No. 1 New Hampshire sacks Fordham in FCS second round

New Hampshire's defense recorded nine sacks of Fordham QB Mike Nebrich to shut down a potent Ram passing attack.

New Hampshire’s defense recorded nine sacks of Fordham QB Mike Nebrich to shut down a potent Ram passing attack.

Durham, NH (December 6, 2014) – The No. 1 seeded New Hampshire Wildcats jumped out to a 14-0 lead over the Fordham Rams early in their second round game of the FCS playoff aided by a 51-yard TD run by RB Jimmy Owens (West Deptford, NJ) on their first play from scrimmage, an eight-yard TD run by QB Sean Goldrich on their second possession, and courtesy of six sacks of Ram QB Mike Nebrich (12 for 30, 161 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT) by their front seven on the first three Fordham possessions. The Rams climbed back into the game to trail 14-12 in a 91-yard TD burst by Patriot League Rookie of the Year Chase Edmonds (18 carries for 208, 1 TD) sandwiched between two Michael Marando FGs. Four touchdowns later by Wildcat RB Nico Steriti (Toms River, NJ) and three more sacks of Nebrich, UNH moved on convincingly to the quarterfinals with a 44-19 victory. Senior DT Matt Kaplan got credit for 3.5 sacks. In the second period, Steriti (14 carries for 110 yards, 4 TDs) ran it in from the 11 to extend the Cats’ lead, 21-12. Brad Pasky’s 30-yard FG gave UNH a 24-12 halftime lead.

Teddy Owens (32) of UNH) sweeps right for a 51-yard TD on the Cats' first play to get the scoring started.

Teddy Owens (32) of UNH sweeps right for a 51-yard TD on the Cats’ first play to get the scoring started.

Cff.com drove to Rhode Island the night before through steady and hard-driving rain and did more the next morning on the way to Cowell Stadium in Durham, NH. Our “tailgate” was held at the friendly confines of Libby’s Bar on Main Street about three blocks from Cowell on the other side of the New Hampshire campus. The rain subsided around the end of the first quarter and started up early again in the fourth, but it had more effect on my travels as opposed to the game action on the field.

Anatomy of a Chase (Edmonds): he takes the hand off.

Anatomy of a Chase (Edmonds, # 22): he takes the hand off,…

...he burst through the line,...

…he bursts through the line,…

...and the Chase is gone!

…and the Chase is gone!

Steriti scored from the seven twice in the third period. After his first, Nebrich tossed a five -yard TD to WR Brian Wetzel three plays after a fumble recovered at the UNH 12. UNH led 37-19 heading into the final period before Steriti finished the scoring for the day with a 24-yard run. Goldrich completed 22 of 37 attempts for 240 yards. Owens carried only three times for 71 yards and left the game with a leg injury before being seen later along the sideline on crutches.

Wildcat RB Nico Steriti had a career high 118 rushing yards and four TDs in the Wildcat FCS playoff victory.

Wildcat RB Nico Steriti had a career high 118 rushing yards and four TDs in the Wildcat FCS playoff victory.

The UNH Wildcats next host No. 8 UT Chattanooga who defeated Indiana State Saturday, 35-14. All the seeded teams won on Saturday except for No. 3 Jacksonville State who fell to Sam Houston State (9-4), 37-26. No. 5 Illinois State (11-1) will visit No. 4 Eastern Washington (11-2) in the upper part of the FCS bracket that includes UNH and UT-C. In the lower half, Villanova got by Liberty, 29-22, and will host Sam Houston. Three-time defending champ North Dakota State defeated South Dakota State in a close one, 27-24. The Bison will next host No. 7 Coastal Carolina (11-1).  If No. 6 Nova and No. 7 Coastal both win next week, we could consider going to the game between the two winners to be hosted by the higher-seeded VU Wildcats on December 19th or 20th.  In the meantime next week, CFF.com heads to Baltimore for the traditional final regular season game of 2014 where Navy (6-5) goes for its 13th straight win over an improved Army team (4-7) under first-year HC Jeff Moncken, former Navy assistant, in the greatest rivalry in all of college football. It will be our 10th game in the series being played for the 115th time. Navy leads the storied series, 58-49-7.

UNH has its defenses ready at Cowell Stadium as it will have home field advantage to get to the FCS championship in Frisco, Texas on January 10.

UNH has its defenses ready at Cowell Stadium as it will have home field advantage to get to the FCS championship in Frisco, Texas on January 10.

Extra points: We attended three Fordham games this season, and each was held at a new venue for us for the first time. The first was at Fordham in The Bronx where they decimated Rhode Island, 57-7. The second was at Bucknell in Lewisburg, PA where they clinched the Patriot League with a 30-27 win in OT and earned their FCS bid. And then there was yesterday’s second round FCS game held in Durham where we’d like to plan some more time checking out the Portsmouth-Durham area.

Charles “Chip” Kelly, current HC of the Philadelphia Eagles, coached as an assistant at UNH from 1994- 2006. For the last seven years there, he was the Wildcat offensive coordinator before heading out west to take over the same position at Oregon where he eventually became HC. From there he moved on to the pros, and quite successfully we may add. From 2004 through 2014, UNH has reached the FCS playoffs. Kelly helped get that started. In 2004, we remember UNH pulling the upset on Rutgers, 35-24, a week after RU beat Michigan State.

Wildcat Winter Wonderland Win! Note the years that UNH competed in the FCS playoffs.

Wildcat Winter Wonderland Win! Note the years that UNH competed in the FCS playoffs.

No. 10 Michigan State ends Penn State’s Big Ten misery, 34-10

Sparty rallies his team before the Lions enter the arena.

Sparty rallies his team before the Lions enter the arena.

State College, PA (November 29) – After the announced Penn State crowd of 99,902 paid tribute to 17 seniors who stayed true to dear Old White and Blue through the leanest years of extreme sanctions they had to pay due to the Jerry Sandusky crimes that laid waste to the venerable program, No. 10 Michigan State’s R.J Shelton grabbed the opening kickoff and returned it 90 yards for a touchdown to take a super-quick 7-0 lead. The Spartans never looked back as it rolled to a 34-10 win over a Nittany Lion team (6-6, 2-6) that has a lot of improving to do to cut the bindings that holds it back from reaching the heights of the former program it once was. First-year HC James Franklin has to forgo the talk now and do some creative coaching, effective recruiting, and toughness developing to bring this program back to where it needs to be. Sorry to say it’s not going to happen any time soon based on what CFF.com saw at the game on Saturday. The Spartans (10-2, 7-1) in the meantime have become formidable under fifth-year HC Marc D’Antoni and may end up as one of eight teams that will compete in a CFP bowl or at least a significant New Year’s Day game. CFF.com may see them in one of the bowl games we’ve planned to attend at the end of the year. As for Penn State, the feeble loss, one of several this year, and the upset of Rutgers over Maryland, may just knock them to the bottom of the list of B1G schools in the bowl game pecking order. Six of their last seven conference games resulting in losses show them going out with a whimper instead of a bang. Will the Blue and White faithful follow them to wherever they may possibly end up in the post-season? Even more questionable, is this team capable of even giving their fans a better effort than what they’ve shown them during the last half of the 2014 season? It’s hard for us to imagine after watching some of the worst offensive line play we’ve ever seen, non-confident quarterbacking, and questionable play-calling from the sideline. There is definitely a lack of chemistry as has been witnessed all season on the offensive side of the football. If not for a pretty good defense with their backs to the wall on numerous occasions, the Spartans could have won by a lot more.

The Lions entered the Stadium hoping to send their seniors out on a high note.

The Lions entered the Stadium hoping to send their seniors out on a high note.

Penn State’s reply to the opening Spartan score was 50-yard FG that failed. MSU’s Michael Geiger converted FGs of 36 and 39 yards on their next two possessions before the first period ended for a 13-0 lead. In the second, PSU twice crossed the 50 but never got in range for a field goal attempt. PSU frosh P Dan Pasquariello effectively placed his punts on the two and on the 11 on consecutive possessions, and the Lion defense held before the O took possession again on the MSU 40. Sam Fincken put points on the board for the home team with a 41-yard FG. The defense gave the Lions great field position again as quick handed DT Anthony Zettel picked off a tipped pass to put the Lions at the Spartan 36 with 43 seconds left in the half. With the time remaining for a score, even a FG would have given the Nittany Lions some momentum going into the second half. Instead of putting a together a semblance of plays to take advantage of the turnover, the call was made for Hackenberg (21 for 45, 196 yards and one INT) struggling with his accuracy to throw the ball on second and ten into the end zone. He forced his pass into tight coverage that was bobbled and DB Trae Waynes took the ball away for a wasted opportunity. With weak run blocking and an unimaginative passing game, the Lions just seemed to give away a chance to come up with any points. Without some timely PSU defense, the Lions would not have remained within striking distance down at the half, 13-3. With an offensive line that could neither run nor pass block (three sacks on the day) the Lions found point production difficult.

Spartan pressure caused Hackenberg to overthrow on this pass to an open receiver.

Spartan pressure caused Hackenberg to overthrow on this pass to an open receiver.

GGA Steve Ciesla and I talked a lot about PSU on the way up to the game that morning. Successful offensive football teams seem to build their offenses around strong offensive line. Look at recent NFL drafts. Linemen are key first round selections followed by QBs and defensive backs. A few receivers will enter into the early rounds and RBs seem to have fallen into the “dime a dozen” category. Granted the Lions faced sanctions and lost some key players, but previous HC Bill O’Brien seemed to leave the offensive line cupboard bear and when James Franklin came in, he seemed focused mostly skill position players. With this line and a lack of depth coming back, it will seem difficult to recruit immediate upfront talent that is going to step in effectively next season. This current line lacks firepower, strength, chemistry, and quickness as well as some good old toughness and a little nastiness to control the line of scrimmage. How they are going to improve this year and next is going to be a major question. Line coach Herb Hand had supposedly done an outstanding job of building an offensive line at his previous stop at Vanderbilt under James Franklin, but to be honest, we saw last spring that improvement there needed to take place. Since the beginning of this season, this group has regressed. Some PSU fans say they need to go to a bowl game to get this group some more practice. I don’t see any significant improvement since last spring, so I’m not sure what three weeks in December is going to do to turn things around. Maybe PSU will go the JUCO route for a short-term fit if it can. I’m not sure they ever recruited from JUCOs before, but I just don’t see several freshmen coming in at once to make line improvements so quickly. Without bringing in some new talent ready to step in or improving block skills or strength or toughness among the bodies returning, I’m not sure how this squad is going to turn things around a year from now. Something’s got to change. I think many Nittany Lion fans thought this would be the toughest year of the sanctions with incentives for upcoming recruit to get the program back into the national championship conversations, but without a strong core of offensive linemen, it might take a while to regain such desired stature. We will be monitoring the off season movement closely.

PSU CB Jordan Lucas broke up this pass to eventually force a Spartan FG.

PSU CB Jordan Lucas broke up this pass to eventually force a Spartan FG.

Penn State punted after a three and out doing nothing to negate the deferral that led to MSU’s opening kickoff return. Michigan State got the offense into gear right away and drove 63 yards culminating in a three-yard TD run by TB Jeremey Langford (30 carries for 122 yards and two TDs). DE Marcus Rush sacked Hackenberg on the first play of PSU’s next possession resulting in a recovery at the PSU 18. QB Connor Cook (13 for 25, 180 yards, 1 INT, 1 TD) found WR Tony Lippett in the end zone with a 10-yard scoring pass to put the Spartans in control, 27-3. Hackenberg finally developed some rhythm with his receiving corps completing five passes with three different receivers on a drive starting for the 21. Akeel Lynch crossed the goal line from the three to now trail, 27-10.

Michigan State’s next drive resulted in a 44-yard FG attempt that failed. PSU could do nothing and Pasquariello’s rugby-style punt put Sparty on his three. Their subsequent punt from their 30 gave the Lions the ball at their 20. The Lions got as far as the 30 until incompletions and two consecutive holding calls (one declined) put them back on their 20 where the offense turned the ball over on downs. With great field position, MSU opened the holes like Penn State couldn’t and Langford took it in for a six-yard scoring play for a 34-10 lead with 2:14 left, and the game was history. With the opening kickoff, a fumble by Hackenberg on his 18, and a turnover on downs at the 20, the Spartans took advantage to tally 21 points. On the day, the stout PSU defense only allowed 298 total yards against an offense that averaged 514 yards per game. No consolation of course, but a defense leading the nation in rushing defense with a 6-6 record can only be such when its offense cannot keep them off the field longer and cannot put enough points on the scoreboard. Hackenberg was sacked over 40 times this season , hurried consistently, and threw 15 INTs on the season. Under Bill O’Brien, an experienced QB coach, he flourished. Under Franklin, who clearly has sites on changing the PSU offense, he’s done the program no favors this season. Sometimes a coach has to adapt to the talent he has to win rather than trying to figure how to put a square peg in a round hole. If the chemistry wasn’t in place this hear, I’m not sure how it’s going to work next year. If the offensive line shows no significant improvement next season, it won’t make much difference what offensive system is run.

The media says that the Lions will have a meeting on Sunday while they await a bowl invitation. They may be waiting longer than they think. They may be waiting beyond 2015. Michigan State’s bowl prospects hinge on the outcome of next week’s Big Ten Championship game between Ohio State (11-1, 8-0) and Wisconsin (10-2, 7-1). If OSU can win and the CFP committee looks favorably upon them despite the loss of QB JT Barrett lost to injury, they could possibly enter the Final Four. But if they lose to the Badgers or the committee selects four teams ahead of them, the Buckeye decline will determine if the Spartans are considered among the twelve CFP teams to play in the six major Bowls. If not, they could end up in the BWW Citrus Bowl or the Outback Bowl against an SEC opponent on New Year’s Day. As for Collegefootballfan.com, we know our next game is an FCS playoff game. We will take our first trip to Durham, NH where we will see the top team in that division, the New Hampshire Wildcats (10-1) host Patriot League Champ Fordham (11-2) on Saturday at 1 pm in the second round of the FCS playoffs.

Extra points: PSU Senior LB Mike Hull had 13 stops for the Lions. He kept the “Linebacker” in Linebacker U this season.

With snow covered parking areas due to a big snowstorm on Wednesday before Thanksgiving, we parked at nearby State College HS where we tailgated and took a shuttle bus to Beaver Stadium.   GGA Steve Ciesla did the driving as I was radio man on the way home keeping us in touch on various radio stations on AM and FM to keep up with all the scores on rivalry weekend. All my predictions on this week’s preview came up as I had called – ACC 4-0 versus SEC, Mississippi over Mississippi State, and Auburn seemed to be in control of Alabama. Of course, that changed when we got home to see the last quarter on TV.

Lafayette levels Lehigh in historic 150th meeting

The historic 150th meeting between Lafayette and Lehigh was played at historic Yankee Stadium.

The Bronx, NY (November 22) – In front of an announced crowd of 48,256 at Yankee Stadium, the Lafayette Leopards (5-6, 3-3) defeated the Lehigh Mountain Hawks (3-8, 2-4), 27-7,  in the 150th game played between the two FCS, Patriot League schools, the most-played rivalry in college football. Senior Lafayette RB Ross Scheuerman (Allentown, NJ), pronounced “Sherman”, led the Leopards offense with a career high of 304 rushing yards and scored the game’s first three touchdowns. The final score does not indicate the total dominance of Lafayette in this historic contest. The rivalry started in Easton, Pennsylvania, home of Lafayette, in 1884. The two schools met one another at least twice from 1884-1901 including three times in 1891, but skipped playing in 1896 due to a contested player’s ineligibility dispute. Lafayette now leads the series, 78-67-5. For Collegefootballfan.com, this was the fifth time we were able to attend this rivalry, and it was the first time the Leopards came out on top. For Lafayette, it was their second win in a row over their long-time and nearby neighbor situated about 15 miles to their west in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

Our first Lehigh-Lafayette game was won by QB Phil Stambaugh, pictured here on the Yankee Stadium scoreboard,  and the “Engineers” over Lafayette in 1999, 14-12.

Lafayette went to work on its second possession starting from its seven-yard line. A 27-yard pass to Scheuerman out of the backfield (3 catches for 54 yards) from QB Zach Zweizig who started for the first time since September 2013, put LC at the LU one. From there, Scheuerman took it over for a 7-0 lead.

Early in the second period on the Leopards next series following a Mountain Hawk punt, a 28-yard pass from Zweizig (13 of 23 passes, 166 yards, 1 TD) to WR Justin Adams (West Amwell, NJ; Notre Dame HS) put the ball once again at the Lehigh one, and once again Scheuerman finished his team’s business with a one-yard run to lead, 14-0. Another Lehigh punt put Lafayette deep in their territory at the 13. Scheuerman carried for eight on the first play, and on the second he raced 79 yards for a TD and a commanding 21-0 lead with 3:43 left in the half, and that’s how it ended before the teams left the faded green playing surface to make way for a halftime celebration.

Lafayette’s Justin Adams hauls in a pass to set up Ross Scheuerman’s second one-yard TD run of the game.

Guest Game Analysts Bob “Polecat” Marcello, Stash Greshko, and Charlie “Pitcher” Roberts (Lehigh class of ’81), Yankee fans all, were pleased to find out I had reserved a parking space at a garage on 162nd Street just around the corner from a favorite Yankee fan hangout, The Dugout. It was packed with Lafayette and Lehigh fans since tailgating around the neighborhood isn’t convenient. For four dollar Pabst Blue Ribbons, it was a perfect pregame meeting place right across the street from the first base side of the stadium. We sat in the upper deck in Section 416. Sitting in the upper deck probably provides the best line of site looking out to centerfield of the ball park as the football playing field goes from end zone to end zone from home plate to dead center. We’ll be sitting in the left field corner on the end zone when we head back for the New Era Pinstripe Bowl on December 27 (our prediction – Penn State vs. Boston College). Lehigh’s Marching 97 and Lafayette’s pep band, combined with their dance teams and glee clubs, entertained together for the halftime festivities. Scoreboard videos and PA announcements celebrated the success of alumni from both schools from original founders of IBM to inventors of cortisone to researchers battling Ebola to Joe Maddon, newly named manager of the Chicago Cubs, Lafayette class of ’76. Speaking of pinstripes, the Mountain Hawks in visiting white jerseys had brown pinstripes adorned to commemorate the tradition of the team whose field they were playing on. It was a great celebration for the two long-time rivals, but as usual, CSTV prolonged the game and ruined the flow with excessive TV time-outs to assure the network’s air time was utilized until 7 pm. Lehigh grad Roberts claimed afterward it was a good time – except for the final score. Charlie had attended the last three Lehigh victories over Lafayette with me. First half stats revealed total dominance by the Leopards with 333 yards in total offense compared to the Hawks’ 57. Surprisingly, the dominance wasn’t more substantiated by the score. Neither team had committed a turnover up to this point in the game.

Lafayette and Lehigh bands, dance teams, and choirs pay tribute to their hosts to finish halftime with their rendition of “New York, New York.”

The two teams traded punts until 2:36 remained in the third before Lehigh Freshman RB Chris Leigh swept around left end and down the sideline for a 70-yard TD run to cut the Lafayette lead, 21-7. As dominant as the Leopards had been in the first half, the Mountain Hawks were still within striking distance if they could build on the long run that brought them some short-term momentum.

In the fourth, a Lafayette FG attempt was blocked. Lehigh’s subsequent drive was followed by Austin Devine’s 53-yard punt that bounced perfectly sideways to stop on the one-yard line. Devine (Oradell, NJ; Bergen Catholic) averaged 40.8 yards on eight punts and put three inside the Lafayette 20 or got the Hawks deep out of their own territory to impress all day. After a three and out for Lafayette deep in their own territory, Lehigh still had hope and some momentum from their defense to come back starting on their own 46. After a short drive, a loss of three by QB Nick Shafnisky (8 of 19 passes for 81 yards and an INT) gave Lehigh its last gasp chance for a potential comeback on a fourth and nine at the 25, but a sack by frosh LB Brandon Bryant (Cherry Hill, NJ) snuffed it with 7:35 left. Runs by Scheuerman got Lafayette down to the Lehigh 12, but a holding call set Lafayette back 15 yards. On fourth and 21 at the 23, HC Frank Tavani decided to forgo a FG attempt. A swing pass right to WR Matt Mrazek was caught in the flat and he raced the entire distance for a 23-yard score to extend the Leopard lead. The PAT failed and MLB Mark Dodd intercepted Shafnisky’s last pass to assure the Leopards the win in the 150th game in the most-played rivalry in college football, 27-7.

Lehigh blocks Ryan Gralish’s FG attempt.

Neither team will participate in the post-season. They’re done. College football’s regular season goes so fast! Scheuerman undoubtedly took home the MVP award. His 304 totals rushing yards on the day were the most in an FCS game this season. The Leopards took home another piece of hardware to mark the victory in the 150th game of this historic rivalry. We look forward as always to check out both schools’ schedules for next season since they are both within easy driving distance for Collegefootballfan.com. Both seem to have some promising young players, and Lehigh is in a rebuilding mode. Its complex at Goodman Stadium is one of our favorite FCS venues to watch a game. Maybe when the two meet for their 151st game next year at Goodman, we can consider celebrating our 500th game since 1979. It’s definitely a game and venue to consider. Next Saturday, CFF.com will travel to take our first and only trip to State College this season (a rarity) to see Penn State (6-5, 2-5) host No. 11 CFP team Michigan State (9-2, 6-1) in the Big Ten regular season finales for both. Happy Thanksgiving to all our friends and fans!

MVP RB Ross Scheuerman (29) takes a hand off deep in Lafayette territory to get the Leopards some breathing room.

 

Navy gives upstart Georgia Southern a lesson as Keenan Reynolds marches on to records scoring six rushing touchdowns

Annapolis, Maryland (November 15) – Two triple option teams leading the nation in rushing as the second and third teams overall and drawn from common bloodlines, put up comparable rushing statistics as Navy (5-5) outgained Georgia Southern (8-3, 6-0) on the ground, 394 yards to 375. Though close in that department, the lesson Navy taught GSU came from their rushing leader, QB Keenan Reynolds, who not only garnered 277 yards on the ground but carried it into the end zones six times as Navy trounced the Eagles, 52-19. For Collegefootballfan.com, we added the Eagles as our 128th FBS team overall and the final team seen this season of the four latest additions. We continue to lead the nation in FBS teams watched in person, as that is all there are as of 2014. We will add newcomer Charlotte as our 129th next season.

As the sun set on Navy's Stadium, the Brigade of Midshipman welcomed the Georgia Southern Eagles as the final visitors to the season's last home game

As the sun set on Navy’s stadium, the Brigade of Midshipman welcomed the Georgia Southern Eagles as the final visitors to the season’s last home game on Senior Day.

The first quarter ended 7-7 as Georgia Southern drove 75 yards on the first series of the game with RB L.A.Rambsy scoring from the one before Reynolds countered also with a one-yard TD run to cap a 62-yard drive for Navy. It looked like it was going to be the seesaw triple option face –off we expected similar to GSU’s previous encounter early this season with Georgia Tech to whom they lost, 41-38. Tech also runs the triple option and leads the nation in rushing under former GSU and Navy HC Paul Johnson. Neither team scored again though until the second period as Reynolds (5 or 8 passing, 71 yards, one TD) threw a 14-yard pass to WR Jamir Tillman in the end zone for a 14-7 lead. A GSU fumble recovered by FS Parrish Gaines at the Navy 40 set up a 35-yard FG by Austin Grebe, who’s improved USNA’s kicking game with his accuracy and distance, to give Navy a 17-7 halftime lead. Navy’s defense had held the familiar option offense in check since the first drive.

The Eagles made it look easy on their first drive as LA Ramsby took it over from the one to open up the scoring.

The Eagles made it look easy on their first drive as LA Ramsby took it over from the one to open up the scoring.

Maryland HS cheerleaders entertained the Brigade and the dwindling home crowd of 33,894 sitting in cold weather during halftime at Senior Day honoring Mid players and others at their final home performance at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. The Naval Academy Drum and Bugle Corps finished with tradition playing “Anchors Aweigh” and “The Marine Corps Hymn” before exiting.

The second half started off all Navy as the Mids scored on consecutive possessions on long drives culminating with Reynolds’ 22-yard TD run on an option keeper to the left and on a one-yard plunge behind his fullback after a 33-yard completion to Desmond Brown at the one. With Navy taking a commanding lead, GSU’s leading rusher, Matt Breida (17 carries, 211 yards) ran 36 yards to put a punctuation mark on a 73-yard drive to close the widening gap, 31-13, before the final period.

Early in the fourth quarter, Navy’s CB Quincy Adams’ interception put Navy at GSU’s 47. Reynolds proceeded to run around the right side for a 27-yard scoring run. Georgia Southern’s next possession got turned around by Navy MLB Daniel Gonzales who picked off Favian Upshaw’s pass and rumbled 68 yards to the Eagle 21. Two plays later, Reynolds carried it over from the 16 for a 45-13 Navy lead. With the 57th rushing TD of his Navy career, Reynolds tied Florida’s Tim Tebow and San Diego State’s Marshall Faulk for 10th on the all-time NCAA scoring list for rushing touchdowns. Breida built up his numbers on the very next play from scrimmage racing 88 yards down the right sideline for his second score of the evening. The two-point conversion failed and Navy led, 45-19. GSU’s HC Willie Fritz called for an on sides kick, but Navy recovered at GSU’s 39. From there, Reynolds ran the distance to the end zone to finish the day’s scoring and surpassed Tony Dorsett along with the others aforementioned with 58.   He now trails only two QBs, Eric Crouch of Nebraska and Colin Kaepernick of Nevada who is second with 59 scores. Reynolds, a junior, has two more regular season games coming up – at South Alabama on November 28 and in Baltimore versus Army on December 13. We will be there! One more  win gets Navy into the Poinsettia Bowl in San Diego on Decembers 23 against a Mountain West team, and Reynolds can try to catch up with the leaders as he has another entire season ahead of him. Wisconsin’s Montee Ball is the all-time record holder with 77 TDs. GSU, who suffered their biggest defeat among their three to Navy (they fell to NC State, 24-23, to start the season) return home to face UL-Monroe (3-7, 2-4) for at least a share of the Sunbelt championship with UL-Lafayette. Collegefootballfan.com will attend the historic 150th game of the longest played college football rivalry when Lehigh (3-7, 2-3) plays Lafayette (4-6, 2-3) at Yankee Stadium in The Bronx.

Navy QB Keenan Reynolds (19) races 16 yards for one of his six touchdown runs on the day against Georgia Southern.

Navy QB Keenan Reynolds (19) races 16 yards for one of his six touchdown runs on the day against Georgia Southern.

Extra points: When we saw Navy defeat Delaware, 51-7, last season, it was the second highest scoring total in Navy football history. This was surpassed in the win over Georgia Southern. Still at the top is Navy’s 55-7 win over UConn that I attended back in 1974. So as of yesterday, CFF.com has attended Navy’s three highest scoring games in their football history.

Navy would race its colors for seven TDs and a  FG this day, second most points scored at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.

Navy would race its colors for seven TDs and a FG this day, second most points scored at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.

Guest Game Analyst Frank Lorito had a great time with some nearby fans who are Navy season ticket holders, but whose daughter with them is a Georgia Southern grad. Loud and proud at first, she started shaking her head and laughing in amazement at how bad Navy was beating her Eagles. Welcome to the FBS, but it is amazing how easily Navy dominated the Eagles once the game got going. Two close losses to power Five conference teams this season and a win over the Florida Gators last year were not indicative of this game’s eventual outcome.

Our season ticket holder neighbor, Aaron, whose son Eric will gradaute from Annapolis this spring, brought two friends with him to today’s game. In a conversation with one, his name was John Kaylor. His father is a long time professor at the Alma Mater, Juniata College, where we just were a week ago. John, a graduate of William & Mary also, is fraternity brother with my former high school classmate and teammate at Boonton (NJ) High School, Dave O’Neal, who played football for The Tribe. John is also a frat brother with former Tribe player and business acquaintance, Eric Bahner. The world just keeps getting smaller and smaller. Aaron and his wife Chris, also have a daughter at South Carolina as do St. Laurie and me. Matter of fact, the Gamecocks became Bowl eligible yesterday with their sixth win when they beat Florida. Just goes to show that there are too many bowl games.

Navy Cheerleaders keep the home crowd fired up on a cold day.

Navy Cheerleaders keep the home crowd fired up on a cold day.

GGA Frank Lorito and I prepped for the game by going downtown first for some Bloody Marys at Fran O’Brien’s Anthony House on Main Street.  From there, we walked up Main Street to Chuck and Ruth’s Diner for lunch where we conversed with some local visitors sitting next to us in the busy place. From there, headed over to Navy-Marine Corps to enjoy what we brought in our cooler before heading to our seats to watch the march-on.  After a few  in the parking lot after the game while traffic cleared, we headed back downtown for dinner at the Federal House and caught up on some other games.  Great crab soup and Rockfish!  We finished up at the Annapolis Cigar Factory around the corner to puff on our cigars while watching the second half of the Florida State-Miami game. Annapolis is a great town.  We love going there.  We will be planning some trips back next season when navy will be a member of the American Athletic Conference.  Hopefully, we can see Keenan Reynolds set a new few new records as well.

 

Fordham smokes Bucknell in OT to clinch Patriot League FCS bid; Moravian thwarts Juniata comeback to prevail, 27-21

Lewisburg, PA (November 7) – Bucknell PK Derek Maurer (Piscataway, NJ) booted a 44-yard FG to salvage the Bison’s possession in OT to provide a 27-24 lead over Fordham. With momentum still building on their previous possession to tie the game 24-all in regulation, the Rams scored on a 10-yard TD pass from QB Pete Maetzold to WR Tebucky Jones on their initial possession to win the game and clinch at least a tie for the Patriot League title, 30-24. Based on their head-to-head win over Bucknell, the Rams (9-1, 5-0) locked up the automatic Patriot League bid to the FCS playoffs that will start on November 29. It was well-played, hard-fought game to the end despite both squads starting back-up quarterbacks for injured starters in front of a national TV audience and a disappointing crowd of only 3,815. This game was delayed too many times by CSTV commercial time-outs, a roaring fire near the concession stand, and an injured referee. For collegefootballfan.com, it was the first of two non-FBS games in central Pennsylvania this weekend, our first game ever at Christy Mathewson Memorial Stadium, and our 125th venue attended over all (now 50 FBS stadiums, 50 other division stadiums, and 25 neutral sites).

Bison free safety Lou Taglionetti put a stop to the initial Fordham drive of the game with a pick in the end zone, but the highlight of the first period was the smoke pouring out over the field from behind the concession stand in the open end of the stadium. Flames shot out from behind the food wagon where workers continued to serve customers as the trailer looked as if it might catch fire at any moment. Many fans sitting near me were shocked and concerned that no one evacuated the stand as the white, thick smoke poured out over the playing field to halt the game for several minutes. Fire trucks showed up and the fire from the vessel somewhere behind the stand came under control. When the smoke cleared, the Rams weren’t deterred. Their drive continued and Chase Edmonds, second leading FCS rusher in the nation, scored from the one to for a 7-0 Fordham lead.

After the smoke cleared, Fordham finished off their drive with Chase Edmonds' first TD of the game.

After the smoke cleared, Fordham finished off their drive with Chase Edmonds’ first TD of the game.

Early in the second on fourth and eleven at the Fordham 30, Bucknell QB Trey Lauletta filling in for injured starter R.J. Nitti, threw a 17-yard pass to Will Carter (7 catches, 120 yards, 1 TD) for a first down at the 13. From there, Lauletta (13 for 26 for 191 yards and three TDs) threw a pass to his big TE Jack Hartman (Pinelands HS, Little Egg Harbor Twp., NJ) who hauled it in in the end zone for a tying score. Fordham started from their 25 after the ensuing kickoff to eventually set up a 25-yard FG by Michael Maranado to regain the lead for Fordham, 10-7. Maurer matched Fordham’s three with a 31-yarder on Bucknell’s next series to even the score again. A Bucknell punt netted ten yards to give the Rams possession on their 20. Eighty yards later, Maetzold (24 of 34, 2 INTs, 285 yards, 2 TDs) fired over the middle to his TE Dan Light for a 20-yard TD pass to give the visitors a 17-10 lead before the half.

Fordham's Sam Ajala (1) tried to turn up field after making a catch.

Fordham’s Sam Ajala (1) tried to turn up field after making a catch.

Great game thus far though the stadium was disappointingly less than half full for a game of this magnitude to be played at Bucknell in along time. Just as well, when I looked around the stadium, I couldn’t have imagined where on this small, tight campus a lot more people could have parked. But again, there didn’t seem to be that many students in attendance for a school of 3,500. Almost as many Fordham fans were in attendance as there were local Bison fans and students – for a championship no less. Through my binoculars, in the press box across the way I could see Vern Lundquist and Randy Cross doing their half time spiel for the CSTV audience. I’ve attended enough Navy games in Annapolis to understand how much this network can prolong a college football game. Fans sitting nearby reminded me. “Get him off the field!” (The guy in the red vest.) “Let’s go! What’s taking so long?” Unofficially I counted at least 16 TV timeouts and all lasted at least four to five minutes. When a team calls a time-out, they’re generally limited to 30 seconds. The emphasis is no longer about football strategies, but marketing strategies. Even after impromptu breaks in the action, i.e. injuries, they extend the stoppage with a TV timeout! That’s over an hour of wasted time and momentum deflation. We understand TV’s about making money for these football programs, but charge more for less commercial time if there such a demand out there. This game lasted over three and a half hours. It’s getting out of hand. It takes away from how the game should be played. The NCAA should consider ways to balance the game action with the commercialization to make money to reduce the downtime during a game. Of course, there’s nothing much more television has to offer to fill in the hours lost if football did this. Like the overage of the number of college bowl games, ESPN is desperate to fill air time.

In the third period, a Maranado FG attempt went wide right for Fordham. During Bucknell’s subsequent possession on a critical fourth and two, they cleverly drew FU off sides. QB Lauletta was under center and quickly stood up and dropped back without the ball. The rest of the offense remained set. Fordham fans were ticked off. “Cheaters!” They yelled. The officials convened and confirmed the penalty. It looked like the right call. With so many plays now run from the shotgun, HC Joe Susan’s staff figured a way to get the defense to jump. You rarely see it work conventionally any more. The strategy paid off. The Bison drove to the two where Lauletta sprinted right and fired to TE Pat Kelly running a sprint out pattern to the right sideline to even the score, 17-17.

Bison QB Trey Lauletta looks down filed for open receivers.

Bison QB Trey Lauletta looks down field for open receivers.

Midway through the fourth, Bucknell sacked Maetzold who fumbled and DE Doug Whitlock (Red Bank Catholic, NJ) recovered at the Ram 17. An impromptu celebration by a BU defender running off the field sent the Referee flying to the ground in pain. As the Bucknell medical staff attended to Referee Michael Sechrist, the officiating crew gathered to discuss how to handle the game going forward if he couldn’t recover quickly. However, Sechrist got up, brushed himself off and got back to work. We sometimes don’t realize the risks these officials are exposed to with big, quick bodies flying around on the field. Great job to come back! The turnover resulted in a 25-yard over the shoulder TD catch by Will Carter in the far corner of the end zone for Bucknell’s first lead with 3:15 remaining in the game, 24-17. Despite the lead change, Big Mo showed up on Fordham’s side. Three consecutive plays: a 16-yard completion to Jones, a 28-yard run by Edmonds (21 carries for 103 yards and two TDs) , and a 27-yard completion to Sam Ajala put Fordham on the four, and Edmonds took it over to knot the score, 24-24, with 2:05 left in the game. The score stood as time expired and the outcome in OT determined that Fordham will play in this year’s FCS tournament. Bucknell is a long shot to get an at-large bid. The Patriot League has never had two teams invited to participate during the same year.

Bucknell will travel to Holy Cross next weekend before hosting Colgate in their season finale the following week. Fordham will host Georgetown next to try to finish their first season ever undefeated in the Patriot League and to sit alone on top for sole possession of first place. They will finish their regular season a week later against Army at West Point. After that, they will await their paring in the FCS playoff. Their one loss this season was to No. 7 Villanova (8-2), 50-7.

CFF.com spent Friday evening in State College, but not to see Penn State play. Our game number 475 is next.

Huntingdon, Pennsylvania (November 8) – Moravian DB Chris McGrath (Flanders, NJ; Mt. Olive HS) picked off two fourth quarter passes. His first resulted in a 15-yard scoring strike from Mike Hayes (14 of 25 for 192 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT) to WR Jalen Snyder-Scipio to take a 27-21 lead as the Greyhound extra point failed. His second occurred with 1:07 left at the Moravian 39 to thwart the final Juniata scoring drive. Moravian (5-4, 4-4) defeated the Eagles (4-5, 3-5) on Senior Day at Knox Stadium on the Juniata campus. For CFF.com, it was the first time in 35 years we’d seen Juniata, the Alma Mater, play at home. At the game, I met with a fun group of Moravian parents tailgating with whom I had various ties with around New Jersey. Two happened to be Chris McGrath’s parents, Mike and Maureen. His father Mike’s sister is Patty Rafferty who made the red No. 119 jersey that adorns to cover of my book, Tales from the Tailgate, at their U Name It Sporting Goods store here in Byram Twp. Patty is very proud of having made my jersey.

The Juniata Eagles land at Knox Stadium.

The Juniata Eagles land at Knox Stadium.

Juniata opened the game with a 61-yard scoring drive capped by QB Walt Udinski’s first of three six yard scoring runs. After the PAT by Kevin Bonalle, I realized with great pleasure that there would be no TV timeouts during this game. Real football! The teams trotted out on the field right away to tee it up and kick off within a minute or so. Tremendous! No one was seen wearing a red vest or red hat or red gloves along the sideline to abruptly stop the clock to interrupt plays for prolonged periods of time. Moravian started their series from their 22. Lining up to punt, P Jimmy McCarthy spotted a big seam in the Juniata return team and ran over the right tackle hole for 24 yards and a first down at the 49 to continue the Greyhound drive. It paid off as Chris Negron carried the ball over from the one to tie it up, 7-7. JC drove 59 yards in retaliation with Udinski’s second six-yard score retaking the lead for the Eagles. The JC quarterback led all rusher this day with 112 yards on 21 carries for three TDs while completing 28 of 42 passes for 257 yards, but committed three turnovers on INTs.

Early in the second, Hayes emulated Udinski’ strategy and scrambled up the middle for a seven-yard scoring run. The point after a failed and JC maintained the lead, 14-13. Juniata’s next drive came to a halt as Noah Miller forced a fumble and Tim McCabe recovered at the Eagle’s 32. Negron (23 carries for 77 yards and 2 TDs) scored again from the one, and McCarthy ran it in for the two-point conversion to give the Greyhounds a 21-14 lead going into halftime.

Moravian QB Mike Hayes runs the draw for a seven-yard TD run.

Moravian QB Mike Hayes runs the draw for a seven-yard TD run.

It was a beautiful, sunny Saturday for football and to be back on College Hill overlooking Knox Stadium. There, I did my bi-weekly radio interview by phone with Pete Spadora on his show “Spadora on Sports” on 1130 AM WNER in Watertown, NY. This week, we talked about Division 2 and 3 football as opposed to our usual commentaries about the FBS game.   We spoke about players over the years I’d seen at the level make it to the NFL including LB Mike Reichenbach of East Stroudsburg who went on to play for the Eagles; the late, great LB Sam Mills of Montclair State who went on to a stellar career for the Saints and Panthers; and WR Pierre Garcon of Mount Union who we saw play in a D-3 championship game against Wisconsin-Whitewater who now plays for the Redskins. Pete mentioned Andre Reed of the Buffalo Bills from Kutztown State who had an illustrious career in the pros. It prompted me to mention that I was currently looking out over Knox Stadium, named after Chuck Knox, Juniata Class of 1954, former OT and assistant coach for Juniata who went on to become a Pro Football Hall of Famer. As Head Coach for the Bills, Rams, and Seahawks during his 19-year pro career, he received NFL Coach of the Year Honors four times. I remembered later back in 1976 when Juniata hosted the Indiana University of Pennsylvania, a powerful Division 2 program we defeated, their star LB Jim Haslett eventually was drafted and played for the Bills in the NFL and eventually went on to become HC of the New Orleans Saints. He’s now the defensive coordinator for the Washington Redskins. D-2 and D-3 players have to be more focused in academics than their FBS brothers as they normally take fully loaded semester of courses in anticipation of going on to something other than pro football after earning a degree. However, once in a while, a few develop their football prowess more than expected during their collegiate careers and catch the eyes of NFL Scouts. It isn’t often, but you never know who you may see playing at D-2 and D-3 levels that could make it into pro football.

The Juniata cheerleaders soar with the Eagles

The Juniata cheerleaders soar with the Eagles

Early in the third, Moravian completed a long pass to TE Andrew Racobaldo but he coughed up the football and DB Chuck Sweigert recovered at the 22 to end a potential Greyhound scoring threat. Two series later, JC drove 72 yards for Udinski’s third six from the six and the score remained tied at 21-even going into the final period of play. Before McGrath’s first INT, Juniata stopped a Moravian scoring drive with a pick in the end zone by DB Nick Stubbs. But, McGrath took it back to set up the winning score before he sealed the game for a 27-21 Moravian win. For their efforts in the victory, McGrath and Jimmy McCarthy, Punter and DB, were named the Centennial Conference Defensive and Special Teams Players of the Week for their performances on Saturday.

Juniata on the move while Moravian DB Chris McGrath closes in for a stop.

Juniata on the move while Moravian DB Chris McGrath (19) and mates close in for a stop.

For me it turned out to be a great weekend of “small school” football seeing two games that went down to the wire between two teams playing to win. Several of the Moravian parents I met told me that they truly enjoyed watching their sons play D-3 football. However, they also stated that despite their sons’ participation, the play of the FBS schools with players involved in crimes and scandals is really starting to turn them off. I couldn’t agree more. With the FBS now totally driven by money from television and the desire to be the de facto minor league of pro football, it’s so refreshing and so much better enjoying seeing student athletes at this lower level playing for the love of the game and the chance to play college football before settling into lifetime careers in professions other than professional sports.

Juniata finishes their season next week against archrival Susquehanna. Moravian hosts their traditional, long-time rival, nearby Muhlenberg, as well. A win for the Greyhounds may possibly land them a bid for an ECAC D-3 bowl post-season bowl game with a record of 6-4. Last season, Juniata received such a bid after finishing 7-3. They fell to Albright in that ECAC bowl game, 45-34. Next week, CFF.com will head to Annapolis to see the Mids (4-5) play a critical game for bowl eligibility as they host a surprising first -year FBS school, Georgia Southern. The Eagles, who run the same triple-option attack as does Navy, comes in with a record of 8-2, 6-0 putting them in first place of the Sunbelt conference. They ride an 11-game winning streak with only early season losses to NC State by one point and to a good Georgia Tech team by only four. Navy has to take at least two of their last three among GSU, South Alabama, and Army to get an invitation to the Poinsettia Bowl in San Diego.

Juniata defensive coordinator and fellow classmate, Tm Gibboney, mentors his defense. I got to meet up with Tom briefly after the game.

Juniata defensive coordinator and fellow classmate, Tm Gibboney, mentors his defense. I got to meet up with Tom briefly after the game.

 

 

As snow falls on The Rock, Mountaineers “de-ice” Panthers, 44-0

Welcome to "The Rock" at Appalachian State University.

Welcome to “The Rock” at Appalachian State University.

Boone, NC (November 1) – In swirling, cold, gusting wet snow, the Appalachian State Mountaineers (3-5, 2-2) humiliated the Georgia State Panthers (1-8,0-6), 44-0, in a Sunbelt(?) Conference contest between two first-year FBS football programs. ASU RB Marcus Cox rushed for 250 yards and three TDs while teammate Ricky Ferguson rushed for 123 yards and a TD as they combined for the second straight week rushing over 100 yards each. Georgia State totaled only eight yards on the ground as snow swirled throughout the game. The Panthers entered the game averaging 316 passing yards per game. Starter QB Nick Arbuckle and back-up Ronnie Bell combined for only nine completions of 17 attempts for 54 yards and an INT. For Collegefootballfan.com, we added these two teams as numbers 126 and 127 to stay on the trail of our Goal to see every FBS program play at least once. Two remain with Charlotte joining this division next season. It was our first trip ever to Kidd Brewer Stadium.

It's already that time of year for tailgating at Appy State in Boone, NC.

It’s already that time of year for tailgating at Appy State in Boone, NC.

In the second half, maintenance workers blew snow off the yard markers with leaf blowers during TV time-outs as it started to stick to the Pro-turf. Who was watching this game on ESPN3 by this time Guest Game Analyst Joe Massimilla and I could not figure. Joe’s son, Sam, is a sophomore at ASU majoring in music education and a member of the Marching Mountaineers to meet the criteria of the music department at ASU. As we came well prepared with extra layers of clothes and rain gear to withstand the elements, many of the long-time faithful App fans and the ASU marching band left the cold slaughter by the end of halftime before Joe and I did.

Marcus Cox (14) gains a few of his 250 yards against the Georgia State defense.

Marcus Cox (14) gains a few of his 250 yards against the Georgia State defense.

 

On their first possession of the game, Panther QB Nick Arbuckle’s pass was intercepted by LB John Law at the GSU 32. Cox scored his first TD on a one-yard run. Appy State scored again on its next possession finishing off a 90-yard drive when Frosh QB Taylor Lamb (8 for 13, 90 yards passing) wove through the Panther defense for a nine-yard TD run and a 13-0 Mountaineer lead going into the second period. In the second frame, the Panthers could not mount any offense, and a fumble forced by DL Olawale Dada (great name!) was recovered and returned 17 yards by John Law to the GSU 18. Cox would score his second TD from the six for a 20-0 Appalachian lead. Next, Joe and I witnessed what should be an “ESPN classic”. After a 10-yard Georgia State punt into the swirling, gusty winds of Kidd-Brewer Stadium, ASU drove from the GSU 38 to the 17-yard line before using all three remaining time-outs to try to get into the end zone. With three seconds left on the clock, ASU PK Bentlee Critcher came in to extend the score by three from 30 yards away. The Panther’s HC Trent Miles, figuring he still had his three time-outs to burn, figured he’d use them all to “ice” ASU on the attempt. Each timeout was met by crescendos of “Boos” because he only prolonged the agony of those of us sitting in cold, wet, snow- covered aluminum bleachers.

Those ASU fans who did show up did their best to tolerated the snow and winds gusting around them.

Those ASU fans who did show up did their best to tolerated the snow and winds gusting around them.

On the third consecutive and final TO, the Panther sideline jumped in unison and yelled toward Critcher to add to the “intimidation”. Set up for the final chance for the attempt, Critcher suddenly went in motion running toward the GSU sideline. The left side of the Panther D reacted and the GSU sideline suddenly froze to a standstill. The long snapper hiked directly back to the holder, Simms McElfresh, who stood up, caught the football and ran untouched through a huge gap on the right side of the line for a 13-yard TD run and a 27-0 halftime lead. The result was met by cheers and laughter from the Appalachian State crowd. The Panthers ran silently to their locker room behind the goal post after the ensuing extra point. Joe and I agreed the entire sequence should be on of ESPN’s Top 10 plays of the day. You’ll probably never see anything like it again. Appy was assessed a 15-yard penalty for excessive celebration for the second half kickoff, but it was definitely worth it for the home team and for the fans watching.

 

Joe's son and our friend, Sam Massimilla, battled a respiratory infection in the elements with the Marching Mountaineers before the game.  Great job, Sam! The band left the game after halftime. Joe and I stayed to see the final score.

Joe’s son and our friend, Sam Massimilla, battled a respiratory infection in the elements with the Marching Mountaineers before the game. Great job, Sam! The band left the game after halftime. Joe and I stayed to see the final score.

More dominance was demonstrated by the Mountaineers to start the second half. Cox finished a 78-yard drive with a five yard TD run to start, and Critcher polished off a 75-yard drive next time ASU had the ball with a 26-yard FG for a 37-0 Mountaineer lead at the end of the third period. A 35-yard punt return by Donovan Harden and a 15-yard penalty put GSU in their best field position of the day at the ASU 18 before the period ended.

The fourth period started typically for the Panthers as back-up QB Ronnie Bell tried to take it in on a third and goal at the three, but his fumble was recovered by DT Deuce Robinson at the five. RB Ricky Ferguson covered the next 95 yards on four carries for the Mountaineers including an 84-yard sprint down to the GSU seven before he took his fourth carry the final four yards for a TD and ASU’s 44-0 lead with a little over eleven minutes remaining. Joe looked at me and said, “Up to you.” Like when I added Old Dominion earlier this season and Louisiana Tech many years before to add them the annals of CFF.com history, I utilized the “Blow-out waiver” and in this case the apathy factor along with the inclement weather got considered into the mix.

The Mountaineer O-line provided the push all day to total 469 rushing yards.

The Mountaineer O-line provided the push all day to total 469 rushing yards.

We were on our way out and didn’t miss a thing as we had seen the final score of the 44-0 romp by Appalachian over Georgia State. I’d been up since 4 a.m. to catch my flight to Raleigh to meet up with Joe, we were hungry, had a three-hour drive ahead of us, and I had to catch an 8:30 am flight home the next day. The Mountaineers and Panthers were both in the fold. No. 128 Georgia Southern is two weeks away and No. 129 Charlotte will be assimilated into next year’s plans after the 2014 season. In the short-term, Appy hosts Louisiana-Monroe next week to try for their third consecutive Sunbelt win. Georgia State heads to Troy (1-8, 1-4) to try for their first conference win and FBS win ever. They face mighty Clemson for a big paycheck the following weekend. CFF.com scales down from the FBS (but not by much) as we head to Lewisburg, Pennsylvania next Friday night for a battle for first place in the FCS Patriot League when the Bucknell Bison (7-1, 3-0) host the No. 10 Fordham Rams (8-1, 4-0) most likely for an automatic bid to the FCS playoffs. The next day, we will attend the D-3 game between The Alma Mater, Juniata College (4-4, 3-4), when they host the Moravian Greyhounds (4-4, 3-4). It will be the first time in about 30 years that we’ve been back on campus for a football game.

Extra points: ASU Head Coach Scott Satterfield took over the position from legendary ASU HC Jerry Moore in December 2012. As QB for Moore in 1995, he led the Mountaineers to their only undefeated, untied regular season in 1995. He has spent 18 of the last 23 years at Appy State as a player and coach. His task is to lead them to success in the FBS.

With three FCS national championships, the Mountaineers have a more solid foundation to build on than do the Panthers.

With three FCS national championships, the Mountaineers have a more solid foundation to build on than do the Panthers.

Typical strength coaches: Director of Strength and Training for ASU, Mike Sirignano could be seen throughout the game with one of his staff members along the side line in white short-sleeved golf shirts running up and down the sideline exhorting the Mountaineers on. They were entertaining and showing their students how they could shrug off the elements to give them encouragement throughout the ball game.

The weather made written notes and picture taking impossible after a while as paper got wet and cold wet hands were difficult to fit back into gloves where the lining started to come out. I had to check out the Appalachian website for stats, plays, and box scores to finish this review.

Joe pointed out that when we got into town of Boone, he could tell the crowd would not be as big as usual. Many parking spaces available for a fee were not filled when we arrived about three hours before the game. All previous games had been played at night and spaces were hard to come by at this time of day. Many Mountaineer fans were most likely turned away by the weather forecast and by the lack of wins by this year’s team. Appalachian fans got used to winning at the FCS level for many years and are not used to their program’s growing pains as they join the FBS. We hope to see them climb back the top of the Sunbelt conference at least. They have a proud football heritage at ASU. Remember Michigan!

Joe also recalled that the Panther Offensive coordinator Jeff Jagodzinski was once HC of Boston College. However, he was released from BC when he reportedly had some interviews with the New York Jets about their open position. He was 20-8 at BC in 2007-2008 after 20 years’ experience in coaching at the collegiate and professional levels including a successful stint with the Green Bay Packers as an assistant. Since BC, he made coaching stops annually at Tampa Bay in the NFL, Omaha in the UFL (whatever that is), and at NAIA school Ave Maria. It’s been a far drop from what was once a career seemingly ready to take off.

After the game, despite the low crowd attendance at the game, most of the dinner venues were pretty full and people lined up waiting to get in along the main drag in Boone (named after the great Pioneer, Daniel).  We eventually had dinner at Capone’s Pizza. Petty good.

Boone sits 3,332 feet above sea level. As Joe and I left the stadium back to Sam’s apartment a short distance away, not only were our legs stiffened from sitting in the cold, but I definitely felt somewhat winded walking in cooler and thinner, mountain air. It takes some getting used to. When we left Boone in the car later that evening, I realized going downhill on the interstate toward Raleigh how high we had actually climbed on our way to Boone. It’s way up there compared to our hills in North Jersey.

Despite the elements and the cold weather outfits, we still have to show the ASU cheerleaders. Unlike the band, they stayed through the entire game to the bitter end and still smiled despite the elements.

Despite the elements and the cold weather outfits, we still have to show the ASU cheerleaders. Unlike the band, they stayed through the entire game to the bitter end and still smiled despite the elements.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

 

 

No. 4 Tigers defeat a game Cock team

Auburn, Alabama (Oct. 25) – We anticipated a one-sided, high-scoring blow-out with Auburn’s potent, multi-faceted offense capable of dominating South Carolina’s incapable defense. However, the Carolina offense stepped up to the challenge to make up for inept defensive play by … Continue reading

Brown smashes Ivy record as Princeton smashes Brown

Princeton, NJ (Oct. 18) – Brown QB Marcus Fuller attempted 71 passes to smash an Ivy League record, but that record was the result of futility as the third-ranked FCS Princeton rushing defense smashed the Bruins right from the start … Continue reading

Syracuse miscues help lift now No. 2 Florida State

Syracuse, NY (October 11) – Florida State (6-0, 4-0) came to the Carrier Come ranked No. 1 in the nation, and the next day after beating a Syracuse team (2-4, 0-2), 38-20, led by two inexperienced college QBs, dropped to No. 2 in the AP poll on Sunday behind Mississippi State, winners over No. 5 Auburn, 38-20. FSU led throughout the game, but the Orange were as much at fault for beating themselves as the Seminoles were responsible for outplaying them. Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston (our 17th seen perform in the annals of our history) had an impressive day statistically (30 of 36 for 317 yards and 3 TDs), but at least three dropped passes in early key situations, a dropped INT on an FSU scoring drive, and a few questionable calls and non-calls by the officiating crew, put the struggling Orange at a somewhat self-inflicted disadvantage. Had a few of these plays worked out favorably for Syracuse, this game would have been much more competitive. A few specific plays made a significant difference in the final outcome between No. 1 and a 2-4 underdog with inexperienced back-ups playing in key positions for the first time. The play-calling by new offensive coordinator Tim Lester seemed effective. Had the execution been better, he and HC Scott Schafer would look like geniuses. Guest Game Analyst Roy McDonald (a Syracuse dad) noted that if SU executed properly, “we’d see a significant chink in Florida State’s armor.”

Roberto Aguayo caps first quarter scoring for Seminoles, 10-0.

Roberto Aguayo boots extra point for Seminoles in first period.

Florida State looked like they were prepared to roll to a romp as anticipated by the odds makers as they drove 70 yard on eight plays with Mario Pender taking the ball 12 yards off right tackle for a quick 7-0 lead. Austin Wilson led the Orange on to the turf under the Dome to start the game. Runs by Prince-Tyson Gulley (16 for 80 yards) and two pass completions moved the Orange to the FSU 19, but a pass into tight coverage was picked by DB Jalen Ramsey to start the next Seminole possession from the 39. The turnover resulted in an extended 10-0 lead as Roberto Aguayo booted a 34-yard FG for the visitors.

Syracuse’s next possession had freshman AJ Long replacing Wilson under center. Cole Murphy converted a 21-yard FG to cut the score to 10-3. SU moved the ball surprisingly well against the top-ranked Noles. A few dropped passes off the hands of open receivers did not bode well for the Orange. The same could be said on defense as a ball thrown right to FS Durell Eskidge covering deep bounced right off his chest that would have terminated FSU’s next drive to give SU possession. Instead, the Noles continued down field and finished in the end zone as Winston connected with Pender on a crossing pattern for a three-yard TD pass and a growing 17-3 lead. It was a very poor defensive series for Syracuse. FSU’s next series after a punt resulted in Pender fumble recovered by NT John Raymon at FSU’s 16. Two incomplete passes called for a 32-yard FG. Murphy’s conversion cut the lead, 17-6. The Noles put together a drive consisting of five pass completions and an SU interference call with All-American TE Nick O’Leary (8 catches, 93 yards, one TD) at the end of a 21-yard TD pass with 4:38 left in Q2. SU did not wilt. Wilson returned to call signals. RB Adonis Ameen-Moore shouldered most of the workload to place the Orange at the six with a fourth and goal. HC Scott Schafer bargained his team needed more than just another FG. Lester called the right play, but the pass to Steve Ishmael, a freshman, was dropped in the end zone. Roy and I noted it was the fourth drop (including the INT) by SU that was making a significant difference in the first half. FSU took a 24-6 lead into the locker room.

The Syracuse Dance Team performed brilliantly during the game for the Homecoming crowd.

The Syracuse Dance Team performed brilliantly during the game for the Homecoming crowd.

My GGA and I trekked to the far end of The Carrier Dome during halftime to meet with Isaac Alford who does the SU Blog for “Spadora on Sports”, our radio affiliate on Watertown, NY’s WNER 1130 AM. Isaac came out of the press box to meet with us as he’d interviewed me in the past in Pete’s absence. A native of Darlington, SC and an Army vet, we had a good talk. Roy and I talked with Isaac about our impression of SU shooting themselves in the foot during the first half and hoped for the Orange to play better in the second half. It was great to meet up with him. We’ll talk more in the future.

Isaac Alford, Syracuse Sports blogger for Spadora on Sports , and I caught up during halftime.

Isaac Alford, Syracuse Sports blogger for Spadora on Sports , and I caught up during halftime.

SU feebly started the second half with a three and out. On the other hand, FSU put together a touchdown drive with Winston firing to WR Jesus Wilson for a seven-yard TD. With AJ Long at QB, a 35-yard pass to Gulley that got to the 27 set up a 22-yard TD pass to Ishmael ( 3 catches, 93 yards, 2 TDs – could have been 3). Late in the third, Nate Andrews picked off a pass forced by Long (16 for 27, 167 yards, 2 INTs, 2 TDs) at FSU’s eight-yard line. Roy made his comment about SU’s lack of execution on some critical plays. SU’s passing stats would have been bolstered if not for some key drops.

Early in the fourth and 92 yards later, RB Dalvin Cook (23 carries for 122 yards, 1 TD) ran left for a seven-yard score and a 38-13 lead. Austin Wilson (5 for 9, 89 yards, 1 INT) returned at QB. Though Long played well overall, it seemed strange to us that Austin had been pulled after the initial series of the game as he moved the team well starting at QB for the first time. We would like to have seen what he could have done had he developed a rhythm with his offense. He’s a sophomore as Long is a freshman, and he’s bigger at 6-3, 210 lbs. On this next series, however, he suffered a head injury and Long had to come back in. He capped off this drive with a 35-yard scoring pass to Ishmael on a crossing pattern to make the score somewhat respectable despite the odds, 38-20. For the remaining 10:37, neither team mounted a serious scoring threat. Roy and I came away unimpressed with FSU believing had it not been for a few key miscues by the underdogs manned at several key positions by inexperienced players, the outcome may have been at least closer. When Mississippi State knocked off Auburn later that day, the pollsters evidently felt the same way.

Jameis Winston releases under pressure.

Jameis Winston releases under pressure.

Next week, now No. 2 Florida State will host No. 5 Notre Dame at 8 pm. The Irish won a close game, 50-43 over North Carolina who score a lot but is 127th in the nation for points allowed. This will be an interesting game. Syracuse travels to Wake Forest who has an identical 2-4, 0-2 record with the Orange. Collegefootballfan.com tackles the Ivies for the only time this season where Princeton (2-2, 1-0) hosts Brown (2-2, 0-1). We’re looking forward to our Big Tailgate. Tickets still available. Email me at sjk_cff@hotmail.com for more info if you would like to attend.

Extra Points: It was Homecoming for Syracuse in front of an announced crowd of 43,293 fans, but there were a lot of empty seats in the Dome. How many schools have the No. 1 team in the nation on the docket as their Homecoming foe? I thought you’re supposed to invite somebody you can dominate from beginning to end so you can have a happy celebration afterward.

It was a little over a three-hour drive up to Syracuse for us. We tailgated before and after the game at the Skytop parking area. The bus trip to and from the Carrier Dome was run pretty smoothly. At the Dome bus stop we met up with Roy’s son Miles who’s majoring in Electrical Engineering. He couldn’t join us today at the game. Miles played on my Little League baseball teams over the years. He ran cross country in high school and now and avid runner. He’s already got tickets for the NCAA eastern regional finals to be played at the Carrier Dome during March Madness. Good planning on his part. I told Roy if he ever wants to go up to a Syracuse b-ball game at The Dome to let me know. I’ve never been. Next season, the football team hosts LSU. We will take that one into consideration.

Florida State has three players from Sussex County, NJ where we are headquartered: back-up QB Sean McGuire who filled in for Winston during the Clemson game hails from Sparta but played high school ball at Seton Hall Prep; Freshman TE Ryan Izzo who played for Pope John HS in Sparta is a Highland Lakes resident; and second team OG Chad Mavety, a junior, is also a Sparta resident. Many people at a party I attended with friends in Stanhope last night asked if I’d seen Sean play. Many know him as he once lived in Byram Twp. where I live.

More action from the Syracuse Dance Team:

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Marshall mangles Monarchs

Norfolk, VA (October 4) – Collegefootballfan.com accomplished two significant milestones last weekend. We added Old Dominion University, a first-year FBS member, as our 125th team and added Foreman Field at S.B. Ballard Stadium at our 49th FBS venue, the 123rd … Continue reading