CI Week 9 Football Highlights

As we head down the stretch run of the regular season at the college level, more teams are positioning themselves for the postseason. Three CI coaches at the FBS level secured bowl eligibility with wins in Week 9. Congratulations to Air Force WR Coach Ari Confesor (@CoachAC3), Georgia State Special Teams Coordinator/ILB Shiel Wood (@ShielWood) and Navy Defensive Assistant Joe Battaglia (@CoachBatts)! Keep reading for more highlights from on the field in Week 9.

Hamilton Tiger-Cats add to record win total after topping Montreal Alouettes
One week after setting a new franchise record with their 13th regular season win, Hamilton DL Coach Randy Melvin and the Ti-Cats raised the bar once again with a 38-26 win over Montreal. The Alouettes started strong, taking leads of 7-0, 14-6, and 21-14, but each time they did, Hamilton answered the bell. In the end, the CFL's top team proved to be too much for the home team as the Ti-Cats outscored their East Division rival by a 24-5 margin in the second half. Hamilton DT Dylan Wynn and DE Ja'Gared Davis each recorded sacks and helped the defensive line generate consistent pressure on Montreal's signal callers, helping the Ti-Cat pass defense log two interceptions. Additionally, Hamilton's defense forced one fumble, a turnover on downs and broke up four passes. The Ti-Cats finish the regular season next week versus Toronto and then will enjoy a first-round bye in the playoffs. Congratulations to Melvin on the win and historic regular season! Melvin joined the Hamilton staff this season after serving in the same role for the BC Lions in 2018. He has accomplished the rare feat of having won both the Grey Cup, in 2011 with the Lions, and the Super Bowl, as the defensive line coach for the Patriots in 2002. In addition to the Patriots, Melvin has also served as the defensive line coach for the Browns and Buccaneers. At the college level, he has coached at Miami, Purdue, Rutgers, Temple and FIU among others.

Appalachian State remains unbeaten with win over South Alabama
It's hard to imagine the first two months of the season going any better for the first-year staff at Appalachian State. With their 30-3 win over South Alabama, the Mountaineers improved to 7-0 and extended the second longest win streak in program history to 13. As they have throughout the season, App State's special teams played a large part in the win over the Jaguars. Demetrius Taylor blocked a USA field goal attempt in the third quarter, giving him two on the year and the Mountaineers an FBS-leading five blocked kicks for the season. Chandler Staton converted three field goals and Thomas Hennigan returned two punts for 39 yards to round out a strong all-around performance for Special Teams Coordinator Erik Link's (@CoachErikLink) units. App State currently ranks 13th nationally in Punt Returns and 5th nationally in Kickoff Return. Overall, the Mountaineers rank #3 nationally in special teams efficiency. Congratulations to Link on the win and incredible job on special teams! Link is in his first season in Boone, NC after spending last season in the same role at Louisiana Tech. In 2018, he helped the Bulldogs block four kicks and win the SoFi Hawai'i Bowl. 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 staff at Iowa State, Montana State and Drake.

Georgia Southern picks up win, honors late teammate
Elsewhere in the Sun Belt, Georgia Southern ended a week of tragedy with a win over New Mexico State that the team dedicated to the memory of Jordan Wiggins, a freshman offensive lineman who passed away five days earlier. Following the game, Georgia Southern Head Coach Chad Lunsford stated, "I'm so proud of these guys. We went from an awful Monday night, to nothing on Tuesday and then back to work on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, to finally playing this football game." While the game was of secondary importance for the Georgia Southern Family, the Eagles played very well in picking up a 41-7 win and offering a temporary respite for the homecoming crowd on a rain soaked afternoon. RB Wesley Kennedy III paced the Georgia Southern offense, accounting for 222 all-purpose yards and three touchdowns, including a 67-yard punt return touchdown in the third quarter. RB J.D. King added 143 rushing yards and two touchdowns for the Eagles, who won their third consecutive game. Congratulations on the win and condolences on Wiggins' passing to Georgia Southern WR Coach Lamar Owens (@CoachLO2). Owens is in his first year with the Eagles after spending the previous 11 seasons at Georgia Tech. With the Yellow Jackets, he served in a variety of roles, including coaching the A-backs, coordinating special teams and serving as recruiting coordinator. In 2018, Owens was selected to participate in the AFCA's 35 Under 35 Leadership Institute and also completed the Bill Walsh Coaching Fellowship Program with the San Francisco 49ers.

Northern Iowa defense dominates Missouri State in 29-6 victory
Northern Iowa WR Isaiah Weston caught touchdown passes of 70 yards and 46 yards, and Matthew Cook made three field goals to account for the bulk of the Panthers' scoring on Saturday. Their efforts were more than enough for UNI Defensive Coordinator/Safeties Jeremiah Johnson's (@Coach_J_Johnson) unit. The Panthers held Missouri State to 158 total yards, 90 of which came on one drive in the fourth quarter well after the outcome had already been decided. Having seen the UNI defense every day in practice, UNI WR Aaron Graham could relate to the Bears' struggles in his postgame comments: "Our defense is something special. They are strong. They are smart. They are fast. They make crazy good plays, especially today." Some of those crazy good plays could be seen in the Panthers' five sacks and nine tackles-for-loss. Individually, UNI DB Austin Evans tallied a team-high seven tackles and two fumble recoveries. With the win, the Panthers improved to 5-3 overall, including 3-1 in the Missouri Valley. They currently rank #9 in the STATS FCS Poll and are poised to make the playoffs for the third consecutive season. Congratulations to Johnson on the win and stalwart defense! Johnson is in his 13th season at UNI and seventh as defensive coordinator. As coordinator, his units have finished in the top 15 nationally in Total Defense on three occasions and last year's three shutouts were the most for the Panthers since 1971. On a team level, he has been a part of four conference championships and eight playoff appearances while at UNI.

Monmouth pulls away from Charleston Southern
Aside from a pair of road defeats to FBS member Western Michigan and perennial FCS power Montana, Monmouth has rolled through its competition in the Big South and entered Saturday's contest at Charleston Southern as winners of three straight. With a showdown at #4 Kennesaw State looming one week away, it would've been easy for the Hawks to overlook Charleston Southern. Credit to the Monmouth coaching staff, in particular Special Teams Coor./RB Sam Dorsett (@CoachSamDorsett) and Pass Game Coor./QB TJ DiMuzio (@CoachTJD), for making sure that didn't happen. Monmouth QB Kenji Bahar threw two touchdown passes in the first half and RB Pete Guerriero took over in the second half to lead the Hawks to a 35-13 victory. For the game, Guerriero rushed for a career-high 221 yards and one touchdown on 22 carries. With four regular season games still to play, he has already eclipsed 1,000 yards, marking the second time in his career that he has reached the milestone. Not to be outdone, Bahar became the school's all-time leading passer on the night with 194 passing yards and three touchdowns. For his career, Bahar has thrown for over 8,000 passing yards. Congratulations to Dorsett and DiMuzio on the win and record breaking performances of Guerriero and Bahar! Dorsett is in his seventh season with the Hawks after stints as the running backs coach at St. Francis and Robert Morris. As a player, Dorsett was an All-American and finished his career as Robert Morris' all-time leading rusher. DiMuzio is in his sixth season at Monmouth and mentored three First Team All-Big South wide receivers before transitioning to quarterbacks this season. He previously served as the assistant head coach and offensive coordinator at Widener and also boasts experience at Bowling Green, Hofstra and Delaware.

Christopher Newport's defense stands strong as Captains win homecoming battle with TCNJ, 17-6
Sometimes the key to being a successful head coach comes down to knowing which buttons to push with star players. Christopher Newport senior QB Jack Anderson entered the season coming off of a Second Team All-NJAC selection and three conference offensive player of the week awards in 2018. But Anderson struggled to start the season, prompting CNU Head Coach Art Link (@Coach_ArtLink) to turn to freshman QB Xander Jedlick in the Captains' 34-10 win over William Patterson in Week 7. On Saturday, Link went back to Anderson and the senior responded in a big way. Anderson completed 19 consecutive passes which set a new program record and came just two shy of the all-time record for Division III. In total, Anderson completed 20-of-21 passes for 186 yards and one touchdown. While the yardage total wasn't gaudy, it was more than enough for the CNU defense. DL Ben James led the Captains on defense with eight tackles, including 2.5 sacks and a blocked field goal. As a unit, CNU's defense recorded five sacks and limited the Lions to just 15 rushing yards. Congratulations to Link on the win! Link is in his third season as the head coach at CNU and last season guided the team to a 7-2 record. He previously served as the defensive coordinator at Lafayette and has also coached at New Hampshire, Campbell and Catholic. Link began his career as a graduate assistant at his alma mater, the University of Florida.

Mavericks earn homecoming win over Black Hills State
Colorado Mesa improved to 4-4 on the year with a dominant 58-21 win over Black Hills State. The Mavericks excelled in all three phases of the game, starting with Justin White's 100-yard return of the opening kickoff for a touchdown. It was the defense's turn next, as DB Nick Ciccio returned an interception 32 yards for a touchdown to give the Mavericks a 14-0 lead before the offense had even touched the ball. When CMU's offense finally took possession for the first time, the onslaught continued. TE Dagan Rienks caught a season-long 47 yard pass on the Mavs' second play from scrimmage to set the offense up deep inside Yellow Jacket territory. While a lost fumble momentarily got CMU off track, QB Hayden Bolinger quickly restored order when he scored a eight-yard rushing touchdown to give the Mavericks a 21-0 lead with 4:01 left in the first quarter. With the blowout well underway, CMU focused its offensive attack on the ground, but three of the team's five leading receivers for the game were tight ends: Rienks, Andy Ritter and Shaun Apiki. Rienks currently leads all tight ends in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference with 20 receptions to go along with three touchdowns. Since taking over as kickoff returner earlier this month, White has returned eight kicks for 340 yards (42.5 ypr) and helped the Mavericks rank 5th nationally in Kickoff Return. Congratulations to Colorado Mesa TE/KOR Coach Mike Barela (@Coach_Barela) on the win and performances of Rienks and White! Barela is in his second season with the program after a three-year stint at Incarnate Word, where he worked on both sides of the ball including serving as the team's run game coordinator and tight ends coach in 2017. At UIW, he worked with First Team All-Southland Conference selection TE Cole Wick, who went on to play for the Lions and 49ers. Barela previously served on staffs at North Texas, Texas State and Sam Houston State.

Wildcats score final two touchdowns, Harris sack seals win over Panthers
After dropping its first two games of the season, Fort Valley State has reeled off six consecutive wins for the first time in a dozen years. The sixth win didn't come easy, however, and the winning streak looked doomed when Clark Atlanta took a 27-20 lead early in the fourth quarter. But the Wildcats would respond with 14 unanswered points to remain perfect in the SIAC. First, RB Marlon Fleming scored on an eight-yard touchdown run to tie the game with 8:55 remaining. After Fort Valley State's defense forced a three-and-out, the Wildcat offense took over on its own 38-yard line. Led by QB Demontay Jones, the Wildcats went 62 yards in 12 plays to take a 34-27 lead with 1:10 left in the fourth quarter. On the game-winning drive, Jones rushed three times for 12 yards and completed 8-of-9 passes, with the final completion coming on a seven-yard touchdown pass to WR Shemar Bridges. FVSU's win sets up a first-place showdown next week when the Wildcats travel to Savannah State to take on the Tigers, who are also unbeaten in SIAC games. Congratulations and good luck to Wildcats Asst. Head Coach/OL Coach Gary Lowery (@coachlowerynyc)! Lowery returned to FVSU this season after spending the 2018 season in a similar role at Alvernia. He served as the offensive line coach for the Wildcats in 2017 and has also coached defensive line, running backs, and served as a defensive coordinator over the course of a 15-year coaching career that includes stops at Hampton, Fayetteville State and Winston-Salem State among others.

Quick Hits
  • North Carolina LB Chazz Surratt picked off a pass at the goal line with 14 seconds left to play to seal the Tar Heels' 20-17 win over instate rival Duke. Congratulations to UNC Special Teams Coordinator/OLB Scott Boone (@CoachScottBoone)!
  • #4 Kennesaw State held North Alabama to just 57 rushing yards on 23 carries in a 41-17 win for the Owls. Congratulations to Kennesaw State Defensive Coordinator/LB Blake Harrell (@Coach_B_Harrell)!
  • Campbell rallied from a 14-point deficit in the fourth quarter to force overtime and eventually beat Gardner Webb in three overtimes, 49-47. Congratulations to Campbell Defensive Coordinator/LB Weston Glaser (@Coach_Glaser)!

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