Week 6 is a tremendous weekend in DII football, and the action gets rolling at Duvall-Rosier Field in Fairmont, West Virginia. The No. 20 Notre Dame Falcons take on the Fairmont State Falcons in a showdown with major Mountain East implications.
Two young running backs will have all eyes upon them in this high-profile Thursday night game. With so much on the line, the game is featured on the Division II Twitter feed and Facebook, as well as the West Virginia Channel, WVMetroNews.com, and the Mountain East Conference, Notre Dame, and Fairmont State Digital Networks.
Notre Dame Falcons
Record: 5-0 (5-0 MEC) | Head coach: Mike Jacobs (third year)
2018 signature win: Upset of No. 16 Shepherd, 35-33
Key numbers to know: This should be an exciting chess match between two very well matched teams. Notre Dame (OH) has had no problem lighting up the scoreboard in 2018, second in the MEC with 37.5 points per game. The big problem is that this week, the Falcons face the MEC's No. 1 ranked defense, allowing just 19.2 points per game.
Players to watch: Freshman running back Jaleel McLaughlin is on an unreal pace to start his collegiate career. He opened the season with 302 yards and two touchdowns in his debut and recently posted his second 300-yard game of the season.
Receiver Marvelle Ross has had a strong start, averaging 115.8 yards per game with five touchdowns. To understand just how valuable Ross is as quarterback Chris Brimm's primary weapon, the rest of the receiving corps averages 73.4 yards per game, scoring the same five touchdowns as Ross.
Sha'haun Williams (6.5 sacks) and Derek Brumfield (5 sacks) are an explosive defensive duo, helping Notre Dame lead the MEC in sacks with 17. This is one of the key matchups to watch as Fairmont State's stout offensive line has allowed a mere four sacks in five games.
Fairmont State Falcons
Record: 4-1 (3-1 MEC) | Head coach: Jason Woodman (sixth season)
Signature win: handed 4-1 Urbana its lone loss (45-7)
Key numbers to know: Fairmont State leads the all-time series 3-2. One of the x-factors in this game could be the Falcons special teams. Lyrics Klugh leads the MEC's top-ranked kickoff return team, while he's also tied for first in DII football in punt returns (28.3 yards per return) and tops with two touchdowns. Colin Harvath has made a MEC-best eight field goals on the season.
Key players to watch: Running back Khalik Hamlin is having a big season, averaging 125.20 yards per game with four touchdowns already. He'll have his work cut out for him this Thursday, as Notre Dame has the best rushing defense in the MEC and eighth-best in DII football allowing a stingy 68.6 yards per game.
Takwan Crews-Naylor completed 17-of-26 pass attempts for 271 yards and 2 TDs in the victory over UVa-Wise pic.twitter.com/xphqJhoGbE— Fairmont State Athletics (@fsfalcons) September 29, 2018
Quarterback Takwan Crews-Naylor may be in for a big game. The junior quarterback has already had a couple big games this year, throwing for 1,212 yards and 11 touchdowns through five games. If Notre Dame has a glaring weakness, it is its MEC-worst passing defense, allowing 346 yards per game. Keep an eye on his receivers Shawn Harris (403 yards, two touchdowns) and Javon Haes (326 yards and six touchdowns) who could reek havoc on the Notre Dame secondary.