CI Week 12 Highlights

Week 12 was all about trophies. Eight CI FCS coaches secured conference championships with wins in their regular season finales on Saturday. In the CAA, William & Mary and New Hampshire both won rivalry games to finish 7-1 in conference games and share the championship spoils. Congratulations to Tribe Head Coach Mike London (@CoachMikeLondon), Assoc. Head Coach/Defensive Coordinator/LB Vincent Brown (@CoachVBrown59), and OLB Coach Darryl Blackstock (@CoachBlackstock) as well as to Wildcats Offensive Coordinator/OL Brian Scott (@CoachBroScott)! In the MEAC, congratulations go out to Howard and Bison Head Coach Larry Scott (@CoachLScott70), Offensive Coordinator Lee Hull (@FBCoachHull42) and DB Coach Kyshoen Jarrett (@Ky3fOUR) who earned a share of the conference crown with a win on Saturday. Howard shared the MEAC title with North Carolina Central and Eagle Defensive Coordinator/DL Courtney Coard (@CoachCoard) who wrapped up conference play in Week 11 and concluded their regular season with an out-of-conference win over Tennessee Tech. Southeast Missouri State and Redhawk Offensive Coordinator/QB Jeromy McDowell (@CoachJMcdowell) captured a share of the OVC title with a win over Murray State while Samford and Bulldog Special Teams Coordinator Mike Krysl (@CoachKrysl) locked down the #6 national seed with an overtime win over Mercer after clinching the Southern Conference seven days earlier. When the FCS playoff bracket was announced on Sunday, four more CI coaches joined the conference champions in the field with at-large bids. Congratulations to Furman DL Coach Kevin Lewis (@CoachKLewDL), Delaware Special Teams Coor./Safeties Art Link (@Coach_ArtLink), Montana Defensive Analyst Kim McCloud (@CoachKimMcCloud) and Richmond RB Coach Justin Poindexter (@FBCoachDex)! Four was also the number of CI FBS coaches who won their sixth game on Saturday to lock down bowl eligibility. Congratulations to Arkansas DL Coach Deke Adams (@CoachDekeAdams), Memphis Special Teams Coordinator Charles Bankins (@FBCoachBankins), Memphis Senior Offensive Analyst Quinn Gray, Sr. (@CoachQGray) and Utah State RB Coach Chuckie Keeton (@CoachKeeton)! Keep reading for more highlights from Week 12.
Cook leads Missouri to rout over New Mexico State
When Erik Link (@CoachErikLink) added tight ends to his responsibilities as special teams coordinator after the 2021 season, he was walking into a tight ends room without a lot of depth. What little depth the Tigers did possess was further tested when starter Tyler Stephens left last week's game at Tennessee with an injury and was unavailable versus New Mexico State. In his place, Link called upon TE Ryan Hoerstkamp. The redshirt freshman had never been targeted in the pass game let alone catch any passes, but that didn't deter him from announcing his presence against the Aggies. With under five minutes remaining in the first half and the Tigers already up 14-0, Hoerstkamp perfectly feigned as if he was staying in to block before leaking out to collect a short crossing route over the middle. The 6'2", 240 pounder then turned up field and did his best Tony Gonzalez impression, eluding a would-be tackler and rumbling 32 yards for a touchdown on his first career reception. The score was one of three passing touchdowns for QB Brady Cook as the Tigers cruised to a 45-14 win. Complementing Hoerstkamp's score, Link's special teams were also solid against the Aggies. Preseason All-American kicker Harrison Mevis, the Thiccer Kicker, was perfect on all of his attempts, including a 43-yard field goal in the fourth quarter. With the victory, the Tigers move within one win of bowl eligibility heading into next week's Battle Line Rivalry versus Arkansas. Congratulations to Link on the win! Link is in his third season in Columbia and last year guided the Tigers to a #16 national ranking in overall special teams efficiency as Mizzou reached the Armed Forces Bowl. Link arrived in Missouri after helping guide Appalachian State to a 13-1 record and Sun Belt Championship as the team's special teams coordinator in 2019. The Mountaineers led the nation that season with seven blocked kicks while not conceding a block and also finishing in the top 25 nationally in several other special teams categories. Link spent the 2010 season as a quality control assistant at Auburn, where he helped the Tigers go 14-0 and win the BCS National Championship. He has also served on staffs at Louisiana Tech, Iowa State, Montana State and Drake.
Cincinnati stifles Temple in 23-3 victory
In 2021, the Cincinnati offense featured weapons galore. QB Desmond Ridder was the back-to-back AAC offensive player of the year and RB Jerome Ford earned First Team All-AAC honors before going on to be selected in the fifth round of the 2022 NFL Draft by the Browns. As a team, the Bearcats enjoyed the best season in program history, rolling to a 13-1 record, AAC championship and an appearance in the CFP semifinal. Following the departure of a school-record nine players drafted in the spring, expectations were tempered entering 2022 as the Bearcats were not picked by the media to win the AAC and barely snuck into the preseason AP Poll at #23. Somehow, someway, Cincinnati has found a way to get the job done this fall. With respect to the running backs, RB Coach Darren Paige (@RBCoachPaige) has deftly managed a committee approach to fill Ford's shoes as three different Bearcats have led the team in rushing in games this season. The approach has worked as UC sits at 9-2 after Saturday's win over Temple with a trip to the AAC Championship Game on the line when Tulane visits on Friday. Against the Owls, it was Ryan Montgomery's turn to play the role of bell cow. Montgomery scored on a 14-yard run on the first play of the second quarter to put the Bearcats up 14-0 en route to a comfortable 23-3 victory. For the game, Montgomery posted a season-high 58 rushing yards and also added a reception for 13 yards. Backing up Montgomery was RB Corey Kiner, who finished second on the team with 36 rushing yards as the Bearcats outgained the Owls on the ground by 96 yards. Congratulations to Paige on the win and running production! One of the most impressive aspects of Paige's tenure in Cincinnati is that when he arrived in 2021, he had never previously coached running backs. In stints at Eastern Michigan, Kent State, Stony Brook, Holy Cross and Midwestern State, Paige had always worked with wide receivers, the position he played himself at the professional level. At EMU, he coached two all-conference selections and helped the Eagles reach the Quick Lane Bowl in 2019. In all, Paige has worked with 13 all-conference selections and two All-Americans. In 2017, he completed a Bill Walsh Minority Coaching Fellowship with the Titans and in 2020 he took part in the AFCA 35 Under 35 Leadership Institute.
Mountain Division Champs: Boise State defeats Wyoming, 20-17
The stats for Wyoming's quarterback were not pretty on Saturday night. The Cowboys attempted 16 passes and completed as many to Boise defenders - 3 - as they did to their own receivers. For Boise State, as gaudy as the defensive stats were, it was the timing of its biggest plays that made all the difference. The first of the Broncos' three interceptions came on Wyoming's first drive of the second half with the Cowboys holding a 10-6 lead. Wyoming advanced as far as the Boise 32-yard line but safety Rodney Robinson picked off a pass in the end zone that the Bronco offense immediately converted into seven points to take the lead. After two more lead changes, Boise held a three-point lead with under two minutes to play and appeared to ice the game when safety J.L. Skinner recorded his third interception of the season. But a Boise fumble gave Wyoming the ball right back in the red zone, primed to win or at least tie the game. Once again, however, Skinner came up big, snaring another pick to erase any doubt and deliver the Broncos their sixth appearance in the past 10 Mountain West championship games. Congratulations to Boise State Co-Special Teams Coordinator/EDGE Kelly Poppinga (@Coach_Popp) on the win and dominant defensive performance. Now in his first season in Boise, Poppinga has played an integral role in the Broncos ranking fourth in the nation in Total Defense. Thanks to an active pass rush, Boise has been especially effective against the pass, leading the nation in allowing only 145 passing yards per game. Poppinga arrived in Boise after a six-year stint at Virginia, including four as co-defensive coordinator. He helped the Cavaliers qualify for four bowl games and win the ACC Coastal Division in 2019. On an individual note, Poppinga mentored multiple linebackers who led the ACC in tackles and sacks. From 2009-15, he coached at BYU, working with linebackers and special teams. The Cougars reached a bowl game in each of those seasons and seven of his pupils went on to enjoy NFL careers.
Memphis throttles North Alabama, 59-0
For the ninth consecutive season, Memphis is going bowling. The Tigers picked up their sixth win of the season by thoroughly decimating North Alabama. It was a comprehensive performance for the hosts as all three phases contributed to the scoring in the 59-0 shutout win. It didn't take long for Memphis to get the party started as QB Seth Henigan connected with WR Eddie Lewis on a 38-yard touchdown pass just five minutes into the game. The Tigers would not look back. After two rushing touchdowns from RB Jevyon Ducker tripled the advantage, Lewis showed his value on special teams, returning a punt 60 yards for a score midway through the second quarter. It was the Memphis defense's turn to get in on the scoring in the third quarter when LB Xavier Cullens returned an interception 54 yards for a touchdown to put the hosts up 45-0. When it was all said and done, Memphis had outgained the Lions by a 493-124 margin and forced three turnovers while giving up none. This morning, Lewis was named as an honorable mention to the All-AAC performers of the week, one week after Memphis kicker Chris Howard nabbed AAC special teams player of the week honors. Congratulations to Memphis Special Teams Coordinator Charles Bankins (@FBCoachBankins) and Senior Offensive Analyst Quinn Gray, Sr. (@CoachQGray) on the win! Bankins is in his second season with the Tigers after one season coordinating special teams at Charlotte and a four-year stint as the special teams coordinator and running backs coach at Old Dominion. With the Monarchs, he worked with Isaiah Harper, who was named Conference USA Special Teams Player of the Year in 2017 after returning three kickoffs for touchdowns. Bankins previously coordinated special teams at Vanderbilt, Maryland and Richmond among others. At Richmond, he was part of the staff that won the 2008 FCS National Championship. Gray is in his first season with the Tigers after two years as the quarterbacks coach at Alcorn State and a three-year stint as the head coach at Lincoln H.S. in Tallahassee, FL. He previously served as the assistant head coach, offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Florida A&M from 2011-14. As a player, Gray finished his career at FAMU as the program's all-time leader in passing yards, completions and passing touchdowns. He went on to enjoy a seven-year playing career in the NFL and won World Bowl XI with the Frankfurt Galaxy in 2003.
Piccirilli guides Stetson to 42-21 victory over Presbyterian
Stetson Head Coach Brian Young (@coachbkyoung) was dealt a considerable blow in Week 1 when his starting quarterback and All-PFL selection, Alex Piccirilli, went down with what appeared to be a season-ending injury. Against all odds, the graduate student returned to action on Saturday and guided the Hatters to a win in their season finale. Despite missing eight games, it did not take long for Piccirilli to find his rhythm. On the Hatters' third drive of the game, Piccirilli exploited a busted coverage in the Presbyterian secondary and found WR Michael Carley wide open for a 71-yard touchdown pass. Piccirilli would add three more touchdowns and finished the day with a school-record 334 passing yards in guiding Stetson to a 42-21 win over the Blue Hose. The quarterback wasn't the only Hatter rewriting the record book in his final game. Stetson DB Rassie Littlejohn intercepted two passes giving him seven picks for the season and thirteen for his career. His seven interceptions mark a new single-season record for Stetson while his career tally ranks second in program history. Also leaving his mark was DE Fermon Reid, who logged two sacks against Presbyterian giving him 4.5 for the season and 19 for his career, second most in program history. Littlejohn and Reid anchored a defense that held the Blue Hose to just 6-for-18 on third and fourth downs. Congratulations to Young on the win and trio of record setting performances! This season marked Young's second as the Hatters' head coach and tenth overall after he served as the program's assistant head coach and defensive coordinator from the program’s inception in 2012 through 2019. During his tenure as defensive coordinator, Stetson ranked first or second in the conference in Total Defense on six occasions. Young spent the 2020 season on staff at his alma mater, Georgia Southern, and has also served on staffs at Cornell and Mississippi College.
Hess runs SEMO past Murray State, 52-22, to share of OVC title
It had already been a story book season for Southeast Missouri State RB Geno Hess. The senior tailback entered Saturday's regular season finale having been named OVC Offensive Player of the Week on four occasions, including just last week when he rushed for 198 yards and three touchdowns in the Redhawks' win over Eastern Illinois. Hess previously had posted two games of 200+ rushing yards and four games with at least three rushing touchdowns. None of those games would compare to what he did against Murray State. Hess set a new program record and OVC record for rushing yards in a game with 317 to go along with another four touchdowns as the Redhawks dismantled the Racers to cap a perfect 5-0 record in OVC games and earn a share of the conference championship. Before Hess got rolling, it was actually the Redhawk defense that got the scoring started when DB William McCall took an interception 49 yards to the house on just the third play of the game. From there, the Redhawk offense took over. SEMO WR Ryan Flournoy scored on an eight-yard run to increase the lead to 14-0 before Hess scored the hosts' next three touchdowns to put the game out of reach. Hess closed the game out with his fourth touchdown in the fourth quarter to apply the finishing touch to the 52-22 win. For his efforts, Hess was named the FedEx Ground FCS National Player of the Week and will lead the Redhawks into a first-round playoff matchup at Montana next week. Congratulations to Southeast Missouri Offensive Coordinator/QB Jeromy McDowell (@CoachJMcdowell) on the win and Hess' big game! Now in his fifth year with the program, McDowell directed an offense that set new program records in points, points per game, and touchdowns in just his first season. In 2019, he helped guide SEMO to an OVC Co-Championship and the first playoff win in program history. After the season, McDowell was named one of three finalists for AFCA Assistant Coach of the Year. He arrived in Cape Girardeau after a four-year stint at Colorado Mesa, including two as co-offensive coordinator and two as offensive coordinator. With the Mavericks, McDowell was part of three RMAC Championship winning teams.
Fast start propels Lafayette to 14-11 win over Lehigh
In rivalry games, it's often one or two plays that can determine the outcome. That was exactly the case on Saturday in Easton, PA as Lafayette came up with two huge plays early and then held on to win the 158th installment of the oldest rivalry in college football. After the Lafayette defense forced a punt on Lehigh's opening possession, the Leopards took over deep in their own territory. On 3rd-and-6 from their 12-yard line, Lafayette QB Ah-Shaun Davis and WR Elijah Steward came up clutch with a seven-yard completion to move the chains. On the very next play, Davis found Steward again, this time for a 10-yard gain to give the Leopard offense some breathing room. RB Jamar Curtis capitalized on the next snap, taking the handoff and bursting through the middle before cutting to the sideline and outracing the Mountain Hawk defense 71 yards for the opening score. Less than one minute later, Lafayette LB Billy Shaeffer intercepted a Lehigh pass and returned it 50 yards to give the hosts an early 14-0 lead. Shaeffer would later come up with another critical play, recovering a muffed punt near midfield in the third quarter to thwart any Mountain Hawk momentum. Curtis would carry the load for the Leopard offense as the game wore on, setting a new career-high with 108 rushing yards, while the Lafayette defense limited their rivals to just two scores on the day. With the win, Lafayette finishes the season with four wins, one more than last year, and improves to 81-72-5 in the series with the Mountain Hawks. Congratulations to Lafayette Offensive Coordinator/QB T.J. DiMuzio (@CoachTJD) on the big win! DiMuzio is in his first season with the Leopards after an eight-year stint at Monmouth, where he began as wide receivers coach before being promoted to pass game coordinator and quarterbacks coach in 2019. He helped guide the Hawks to two Big South titles and three playoff appearances. On an individual level, DiMuzio mentored three First Team All-Big South wide receivers and a Freshman All-American selection at quarterback. He previously served as the assistant head coach and offensive coordinator at Widener and also boasts experience at Bowling Green, Hofstra and Delaware.
Ferris State kicks off title defense with a rout
In 2021, Ferris State completed arguably the most dominant season in Division II history with a 14-0 record and a 58-17 throttling of Valdosta State in the national championship game. Led by QB Jared Bernhardt, the Bulldogs averaged over 47 points per game while conceding only 18 points per game and winning four playoff games by an average of 36 points. While Bernhardt stole the show, accounting for 34 total touchdowns and over 1,000 yards passing and rushing, backup QB Mylik Mitchell stepped up at pivotal moments, particularly in the quarterfinals when he threw for 155 yards, rushed for 81 yards and scored three touchdowns while filling in for an injured Bernhardt. This year, Bernhardt is suiting up for the Atlanta Falcons and Mitchell is the unquestioned leader in Big Rapids, MI. With a first round 41-7 win over Davenport, Mitchell and the Bulldogs took a strong first step towards repeating as champs. Playing in heavy snow, Mitchell got Ferris State on the board first when he found WR Dezmin Lyburtus for a 19-yard score with 9:06 left in the first quarter. The Panthers responded by taking a 7-6 lead with just under five minutes remaining in the half. The lead was short lived. Three plays later, Mitchell found SL Emari O'Brien for a 52-yard touchdown and the Bulldogs never looked back. Mitchell ended the day with 155 yards passing and three touchdowns while adding a fourth on the ground. Congratulations to Ferris State Asst. Head Coach/QB Brian Rock (@Coach_Rock) on the win and superb play from Mitchell! Before last year's title, Rock helped the Bulldogs reach the 2019 National Semifinals as the team claimed both the GLIAC and Super Region Championships. Previously, he served as an offensive analyst at Oklahoma State and from 2015-2017 he coordinated the offense at Holy Cross. In 2017, Rock was named the AFCA National FCS Assistant Coach of the Year. Overall, he boasts 27 years of Division I coaching experience.
Quick Hits
  • Dallas RB Tony Pollard racked up 189 yards from scrimmage and two touchdowns as the Cowboys embarrassed the Vikings, 40-3. Congratulations to Offensive Quality Control Coach Chase Haslett (@Coach_Haslett)!
  • #4 TCU rallied from eight points down in the final 2:08 to escape Waco with a wild 29-28 win over Baylor. Congratulations to Horned Frogs IWR Coach Doug Meacham (@doug_meacham)!
  • Florida A&M wrapped up its season with its ninth consecutive win, a 41-20 win over Bethune-Cookman in the Florida Classic. Congratulations to Rattlers Head Coach Willie Simmons (@HCWillieSimmons)!
  • Oregon State RB Damien Martinez rushed for 138 yards and two touchdowns while the Beaver pass defense held ASU QB Trenton Bourguet to 122 passing yards in a 31-7 win. Congratulations to DB Coach Blue Adams (@CoachAdamsOSU) and RB Coach A.J. Steward (@Coach_Steward)!
  • Elsewhere in the PAC-12 North, Washington State intercepted Arizona four times in a 31-20 win. Congratulations to Cougars CB Coach Ray Brown (@CoachB212)! 
  • Louisville RB Jawhar Jordan rushed for 105 yards and a touchdown and returned a kickoff 98 yards for another score as the Cardinals upset #24 NC State, 25-10. Congratulations to UL RB Coach De'Rail Sims (@DeRailSims)!
  • Tulane's secondary recorded two interceptions as the #21 Green Wave continued to build on the biggest turnaround of the season, demolishing SMU, 59-24. Congratulations to DB Coach Josh Christian-Young (@CoachJCY)!
  • Miami (OH) QB Aveon Smith rushed for two touchdowns and completed a touchdown pass to WR Mac Hippenhammer as the RedHawks rallied to beat Northern Illinois. Congratulations to Miami OL Coach James Patton (@Coachjpatton), RB Coach Lamar Conard (@CoachConard), DL Coach Ron Burton (@CoachRonBurton) and WR Coach Myles White (@M_White03)!
  • Navy Striker John Marshall was named national defensive player of the week after racking up 10 tackles, 4 sacks and a forced fumble while FB Daba Fonfana rushed for 114 of the Midshipmen's 248 yards on the ground as Navy upset #17 UCF, 17-14. Congratulations to Strikers/Raiders Coach Joe Coniglio (@CoachConiglio51) and Run Game Coordinator/OL Ashley Ingram (@CoachAIngram)!
  • Joining Ferris State in the second round of the D2 playoff is Shepherd. The Rams outgained New Haven, 471-265, in a 16-13 win that was more dominant than the final score would suggest. Congratulations to Special Teams Coor./DB Luke Wright (@CoachLukeWright)!
  • Notre Dame's defense forced five turnovers to win its fifth game in a row, a 44-0 shellacking of Boston College. Congratulations to Irish Senior Defensive Analyst Ronnie Regula (@CoachRRegula)!
  • Mississippi Valley State RB Jakobe Thomas averaged nearly five yards per carry and the Delta Devil defense forced four turnovers as MVSU stunned first-place Prairie View, 27-7. Congratulations to OL Coach Christopher Browne (@CoachBrowne72)!
One more CI coach will be in action tonight when the Cardinals take on the 49ers in Estadio Azteca in Mexico City. Good luck to Arizona Defensive Assistant Ronald Booker (@_480Book)!

Get In Touch With Us

1317 F Street, NW Suite 920 Washington, DC 20004 | P 800.974.7957 F 888.762.5151 |