Sept. 29, 2009

By Amy Farnum

SOMETHING'S GOT TO GIVE:  When Tarleton State visits Texas A&M-Kingsville on Oct. 3, there will be one less unbeaten squad in the Lone Star Conference after the pair of nationally-ranked foes meet.  The No. 11 Texans are 5-0 for the third straight season, while the No. 9 Javelinas are 5-0 for the first time since 2004, and the two defenses are a key reason to their success.

Tarleton is allowing just 7.6 points per game, which ranks second in the nation.  The Texans' defensive and punt coverage units have scored as many touchdowns as the defense has allowed this season - four.

The Javelina defense has given up just 14.4 points per game (16th in the nation), and has not given up a score in the third quarter this season, allowing the offense to outdistance foes.  The TAMUK defense has yet to allow a 100-yard rusher this season, but that will be tested by Tarleton senior running back Roderick Smith, who is averaging 105.75 yards per game.  Last week, Smith became the school's all-time leader in touchdowns with 34.

Second-ranked Abilene Christian is the third unbeaten team in the LSC, and the Wildcats will head to winless East Central on Saturday looking to keep that mark flawless.

The Tarleton State-Texas A&M-Kingsville match-up is not the only one between ranked teams this weekend.  No. 12 Missouri Western State will face the challenge of a third straight nationally-ranked foe when the Griffons host sixth-ranked Northwest Missouri State in a battle between two undefeated Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association squads on Oct. 3.

The Griffons have knocked off then-No. 22 Washburn and then-No. 23 Pittsburg State in the last two weeks, and now look to end a five-game losing streak against the Bearcats in the league tilt.  Western is off to its best start in MIAA action since 2000, and has turned in its best start to a season since 1981 when the Griffons went 7-0 to begin the year.

CHARGING AHEAD:  Hillsdale College charged into the latest AFCA Division II Top 25 at No. 24 this week following a 38-19 win at then-No. 15 Ashland.  It is the first time since 2007 that the Chargers have broken into the national rankings.

The Chargers were sparked by senior running back Vinnie Panizzi, who ran for a career-high 231 rushing yards and three touchdowns.  The native of Grosse Point, Mich., was the first Hillsdale player in almost five years to rush for 200 or more yards in a game, and earned his first-ever Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Player of the Week award.  Last week, Panizzi compiled a previous career-high of 188 yards rushing.

Panizzi ranks second in the GLIAC with 135.0 rushing yards per game, and is tied for the league lead with 10 rushing TDs. 

The Chargers, one of four GLIAC teams in this week's Top 25, will travel to the University of Findlay on Oct. 3 for a match-up between a pair of 4-1 squads.

TAKING CHARGE:  Edinboro quarterback Trevor Harris took matters into his own hands for the second straight week as he directed a game-winning drive to lift the Fighting Scots to a 22-20 win over Gannon to remain unbeaten in Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference West Division play.

The senior from Waldo, Ohio., threw or ran the ball on the final 12 plays of the contest versus Gannon to set up a game-winning field goal.  He completed 21-of-30 passes for 212 yards and a touchdown despite inclement weather and two lightening delays, and was named PSAC West Offensive Player of the Week for his efforts.  Harris needs just five passing yards to reach the 10,000-yard mark, and currently ranks fourth on the all-time PSAC list.

The Fighting Scots jumped five spots to No. 19 in the latest Top 25, and will host Lock Haven on Oct. 3. Edinboro sits in a three-way tie for first place in the PSAC West Division, tied at 2-0 with California (Pa.) and Mercyhurst.

CHARLESTON IN CHARGE: After making its first-ever appearance in the AFCA Division II Top 25, the University of Charleston (W.V.) proved it belonged amongst the best as the Golden Eagles won a Shepherd University for the first time in the modern era of football.

Quarterback DaRante Hunter ran for 115 yards and threw for 211 yards in the contest, taking the ball to the end zone twice himself as he added to his Division II-leading rushing touchdown total (12).  The junior from Sarasota, Fla., received West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Offensive Player of the Week for his contributions.

At 5-0, No. 15 Charleston is the lone unbeaten squad in the WVIAC.   The Golden Eagles are riding their longest winning streak (five) since resuming football in 2003.  UC looks to lengthen the run at Fairmont State (1-4) on Oct. 3.

QUICK HITS:  Wayne State (Mich.) cracked the AFCA national poll at No. 22 for just the second time in program history, and will host Ashland this weekend, a team just knocked out of the rankings by Hillsdale ... Minnesota State, Mankato snapped Winona State's 35-game home winning streak against Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference foes as the Mavericks moved to 5-0 for just the third time in school history.  The last time MSU opened 5-0 was in 1993 -- a year in which it advanced to the NCAA playoffs.  The Mavericks look to remain perfect when they host Augustana for Homecoming on Oct. 3.