Lafayette levels Lehigh in historic 150th meeting

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

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 and the "Engineers" over Lafayette in 1999, 14-12.

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 makes a grab to set up Ross Scheuerman's second one-yard TD run of the game.

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."

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.

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 takes a hand off deep in Lafayette territory to get the Leopards some breathing room.

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

 

Collegefootballfan.com Week in Review #11

David Pollock, are you kidding me? Last night (Tuesday) on the ESPN air filler about the top four college football teams that basically don’t mean anything until December 7 when the Football Four are finally determined, he said that Mississippi State had the most impressive four consecutive wins of the season. Is he watching the same season I am, or is college football only based on reputation and not on merit? Maybe he meant five teams and had a brain fart at the end – three of those supposed four (must’ve meant five and skipped one) included Texas A&M, Kentucky, and Arkansas? A&M was the biggest fake out of the gate beating defenseless South Carolina who could not tackle or defend against the pass against anybody this year. Then the Aggies climbed to No. 6 by beating Lamar, Rice, and SMU. If that was Notre Dame’s record against the same bunch, they wouldn’t be in the Top 20! Kentucky lost to the Bulldogs in the second game of their current five-game losing streak. Their score was close at 45-31 compared to some other scores in that losing streak of 41-3, 63-31, and 50-16. And Arkansas? They were in the midst of a 17-game SEC losing streak, and throw in two losses to Rutgers in that streak, too. This is a tough stretch? A good body of work? We’ll give you LSU and Auburn, but for crying out loud, don’t give us this supremacy through association stuff. Getting clobbered consistently by good teams doesn’t mean your schedule is too tough. It means you stink. Let’s cut the political crap in college football. I’m getting tired of it. Five conference champions from the Power Five in the playoff, at least one conference winner from the other Five, and two at-large teams should make up the Great Eight when the NCAA decides to expand (not if –when). The system is becoming a joke…Can’t wait for the D-3 playoffs to start. 32 teams out of 236 have been selected. The FBS consisting of 128 teams this year would be fine along the same format with 16. Let everybody else play a bowl/consolation game. That’s what the other bowls are becoming any way, and ESPN can televise all 56 of them. Can’t wait: SMU (0-9) vs. Georgia State (1-9) in The Tidy Bowl…

Georgia State did a lot of chasing in the 44-0 loss we attended against Appy State. How would they fare against 0-9 SMU in a consolation game?

Georgia State did a lot of chasing in the 44-0 loss we attended against Appy State. How would they fare against 0-9 SMU in a consolation game?

Here are the results of two particular D-3 season finales we were interested in last week. No. 4 Wesley (9-1) fell, 38 -33, to Charlotte who is in their transitional season before joining ConferenceUSA next year. We hope to add Charlotte next season if they visit Old Dominion. Our son Eric will still be stationed at Norfolk Navy base, and after seeing ODU stomped by Marshall this season, this should be the most competitive game these two can offer next year when we add The 49ers as our 129th FBS team. The other game was between two undefeated Ohio Athletic Conference teams – perennial power and No. 2 Mount Union against No. 6 John Carroll, both at 9-0. Before this game, the Purple Raiders had outscored opponents this season, 578-54. The Blue Streaks of JC outscored basically the same group of teams, 497-67. In what must have been a colorful game, the Purple beat the Blue, 31-24. Next week, Mount U hosts Adrian of Michigan (9-1), and JC hosts Centre of Kentucky (10-0) in the first round…In D-3, No. 1 and defending champion Wisconsin-Whitewater hosts Macalester of St. Paul, MN (9-1) and No. 3 Mary Hardin-Baylor of Texas hosts Texas Lutheran (9-1). Among the 32 teams in the D-3 tourney, there are 12 undefeated teams and 13 teams each with one loss. It seems like it should be competitive, but most likely, at least the Final Four will include Mt. Union and Whitewater. The two have met in eight of the last nine championships. UW-W has won five of the last seven meetings. Mount Union defeated UWW three times in head to head title games at The Stagg Bowl played in Salem, Virginia. In 2012, Mt. Union defeated St. Thomas of Minnesota in the final. This year, Benedictine of Illinois got into the playoffs with a 6-4 record. They won the North Athletics Collegiate Conference with a 5-1 record, and will play Wheaton of Illinois (10-0). The championship game will be played this year on Friday night, December 19…

We attended three D-3 games this season.  The first was a 31-30 win by SUNY-Maritime over Mass Maritime.  None of the teams we saw made it to the 32-team playoff.

We attended three D-3 games this season. The first was a 31-30 win by SUNY-Maritime over Mass Maritime. None of the teams we saw made it to the 32-team playoff.

Many teams enter rivalry week this week. Among them – Toledo vs. Bowling Green (Wednesday), USC at UCLA, Stanford vs. Cal, Duke vs. UNC, Harvard vs. Yale, Lafayette vs. Lehigh in meeting No. 150 we will attend this Saturday at Yankee Stadium…

Our seventh meeting will be this season among the 150 Lafayette and Lehigh have played in the longest college football rivalry in existence.

Our seventh meeting will be this season among the 150 Lafayette and Lehigh have played in the longest college football rivalry in existence.

On the other hand, the SEC has Safety Valve week. This is for the teams in case they’re boarder line to get to six wins and need a “gimme” game to assure they’re in a bowl somewhere, this is their week. Let’s see: Samford at Auburn, West Carolina at Alabama, South Alabama at South Carolina, Eastern Kentucky at Florida (perfect- five wins and FSU the week after. Backfired though last year against Georgia Southern), Charleston Southern at Georgia, and Arkansas at Ole Miss (Ok, it’s a stretch. It’s a conference game and Arkansas ended their SEC losing streak last week with an upset of LSU. What does that tell you?)…Let’s see what happens to the SEC non-conference record the week after next: Florida at FSU, South Carolina at Clemson, Kentucky at Louisville, and Georgia Tech at Georgia…

Will Carolina fans Kelly, Jocelyn, and Alex (my daughter) be smiling after the Clemson game like they did after their first three years when the Gamecocks beat the Tigers?

Will Carolina fans Kelly, Jocelyn, and Alex (my daughter) be smiling after the Clemson game like they did after their first three years when the Gamecocks beat the Tigers?

To clear up the Big 12 debate between Baylor (8-1, 5-1) and TCU (9-1, 6-1), if one falters in the remaining games the other jumps ahead. With Baylor having beaten the Horned Frogs, 61-58, if both finish with one loss, you gotta go with the Baylor Bears. TCU’s biggest challenge will be against improving Texas on the day after Thanksgiving. For the Bears, Kansas State will be the challenge on December 6…ESPN Gurus Mark Shlabach and Brett Murphy made these predictions for the five bowl games we plan to attend: Pinstripe – Georgia Tech vs. Maryland or Louisville vs. Penn State; Music City – Tennessee vs. Miami or Iowa (?); Orange Bowl – Duke or Georgia Tech vs. Mississippi State; Citrus Bowl –Wisconsin vs. Ole Miss; Tax slayer – LSU vs Minnesota or Notre Dame. I know who I’ll be rooting for in each. If these are the choices, we’d prefer, Louisville-PSU, Tennessee-Miami, either against MSU, UW vs. Ole Miss- ok, and LSU vs. ND. It won’t end up either way they predict of course. Too much still up in the air.

We may be seeing both Georgia Tech and Ole Miss in a bowl again this year a year after seeing them play one another in last year's Music City Bowl.

We may be seeing both Georgia Tech and Ole Miss in a bowl again this year a year after seeing them play one another in last year’s Music City Bowl.

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.

 

Collegefootballfan.com weekin Review #11

Disciples of Paul – Johnson that is. The former Navy head coach formerly of Georgia Southern and now at Georgia Tech has influenced a significant trend in the FBS. The top three rushing offenses in the FBS are Georgia Southern, Georgia Tech, and Navy. The reason? They all run the triple option offense installed successfully by Johnson at all three of these programs. On Saturday, we’ll be at Annapolis to see Navy (4-5) host the GSU Eagles (8-2, 6-0), a first year FBS team leading the Sun Belt Conference and on their way to a Bowl game. An indicator of what we can expect is the outcome of GSU’s third game of the season when it challenged their former mentor in a tough game as The Ramblin’ Wreck defeated them, 42-38. First-year HC Willie Fritz formerly of FCS Sam Houston State benefitted from a returning cast of eight starters on both sides of the ball who were well-drilled in the triple option. They’ll be going up against Johnson’s former USNA assistant, Ken Niumatalolo, who’s been at the helm of Navy now for five years. The Mids are three point favorites. They’ll have their work cut out for them. If you recall, a year ago these same Eagles defeated the Florida Gators when they were still an FCS team. Navy needs two wins – among GSU, South Alabama, and Army. Speaking of Army (3-6), they’re the sixth-ranked rushing team in the nation. Their HC Jeff Moncken was the HC at Georgia Southern last season, and prior to that, he was an assistant on Johnson’s staff at Navy. We’ll be seeing Army and Navy go at it for the 115th time on December 13. It will be our tenth Army-Navy overall and third in three years. Go Navy!…

Navy's ready for Georgia southern two weeks after losing to Notre Dame, 49-39.

Navy’s ready for Georgia Southern this weekend two weeks after losing to Notre Dame, 49-39.

Also among the top ten rushing offenses in the country, we’ve seen two others – team No. 7 Marshall and No. 10 Auburn. Neither runs the triple option, but the best individual rusher we’ve seen all year is the Herd’s Devon Marshall ranked 10th in the nation with 1,203 yards. Auburn is led by Cameron Artis-Payne, ranked 11th with 1,190 yards…Only one offense we’ve seen this season ranked among the Top Ten in passing is Texas A&M. As far as we’re concerned, that status was padded thanks to South Carolina’s no-show defense when we attended the opener for both as former starter Kenny Hill passed for 511 yards. Spurrier’s still wondering where his defense is…

With this plunge, Missouri defeated Spurrier's Gamecocks in the final minutes of play, 21-20.

With this plunge, Missouri defeated Spurrier’s Gamecocks in the final minutes of play, 21-20.

Is Minnesota (7-2, 5-1) really up to the challenge against No. 8 Ohio State this weekend? With a 30-7 loss to No. 4 TCU and a loss to mediocre Illinois ( 4-5), their tough part of their schedule is ahead of them. After hosting Ohio State, they visit Big Ten West Division front runners Nebraska and Wisconsin. Those two meet this weekend. No. 16 Nebraska is sitting in a good position with its lone 27-22 loss to Michigan State. If they can win the West and beat rising Ohio State for the B1G title, they could be knocking on the CFP door after all the dust settles…As we keep saying, don’t blink – Mississippi State No. 1, Oregon No. 2, Florida State No. 3, and TCU, No. 4. It’ll change. MSU plays No. 5 Alabama this week and No. 10 Ole Miss after that. Alabama plays bitter rival No. 9 Auburn, too. Oregon looks in good shape with a bye this week followed by Colorado and Oregon State, their rival who’s struggling. If No. 6 Arizona State wins their last three including the finale against rival Arizona, the team that beat Oregon, they may be playing the Ducks for the PAC 12 and for their Top Four position. No. 3 Florida State could have a tough time getting past Miami (6-3) down there this weekend. Duke in the ACC championship? Their lone loss is to Miami. I think the Noles look fairly safe, but who knows? Jameis Winston is difficult to stop when the game is on the line. TCU faces an improving and hungry Texas on Thanksgiving Day. Things are shaping up for the CFP, but expect some more shaking up instead…

Florida State's defense does enough this year to keep games within reach to win.

Florida State’s defense does enough this year to keep games within reach to win.

Things look pretty set for the Final Four heading into the D-3 playoffs after this final weekend coming up. No. 1 Wisconsin –Whitewater and No. 2 Mary Hardin- Baylor should both finish undefeated. No. 3 Mount Union who’s been running up the scores against everyone in their conference puts their 9-0 record on the line against No. 6 and conference foe John Carroll (9-0) who’s been doing the same. It should be an interesting season finale in the Ohio Athletic Conference. Also, No. 4 Wesley (9-0) will be finishing their season on national TV against FBS transitional program Charlotte (3-6). Next season, the 49ers will be making their debut in ConferenceUSA. Wesley will be joining the New Jersey Athletic Conference. This will be an interesting finale for both programs. The 32-team D-3 bracket will be announced this Sunday. If it weren’t for all the worthless bowls, the FBS could be doing the same…9-0 Marshall is still out of the CFP Top 25. So is 9-1 Colorado State with its lone loss to Boise, but they have good wins over Boston College, Utah State, and Nevada. At least they are better wins than any Marshall has to be considered for the 12th spot in a CFP bowl game. However, A&M is No. 23? I’ll take Marshall over them right now. I’ve seen both play. The other non-power conference champs in contention for the 12th CFP spot seem to be Northern Illinois (8-2), Georgia Southern (8-2), and Memphis or Cincinnati (both 6-3), but none are ranked…

The Horned Frogs are in the CFP mix right now.

The Horned Frogs are in the CFP mix right now.

Considerations are being made to possibly pit Princeton against Rutgers for the 150th anniversary of the first college football game played on November 6, 1869. What are they kidding? The Big Ten against the Ivy League? It sounds historical, but the concept is hysterical. It would be a wasted game for both teams. It would be nice to do something to commemorate the event when Rutgers beat Princeton in that inaugural game, 6 goals to 4. I suggest a double header to be played at the Meadowlands. Here’s an idea – let the winner of the previous season’s Army-Navy game play Rutgers, and let the loser play Princeton. They are two most common traditional teams these two have both played over the years and they are the two FBS schools most apt to play at these two levels. Navy and Army play RU regularly, and Army helped Yale celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Yale Bowl this season. Play one game at noon and one game at night. I can’t see these two playing each other in this day and age. They’ve gone in different directions since 1981 when they last met. Last time the Tigers played a Big Ten team was back in the early 80s. They fell to a poor Northwestern team at home, 37-0. A direct confrontation makes no sense. I think this would make it more interesting and more competitive for both teams. Plus it would be celebration of college football and of America with the two academies involved…

Ghost-like figures don the program of the next to last game in the series that kicked off college football in 1869. Princeton dominated the series overall 53-17-1, but Rutgers polished them off 12-8-1 to end the series and move up to D-1A football.

Ghost-like figures don the program of the next to last game in the series that kicked off college football in 1869. Princeton dominated the series overall 53-17-1, but Rutgers polished them off 12-8-1 to end the series and move up to D-1A football.

We think we’re booked to go see New Hampshire host an FCS playoff game on December 6. With a win over Delaware this weekend and then arch-rival Maine the following week, the No. 3 Wildcats should get a bye and a first round home game. We’re looking forward to getting to a game in New England before the season’s over and to our first game up in Durham…No. 150 between Lehigh (2-7) and Lafayette (4-5) will be celebrated in two weeks. The first time this game has no bearing on the Patriot League championship in a few years, but it should be a spirited game…

Last seaon, we saw Lehigh beat New Hampshire.  We'll see both teams play again in the next month.

Last season, we saw Lehigh beat New Hampshire. We’ll see both teams play again in the next month.

 

 

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.

 

 

Spadora on Sports this Saturday

Click here to stream us on live between 10 and 10:30 on Saturday morning on WNER 1130 in Watertown, NY for our interview with Pete Spadora on “Spadora on Sports.”  On his website, click on “Tune in here”. Pete and I will talk about small college football as Collegefootballfan.com attends an FCS game on Friday night (Fordham at Bucknell) and D-3 game (Moravian at Juniata) on Saturday.  The players from these schools play just as hard to win as they do to earn their degrees. No scholarships, no TV, a few pro scouts – maybe.  They play football for the love of the game.

spadora2011

Collegefootballfan.com week in review #10

Conference Championship Games: Controversies Waiting to Happen. Hypothetically, Butt Head State U. wins the Eastern Division of their Conference with a 7-5 overall record. Nowheresville Tech finishes the regular season 11-1, wins the Western Division and is ranked No. 2 in the latest CFP Poll. Butt Head springs the upset in the Conference Championship game winning it handily. (Can’t happen? Look up Big 12 Championship, 1996) Neither team makes the Football Four as Nowheresville drops out of the Top Four; Butt Head already had three losses and had a long way to climb. Are the fans of this conference going to complain that Nowheresville still deserves to be in the CFP based on the scope of its overall season? Yet it officially has not even won its Conference title. Butt Head gets crowned as conference champ. Five other teams from other conferences went into the last week of the season with one loss and came out the same way after their final games including some conference championship games. Let the fans of the conference whose first No. 2 team got ousted, handily, go grumble. That conference championship game could suddenly be seen as a high risk factor in the new CFP. I can see these games possibly being reconsidered. Some years they could be a bane instead of a boon. The conference gets their TV bucks for the title game, but they lose out on the biggest payday when they lose out on the Football Four. Having no team in the Football Four team equates to a big loss financially to the conference. And if the CFP ever expands to a scenario where eight teams get selected for a playoff and five are conference champs, Butt Head gets in, and Nowheresville has no guarantee of an at-large. Food for thought on how crazy this four-team playoff can turn out to be…Double standards: why are certain teams held to higher standards than the majority? Mississippi State was No.1 in Week 9. In Week 10, they beat Arkansas (4-5) who is on a 17-game SEC losing streak. Not that they sparkled in non-conference play either. The last two years they lost twice to Rutgers in a home-and home series and we can see what is happening to RU since they’ve joined the B1G. The Bulldogs still get 46 first-place votes to remain No. 1 winning late in the game 17-10 after trailing 10-0 early. Notre Dame defeated long-time rival Navy (4-5), 49-39. The Mids run a triple option rarely seen by most teams. The Irish prevail also winning late with three TDs in the final period. Unlike Mississippi State holding its No. 1 position in the AP poll, the Irish dropped from No. 6 to No. 8 in the same. At least the Committee of 12 showed some consistency. They kept the Irish at No. 10 from the previous week. Like I said last week, who needs the other polls anyway? We don’t even need the committee of 12 until December 7. Don’t waste your time…

The Seminoles seem to be heading to the first Football Four.

The Seminoles seem to be heading to the first Football Four.

New CFP poll – Mississippi State, Florida State, Auburn, Oregon.  Don’t blink. It will change…

And the Auburn Tigers are definitely on the prowl!

And the Auburn Tigers are definitely on the prowl!

Hear of this new coaching strategy? At the Rutgers game against Wisconsin won by the Badgers, 37-0, pundits in the press box were taking polls on who RU should be playing at QB. In Sunday’s Newark Star-Ledger, in articles by Keith Sargent and Dave Duggan, both reported 96% of 120 voters in a poll they took called for back-up Chris Laviano to replace starter Gary Nova. Hell guys, why don’t you just send the poll down to HC Kyle Flood during the game? Nova was eventually taken out as he played through a leg injury finishing a paltry 5 of 15 for 46 yards and 1 INT. Laviano replaced him late and had a stellar-NOT! performance of 2 for 12 for 17 yards. Hey, Flood gets paid to make the decisions whether people agree or disagree. It’s his decision on whether he keeps or loses his job. That’s what he’s getting paid for. If we all made decisions based on polls, I don’t think the world would be a much better place. I don’t always agree with coaches, but I hope they know a lot more than me whether they win or they lose. They pay the price if they don’t. Me? I have enough of my own decisions to make to earn a living. Don’t take a poll to tell me how to do my job.  Nothing will ever get done right. There’s always a method to my madness.  Coaches have the their own schemes whether right or wrong…

Whether he's right or wrong, only HC Kyle Flood of Rutgers  is the one with his job on the line.

Whether he’s right or wrong, only HC Kyle Flood of Rutgers is the one with his job on the line.

Bush league or Bloods? : What is the Maryland football program thinking? They refused to shake hands with Penn State at the coin toss to “start a rivalry.” What a bunch of crap. Where does sportsmanship get thrown out the window in intercollegiate sports? This “gang mentality” doesn’t belong in college sports. I was glad to see Maryland not only penalized fifteen yards (probably should have forfeited to teach a big lesson), but glad they got a reprimand and a $10,000 fine. Evidently Randy Edsall lacks leadership because he doesn’t have control of his own team. He says the slight wasn’t staged. Right! He should be fined by his school or the NCAA for lack of control. Where did they come up with this idea?…Speaking of PSU, as a fan of the Nittany Lions and of college football, they are just too painful to watch. I have never seen such horrendous line play anywhere. During sanctions, I can’t believe there was no focus on recruiting, building, and maintaining a strong offensive line. A strong offense has to start with the line. They are proving that backs are a dime a dozen when you don’t have those guys up front to control the line of scrimmage and protect the quarterback as well as open up the holes. Even new HC James Franklin seemed to focus totally on skill positions when he showed up last year to start recruiting. We heard what wonderful things Herb Hand did as OL Coach at Vanderbilt, but we only see the line getting worse as the season progresses. Everyone saw a line that needed work and development when we attended the spring game. With a summer of training and fall practice and since, there is no improvement. There is no running game despite returning RBs. QB Christian Hackenberg gets no time to throw as defenders run through and around his guys up front. Talk is that “Hack” will leave after his junior year. Can the pros really judge how good he is based on what we’re all seeing right now? Can this line get better a year from now? I wouldn’t blame him if he left next year and went to play for an FCS school where they teach people how to block. Another year behind a line like this and he’ll never get to demonstrate his skills, or even worse, he could suffer a major injury. I’m not about college football being the stepping stone to the NFL first and foremost among its purposes, but I think this kid risks a potential career in the pros playing here. He stepped in during the sanctions at Penn State with no guarantee of ever getting to a bowl game or playing for a title. He did have the benefit of a great QB Coach supposedly in Bill O’Brien, but he left his first year QB after one year to go to the pros and left Hack with no line to protect him. I wouldn’t blame him if he pulled a Joe Flacco (from Pitt to Delaware) to give himself a shot at the next level next season to straighten out his game, he might need two more years. That’s what Flacco did…

There were questions last spring about what PSU was going to do about the O-line protecting Hackenburg.  The questions have still not been answered eight games into the season.

There were questions last spring about what PSU was going to do about the O-line protecting Hackenberg. The questions have still not been answered eight games into the season.

Congratulations to the Air Force Academy (6-2, 2-2). They broke Navy’s nine-year winning streak of commandeering the Commander -in -Chief’s Trophy when they defeated Army last week, 23-6. Earlier they defeated Navy. We will see Army-Navy in this year’s consolation in Baltimore on December 13 (coldest Saturday of the year)…Only 36,807 attended the Navy-Notre Dame game at FEDEX Field this year in Washington, DC. They just as well could have played that game at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial…A new personal record was set by CFF.com this season. My wife St. Laurie attended six games with us this year. Most ever, but she’s done for 2014. Attribute it to seeing South Carolina games where our daughter goes and a game in Norfolk where our son Eric is stationed. She says she’s done for the year. I will use it as a springboard to set a new personal goal of 25 games this year, besting the old record of 24 set in 2006…We look forward to Friday night’s game this week at Christy Mathewson Memorial Stadium in Lewisburg, PA where No. 9 Fordham (8-1, 4-0) will visit Bucknell (7-1, 3-0) in a game between unbeaten Patriot League teams for first place. Bucknell QB RJ Nitti has thrown for 1,553 yards and 13 TDS. RB CJ Williams averages 127.1 ypg and has 9 rushing TDs. Nitti’s favorite receiver is Will Carter averaging 101.8 ypg and has eight TD catches. The Bison average 28.6 ppg. Fordham’s high-powered offense averages 43.7 ppg. Ram RB Chase Edmonds is second in the nation in rushing in the FCS with 146.9 ypg. QB Mike Nebrich who has 2,596 passing yards and 22 TD passes, missed last week’s game against Colgate with an injury, but should be back in action for this critical game. Game time is 6:30 pm. Regretfully, it will be televised by CSTV…

Fordham charges into Christy Mathewson Stadium Friday night against Bucknell looking for a shot at the FCS title.

Fordham charges into Christy Mathewson Stadium Friday night against Bucknell looking for a shot at the FCS title.

Juniata College QB Ward Udinski was named Centennial Conference Offensive Player of the week for his performance against McDaniel College (formerly Western Maryland) last Saturday.  He ripped the Green Terror for 469 yards through the air and five TDS. On the ground, he gained 90 yards and scored twice. Teammate and WR Isaiah Slutter was named the Conference Special Team Player of the Week.  Slutter took the ball 98 yards for a TD on the opening kickoff. He gained 128 yards via the air waves and scored two more TDs. He had 267 yards in total offense in Juniata’s 56-31 win.  We will see them square off at Chuck Knox Field (alum who coached the NFL’s Bills, Rams, and Seahawks) against conference foe Moravian out of Allentown, PA.  Both squads sport 4-4, 3-4 records.  Last week, the Greyhounds defeated the Gettysburg Bullets, 34-14.  RB Chris Negron had 211 yards on the ground and scored three TDs.  The Hounds tallied 445 offensive yards overall. I’d seen the two team play at Moravian in 1985 when the home team prevailed, 16-7.  I checked out my history and though I’ve seen JC play about a dozen times since graduation, it’s the first time in 35 years that I will see them play in Huntingdon.  Call this my Homecoming.  I’ve seen them play at Moravian, FDU-Florham, Upsala,  and Widener among a few others. Looking forward to seeing the Alma Mater playing again and seeing a game at Knox Field…

CFF.com Homecoming: we return to Knox Stadium at Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania for the first time in 35 years.

CFF.com Homecoming: we return to Knox Stadium at Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania for the first time in 35 years.

I noted that the Top 25 of the CFP shunned Marshall once again.  However, East Carolina’s loss to Temple knocked them out also.  The Herd had a bye, but with four regular season games and a C-USA championship on the line, it looks like they will find a way into the CFP among all the mid-majors.  I hope so. I’d like to see how they stack up against a Power Five conference Top Ten team…We got our tickets already for the NewEra PinStripe and the Capital One Orange Bowl which will feature two CFP teams.  Our early guesses for both: Maryland of the Big Ten against Boston College of the ACC.  The Yankees want to sell tickets to Oriole and Red Sox fans while they’re in town.  However, if Penn State can win two of its remaining four games, I’m looking for PSU to replace the Terps.  As for the Orange Bowl, I’m thinking Notre Dame against Duke, winner of the ACC Coastal Division…New Hampshire is ranked third in the FCS with a 7-1 record.  URI, Delaware, and Maine stand in their way for a 10-1 season.  If they pull it off, we’ll see them host a second round FCS game at home in Durham, NH, a first time venue for us…

Last time we saw UNH in the 2009 FCS playoffs, it was cold and wet and not pretty. Villanova beat them 46-7 that day to go on to win the FCS Championship.

Last time we saw UNH in the 2009 FCS playoffs, it was cold and wet and not pretty. Villanova beat them 46-7 that day to go on to win the FCS Championship.

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.

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