Oct. 19, 2009

Courtesy of SoCon Athletics

SPARTANBURG, S.C. – No. 1 Richmond rallied for the second week in a row to defeat Maine 38-21 and maintain its No. 1 ranking in the latest FCS Coaches Poll.

The Spiders scored 28 unanswered points in the second half to come from behind and earn the victory. Richmond (6-0) has won 15 consecutive games, including 10 straight on the road. Eric Ward ran for a touchdown and passed for another, connecting with Donte Boston on a three-yard toss to pull the Spiders within three. Richmond received all 28 first-place votes and 700 points overall.

The rest of last week’s top five faced ranked opponents, including then-No. 3 Northern Iowa which hosted then-No. 5 Southern Illinois. The Salukis held on for a 27-20 victory, snapping an 11-game losing streak in Cedar Falls.

Southern Illinois took its first lead with 5:06 left in the game. Steve Morse recovered a fumbled punt at Northern Iowa’s seven-yard line, and Deji Karim scored on a one-yard run to break a 13-13 tie. Brandon Williams then returned an interception 21 yards for a score to put the Salukis ahead 27-13 with 2:48 remaining. Northern Iowa’s Pat Grace responded with a three-yard touchdown pass to D.J. Hord with 1:50 remaining in the game to pull the Panthers within seven, but Southern Illinois was able to run out the clock. With the win, Southern Illinois (5-1) jumped two spots to No. 3. Northern Iowa (5-2) fell to No. 6.

Montana strengthened its hold on No. 2 with its 41-34 win against then-No. 17 Eastern Washington. The Grizzlies pulled ahead 27-13 after an 18-yard pass from Andrew Selle to Ty Palmer. The Eagles responded with two touchdown passes from Ashton Gant, including one the covered 50 yards that tied the game at 27. Marc Mariani returned a punt for a score to put Montana ahead again until Taiwan Jones tied it with 4:58 remaining. Chase Reynolds scored from one yard out with 1:18 to play to put the Grizzlies ahead for good. Each team scored 21 points in the second half.

New Hampshire was handed its first loss of the season by then-No. 20 Massachusetts. R.J. Toman threw a six-yard touchdown pass to Scott Sicko to put the Wildcats ahead 17-10 at the beginning of the fourth quarter, but the Minutemen would score 13 unanswered points to come from behind and win. Armando Cuko kicked a 36-yard field goal with 7:15 to play before Jonathan Hernandez ran 42 yards for a score less than two minutes later to put Massachusetts up front 20-17. Cuko kicked another field goal, this time for 41 yards, with 1:26 remaining to ensure the victory. The Minutemen have won three of the last four games against the Wildcats.

With the win Massachusetts (4-2) jumped four spots to No. 16, and New Hampshire (5-1) fell four spots to No. 8.

Villanova (6-1) rejoined the top five, coming in at No. 4, with its shutout of then-No. 16 James Madison. Chris Whitney threw for three touchdowns, including one to Matt Szczur for 30 yards. Szcur caught two touchdown passes, a career high. The Wildcats rushed for 225 yards and had possession for 33:38. Villanova turned two James Madison fumbles in the second quarter into points as the Wildcats defeated the Dukes for the first time in four meetings.

Idle William & Mary (5-1) rounded out the top five.

Coming in at No. 6 was Northern Iowa, followed by Elon (5-1) at No. 7, New Hampshire at No. 8, Appalachian State (4-2) at No. 9 and South Carolina State (5-1) at No. 10.

Appalachian State rallied from a 34-20 deficit against Wofford behind Armanti Edwards’ 415 passing yards and two touchdowns. The Mountaineers went on to win 44-34 and earn their 15th consecutive conference victory.

South Carolina State defeated then-No. 22 Florida A&M 35-20 behind William Ford’s 141 rushing yards and two touchdowns.

New to the poll this week are No. 23 Delaware (5-2) and No. 25 Northern Arizona (4-2).

Delaware defeated Towson 49-21 behind Leon Jackson’s three rushing touchdowns and Pat Devlin’s two touchdown passes. In the final play of the first half Charles Graves returned a Towson interception 90 yards. The Blue Hens opened the second half with an 89-yard kickoff return by Jerry Butler.

Behind Michael Herrick’s 254 passing yards and three touchdowns, Northern Arizona defeated Portland State 44-23. Herrick connected with Conrad Meadows for two scores, including one for 31 yards.

Dropping out of the rankings this week were James Madison (2-4) and Florida A&M (4-2). Both teams fell to ranked competition.

Only three teams in the Top 25 remain undefeated. They included No. 1 Richmond, No. 2 Montana and No. 17 Colgate. The Raiders defeated Georgetown 31-14 to move to 7-0.

Despite the Dukes dropping out, the Colonial Athletic Association maintains six ranked teams with Delaware joining the Top 25. The CAA has three teams in the top five and four in the top 10. The Big Sky Conference is represented by four ranked teams. The Missouri Valley, Ohio Valley and Southland Conferences are each represented by three teams, while the Patriot League and Southern Conference each have two. The Great West and Mid-Eastern Athletic Conferences each have one ranked team.

The FCS Coaches Poll is based exclusively on a voting panel of head coaches in the FCS under the cooperation of the Collegiate Commissioners Association (CCA) and the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) and is administered by the Southern Conference.