CI Week 6 Highlights

Head coaches led the way for the Coaches Inc. Family in Week 6 as 10 added one to their team's win column this weekend. Following Howard Head Coach Larry Scott's win on Friday night, William & Mary's Mike London celebrated his birthday with a homecoming win on Saturday afternoon and was followed in short order by Towson's Rob Ambrose, Florida A&M's Willie Simmons, Morehead State's Rob Tenyer, Nebraska-Kearney's Josh Lynn, Benedict's Chennis Berry, Bluefield State's Tony Coaxum, Brevard's Bill Khayat and Oklahoma Panhandle's Bob Majeski. Congratulations to each of them on their wins! Keep reading for more highlights from Week 6.

Sean McVay liked complementary role Sony Michel played to Darrell Henderson vs. Seahawks
When Cam Akers went down with a torn Achilles just days before the Rams opened training camp, Asst. Head Coach/RB Thomas Brown (@iamthomasbrown) had his work cut out for him. Akers led LA in rushing last year and the team's third leading rusher from 2020, Malcolm Brown, signed with the Dolphins in the offseason. In their stead, Darrell Henderson has taken over as the workhorse back while Brown has integrated Sony Michel into the backfield to create a strong 1-2 punch. Together, Henderson and Michel have helped carry the Rams to a 4-1 start and were at their best on Thursday night in LA's 26-17 win at Seattle. Henderson and Michel logged 17 and 11 carries, respectively, for a combined total of 119 rushing yards, 25 receiving yards and two touchdowns. Henderson also posted a run for the highlight reels, eluding tacklers in the backfield and breaking free for a 29-yard gain in the third quarter. One play later, Rams QB Matthew Stafford found WR Tyler Higbee in the end zone for a score that put the Rams up 16-7. Seattle cut the lead back down to two, but a two-yard touchdown run by Michel restored the nine-point margin and proved to be all the points that LA would need. Congratulations to Brown on the win and great start to the season! Brown is in his second season with the Rams and first as assistant head coach. He spent the 2019 season coaching running backs at the University of South Carolina and the three before that as the offensive coordinator and running backs coach at the University of Miami. In total, Brown boasts six seasons coaching running backs at the Power 5 level with additional stops at Wisconsin and Georgia. With the Badgers, he was instrumental in the development of Melvin Gordon, who finished runner-up in Heisman voting after racking up 2,587 rushing yards and 32 touchdowns in 2014.

Ferguson's 2 TD passes help Towson beat Stony Brook, 21-14
Following his team's hard-fought win, Towson Head Coach Rob Ambrose (@Coach_Ambrose) told reporters: "I love the character and the attitude of this team. We did not play perfect, but we got it done tonight." If there was one stretch of play that exemplified the character that Ambrose referenced, it was on Stony Brook's final offensive possession. Minutes earlier, the Tigers appeared poised to put the game away when QB Chris Ferguson completed a pass to TE Jason Epps near the goal line. Instead, Epps lost control of the ball before scoring, the Seawolves took over and scored three minutes later to make it a one possession game at 21-14. On its next possession, Stony Brook advanced as far as the Towson 22 yard-line, but on 3rd-and-1, LB Darien Reynolds stuffed SBU RB Ty Son Lawton for no gain. One play later, Towson DL Sam Gyeni sacked Stony Brook's quarterback to ensure that the Tigers would finish on top. In addition to Reynolds and Gyeni, safety S.J. Brown II also had a big game, collecting six tackles and a forced fumble. On the offensive side, Ferguson led the way for the Tigers, completing 22 passes for 177 yards and two touchdowns. Congratulations to Ambrose and Special Teams Coor./Safeties Lyndon Johnson (@lyndonjohnson19) on the win! 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, three 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 he coached with Johnson, who worked with the Huskies' linebackers and special teams units. With the Huskies, Ambrose and Johnson coached in three bowl games and won a share of the Big East in 2007. Johnson remained in Storrs for UConn's 2010 season in which they won another Big East title and played in the Fiesta Bowl. From 2011-14, Johnson served as Maryland's assistant head coach and outside linebackers coach before joining the Towson staff in 2015.

Late score lifts Georgia Tech to victory against Duke
With six games remaining on the schedule, Georgia Tech has already matched its win total from the previous two seasons thanks to a 31-27 road win at Duke on Saturday. For a while, though, it looked as though the Yellow Jackets would have to wait another week for win #3. Despite jumping out to an early 14-0 lead, Georgia Tech found itself behind Duke 27-24 with 3:33 left to play and the Blue Devils with the ball. Linebackers Quez Jackson and Ayinde Eley each made stops on that Duke possession, putting the ball back in the hands of GT QB Jeff Sims. With 51 seconds to go, facing a 3rd-and-6 from the Duke 36-yard line, Sims lofted a pass to WR Adonicas Sanders. Eley already knew what was coming next - "I had full belief that, once the ball was in the air, I saw him run under it, I just knew he was going to catch it,” Eley said. "We’ve seen 'Dono' make a play like that in practice probably over 100 times." Sure enough, Dono did make the catch and delivered the Yellow Jackets their first win in Durham since 2013. For the game, Eley led the GT defense with 13 tackles, 2 quarterback pressures and a half-sack. Congratulations to Georgia Tech DE/OLB Coach Marco Coleman (@MarcoColeman_GT) on the win! Before mentoring Georgia Tech's defensive ends, Coleman was an elite one in his own right for the program, twice being named a First Team All-American, including in 1990 when he helped Georgia Tech win the national championship. He went on to play 14 seasons in the NFL and was inducted into the Georgia Tech Athletic Hall of Fame in 2001. He began his coaching career as a coaching fellow for the Philadelphia Eagles in 2017 and spent the 2018 campaign as the assistant defensive line coach for the Raiders before returning to The Flats in 2019.

South Dakota upsets No. 13 North Dakota, 20-13
Since his arrival in Vermillion in 2019, Travis Johansen's (@CoachTJohansen) defense has served as the catalyst in upset wins for the Coyotes in a variety of different ways. In the final week of the 2019 season, South Dakota held off #5 South Dakota State, 24-21, on the strength of three forced turnovers in the fourth quarter. This past spring, takeaways again proved to be key as the Coyote defense forced seven turnovers in a 27-20 win over #7 Illinois State. On Saturday, South Dakota didn't need any turnovers and instead relied on stout defense in shutting down #13 North Dakota. The Coyotes kept UND RB Otis Weah bottled up all day, limiting the All-American to just 58 yards on 15 carries. On two occasions, North Dakota blocked punts setting its offense up in prime scoring positions, but the USD defense held UND to just three total points on both possessions. DB Da'Raun McKinney returned after missing four games to lead the USD defense with 11 tackles and broke up a pair of passes. Congratulations to Johansen and DL Coach Corey Brown (@CoachBrown_DL) on the upset win! Prior to taking over as the Coyotes' defensive coordinator, Johansen spent six years as the defensive coordinator at Grand View University. At Grand View, he helped lead the Vikings to five conference championships, six playoff appearances and the 2013 national championship. Johansen's defenses finished in the top 12 nationally all six years and his approach to "position-less" defense was featured in a Sports Illustrated article titled "The Search to Save NFL Defenses." Brown joined the USD staff this season after spending two seasons as the defensive line coach at Rutgers. He has also coached defensive line at Miami (OH) and served as a defensive graduate assistant at Notre Dame during the Irish's run to the BCS National Championship Game in 2012.

Baker leads Southern Illinois comeback over South Dakota State
About 115 miles north of Vermillion, Southern Illinois pulled off its own epic upset over a South Dakota school. The Salukis knocked off #2 South Dakota State, 42-41, for their second overtime win in as many weeks. In order to force overtime, SIU had to overcome two double-digit deficits. After falling behind 20-0 in the second quarter, wide receivers Landon Lenoir and Jerron Rollins each caught touchdown passes to pull the Salukis to within six. However, the Jackrabbits stretched the lead back to two possessions at 35-21 in the fourth quarter. SIU RB Donnavan Spencer cut the deficit to seven with a 63-yard scamper with 9:38 left and then Lenoir hauled in another touchdown, this time one-handed, with 34 seconds remaining to draw even at 35-35. Spencer scored again to open overtime and then, just as it had done last week at Western Illinois, the Saluki defense allowed a touchdown but denied the two-point conversion to secure the win. For the game, Lenoir and Rollins each had career days, the former catching 10 passes for 147 yards while the latter snared four passes for 104 yards. With the win, the Salukis improve to #4 nationally with a 5-1 record and own sole possession of first place in the MVFC at 3-0. Congratulations to SIU WR Coach Mark Watson (@CoachMarkWatson) on the win and great days for Lenoir and Rollins!  Watson is in his second season in Carbondale after coaching defensive backs and serving as head of player development at South Dakota from 2016-19. In 2017, he oversaw a Coyote pass defense that intercepted 15 passes and helped the team reach the round of 16 in the FCS playoffs. Watson also boasts experience at USC, Western Illinois and Drake.

Jackson State dominates Alabama A&M in homecoming blowout
If there is one thing that the SWAC is not lacking, it's outspoken personalities. The problem with being too outspoken, though, is when you end up putting your foot in your mouth. Last Monday, Alabama A&M Head Coach Connell Maynor took a jab at Deion Sanders after the Jackson State head coach had surgery on his foot and also took a shot at the Tiger offense: "Offensively, they're not as good as they were last year for whatever reason. Shedeur, Deion's son, is playing well at quarterback but for whatever reason they're just not putting up the points they did last year." JSU Co-Offensive Coordinator/WR Jason Phillips (@CoachJPhilJSU) and the Tigers made sure there would be no questioning their ability to put up points after leaving Huntsville with a 61-15 victory. Shedeur Sanders continued his strong play, accounting for five total touchdowns, but the JSU offense was also bolstered by standout performances from receivers Warren Newman and Trevonte Rucker. The receiver duo combined to register nine receptions for 146 yards and two touchdowns in the dominant win. Alabama A&M, the defending SWAC champs, fell behind 20-0 in the first quarter but cut the lead to 20-7 early in the second quarter. But before the Bulldogs could build any momentum off their score, Rucker's 37-yard touchdown reception came just four plays later, followed shortly afterwards by Newman's 12-yard score to send the Tigers into halftime with a 33-7 lead and the game well in hand. With the win, JSU improves to 4-1 (2-0) to occupy first place in the SWAC East. Congratulations to Phillips on the blowout win! Phillips arrived in Jackson after two seasons as the passing game coordinator and receivers coach at Utah State. In 2019, he helped four Aggies earn All-Mountain West recognition. Phillips has previously coached at Salt Lake (AAF), Oregon State, Kansas, SMU, Houston, Baylor and Texas State. At Houston, he coordinated a Cougar offense that averaged almost 600 yards per game and ranked second all-time in NCAA history.

Aggies hold off UNA to win their seventh straight home game
No matter the conference, North Carolina A&T has found success. After winning five CIAA championships, the Aggies moved up the MEAC where they proceeded to claim 11 conference titles. Now a member of the Big South, NC A&T is off to a great start in its attempt to carry on a winning tradition. In Week 5, the Aggies made history by beating Robert Morris, 41-14, in the program's first ever Big South conference game. On Saturday, they made it 2-for-2, knocking off North Alabama in dramatic fashion, 38-34. Under the direction of Co-Defensive Coor./DL Courtney Coard (@CoachCoard), the Aggies entered the game boasting the top rush defense in the conference, allowing only 95.2 yards per game. They improved on that mark, giving up just 69 rushing yards against the Lions. But despite being limited on the ground, UNA was able to keep pace with the Aggies for much of the game, taking advantage of the fact that NC A&T was missing both of its top cornerbacks. The Lions were able to rally from a 24-7 halftime deficit to take a 34-31 lead with just under seven minutes remaining. Up until that point, the Aggie offense had been paced by the ground attack of its three-headed monster at running back. Jah-Maine Martin, Bhayshul Tuten and Kashon Baker combined to rush for 186 yards and two touchdowns on 31 carries. In the end, it was Tuten's prowess as a receiving threat that put NC A&T back on top for good. On just the second play from scrimmage following UNA's go-ahead touchdown, Tuten corralled a swing pass from QB Jalen Fowler, broke five tackles and went 60 yards for a touchdown to provide the winning margin. Congratulations to Coard and RB Coach Shawn Gibbs (@CoachShawnGibbs) on the comeback win! Coard is in the sixth year of his second stint with the Aggies after spending the 2015 season on staff at Georgia. He was promoted to co-defensive coordinator in 2018 and immediately helped lead an Aggie defense that finished in the top 10 nationally in total defense in 2018 and 2019. The team's rush defense was even more impressive, finishing in the top 5 nationally on both occasions. Prior to arriving in Greensboro for the first time in 2014, Coard coached the defensive line at Grambling. Since Gibbs took over the running back room in 2011, NC A&T has become the FCS version of RBU. In the program's last eight years in the MEAC, there was only one season in which one of Gibbs' backs did not lead the conference in rushing. He mentored All-American Tarik Cohen, who is the program's all-time leading rusher and was the first player in MEAC history to win offensive player of the year honors in three consecutive seasons. Gibbs also coached North Carolina Central's all-time leading rusher during a four-year stint with the Eagles. 

Golden Eagles cruise to 27-16 win over NC Central
Saturday was a good day for Tennessee Tech Special Teams Coor./RB Chris Grimes (@CoachG_85). On the fourth play from scrimmage in the Golden Eagles' game against NC Central, LB Aidan Raines blocked a punt giving the Golden Eagles the ball at the NCCU 2-yard line. On the very next play, TTU QB Willie Miller plunged forward for the score and the Golden Eagles were off to the races. Starting RB David Gist didn't get the call on Tech's first touchdown but he was back into it for the second, catching an 18-yard touchdown pass from Miller to put the Eagles up 14-3 early in the second quarter. After the TTU defense forced a turnover on downs, backup RB Jordan Brown checked himself into the game and didn't mess around, scoring the first touchdown of his season on a six-yard rush to extend the visitors' lead to 21-3 at halftime. A pair of 46-yard field goals from Hayden Olsen in the second half put the game on ice and earned Olsen OVC Special Teams Player of the Week honors. For the game, Gist finished with a career-high 143 rushing yards to go along with 19 receiving yards. Congratulations to Grimes on the win and strong contributions from TTU's running backs and special teams! A Golden Eagle through-and-through, Grimes played at Tech and is currently in his third stint as a coach in Cookeville. A defensive coach for most of his career, he served as the defensive coordinator and safeties coach at Gardner-Webb from 2018-19, during which time he mentored seven All-Big South defensive selections. Grimes also spent a season coaching defensive backs at East Tennessee State.

Quick Hits
  • Charger WR Mike Williams caught eight balls for 165 yards and two touchdowns in LA's 47-42 win over Cleveland. Congratulations to WR Coach Chris Beatty (@BeattyCoach)!
  • Villanova's defense pitched a shutout in the second half against #3 James Madison, allowing the Wildcats to rally for a 28-27 road win. The Dukes entered the weekend winners of 20 straight regular season games. Congratulations to Defensive Coordinator/DB Ola Adams (@CoachOlaAdams) on the big win!
  • Southeast Missouri State RB Geno Hess was named Ohio Valley Conference Co-Offensive Player of the Week after rushing for 116 yards and three touchdowns in the Redhawks' 30-14 win over Austin Peay. Congratulations to Offensive Coordinator/QB Jeromy McDowell (@CoachJMcdowell)!
  • Congratulations to UMass Defensive Coordinator Tommy Restivo (@Coach_Restivo) and LB Coach Dan Carrel (@DanCarrel) on the Minutemen's victory!
  • Bowie State held Chowan, who entered the weekend averaging over 51 points per game, to just three points in the Bulldogs' 14-3 win. Congratulations to Defensive Coordinator Antone' Sewell (@CoachSewell_BSU)!
  • Elsewhere in the CIAA, Virginia Union improved to 2-1 in conference games with a 32-0 shutout win over Lincoln. Congratulations to Asst. Head Coach/Co-Defensive Coor./DL Marcus Hilliard (@Coach_MHilliard) and Offensive Coor./OL Mike Morita (@CoachMorita)!
  • Shepherd steamrolled Lock Haven, 75-21, to improve to 5-1. Congratulations to Rams Special Teams Coor./DB Luke Wright (@CoachLukeWright)!

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