Eagles flying Big Sky high
FCS Notes: Eastern Wash. setting conference offensive marks
Five leagues (CAA Football, Big Sky, Missouri Valley Football, Southland and Southern) have dominated the playoffs (149 of 163 total wins from those five leagues -- 91.4 percent) the past 10 seasons. This year, though, is different as seven of the 16 wins so far have been from leagues other than those five, with the OVC accounting for four victories, the Big South for two -- both by Coastal Carolina -- and the Patriot, one.
• Dec. 13 -- Towson (11-2) at Eastern Illinois (12-1) at Charleston, Ill, 8 p.m. ET (ESPN2)
• Dec. 14 -- Coastal Carolina (12-2) at North Dakota State (12-0) at Fargo, N.D., Noon ET (ESPN)
• Dec. 14 -- Jacksonville State (11-3) at Eastern Washington (11-2) at Cheney, Wash., 4 p.m. ET (ESPN3)
• Dec. 14 -- New Hampshire (9-4) at Southeastern Louisiana (11-2) at Hammond, La., 7 p.m. ET (ESPN3)
|NATIONAL AWARDS TIMELINE / ANNOUNCEMENTS|
|• 2013 Capital One Academic All-America Division I Football Team -- Dec. 5|
|First Team (FCS Honorees): WR Tanner Bleskin, Montana State; WR Jason Schneider, South Dakota State; RB Zach Zenner, South Dakota State; DB Robbie Beathard, San Diego; DB Jordan Hanberry, Nicholls State; DB Caleb Schaffitzel, Missouri State; LB Austin Hasquet, Northern Arizona;DL Brett Biestek, Fordham; DL Blake Oliaro, San Diego; DL Davis Tull, Chattanooga; DL Michael Yules, Brown|
|Second Team (FCS Honorees): WR Grant Gellatly, Cornell; WR Mark Ross, Lafayette; RB Kyle Harbridge, St. Francis (Pa.) ; OL Corey Boemer, Southern Illinois; OL Brad Bormann, Lafayette; OL Jimmy Holtschlag, Western Illinois; OL Ben Stansfield, Austin Peay;K Colton Cook, Southern Utah; DB James Zotto, Wofford; LB Michael Runger, Dartmouth; DL James Cowser, Southern Utah; DL Iosua Siliva, Austin Peay|
|• AFCA Regional Coach of the Year -- Dec. 10|
|Region 1: Joe Moorhead, Fordham & Jack Cosgrove, Maine (tie)|
|Region 2: Jamey Chadwell, Charleston Southern|
|Region 3: Dino Babers, Eastern Illinois|
|Region 4: Craig Bohl, North Dakota State|
|Region 5: Ron Roberts, Southeastern Louisiana|
|• Sports Network (Payton/Buchanan/Rice/Robinson) -- Dec. 16|
|• FCS ADA -- Dec. 17|
|• Sports Network (All-America Teams) -- after Dec. 18|
|• Walter Camp -- Dec. 18/19|
|• Associated Press -- Dec. 18/19|
|• FCS ADA All-Academic -- Jan. 3|
|• FCS ADA (Offense/Defense Players of the Year) -- Jan. 4|
|• Phil Steele (Josh Buchanan) -- after Jan. 4|
|• Fabulous 50 (College Sports Network) -- Jan. 5 (including Kidd/Peterson/Boomer POY awards)|
|• College Football Performance (CFPA/Brad Smith) -- Jan. 8|
• Eastern Washington will play in the quarterfinals for the third time in the past four years. The Eagles play host to Jacksonville State on Saturday at Roos Field in Cheney, Wash. Eastern Washington is 23-3 on the red turf, which was installed prior to the 2010 season. The Eagles are 6-1 in playoff games on the red turf.
• Eastern Washington freshman WR Cooper Kupp has 81 catches for 1,468 yard and 20 TDs. The 81 catches are tied for the most by a freshman in FCS history. His yards and touchdowns are the most by a freshman in FCS history. Kupp scored two touchdowns in last week’s win against South Dakota State, breaking Randy Moss’ freshman FCS record for touchdown catches. Kupp has tied the Big Sky single-season record for touchdown catches.
• Eastern Washington has scored a Big Sky single-season record 72 touchdowns this season. The Eagles are 11 points shy of tying the Big Sky single-season record for points in a season. EWU has 626. The Eagles have already set the single-season Big Sky record for total yards with 6,877, and passing touchdowns with 54.
• Coastal Carolina is the first Big South member to advance to the FCS quarterfinals. The Chanticleers have now won three playoff games in their history, which is a league record, and the Big South is now 5-5 all time. Coastal will be playing its fifth nationally ranked opponent of the season Saturday, and the Chants are 3-1 this year against ranked foes. Saturday’s matchup at North Dakota State will also be the sixth time a Big South member will face the nation’s No. 1 team (1-4 record).
• Coastal Carolina QB Alex Ross is 29-of-39 passing (74.4 percent) for 458 yards with seven TD passes and no interceptions through two playoff games, including a 232.24 efficiency rating. Meanwhile, WR Matt Hazel will play his sixth career playoff game this Saturday. His career postseason totals include 25 receptions for 332 yards and five TDs. RB Lorenzo Taliaferro, who needs two TDs to become the first Big South player with 30 in a season, is two points away from becoming the sixth non-kicker in league history with 200 career points.
• Towson won its first FCS playoff game last week. The Tigers have also reached 11 wins for the first time in the history of their program.
• New Hampshire has advanced to the quarterfinals seven times during its FCS-best active streak of 10 consecutive postseason appearances. The Wildcats have also now won two playoff games in the same postseason trip for the first time during this stretch.
• Maine head coach and Eddie Robinson Award finalist Jack Cosgrove has been named AFCA FCS Region I Co-Coach of the Year after leading Maine to its first CAA Football title and the No. 5 overall seed in the playoffs.
• Princeton junior QB Quinn Epperly and Harvard junior DL Zach Hodges were named the 2013 recipients of the Asa S. Bushnell Cup as the Ivy League Football Players of the Year on Dec. 9 at a special reception and press conference as part of the festivities surrounding the 56th National Football Foundation Annual Awards Dinner in New York. Epperly took home the league’s offensive player of the year award and Hodges was tabbed with defensive player of the year.
Epperly was the eighth Princeton player and Hodges was the eighth Harvard player to be bestowed with the Bushnell Cup. The two were selected as Bushnell Cup finalists, along with Princeton senior DL Caraun Reid and Brown senior TB John Spooney, by a vote of the league’s eight head coaches.
• For the first time since 2010, two MEAC schools represented the conference in the FCS playoffs as Bethune-Cookman and South Carolina State played in this year’s 24-team tournament. In the past 17 seasons, the MEAC has had two teams selected five times, including three years in a row from 1997-99.
• North Dakota State improved to 11-1 all-time in the playoffs with its 38-7 victory against Furman last week. The Bison’s only loss was in overtime in 2010 at Eastern Washington.
• NDSU head coach Craig Bohl has taken over as head coach at Wyoming, but he will continue to coach NDSU through its playoff run. On Tuesday, Bohl was named AFCA District 4 Coach of the Year.
• NDSU CB Marcus Williams returned an interception for a TD against Furman, marking the second INT return for a TD for him this year, and the seventh in his career -- an FCS record.
• Saint Francis (Pa.) senior RB Kyle Harbridge has been named to the 2013 Capital One Academic All-America Division I Football Team as selected by the College Sports Information Directors of America. Harbridge was named to the second team. In 2013, Harbridge capped arguably the most prolific career by any Saint Francis football player by setting school records in rushing yards with 1,619 and touchdowns with 16. He finished third in the NCAA in rushing yards and 11th in rushing touchdowns. Harbridge also finished second in the nation with 188.2 all-purpose yards per game.
• For just the second time in its history the OVC has put two teams (Eastern Illinois and Jacksonville State) in the quarterfinals in the same year. The only other time it happened was in 1991 when Eastern Kentucky and Middle Tennessee State both advanced (and EKU beat MTSU head-to-head). This year marks the first time an OVC team has been in the quarterfinals since 2000 (when the field included just 16 teams).
• Not only did Tennessee State snap the OVC’s overall 19-game losing streak in the FCS playoffs on Nov. 30, but it was the first OVC team to win on the road since Eastern Kentucky beat Eastern Illinois in the 1986 playoffs. It snapped a 29-game losing streak in road playoff games for the OVC. Overall, it was just the fifth road win for the OVC in the playoffs. This past week, JSU added to that road success by winning at McNeese State, marking the sixth OVC victory on the road in the playoffs. The Gamecocks play at Eastern Washington this weekend.
• Eastern Illinois QB Jimmy Garoppolo needs just five touchdown passes and 347 passing yards to hold the FCS single-season records in each of those categories. The Panthers host Towson on Friday night.
• Fordham’s season came to an end in the second round of the FCS playoffs at Towson on Saturday, but not before the Rams set a host of Patriot League single-season records. Fordham’s 5,052 passing yards were 600 more than the previous league high, and its 7,214 yards of total offense broke the previous mark by more than 1,000 yards. Junior QB Michael Nebrich finished with single-season records in passing yardage, total offense, passing touchdowns, touchdowns responsible for, completion percentage and passing efficiency rating, while junior WR Sam Ajala set the league record with 1,646 receiving yards.
• Fordham head coach Joe Moorhead was honored for the Rams’ 12-2 season in multiple ways Tuesday. He shared the AFCA Regional Coach of the Year honor with Maine’s Jack Cosgrove, and was also named one of five finalists within the FCS for the Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year Award. Moorhead also signed a contract extension through the 2021 season.
• Valparaiso has named Dave Cecchini, formerly the offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach at Lehigh, as its 17th head football coach.
• San Diego seniors Robbie Beathard and Blake Oliaro have been named to the 2013 Capital One Academic All-America Division I Football Team first team as selected by the College Sports Information Directors of America. The two Toreros are the only representatives from the Pioneer Football League on either team, and the only players on the first team from the state of California.
• Furman fell to top-seeded North Dakota State 38-7 in the second round of the FCS playoffs last week. The Paladins finished the season with an 8-6 record and earned a share of the Southern Conference championship with a 6-2 mark in league play. It was Furman’s 13th Southern Conference title, the most of any school.
• The Southern Conference will add Mercer and VMI into the league next fall. Mercer completed its first season of football in the Pioneer League in 2013, while VMI was a Southern Conference member from 1924-2003.
• Chattanooga DL Davis Tull and Wofford DB James Zotto were named to the 2013 Capital One Academic All-America Division I Football Team.
• With Southeastern Louisiana reaching the quarterfinals of the playoffs, the Southland Conference has placed a team in the quarterfinals for three consecutive seasons and for the fourth time in the past five seasons. It is the 28th time overall a Southland team has reached the quarterfinals. The league had two of the eight quarterfinal teams in 1984, '86, '88, '92 and '95. Sam Houston State reached the quarterfinals each of the previous two seasons on its way to the championship game and Stephen F. Austin reached the quarterfinals in 2009. Southland teams have played in the semifinals 15 times and the league had two semifinalists in 1995 when both McNeese State and Stephen F. Austin were among the final four.
• With the win against Sam Houston State, the Lions have won their past 10 games. It is their longest streak since a 13-game streak in 1954 and '55. Southeastern won all nine games in 1954 and the first four games of the '55 season. The 11 wins for the Lions is a school record.
• QB Brian Bennett, a transfer from Oregon and the 2013 Southland Conference Player of the Year, leads the Lions’ offense with 1,017 rushing yards and 15 touchdowns to go along with 2,896 passing yards and 20 touchdowns. Sophomores Rasheed Harrell, who has totaled 629 yards and eight touchdowns, and Xavier Roberson, who has 538 rushing yards and six touchdowns, headline the rushing attack, while three receivers are Bennett’s top targets. Sophomore Jeff Smiley has 53 catches for 705 yards and six touchdowns. Senior Tony McCrea has 38 receptions for 678 yards and two scores, while senior Marquis Fruge’ has reeled in 35 passes for 595 yards and six touchdowns. Defensively, Cqulin Hubert was the Southland Conference Defensive Player of the Year. He totaled 77 tackles and 10.5 tackles for loss. The defense is allowing a league-low 22.9 points per game. Juniors Isiah Corbett (15.5 TFL, nine sacks) and Jacob Newman (14.0 TFL, seven sacks) are the top pass rushers and Harlan Miller leads a talented secondary with four interceptions.
• Southern captured its third championship game title in the 2013 Toyota SWAC Football Championship with a 34-27 double-overtime win against Jackson State. The championship game, which moved from Birmingham, Ala., to Houston marked the first double-overtime contest in the championship game era while ranking third all time in attendance (38,985) and total score (71).
• Grambling State announced the hiring of Broderick Fobbs as its next head coach. Alabama A&M head coach Anthony Jones and Mississippi Valley State head coach Karl Morgan were informed by their respective administrations that their contracts will not be renewed.