CI Week 9 Highlights

As we head into the final third of the regular season at the FBS level, more teams are positioning themselves for the postseason. Three more CI coaches secured bowl eligibility with wins in Week 9. Congratulations to Boise State Co-Special Teams Coor./EDGE Kelly Poppinga (@Coach_Popp), South Alabama LB Coach Will Windham (@CoachWindham) and East Carolina Director of Player Development Bryan Butterworth (@CoachButterECU)! Keep reading for more highlights from Week 9.

If you take a look at the defensive stat sheet following Arkansas' win over Auburn, nothing from Razorback defensive linemen Landon Jackson and Isaiah Nichols will jump off the page as the two combined to post just one tackle. Yet it was a play from the pair that changed the tenor of the game and propelled Arkansas to its first win over Auburn since 2015. The Razorbacks had jumped out to a 17-10 lead in the second quarter but a field goal from the Tigers just before halftime cut the lead to four. On Auburn's first possession of the second half, the Tigers controlled the ball for 6:23, driving 40 yards over 12 plays. Despite having to settle for a field goal, Auburn appeared to have stolen the momentum pending a field goal from All-American kicker Anders Carlson. Carlson's attempt was not to be, however, as Jackson and Nichols each generated a push upfront before rising to get a hand on the ball. Following the blocked field goal, Arkansas marched straight down the field and increased its lead to 24-13 when QB K.J. Jefferson connected with WR Jadon Haselwood on an 11-yard scoring strike. Five minutes later, RB Rashod Dubinion scored on a two-yard rush and it was all over but the crying for the Tigers. When asked about Jackson and Nichols' block after the game, Arkansas Head Coach Sam Pittman succinctly noted: "That was a big, big play. We went down and scored. Big, big part of the game." With the win, the Razorbacks improve to 5-3 on the year and have now won two in a row following a win at BYU. Congratulations to Arkansas DL Coach Deke Adams (@CoachDekeAdams) on the win streak and the big play from Jackson and Nichols! Adams is in his first season in Fayetteville after spending the 2021 campaign as the defensive line coach at Florida International and previous stints in similar roles at Ole Miss, Mississippi State, North Carolina, East Carolina, South Carolina and Southern Miss. With the Gamecocks, he worked with two First Team All-Americans, Jadeveon Clowney and Kelcy Quarles. In total, Adams has helped develop six NFL draft picks. He has participated in seven bowl games and was a member of the Southern Miss staff that won the 2011 C-USA Championship.

In the first half of Louisville's game versus Wake Forest, there were four replay reviews, all of which went against the Cardinals. In the second half, the hosts took matters into their own hands and left nothing to chance. Specifically, the Cardinals played one of the greatest quarters of football you will ever see, outscoring the Demon Deacons 35-0 in the third quarter. The Louisville defense forced six turnovers in the third quarter alone and the offense took full advantage. After a pick-six by Louisville DB Kei'Trel Clark put the Cardinals up 20-14, RB Tiyon Evans cashed in on a Louisville fumble recovery with a 52-yard touchdown run to increase the lead to 27-14. By the time you added in a nine-yard touchdown run by QB Malik Cunningham, a 28-yard touchdown reception by WR Jaelin Carter and another pick-six from DB Quincy Riley, the Cardinals had tied the all-time record for most points scored against an AP Top 10 team in one quarter. The five touchdowns also tied a UL record for most points in a quarter dating back to 1913. More importantly for the current Cardinals team, the win marked their third consecutive victory and brings them within one win of bowl eligibility. The win was especially sweet for Evans, who had missed the previous three games due to injury. Evans did not miss a beat in his return, setting a new career-high with 106 rushing yards on 11 carries. Congratulations to Louisville RB Coach De'Rail Sims (@DeRailSims) on the statement win and Evans' breakout performance. Sims is in his second season with the Cardinals and last year helped the team reach the First Responder Bowl. He previously spent two seasons as the running backs coach at East Carolina and three seasons coaching the position at James Madison. With the Dukes, he reached the FCS 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.

Few teams are hotter than Willie Simmons' (@HCWillieSimmons) Florida A&M Rattlers. Since dropping their two opening contests to North Carolina and #5 Jackson State, the Rattlers have rattled off six straight wins. Even still, those wins would not have mattered to the FAMU faithful had the Rattlers dropped Saturday's Homecoming versus Arkansas - Pine Bluff. Fortunately, FAMU's defense took care of business against the Golden Lions thanks to standout performances from LB Isaiah Land and DB Kendall Bohler. The reigning Buck Buchanan Award winner, Land recorded two of the Rattlers' three sacks and Bohler logged his second interception of the year. As a unit, the FAMU defense held UAPB to just 193 total yards, including a paltry 20 rushing yards on 17 carries. Offensively, the Rattlers racked up 201 rushing yards, including 108 from RB A.J. Davis. Through the air, FAMU QB Jeremy Moussa threw for three scores in the 27-6 win. Moussa's favorite target on the day was WR Xavier Smith, who finished with nine catches for 94 yards and one score. Smith's touchdown opened the scoring in the first quarter and set the tone for the rest of the game as the Rattlers jumped out to a 24-0 lead before the Golden Lions finally got on the board in the fourth quarter. On the year, Smith has caught eight touchdown receptions and Saturday marked the fourth consecutive home game in which he's reached the end zone. Congratulations to Simmons on the win streak! Simmons returned to his hometown of Tallahassee to lead FAMU in 2018 and has guided the program to a 24-6 record over the last 2.5 seasons, including an 18-3 mark in conference games. Under his guidance, the Rattlers finished the 2019 season in first place in the MEAC and last year reached the FCS playoffs for the first time since 2001. Simmons spent the 2015-17 seasons as the head coach at Prairie View A&M and has coordinated offenses at Middle Tennessee State and Alcorn State, where he helped the Braves win the SWAC in 2014.

Elsewhere in the Sunshine State, Florida Atlantic moved into a tie for third place in C-USA after a wild win over UAB in Boca Raton. Early on, it looked as though the Owls would cruise to their fourth win after taking a 10-0 lead in the first quarter, courtesy of a 20-yard field goal from Morgan Suarez and a 35-yard touchdown reception by RB Johnny Ford. However, UAB owned the second quarter, outscoring FAU by a 14-0 margin to take a four-point lead into the locker room. The Owls would return the favor in the third quarter, thanks to two more touchdown passes from QB N'Kosi Perry to retake a 24-17 lead. In the fourth quarter, with the game on the line, the FAU defense took over. A trio of Owl linebackers - Jaylen Wester, Courtney McBride and Jamie Pettway - combined to post 5.5 tackles in the final 15 minutes as FAU forced turnovers-on-downs on each of UAB's final two possessions to seal the win. Wester set a new career-high with 11 tackles while McBride and Pettway were close behind with seven stops apiece. Congratulations to FAU Assoc. Head Coach/OLB Raymond Woodie (@CoachWoodie) on the win and clutch defensive effort down the stretch! Woodie is in his third year at FAU and second as associate head coach. In 2020, he helped the Owls lead the conference in sacks and finish second in points allowed per game (17.4). He previously worked with linebackers, defensive ends and special teams over stints at Florida State, Oregon, South Florida and Western Kentucky. He served as the defensive coordinator at USF in 2016 when the Bulls won a school-record 11 games. Woodie also boasts elite recruiting credentials, having been recognized as the top recruiter in the PAC-12, AAC and Sun Belt while ranking second in the ACC by 247Sports in 2018. 

In 2013, Head Coach Rob Ambrose (@Coach_Ambrose) led Towson to a 13-3 record and appearance in the FCS national championship game. Four Tigers earned All-American recognition following the season, including a Walter Payton Award finalist, as Towson boasted one of the most prolific offenses in the nation. While the Tigers flew high in 2013, they never registered an offensive output in a road game like they did on Saturday in New Jersey. Towson QB Tyrrell Pigrome led an offense that scored 52 points, the program's most on the road since a 64-35 win over New Hampshire in 2012. Pigrome was the picture of efficiency, completing his first 13 passes en route to finishing 20-for-25 for 216 passing yards, 41 rushing yards and two touchdowns, one on the ground and one through the air, all while not turning the ball over. Pigrome's first score came on a 61-yard bomb to WR Da'Kendall James to put the Tigers up 7-6. Towson would continue the offensive onslaught, scoring on eight of its first nine offensive drives. RB Devin Matthews accounted for one of those scores, putting the Tigers up 35-20 on a two-yard rush to open the scoring in the second half. Matthews finished the day tying a career-high with 112 rushing yards on 15 carries. While offense got the Tigers going, it was a special teams play that put them over the top. After Monmouth had pulled to within eight at 42-34 with 8:28 left in the game, Towson WR D'Ago Hunter returned the ensuing kickoff 92 yards for a touchdown to quash any Hawk momentum. The hosts would mount one more late rally, but a 32-yard field goal from Keegan Vaughan and a successful onside kick defense ensured the Tigers would return to Maryland victorious. Congratulations to Ambrose and Special Teams Coor./Safeties Lyndon Johnson (@lyndonjohnson19) on the win and scoring outburst!  Since being named the head coach at his alma mater in 2009, Ambrose has led the Tigers on an historic turnaround that includes two CAA Championships and three playoff appearances, including the 2013 run. Prior to taking over at 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 the Huskies 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.

It was an uncharacteristically early Senior Day in Annapolis. With the Midshipmen playing their final four games either on the road or at neutral site venues, Saturday's game versus Temple was especially meaningful for the program's small class of seniors. While every program endured adversity trying to manage the pandemic related restrictions of the past couple years, Head Coach Ken Niumatalolo has often noted that Navy was hit especially hard as many players chose to transfer out of the academy's rigorous lifestyle rather than waiting for football to resume. As Navy senior striker John Marshall remarked after the win, "I feel like adversity reveals character and this whole group of seniors took adversity and didn’t shy away from it." Fittingly, adversity struck the Mids again on Saturday when starting QB Tai Lavatai went down in the first quarter with a serious injury. In his place stepped backup QB Xavier Arline. Not surprisingly, it was a rocky start for Arline, who fumbled a pitch on Navy's first drive of the second half that Temple recovered in the end zone for a touchdown. That score brought the Owls to within three at 13-10 and while a 16-yard scoring run from FB Anton Hall, Jr. restored a 10-point lead for the Mids, Temple answered with 10 points in the fourth quarter to force overtime. In the extra session, Arline found his redemption. On second down, Arline faked a handoff to the fullback and cut upfield, racing 23 yards for a score. Six plays later, Navy DB Dashaun Peele intercepted a pass in the end zone to give the Mids a walk-off win. For the game, Navy rushed for 224 yards, led by FB Daba Fofana who finished with 63 yards and one touchdown. Congratulations to Navy Run Game Coordinator/OL Ashley Ingram (@CoachAIngram) on the thrilling win! A member of the Navy staff since 2008, Ingram was promoted to run game coordinator in 2013 and has helped the program win over 100 games, including six bowl game wins, six Commander-in-Chief's trophies and three AAC West Division titles. He previously served as the offensive coordinator at Bucknell and also has coaching experience at Rhode Island, West Alabama, Temple and North Alabama. As a player, Ingram helped North Alabama win three national championships.

Any discussion about Seton Hill Football starts and ends with Daniel Day (@CoachDay_). Now the Griffins' head coach, Day was an original member of the university's first football team in 2005 and went on to serve as team captain in his senior year, helping the team advance to the second round of the playoffs. He began his coaching career as an offensive graduate assistant for the program before accepting the head coaching position at Saint Joseph's in 2011. After a brief stint as the offensive coordinator and offensive line coach at Benedictine, Day returned to Greensburg to take over as head coach for his alma mater in 2019. Along with him, he brought Kevin May (@CoachKevinMay) to oversee the Griffin defense. May was coming off of a successful tenure as the safeties coach and special teams coordinator at Texas A&M - Kingsville, where he contributed to a Pass Defense that led the Lone Star Conference in 2018. He also possessed Division I experience from a two-year stint at Wyoming and previously coached at Occidental. In 2021, Day and May teamed up to lead the Griffins to a five-win season, the second most wins in a season in program history. The sledding has proven more difficult in a loaded PSAC this year, but Seton Hill put together its most complete performance of the season in a 45-14 upset win over Edinboro on Saturday. Tied at 14-14 after one half, the Griffins took control in the third quarter. After a 27-yard field goal from Luke Hauger put SHU up three, DB Damonte Pratt produced the play of the game when he returned a pick-six for 35 yards to extend the advantage. In the fourth quarter, SHU RB Ky'Ron Craggette erased any doubt with two touchdown rushes in just over a minute, capitalizing on a fumble recovery by DL Jahiem Thomas. For the game, the Griffins outgained the Fighting Scots, 431-207, and held a 25-15 advantage in first downs. Congratulations to Day and May on the big win!

Quick Hits
  • With the top seed in the CFL West Division already secured, Winnipeg defeated BC, 24-9, to set a new franchise record with 15 regular season wins. Congratulations to Blue Bombers Special Teams Coordinator Paul Boudreau (@bouqb2)!
  • #3 Tennessee WR Jaylin Hyatt set a new program record with two receiving touchdowns to give him 14 on the season in the Vols' 44-6 demolition of Kentucky. Congratulations to Tennessee WR Coach Kelsey Pope (@CoachKelseyPope)!
  • UConn's defense forced five turnovers and QB Zion Turner threw for a touchdown as the Huskies beat Boston College for the first time since 1908. Congratulations to OL Coach Gordie Sammis (@CoachSammis) and Defensive Assistant Mike Ryan (@CoachMRyan)!
  • #15 Benedict remained unbeaten and clinched the SIAC East Division title with a 49-20 win over Clark Atlanta. Congratulations to Tigers Head Coach Chennis Berry (@coachberry77)!
  • Central Missouri QB Cedric Case threw for 246 yards and six touchdowns as the Mules defeated Lincoln, 61-14. Congratulations to Head Coach Josh Lamberson (@JoshLamberson)!
  • #13 Samford beat The Citadel, 38-3, to improve to 5-0 in SoCon games for the first team in program history. Congratulations to Bulldogs Special Teams Coordinator Mike Krysl (@CoachKrysl)!
  • Utah Tech DL Justin Kirkland deflected a pass at the goal line on the final play of the game as the Trailblazers upset Stephen F. Austin in stunning fashion, 47-44. Congratulations to DL Coach Loni Fangupo (@LoniFangupo)!
  • Valdosta State put up 534 yards of offense in a 58-37 win over North Greenville. Congratulations to Blazers OL Coach Mike Barela (@Coach_Barela)!
One more CI coach will be in action tonight when the Browns host the Bengals on Monday Night Football. Good luck to Cleveland Bill Willis Diversity Coaching Fellow Israel Woolfork (@CoachIzzy_)!

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