CI Week 5 Football Highlights

It was another successful weekend for the CI Family, especially at the NFL level. Chargers RB Coach Alfredo Roberts, Chargers WR Coach Phil McGeoghan (@PhilMcGeoghan), NY Giants Asst. DB Coach Henry Baker (@CoachHB) and Saints Offensive Coordinator Pete Carmichael all picked up wins yesterday. Keep reading for more highlights from CI's college coaches.

Vandy holds on for 24-18 win over Northern Illinois
It was a memorable 24 hours for Vanderbilt RB Ke'Shawn Vaughn. On Friday night, the senior running back was at the hospital for the birth of his son, Kelan. At 11am on Saturday, Vaughn was suited up and ready to help lead the Commodores to their first win of the season. Vaughn played a critical role in the win over the Huskies, rushing 17 times for 138 yards. He nearly scored a touchdown on Vanderbilt's first drive, but his 59-yard touchdown reception was called back due to a penalty. While Vaughn caught his breath on the sideline, backup RB Keyon Brooks broke free for a 61-yard touchdown run on the very next play. Vaughn would eventually get his own rushing touchdown, however, as Vanderbilt's offensive line came up big on the goal line for Vaughn to punch it in from 1 yard out on the Commodores' second possession to take a 14-0 lead. In addition to opening up holes in the running game for Vaughn and Brooks, the Vanderbilt offensive line was also stout in pass protection, allowing QB Riley Neal to complete 21-of-28 passes for 189 yards and one touchdown. Congratulations on the win to Vanderbilt OL Coach Cameron Norcross (@CoachCNorcross)! Now in his fourth season in Nashville, Norcross has helped guide the Commodores to two bowl games. He previously served as the offensive line coach at Fresno State, where he contributed to one of the best seasons in school history in 2013 as the Bulldogs finished 11-2 and won the Mountain West Championship.  Prior to arriving at Fresno, he helped develop the original Pistol offense over 11 seasons at Nevada, during which the Wolf Pack won two WAC Championships, reached seven bowl games and accrued six top 15 finishes in total offense.

Louisiana Tech rallies, takes out Rice in overtime
In his postgame press conference, Louisiana Tech Head Coach Skip Holtz remarked: "There was a lot of ugly in this game." The Bulldogs trailed against Rice for most of the night as they failed to find their rhythm on offense and the defense gave up a pair of touchdowns in the first half. But when it was all over, the 23-20 overtime win could not have been prettier for Louisiana Tech LB Coach Brian Gamble (@CoachBGamble) and CB Coach Jeff Burris (@JeffBurris93). The Bulldogs are 2-0 in C-USA play for the first time since 2014 and can claim an overtime win for the first time since 2011. Louisiana Tech started its rally in the final seconds of the second quarter when safety Darryl Lewis intercepted a pass in the end zone to keep the deficit at 14-7. In the second half, the Bulldogs defense tightened, forcing four punts and only allowing a single field goal. Louisiana Tech kicker Bailey Hale answered Rice's field goal with a 31-yard conversion of his own with just over a minute to play. In overtime, Louisiana Tech LB Willie Baker came up with two crucial stops to force a field goal on Rice's opening possession. Five plays later, Bulldog QB J'Mar Smith scored from 12 yards out to set off a celebration on the visitors' sideline. For the game, Baker tallied four tackles, including one tackle-for-loss, while CB Amik Robertson finished with seven tackles and two pass breakups. Congratulations to Gamble and Burris on the thrilling win! Both Gamble and Burris arrived in Ruston in 2018 after stints at the FCS level, Gamble as the defensive coordinator at Incarnate Word and Burris as the cornerbacks coach at Northern Iowa. Gamble played collegiately at Texas A&M and began his coaching career at Kilgore College before being hired at Incarnate Word in 2005. Burris was an All-American safety and played 10 seasons in the NFL before beginning his coaching career in 2007. He has professional coaching experience as the assistant defensive backs coach for the Dolphins from 2013-15 and spent the 2016 season as a defensive analyst at Notre Dame.

Alexander-Stevens accounts for 3TDs in Wagner's 24-14 win
After a rugged stretch of non-conference opponents, including two FBS teams, Wagner Head Coach Jason Houghtaling and his team were ready to take on someone in their own weight class. The Seahawks narrowly missed upsetting UConn in their opener and were still looking for their first win of the season when they hosted Long Island on Saturday. Thanks to a career day from QB Christian Alexander-Stevens and a stout defensive performance, Wagner started off NEC play on the winning side. Alexander-Stevens completed 27-of-36 passes for 267 yards and one touchdown in addition to two rushing touchdowns on the day. His favorite target was WR Jeremiah Lorick, who caught 11 passes for 76 yards. Fellow WR Joshua DeCambre caught four balls for 66 yards, including a 6-yard touchdown reception to open the scoring in the first quarter. LIU tied the score at 7-7 at the start of the second quarter, but the Seahawk defense pitched a shutout for the final 44 minutes. Following Alexander-Stevens' two rushing touchdowns and a 48-yard field goal from Wagner kicker Eric Silvester, the Sharks pulled to within 10 points on a special teams touchdown but drew no closer. Defensively, Tevaughn Grant was a one-man wrecking crew for the Seahawks as the senior defensive end finished with team-highs in tackles (9), tackles-for-loss (4), sacks (2.5) and one forced fumble. Congratulations to Houghtaling, Assoc. Head Coach/Defensive Coordinator Del Smith (@FBCoachSmith) and Offensive Coordinator/WR Lee Hull (@FBCoachHull42) on the win! Houghtaling is in his 12th season at Wagner and fifth as the team's head coach. During the 2013 season, he served as the offensive coordinator and offensive line coach at Cornell where he directed the ninth ranked passing offense in the country. He returned to Wagner the following season as the offensive coordinator and was promoted to head coach in 2015. Smith arrived at Wagner this season after a three-year stint as the head coach at West Virginia Wesleyan College. He previously served as the defensive coordinator at Bridgewater College where the Eagles posted the top ranked pass defense in the conference in 2015. Hull is also in his first year with the program after most recently serving as the wide receivers coach for the Indianapolis Colts. From 2014-15, he was the head coach at Morgan State, where he guided the Bears to the 2014 MEAC Championship, the program's first conference championship since 1979. Prior to arriving at Morgan State, he coached six All-Americans, one Biletnikoff Award winner and several high NFL draft picks in 11 seasons as an assistant coach at Maryland and Oregon State.

UMass picks up first win of season, defeats Akron, 37-29
One of the biggest challenges for a new coaching staff can be establishing a new culture and getting players to buy-in. In some cases, a staff can be forced to make tough decisions to promote the culture it is trying to establish even if the benefits aren't immediate.  Fortunately for UMass Co-Defensive Coordinator/LB Tommy Restivo (@Coach_Restivo) and the Minutemen, the decision to suspend six players from Saturday's game versus Akron may have provided just the jump start the team needed. Filling in and making his season debut, QB Michael Curtis completed 17-of-31 passes for 173 yards and two touchdowns to lead a UMass team that set a season-high with 37 points. The Minutemen defense also contributed to the scoring when DB Isaiah Rodgers returned an interception 58 yards for a touchdown to put the home team up 14-7 early in the second quarter. In total, UMass forced three turnovers, including a fumble recovery by safety Martin Mangram and an interception by DB Jordan Adams. DL Jake Byczko finished with a team-high seven tackles while linebackers James Bowe, Jr. and Cole McCubrey each chipped in with five tackles. Congratulations to Restivo on the win! Restivo arrived in Amherst after spending the 2018 season as the safeties coach at South Florida. He has previous experience as a defensive coordinator at South Carolina State and McNeese State. From 2012-13, he served as the defensive backs coach at Louisville.

Aggies clear Steers, 34-8, for first win of 2019
Bob Majeski (@CoachMojo4) had a pretty good setup in 2018. He was living in DeLand, Florida and coaching the linebackers for a Division I program that was coming off of its best season in the modern era. Stetson finished in a tie for second place in the Pioneer League in 2018 with an 8-2 record, its most wins since 1951. But Majeski wasn't content - he wanted to run his own program. And so in December, he left Stetson to become the head coach at Oklahoma Panhandle State University, an NAIA program in Goodwell, Oklahoma. On Saturday, Majeski won his first game as head coach of the Aggies. Not surprisingly, it was a linebacker who led the way for OPSU in its win over Tyler College. LB Diamante Pounds tied for the team lead with seven tackles, including 1.5 tackles-for-loss. DL Matt Hernandez added five tackles, including 2.5 tackles-for-loss and one sack as the Aggies held the Steers to a net -3 rushing yards. Tyler fared little better through the air as defensive backs Tony Davis, Antonio Vaughn and Charoy Joseph all recorded interceptions. Offensively, Tony Brown and Deshawn Cumby split reps at quarterback, with Brown doing most of his damage on the ground (122 rushing yards, 1 TD) while Cumby threw for two touchdowns. Congratulations to Majeski on the historic win! Majeski spent four years at Stetson and has prior experience as a head coach at Dodge City Community College and Black Hills State. In 2011, he was named the Kansas Jayhawk Conference Coach of the Year after leading Dodge City to the conference playoffs.

Carson-Newman crushes UVA-Wise, 42-7
One week after coming up two points short in a 30-28 loss at #19 Wingate, Carson-Newman bounced back in resounding fashion. The Eagles fell behind 7-0 to UVA-Wise but went on to score 42 unanswered points to improve to 2-1 overall and 1-1 in the South Atlantic Conference. Consistent with the scoreline, Carson-Newman dominated the game in all three phases. Behind its triple option attack, the Eagles rolled to 557 yards of offense compared to just 195 yards for the Highland Cavaliers. Leading the way for the Eagle defense was "do-it-all" safety Darius Williams. The senior led all players with 12 tackles, including two tackles-for-loss, to go along with an interception that he returned 79 yards. After the game, Carson-Newman Head Coach Mike Turner praised Williams, remarking that his versatility as both a run stopper and pass defender is what allows the coaches to call defenses that regularly have "eight in the box" to put increased pressure on opposing offenses. Not to be outdone, CB Desmond Fairell backed up his status as a two-time All-SAC selection with his 13th career interception, three pass breakups, two tackles and a quarterback hurry. Congratulations on the win to Carson-Newman Special Teams Coordinator/DB Antonio Goss (@CoachAGoss)! Goss, who is in his second season with the program, starred in college as a linebacker and safety at UNC before going on to win two Super Bowls in seven seasons as an NFL player. As a coach, he has experience working with defensive backs and linebackers for the Lions and Bills at the professional level, as well as several colleges including Louisville, Middle Tennessee State and Buffalo.

Grizzlies fend off Mountaineers, 38-31
Adams State withstood a late rally from Western Colorado to claim the victory in the 73rd edition of the Colorado Classic. On the strength of two touchdown passes from QB John Buksa, Adams State raced out to a 21-0 lead over the visitors in the second quarter. But as is often the case in rivalry games, this one would come down to the wire. Western Colorado slowly but surely chipped away at the deficit and tied the game at 31-31 on a touchdown run with under two minutes to play. Fortunately for the Grizzlies, Buksa and WR Tariq Bitson connected for a fourth touchdown pass with 29 seconds remaining to secure the 38-31 win. For the game, Bitson caught 12 passes for 257 yards and four touchdowns. As impressive as Bitson's stats were, Alani Pututau was nearly as dominant on the defensive side for Adams State. The junior defensive end finished the game with 12 tackles, including six tackles-for-loss and five sacks. Congratulations on the win and Pututau's performance to Adams State DL Coach Kai Ellis (@Coach_KaiEllis)! Ellis is in his second season with the Grizzlies after a stint as the defensive coordinator at Briar Cliff. He also served as the defensive coordinator and linebackers coach at West Hills CC from 2015-16. Following a nine-year professional playing career, Ellis began his coaching career as the assistant defensive line coach at Washington in 2013.

Quick Hits
  • Fresno State LB Justin Rice led the Bulldogs with 10 tackles and also recorded an interception in a 30-17 win over New Mexico State. Congratulations to Fresno State Defensive Run Game Coor./LB Coach Kenwick Thompson (@CoachKThompson)!
  • Florida A&M improved to 3-1 (3-0 against FCS competition) with a 30-28 win over Norfolk State. Congratulations to FAMU Head Coach Willie Simmons (@HCWillieSimmons) and Offensive Coordinator/OL Alex Jackson (@Coach_Ajax)!
  • Villanova improved to 5-0 and #8 in the FCS national rankings after a 33-17 win over #12 Maine. Congratulations to Wildcats Defensive Coordinator/DB Ola Adams (@CoachOlaAdams)!
  • Chattanooga rushed for 400 yards in a 60-36 win over Western Carolina. Congratulations to Mocs OL Coach Chris Malone (@cmalone51)!
  • Grand Valley RB Aryuan Cain-Veasey rushed for 101 yards and three touchdowns in the #9 Lakers' 21-16 win at Michigan Tech. Congratulations to GVSU RB Coach Issac Mooring (@CoachMooring)!
  • Colorado Mesa TE Dagan Rienks caught a 23-yard touchdown pass in the Mavericks' 42-30 win over Chadron State. Congratulations to Colorado Mesa TE Coach Mike Barela (@Coach_Barela)!
One more CI coach will be in action tonight when the Bengals travel to Pittsburgh to take on the Steelers. Good luck to Cincinnati Senior Defensive Assistant Mark Duffner!

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