CI Week 13 Football Highlights

The CI Family continued its great start to the postseason in Week 13. On Saturday, CI coaches went 3-0 in the first round of the Division II playoffs with Colorado School of Mines Co-Defensive Coordinator/LB Brandon Moore, Carson-Newman Special Teams Coordinator/DB Antonio Goss, and CSU-Pueblo RB Coach Howard Feggins all winning their first round games. On Sunday, Winnipeg Special Teams Coordinator Paul Boudreau and the Blue Bombers ended a 29-year drought for the franchise by winning the 107th Grey Cup. Four more FBS coaches secured bowl eligibility with wins in Week 13 - congratulations to Washington State OL Coach Mason Miller, Eastern Michigan WR Coach Darren Paige, Eastern Michigan OL Coach James Patton, and Florida International Special Teams Coordinator James Vollono! At the FCS level, eight CI coaches qualified for the postseason - congratulations to Villanova Defensive Coordinator/DB Ola Adams, Monmouth Passing Game Coor./QB T.J. DiMuzio, Monmouth Special Teams Coor./RB Sam Dorsett, Wofford DB Coach Rob Greene, Kennesaw State Defensive Coordinator/LB Blake Harrell, Northern Iowa Defensive Coordinator/Safeties Jeremiah Johnson, Villanova RB Coach Brian Jones, and Wofford RB Coach Dane Romero. Keep reading for more highlights from Week 13.

Michigan State shuts out Rutgers, 27-0
The Spartans kept their postseason hopes alive with a dominating over the Scarlet Knights in Piscataway, NJ. Michigan State QB Brian Lewerke completed 21-of-30 passes for 239 yards, including three touchdown passes to WR Cody White. Overall, White hauled in a career-high 11 passes for 136 yards. On the ground, Spartan RB Elijah Collins rushed 31 times for 109 yards. Defensively, safety Xavier Henderson led Michigan State with nine tackles and one interception. As a unit, the Spartan defense didn't give up a first down until the third quarter and came away with its first shutout since 2016. Congratulations on the win to Michigan State OL Coach Jim Bollman (@CoachJimBollman) and Asst. DB Coach Terrence Samuel (@MSUTSamuel)! Bollman is in the seventh year of his second stint in East Lansing and has helped guide the Spartans to two Big Ten titles since his return. From 2001-11, he served as the offensive coordinator and offensive line coach at Ohio State, where he helped guide the Buckeyes to seven conference championships and five BCS bowl games, including the 2002 national championship. Samuel is in his ninth season at Michigan State and first working with the defensive backs after spending his first eight seasons as the program's wide receivers coach. Under Samuel's guidance, Spartan receivers earned All-Big Ten recognition on eight occasions with two being named Big Ten Receiver of the Year. Overall, Samuel has won five bowl games in seven postseason appearances while at Michigan State. He previously worked with the receivers at Central Michigan and has also coached at North Dakota State, Nebraska-Omaha, Southeast Missouri and Arizona.

East Carolina pulls out 31-24 win over UConn
A couple months ago, ECU RB Darius Pinnix, Jr. wasn't sure if he would play again this year after suffering an injury in a game versus Gardner-Webb. But after sitting out eight games, Pinnix returned to the lineup against UConn and made an immediate contribution. The junior rushed 27 times for 105 yards and two touchdowns. Pinnix's second score came in the third quarter to give the Pirates a 24-14 lead. The Huskies rallied to tie the game at 24-24 midway through the fourth quarter, but a two-yard touchdown run by QB Holton Ahlers with 3:28 remaining was enough to put the Pirates back on top for good and give the program its first conference win on the road since 2017. ILB Xavier Smith led the ECU defense with a team-high eight tackles, including one tackle-for-loss. Congratulations on the win to ECU RB Coach De'Rail Sims (@DeRailSims) and ILB Coach Byron Thweatt (@Thweattster32)! Sims is in his first season in Greenville after spending the last three seasons coaching running backs at James Madison. With the Dukes, Sims reached the national championship game on two occasions, including winning the title in 2016. During their title run, the Dukes were fueled by a rushing attack that broke the CAA single-season rushing record with 4,125 yards. Sims has completed the NCAA-NFL Coaches Academy as well as the AFCA's 35 Under 35 Leadership Institute. Thweatt was also part of James Madison's national championship winning staff and runner-up finish, having coached for the Dukes from 2016-17 before spending the 2018 season as the linebackers coach at Marshall. With the Thundering Herd, Thweatt helped guide the team to a 9-4 record and win in the Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl. He previously served as the head coach at Virginia State and also coached the linebackers at Richmond.

Bryant leads Kennesaw State past Gardner-Webb
With its 10th win of the season, Kennesaw State cemented its status as the most successful startup program in the last 20 years, winning 47 games in its first five seasons. While Defensive Coordinator/LB Blake Harrell (@Coach_B_Harrell) wasn't with the program for its first four seasons, his transition has been seamless as the Owls are heading back to the playoffs for the third straight year. Against Gardner-Webb, Kennesaw's defense came out of the gate strong. On Gardner-Webb's first play from scrimmage, DB Cincere Mason nabbed an interception to set the Owls offense up in plus-territory. Two plays later, Kennesaw State QB Tommy Bryant scored on a 15-yard rushing touchdown to give the hosts an early lead. The Runnin' Bulldogs would respond by taking advantage of a muffed point to tie the game at 7-7, but from there it was all Owls. Kennesaw State scored the next 35 points, including three more rushing touchdowns from Bryant, in cruising to a 42-14 victory. Defensive linemen Desmond Johnson, Jr. and Travis Bell each recorded 1.5 sacks for the Owls, who tied a program record with five total sacks. Congratulations to Harrell, who spent the previous five seasons at The Citadel, including three as defensive coordinator. In 2016, he mentored SoCon Defensive Player of the Year Kailik Williams and helped guide the team to its second consecutive conference championship and a #6 seed in the FCS playoffs. Prior to arriving in Charleston, Harrell spent seven years at Lenoir-Rhyne where he helped the Bears reach the 2013 Division II National Championship Game.

Sam Houston State caps winning season with victory over Houston Baptist
It wasn't the season Sam Houston State envisioned back in September, but despite not making the playoffs, the BearKats put the finishing touches on one of the best defensive seasons in program history with a 37-14 win over Houston Baptist. While HBU entered the game near the top of the nation in scoring and total offense, Sam Houston limited the Huskies to just two scores and 22 rushing yards. The BearKats also forced two turnovers as defensive backs Tristin McCollum and Jaylen Thomas each recorded interceptions. Buoyed by four touchdown passes from QB Eric Schmid, Sam Houston took a 27-0 lead in the second quarter before Houston Baptist finally got on the board shortly before halftime. As it has been all year, one of the keys to the BearKats success was getting off the field on third down, as they limited the Huskies to just 6-of-17 on third down attempts. Sam Houston finished the regular season ranked #1 in the nation in Defensive 3rd Down Conversion, Tackles For Loss, and Sacks. The BearKats also finished in the top 10 nationally in the following categories: Turnovers (#2), Rush Defense (#2), Pass Defensive Efficiency (#3), Fumbles Recovered (#3), Defensive 4th Down Conversion (#4), Interceptions (#5), Scoring Defense (#7) and Red Zone Defense (#8). Congratulations on the win and incredible defensive stats to Sam Houston State Special Teams Coor./CB Gary McGraw (@DBCoachMcGraw)! This season marked McGraw's fourth at SHSU following a five-year stint as the defensive backs coach at Midwestern State. In the last nine seasons, he has been a part of five playoff teams including a semifinal appearance with SHSU in 2017. McGraw also serves as the Bearkats' defensive recruiting coordinator. In 2017, he secured the top ranked defensive back recruiting class at the FCS level.

Quick Hits
  • William & Mary forced five turnovers to reclaim the Capital Cup, beating Richmond in overtime, 21-15. Congratulations to William & Mary Head Coach Mike London (@CoachMikeLondon), Assoc. Head Coach/DefCoor/LB Vincent Brown (@CoachVBrown59), and OL Coach Gordie Sammis (@CoachSammis)!
  • South Dakota used three fourth quarter defensive stands to knock off #5 South Dakota State, 24-21, marking the Coyotes' first win over the Jackrabbits since 2000. Congratulations to USD Defensive Coordinator Travis Johansen (@CoachTJohansen)!
  • Yale rallied from a 36-19 deficit in the fourth quarter to beat Harvard in double overtime, 50-43, and win the Ivy League crown. Congratulations to Bulldogs Co-Defensive Coordinator/DL Jordan Stevens (@Yale_Stevens)!
  • Reedley College avenged its only loss of the year by beating Foothill College, 23-14, to win the NCFA American Division Championship Game. Congratulations to Reedley Head Coach Eric Marty (@CoachEricMarty)!

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