CI Week 8 Football Highlights

We are still six weeks away from the college bowl game lineup being announced, but 11 CI FBS coaches have already secured bowl eligibility: Alabama Assoc. Head Coach/DL Brian Baker, Florida TE Coach Larry Scott, Florida CB Coach Torrian Gray, Georgia Special Teams Coor. Scott Fountain, Utah WR Coach Guy Holliday, Memphis Passing Game Coor./WR Coach John Simon, UAB Defensive Coordinator David Reeves, Louisiana Tech LB Coach Brian Gamble, Louisiana Tech DB Coach Jeff Burris, Appalachian State Special Teams Coor. Erik Link, and Oregon Special Teams Analyst Chris Norris. Congratulations to that group and good luck to several others who are closing in on their sixth win! At the FCS level, head coaches led the way for the CI Family in Week 8 as five head coaches posted wins including Delaware Head Coach Danny Rocco, Morehead State Head Coach Rob Tenyer, and three others listed below. Keep reading for more highlights from Week 8 below.

Todd Gurley's spectacular touchdown catch ignites Rams' scoring machine in win
It took over three years, but Rams QB Jared Goff and RB Todd Gurley finally connected on a pass route the duo had been working on since Goff arrived in Los Angeles in 2016. The result was a perfectly lofted ball by Goff into the back corner of the end zone that Gurley hauled in with one hand to give the Rams a 9-3 lead early in the second quarter. Check out the highlight here. Along with a season-high 18 carries, Gurley's sensational catch erased any doubts that he was back to full strength after missing last week's game with a leg injury. Gurley's return was a welcome addition for a Rams offense that struggled in his absence with just seven points in a loss to the 49ers. Sparked by his touchdown, Los Angeles went on to score its second most points of the season in the 37-10 victory. In total, the Rams outgained the Falcons by a 381-224 margin and averaged 5.1 yards per play compared to 4.2 for Atlanta. Congratulations to Rams RB Coach Skip Peete on the win! Peete is in his fourth season in Los Angeles and 21st overall coaching in the NFL. Under his guidance, Gurley has been selected to two Pro Bowls and earned two First Team All-Pro selections. Peete previously guided Matt Forte to the 2013 Pro Bowl during his time with the Bears and did the same with Marion Barber at the Cowboys in 2007.

Tom Flacco throws school-record six touchdown passes in Towson's rout of Bucknell
Before traveling to take on #2 James Madison next week, Towson Head Coach Rob Ambrose (@Coach_Ambrose) and his club got just the tune up they needed. The #17 Tigers scored touchdowns on six of their first seven drives and never looked back in cruising to a 56-7 win over Bucknell. Five of those six touchdowns came on passes from QB Tom Flacco to WR Shane Leatherbury, who tied a program record with five receiving touchdowns. Flacco, who also connected with TE Chris Clark for a score, set a new Towson record with six touchdown passes, all of which came in the first half. When the Tigers switched gears to focus on their rushing attack in the second half, RBs Yeedee Thaenrat and Adrian Feliz-Platt took full advantage, as each went over 100 rushing yards. As impressive as the offensive numbers were, the Tigers were just as successful on special teams and defense. WR D'Ago Hunter returned the second half kickoff 92 yards for a touchdown and also returned a punt for 25 yards. Defensively, Towson limited Bucknell to 161 total yards and the Bison were just 3-for-15 on third downs. Individually, DL Bryce Carter led the way up front for the Tigers, racking up five tackles, including three tackles-for-loss, one sack and a forced fumble. On the back end, safeties Robert Topps III, S.J. Brown II and Coby Tippett combined to record seven tackles and three pass breakups. Congratulations to Ambrose, Special Teams Coor./Safeties Lyndon Johnson (@lyndonjohnson19), DL Coach Gus Kosmakos (@Coach_Kosmakos) and Special Teams Assistant D.J. Bryant (@djbryant13) 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 we coached with Johnson, who worked with the Huskies' linebackers and special teams units. Johnson arrived at Towson in 2015 after serving as Maryland's assistant head coach and outside linebackers coach. Kosmakos played at Towson from 2002-05 and joined the coaching staff in 2008. He has served as the team's defensive line coach since 2013 after stints working with the offensive line and outside linebackers. Bryant joined the Tiger staff in 2018 after serving as a defensive quality control assistant at James Madison. He previously worked with the defensive lines at Furman and the Edmonton Eskimos. As a player, he was part of the 2012 Baltimore Ravens team that won Super Bowl XLVII.

Johnson, stingy defense lead Georgetown's win over Lafayette
As Towson was kicking its game off, about 45 miles south, Georgetown Head Coach Rob Sgarlata (@coachsgarlata) was putting the finishing touches on his team's win over Lafayette. All the points in the game had been scored hours earlier, and Georgetown LB Justin Fonteneaux ensured the Hoyas would preserve the 14-10 win and second half shutout when he stopped Lafayette QB Keegan Shoemaker at the Georgetown 32-yard line as time expired. Fonteneaux's tackle capped an excellent performance for the Georgetown defense. After giving up an 86-yard touchdown run in the first quarter, the Hoyas defense clamped down, giving up just a second quarter field goal the rest of the way. Aside from their final drive of the game, the Leopards only crossed midfield on two other drives in the second half. Hoyas DB Ahmad Wilson ended one of those drives with an interception that he returned for 28 yards. DB Delano Salgado also recorded an interception and LB George Ikott led the Hoyas with six tackles, including one tackle-for-loss. Offensively, Georgetown QB Gunther Johnson completed 21-of-36 passes for 160 yards and two touchdowns to go along with a game-high 35 rushing yards. With the win, the Hoyas improve to 5-2 on the season, which matches their most wins through seven games since 2011. Congratulations to Sgarlata on the win and great season thus far! Sgarlata is in his sixth season as head coach and 25th season overall as a coach at his alma mater. Last year, he guided the Hoyas to a 4-2 conference record and a second place finish in the Patriot League. Sgarlata arrived at Georgetown in 1990 as a player and has bled blue and gray ever since - he served as a team captain in 1993 and remains among the leading rushers in program history.

Williams' TD lifts FAMU to a 34-31 win versus North Carolina A&T in overtime
For the first time in 10 years, the Rattlers have made it back into the FCS Top 25. But their #20 ranking and sixth win of the year didn't come without first overcoming all sorts of adversity. The adversity for Florida A&M Head Coach Willie Simmons (@HCWillieSimmons) and his team started back in May, when the Rattlers were ruled ineligible for the postseason for violations that occurred years before Simmons' hire. This weekend, the adversity came crashing down once again in a variety of forms. First, the Rattlers' game versus North Carolina A&T was postponed from Saturday until Sunday due to Tropical Storm Nestor. Once the game finally kicked off, the Rattlers started off on the right foot, taking a 21-14 halftime lead on the strength of two touchdown passes from QB Ryan Stanley. More adversity would strike at halftime, however, when FAMU's defensive coordinator was ejected in connection with a scuffle that broke out as the teams made their way to the locker room. To add injury to insult, Stanley went down with an injury in the fourth quarter as the Rattlers held a 28-25 lead. The Aggies were able to force overtime by converting a field goal as time expired to tie the score at 28-28. In the extra session, the Aggies took their first lead of the day with another field goal to go up 31-28. As they have all year, the Rattlers bounced back. On 3rd and 7 from the NC A&T 22-yard line, backup QB Rasean McKay completed a touchdown pass to WR Marcus Williams to set off a celebration on the sideline and in the stands. In addition to valuating FAMU into the top 25, the game also marked FAMU's second straight win over the defending HBCU national champions. Congratulations to Simmons and Offensive Coordinator/OL Alex Jackson (@Coach_Ajax) on the win! Simmons and Jackson arrived in Tallahassee after spending three seasons in the same roles at Prairie View A&M, where they compiled an overall record of 21-11. Simmons previously served as the offensive coordinator at Middle Tennessee State and Alcorn State. Jackson coordinated Mississippi Valley State's offense from 2011-13, in between stints in off-field roles at Arkansas and Georgia.  

Barber, Gators humble Lords, give Nagy first win
After multiple successful stints as a defensive coordinator, Allegheny Head Coach Rich Nagy (@rich_nagy) found himself in a tricky position in his first head coaching gig. Hired in February, Nagy inherited a Gators program that was predicted to finish in seventh place in the North Coast Athletic Conference and then opened the season with a brutal schedule that featured a nationally ranked out-of-conference opponent followed by conference games against the top four teams in the league. Entering Saturday's game, the combined record of Allegheny's first five opponents was 22-8. But if there was any doubt that Nagy was the right man for the job or that the Gators could hold their own in the NCAC, it was thoroughly erased after a 49-0 trouncing of Kenyon. Leading the offensive onslaught for Allegheny was QB Nazareth Greer, who completed 22-of-28 passes for 305 yards and five touchdowns. His main targets were a one-two, thunder and lightning combination of receivers in Alex Victor and Dwaine Barber. Victor provided the thunder, keeping Gator drives alive all game with a whopping 10 catches for 61 yards and one touchdown. Barber served as the lightning, as his seven catches went for 182 yards and three touchdowns, including receptions of 86 and 53 yards. Defensively, Allegheny limited the Lords to just 170 yards of offense and recorded the program's first shutout since 2012. Major congratulations to Nagy on his first career head coaching win! Nagy spent the previous six years as the defensive coordinator and linebackers coach at Old Dominion where he helped the Monarchs win the first bowl game in program history. He previously coordinated defenses at Western Michigan, Hofstra, Murray State, Maine and Fordham.

New Mexico Highlands defeats Black Hills State for first victory of the season
It took longer than New Mexico Highlands Head Coach Marty Fine and Offensive Coordinator/WR Matt Clark (@Coach_MattClark) would have liked, but the Cowboys logged their first win of the year by beating Black Hills State, 17-13. NMHU fell behind 7-0 with 5:30 remaining in the first quarter, but responded early in the second quarter when RB James Budgett capped a 9-play, 65-yard drive with a three-yard touchdown run to tie the game at 7-7. The Hornets pushed back ahead with a field goal, but NMHU took its first lead of the game when QB Ramone Atkins hit WR Donovan Hawkins for a 22-yard touchdown pass with just four seconds left in the first half. That score proved to be enough as the Cowboys' defense took control in the second half, yielding just a field goal. While NMHU's offense didn't find the end zone in the second half, Budgett delivered several clutch runs to wear down Black Hills and keep the Cowboy defense fresh. For the game, Budgett carried the ball 18 times for a career-high 141 yards. Defensively, DB Malik Brown led NMHU with six solo tackles, including one sack. Congratulations to Fine and Clark on the win! Fine is in his third season in Las Vegas, NM, and last year guided the program to its most wins since 2012.  He previously served as the head coach at Bryant, where he ranks as the school's all-time winningest coach with an overall record of 80-61 and two conference championships. Fine also served as the head coach at Sonoma State and has served on staffs at Iowa State and Indiana among others. Clark joined Fine's staff last year after spending the 2016-17 seasons as the run game coordinator and offensive line coach at Hutchinson Community College. He previously served as the tight ends coach at Louisiana-Monroe and has also coached at Nicholls State. In 2018, Clark was selected to participate in the AFCA's 35 Under 35 Coaches Leadership Institute.

Second half surge leads VUU to 41-34 win
After beating its two previous opponents by a combined score of 106-0, Virginia Union was bound to find itself in a tighter battle. The Panthers may not have expected to be down 12 points at halftime, but that was the situation they found themselves in versus Chowan. Thankfully, QB Khalid Morris and RB Tabyus Taylor accounted for four second half touchdowns and the VUU defense kept Chowan from scoring again until the final minute of the game to keep the Panthers perfect in conference games. VUU Co-Offensive Coor./OL Mike Morita (@CoachMorita) directed a running attack that allowed Taylor to rack up 124 rushing yards and the Panthers to accrue 181 yards on the ground overall. Through the air, Morris completed 18-of-29 passes for 273 yards and three touchdowns while being sacked only once. On the other side of the ball, VUU Asst. Head Coach/Defensive Coor. Marcus Hilliard (@Coach_MHilliard) directed a defense that recorded four sacks and one interception. DB Quantaye Battle paced the Panther defense with eight tackles, including three tackles-for-loss and one sack. With the win, VUU improved to 6-1 on the year heading into next week's showdown with #20 Bowie State. The winner of that game will control its own destiny in the CIAA North Division with a prime opportunity to qualify for the Division II playoffs. Congratulations on the win over Chowan and good luck next week to Hilliard and Morita! Hilliard is in his second season at VUU and was named the AFCA's Assistant Coach of the Year for 2018. He previously served as the defensive coordinator at Elizabeth City State where he directed one of the top defenses in Division II and helped guide the Vikings to four CIAA Championship Game appearances. Morita is in his third season with the Panthers after a three-year stint as an offensive quality control assistant at Vanderbilt. He previously spent seven seasons as the offensive line coach at Albany where he helped guide the Great Danes to four conference championships. Morita also boasts experience as an offensive coordinator during a stint at Shaw.

Fairmont State records 567 yards on offense in win over Concord
As they have throughout the season, Fairmont State receivers Javon Hayes and Andre Hall set the pace for a high-flying Falcon offense on Saturday. Hayes went over 100 receiving yards for the third consecutive week, hauling in five receptions for 105 yards while Hall added seven catches for 77 yards. The duo also combined to catch three touchdowns in leading Fairmont State to a 56-27 win over Concord. Both Hayes and Hall rank in the top four of the Mountain East Conference in the following categories: Receiving Yards Per Game, Yards Per Catch and Touchdowns. Against Concord, Hall caught two touchdowns in the first quarter as the Falcons scored on each of their first five possessions in racing out to a 35-0 lead. The Mountain Lions pulled within 35-7 at halftime, but could draw no closer as Hays scored on a 57-yard touchdown pass midway through the third quarter to effectively put the game away. Congratulations to Fairmont State Special Teams Coordinator/WR Luke Wright (@CoachLukeWright) on the win and performances of Hayes and Hall! Wright is in his second season with the Falcons and last year helped a pair of receivers earn All-MEC honors. He previously served as a quality control assistant at Towson and has also coached at Hiram University, Quincy University and McDaniel College.

Quick Hits
  • Eastern Michigan WR Mathew Sexton caught a touchdown pass in the final minute to beat Western Michigan, 34-27. Congratulations to EMU OL Coach James Patton (@Coachjpatton) and WR Coach Darren Paige (@WRcoachPaige)!
  • Air Force WR Geraud Sanders caught three passes for 116 yards and one touchdown in the Falcons' 56-26 win over Boise State. Congratulations to Air Force WR Coach Ari Confesor (@CoachAC3)!
  • Utah State recorded two interceptions in a 36-10 win over Nevada. Congratulations to Aggies CB Coach Mark Orphey (@Mark_Orphey)!
  • Navy's defense allowed just 13 first downs in a 35-3 win over South Florida. Congratulations to Midshipmen Defensive Assistant Joe Battaglia (@CoachBatts)!
  • Lehigh WR Devon Bibbens caught a four-yard touchdown pass in overtime to lift the Mountain Hawks to a 30-27 win over Fordham. Congratulations to Lehigh Offensive Coordinator/QB Scott Brisson (@Scott_Brisson)!
  • Yale scored 14 points in the final 1:23 to stun Richmond, 28-27. Congratulations to Bulldogs Co-Defensive Coordinator/DL Jordan Stevens (@Yale_Stevens)!
  • Sam Houston State's defense recorded an interception and posted its second shutout of the year in a 17-0 upset win over #9 Nicholls State. Congratulations to Bearkats Special Teams Coor./CB Gary McGraw (@DBCoachMcGraw)!
  • Columbia's defense gave up just 232 yards in a 44-6 homecoming win over Penn. Congratulations to Lions DL Coach Darin Edwards (@CoachDEdwards)!
  • #10 Colorado School of Mines improved to 7-0 and picked up its second consecutive shutout in a 42-0 win over Fort Lewis. Congratulations to Mines Co-Defensive Coordinator/LB Brandon Moore (@madbacker56)!

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