Bobcat defense forced four turnovers to lead MSU to a 35-7 win over Northern Colorado in the snow. The game started off well for the visitors as Northern Colorado scored on its first possession to go up 7-0 and then forced a three-and-out from the Bobcats. But Montana State DB Jahque Alleyne quickly restored order when he intercepted a pass on the Bears' second possession and returned it 47 yards to UNC's seven-yardline. On fourth-and-goal, Andersen powered in for a score to tie the score at 7-7. Montana State's defense pitched a shutout the rest of the way and Andersen added two more touchdowns in the second quarter as the Bobcats began to pull away. For the game, Montana State held Northern Colorado to just 4.5 yards per pass attempt as Bear quarterbacks combined to complete only 14-of-32 passes. MSU CB Jalen Cole led the Bobcats with seven tackles and one pass breakup. The strong performance from the Bobcat secondary was just the latest in a season full of them, as Montana State ranks third in the Big Sky and 28th nationally in Pass Efficiency Defense. Congratulations to MSU DB Coach Mark Orphey (@Mark_Orphey) on the win and impressive stats! Orphey is in his second season at Montana State after spending the previous four seasons as a defensive assistant at South Carolina. He has also served as the cornerbacks coach at his alma mater, Texas Southern, from 2011-12. Last summer, he completed the Bill Walsh Minority Coaching Fellowship with the Minnesota Vikings.

#15 Colorado School of Mines runs over Chadron to claim RMAC Co-Championship
The Orediggers bounced back from their only loss of the season with a statement win to end the regular season. Sparked by RB Cameron Mayberry's 207 rushing yards and a 56-yard pick-six from LB Mack Minnehan, the Colorado School of Mines defeated Chadron State, 49-20, to claim the 12th RMAC Championship in school history. Mayberry scored on a 5-yard rush on Mines' first possession to put the hosts up 7-0. Chadron tied the score at 7-7 late in the first quarter, but the Orediggers went on a 28-0 scoring run to seize control of the game in the second and third quarters. Mayberry and RB Brandon Farmer combined to rush for 330 yards and five touchdowns on the day to pace the Mines' offense. Defensively, Safety Adam Leonard led all players with 13 tackles and also recorded one of the Orediggers' two interceptions. Linebackers Averie Mansfield and Logan Bock each forced fumbles with Bock also contributing one of the team's three sacks. With the win, Mines' earned the #4 seed in Super Regional 4 and a rematch with RMAC rival Colorado State-Pueblo. Back in September, the Orediggers picked up a 35-21 win over the ThunderWolves. Congratulations and good luck to Mines' Co-Defensive Coordinator/LB Brandon Moore (@madbacker56)! Moore is in his third season at Mines after a stint as the defensive coordinator and linebackers coach at Scottsdale Community College. In 2016, all four of Moore's starting linebackers earned All-RMAC recognition. As a player, Moore enjoyed a nine-year professional career with the 49ers and Chargers, and also won two UFL titles with the Las Vegas Locomotives.

Dakota's Day! Smith scores four times as Cards win season finale
Otterbein and OLB Coach Todd Murgatroyd (@toddmurgs) will enter the offseason on a high note after defeating Ohio Athletic Conference rival Wilmington. The Cardinals started slow, falling behind 21-6 in the first quarter, but dominated the rest of the way to come away with the victory. Leading the way for Otterbein was RB Dakota Smith. The fifth-year senior saved his best performance for last, rushing for a career-high 203 yards and four touchdowns on 39 carries. Two of Smith's scores came in the third quarter when the Cardinals flipped a 21-13 deficit into a 27-24 advantage. In the fourth quarter, Smith provided the exclamation point when he scored on a 32-yard rush to provide the final score of 34-24. Defensively, LB Ryan Tuchow led all Cardinals with 12 tackles while fellow LB Jake Harper chipped in with seven tackles and two pass breakups. The Cardinals held Wilmington to 3.6 yards per pass attempt and intercepted two passes on the day. Congratulations to Murgatroyd who finishes the fifth season of his second stint at Otterbein. Murgatroyd, who has also coached the Cardinals' offensive line, began his coaching career as a graduate assistant under Jim Tressel at Youngstown State and has also coached at Tennessee, Hawai'i and Kent State.

Quick Hits
  • Old Dominion RB Lala Davis scored from one yard out with 15 seconds remaining to cap another stunning comeback for the Monarchs who at one point trailed North Texas 28-0. Congratulations to Head Coach Bobby Wilder (@ODUCoachWilder), Assoc. Head Coach/OffCoor Brian Scott (@ODUOC), Defensive Coor./LB Rich Nagy (@rich_nagy), Asst. Defensive Coor./Safeties Kermit Buggs (@KBuggs4), Asst. Head Coach for Offense/QB Ron Whitcomb (@ronwhitcomb), Special Teams Coor./RB Charles Bankins (@FBCoachBankins) and OL Coach Chris Malone (@cmalone51)! 
  • Nebraska blocked a punt for a safety and recovered two muffed punts by Illinois in a 54-35 win. Congratulations to Nebraska Special Teams Coor./OLB Jovan Dewitt (@Coach_Dewitt)!
  • The Citadel DB Aaron Span III earned SoCon Defensive Player of the Week honors as he helped the Bulldogs erase a 21-0 deficit and rally to defeat Samford, 42-27. Congratulations to Defensive Coordinator/LB Blake Harrell (@Coach_B_Harrell)!
  • Colby defeated Bowdoin 30-14, giving it wins over Bates and Bowdoin to win the CBB Trophy for the first time in 13 years. Congratulations to Colby Offensive Coordinator/QDave Dunn (@ColbyCoachD)!
Happy Veterans Day and thank you to all who have served!

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