CI Week 12 Football Highlights

As we head into the second half of November, here is a quick rundown of the postseason picture across several levels. The Division II playoff field was announced on Sunday and the CI Family is well represented. Three coaches will compete for the chance to play in the national championship game on Dec. 21 in McKinney, TX, including Carson-Newman Special Teams Coordinator/DB Antonio Goss (@CoachAGoss), Colorado School of Mines Co-Defensive Coordinator/LB Brandon Moore (@madbacker56) and Ferris State Asst. Head Coach/RB Brian Rock (@Coach_Rock). The FCS playoff bracket will be announced in one week with multiple CI coaches sure to make the field. At the FBS level, 20 CI coaches have already secured bowl eligibility with the latest two being Georgia Southern WR Coach Lamar Owens (@CoachLO2) and Utah State CB Coach Mark Orphey (@Mark_Orphey), who each picked up wins on Saturday. In the professional ranks, a CI coach is guaranteed to hoist the Grey Cup next week as both Winnipeg Special Teams Coordinator Paul Boudreau and Hamilton DL Coach Randy Melvin advanced to the finals with wins on Sunday. In the NFL, Saints Offensive Coordinator Pete Carmichael and Rams RB Coach Skip Peete each won on Sunday to boost their playoff position. Keep reading for more highlights from Week 12.

Gordon leads Washington State over Stanford, 49-22
The Washington State offense was firing on all cylinders on The Palouse. Not only did QB Anthony Gordon throw for 520 yards and five touchdowns to set a new program record for most touchdown passes in a season (39), but the Cougars also dominated on the ground. In a matchup between an "Air Raid" offense and another that has built its reputation on a power run game, Wazzu outgained the Cardinal on the ground by nearly 100 yards. Cougar RB Max Borghi rushed for 111 yards and scored two touchdowns, both of which came in the fourth quarter as the Cougars pulled away for the 27-point victory. Washington State is now just one win away from earning a trip to a bowl game for the fifth consecutive year. Congratulations to Washington State OL Coach Mason Miller (@CoachMiller_) on the win! One of the pioneers of the Air Raid Offense, Miller is in his second season with the Cougars after coaching the offensive line at Nevada in 2017. As the offensive coordinator at Tarleton State from 2014-16, he led one of the top performing offenses in the country and also boasts head coaching experience from his time at McMurry. As the offensive line coach at Southeastern Louisiana, Miller and the legendary Hal Mumme resurrected a program that had not fielded a football team in nearly two decades. In just their second season, the duo led the Lions to the #1 offense in Division I-AA in 2004.

Louisiana beats South Alabama, stays atop the Sun Belt West
For the first time since 1970, Louisiana can boast an undefeated record in road games for an entire season. The Ragin' Cajuns finished their road slate with five wins and no losses after knocking off South Alabama, 37-27. The Jaguars proved to be a formidable foe for most of the game and took a 21-17 lead early in the third quarter off of a defensive touchdown. But Louisiana responded by scoring the next 20 points to take control. The Cajuns' two rushing touchdowns in the fourth quarter gave them 34 on the season, matching a program record for rushing touchdowns in a season. RB Elija Mitchell was the leading rusher for Louisiana, racking up 117 rushing yards and one touchdown on 17 carries (6.9 ypc). Defensively, Louisiana continued its season-long trend of keeping opponents off the scoreboard. Setting aside South Alabama's defensive score, the Cajun defense gave up just 20 points and is only allowing an average of 18 points per game - a mark good for first in the Sun Belt Conference and 14th nationally. Individually, LB Ferrod Gardner set a new career-high with 10 tackles, including a half-sack. At 8-2, UL has matched its best record through 10 games since 1976 and remains one game ahead of Arkansas State for first place in the Sun Belt West. Congratulations on the win to UL Defensive Coordinator Ron Roberts (@CoachRonRoberts) and Asst. OL Coach Bryant Ross (@CoachBryantRoss)! Roberts is in his second season with the Cajuns and last year helped guide the team to a division title. Before arriving at Lafayette, Roberts spent six seasons as the head coach at Southeastern Louisiana. In 2013, he was named Southland Conference Coach of the Year and a finalist for the Eddie Robinson Award after leading SLU to its first conference title in program history and a #6 national ranking. As the head coach at Delta State from 2007-11, Roberts led the Statesmen to two Super Region II titles. Ross is also in his second season at UL after serving as a graduate assistant at Mississippi State in 2017. From 2014-16, he coached at Central State, where he worked with the running backs and offensive line.

Army closes out home season with blowout win over VMI
In the first half of the 20th century, Army and VMI played one another regularly with both teams among the nation's elite at various points. These days, Army has won bowl games each of the last three seasons while VMI competes in the FCS. Saturday's game between the two, the first since 2010, was a mismatch on paper and turned out to be a mismatch on the field, too. Army QB Kelvin Hopkins, Jr. logged a career-high 208 rushing yards and one rushing touchdown as the Black Knights collectively rushed for 594 yards. In a sign of the times, the Black Knights also ran what is believed to be the first RPO in program history, thanks in part to input from Offensive Analyst Matt Drinkall (@DrinkallCoach). Defensively, LB Cole Christiansen led the hosts with 10 tackles and three quarterback pressures. Safety Cedrick Cunningham finished second on the team with five tackles. Army also received a contribution from its special teams when kicker Landon Salyers forced and recovered a fumble on a kickoff late in the third quarter. Four plays later, RB Connor Slomka scored from eight yards out to extend the Black Knights' lead to 40-6. Army would tack on one more touchdown late in the fourth quarter to wrap up the 47-6 victory. Congratulations on the win to Drinkall, Special Teams Coordinator Mike Krysl (@CoachKrysl) and Safeties Coach Josh Christian-Young (@CoachJCY)! Drinkall joined the Army staff this year after five seasons as the head coach at Kansas Wesleyan, where he guided the Coyotes to a 13-1 record in 2018 and an appearance in the NAIA semifinals. Krysl is in his second season at West Point after a two-year stint at Samford, where he coordinated special teams and also coached the Bulldog tackles and tight ends. In 2015, he served as the special teams coordinator at Georgia Southern where he helped guide the Eagles to a #2 national ranking in Net Kickoff and the first bowl game in program history. Krysl previously coached at his alma mater, Central Missouri. One of the newest members of the CI Family, Christian-Young is in his fifth season with the Black Knights and third as a full-time position coach working with the secondary. He previously coached with Krysl at both Georgia Southern and Central Missouri.

Utah State holds off Wyoming, 26-21
Thanks in large part to its defense forcing four turnovers, Utah State defeated Wyoming in a Mountain West matchup Saturday night in Logan, UT. The Cowboys got on the board first as the result of a pick-six, but Aggies QB Jordan Love atoned for his miscue by throwing two touchdown passes in the second quarter to put the hosts up 14-7. From that point forward, Utah State kicker Dominik Eberle provided all the scoring the Aggies would need by converting four of his five field goal attempts. Wyoming had a chance late in the fourth quarter to retake the lead when it advanced to the Utah State 39-yard line with under two minutes to play, but LB Eric Munoz made sure that wouldn't be the case when he intercepted a pass, his second of the game, allowing the Aggie offense to run out the clock. Utah State DB Shaq Bond also recorded an interception and DB Troy Lefeged, Jr. recovered a fumble, accounting for the four forced turnovers. Even on plays when the Aggie secondary wasn't able to come away with a pick, its tight coverage resulted in four pass breakups and limited Wyoming QB Tyler Vander Waal to just 185 yards passing on 20-of-36 attempts. With the win, Utah State improved to 6-4 overall and 5-1 in the MWC, earning bowl eligibility and setting up a pivotal game next week when the Aggies host Boise State with division title hopes on the line. Congratulations and good luck to Utah State CB Coach Mark Orphey (@Mark_Orphey)! Orphey is in his first season in Logan after a two-year stint as the defensive backs coach at Montana State. He previously spent four seasons as a defensive assistant at South Carolina and also served as the cornerbacks coach at his alma mater, Texas Southern, from 2011-12. In 2018, he completed the Bill Walsh Minority Coaching Fellowship with the Minnesota Vikings.

Alcorn State survives Alabama A&M, wins SWAC East yet again
It came down to the final play of the game, but in the end Alcorn State came out on top as it has done so many times during its streak of six consecutive SWAC East titles. Alcorn State QB Felix Harper completed 18-of-27 passes for 288 yards and four touchdowns while WR LeCharles Pringle caught four passes for 113 yards and three touchdowns. On the ground for the Braves, RB Niko Duffey rushed 17 times for 100 yards and one score. Overall, the teams combined for 1,053 yards of offense and 62 points with Alcorn State holding on for a 34-28 win. While both offenses had strong outings, it was the Alcorn defense that stood tallest with the game on the line. On its final possession, Alabama A&M reached the Alcorn 14-yard line with four seconds remaining, but a potential game-tying touchdown was wiped off the board when it was ruled that AAMU's receiver was guilty of illegal touching after being the first player to touch the ball after having gone out of bounds. While the Braves have already clinched a spot in the SWAC Championship Game, they can secure home field advantage with another win next weekend at Jackson State. Congratulations and good luck to Alcorn State Special Teams Coordinator Lane Powell (@CoachLanePowell)! Powell is in the second year of his second stint with the Braves. He was previously part of the Alcorn staff that won the 2014 SWAC Championship and HBCU National Championship. In over 20 years of coaching, Powell has coached at Alabama State, McNeese State and Austin Peay among others. In total, he has worked with 16 All-Americans, 11 players of the year and has been a part of 14 championship winning staffs.

Southern gets past stubborn Jackson State
While Alcorn State has already secured its place in the SWAC Championship Game, it's opponent from the West Division won't be determined until after next week's Bayou Classic between Southern and Grambling. Southern remained in contention for both the division title and home field advantage for the conference title game with its 40-34 victory over Jackson State. While the Jaguars' normally stout defense allowed the Tigers to rush for 308 yards, Southern's offense picked up the slack with one of its best outings of the year. In particular, QB Ladarius Skelton put on a show, completing 12-of-23 passes for 133 yards and one passing touchdown to go along with 171 rushing yards and three scores on the ground. For his efforts, Skelton was named the SWAC's Offensive Player of the Week. WR Hunter Register was the biggest beneficiary of Skelton's passing as he caught three passes for 66 yards and one touchdown. Congratulations to Southern Asst. Head Coach/OffCoor/OL Chennis Berry (@coachberry77) on the win and Skelton's performance! Now in his seventh season in Baton Rouge, Berry has helped guided the Jaguars to three appearances in the SWAC title game and the 2013 SWAC Championship. Under his direction in 2016, Southern finished fifth nationally in Scoring and 11th in Total Offense. Berry previously coordinated offenses at Howard, North Carolina A&T and Morgan State, and has a wealth of NFL experience having completed internships with the Jaguars, Colts, Browns, Lions, Chargers and Bears.

Quick Hits
  • Eastern Michigan scored a season-high in its win over Akron, 42-14. Congratulations to EMU OL Coach James Patton (@Coachjpatton) and WR Coach Darren Paige (@WRcoachPaige)!
  • Kent State rallied from a 27-6 fourth-quarter deficit to stun Buffalo, 30-27. Congratulations to Golden Flashes Safeties Coach Will Windham (@CoachWindham)!
  • Air Force WR Benjamin Waters caught two touchdown passes in the Falcons' 38-21 win over Colorado State. Congratulations to Air Force WR Coach Ari Confesor (@CoachAC3)!
  • Delaware RB Will Knight rushed for 108 yards and a touchdown in the Blue Hens' 17-10 win over Stony Brook. Congratulations to Delaware Head Coach Danny Rocco and Offensive Coordinator/QB Jared Ambrose (@CoachJambrose)
  • Chattanooga defeated The Citadel, 34-33, to win the Southern Conference and earn the league's auto-bid to the playoffs. Congratulations to Mocs OL Coach Chris Malone (@cmalone51)!
  • Fairmont State WR Andre Hall caught five passes for 130 yards and three touchdowns in the Falcons' 42-13 win over West Virginia Wesleyan. Congratulations to Fairmont State Special Teams Coordinator/WR Luke Wright (@CoachLukeWright)!

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