It was quality over quantity on the DII football field. Though only five DII football teams were in action, there were enough eye-popping stats to keep you on the edge of your seat as Nebraska-Kearney and Angelo State ran all over their respective opponents on Saturday.
Over on the court, if it were a normal year, the DII college basketball season would be tipping off at the Small College Basketball Hall of Fame right around now. The year 2020 has been anything but normal, and while we won't have what has become a highly-anticipated tournament, we can certainly take a brief look at the history of the event.
Buckle up. We have a big weekend in DII football, plus here's what you missed in DII sports.
DII football look ahead
What's on the menu for Saturday, November 14, you ask? Let's take a look ahead at next weekend's expected slate.
Saturday, Nov. 14 (all times Eastern)
Western Colorado at Colorado Mesa | 3 p.m. - UPDATED NOV. 11 - PPD
Western Colorado has canceled the remainder of its season due to coronavirus concerns.
Here's what we said: The Mountaineers get their first DII football matchup after falling to FCS Stephen F. Austin in their 2020 opener. Colorado Mesa looks to get back on track after two weeks off now. The last time the Mavericks took the field, they dropped the first game of the Tremaine Jackson head coaching era. Running back Jesse Rodriquez has been an absolute machine for Mesa, scoring in each of his three games and already amassing 415 yards on the ground.
Chadron State at Black Hills State | 4 p.m. - UPDATED NOV. 13 - CANCELED
We will keep an eye on this one for you. Black Hills State has had to cancel its last two games due to coronavirus concerns, so hopefully the Yellowjackets can get on the field. The story here is the Chadron State offense. They have scored 35 points or more in their last three games. Dalton Holst and Jalen Starks are clicking and will be tough to stop.
Nebraska-Kearney at South Dakota Mines | 4 p.m. - UPDATED NOV. 13 - CANCELED
The Hardrockers return to the field after a week off looking to get back above .500. Unfortunately they have the task of facing arguably the hottest offense in DII football right now. TJ Davis is playing out of this world for the Lopers, but Mines has plenty of weapons. Running back Ahmad Lewis has been his normal sensational self in 2020, rushing for 99.5 yards per game with six touchdowns thus far on the season. This has the makings of a good old-fashioned shootout.
Pittsburg State at Stephen F. Austin | 5 p.m.
The Gorillas look to make it two-straight for DII football over the FCS. The Lumberjacks are 3-0 against DII in 2020, so Pittsburg State will have its hands full. The defense is coming off a stingy performance against Missouri Western and the offense seems to be getting more comfortable in Wright's system. Expect a competitive game from the Gorillas in Texas.
Missouri Western at West Texas A&M | 6 p.m. - UPDATED NOV. 13 - CANCELED
A little cross-conference action heads to Canyon, Texas. The Buffs had a week off after a 56-0 shellacking of NAIA North American to get to 3-2 on the season. Quarterback Nick Gerber leads the offense that is scoring 32.8 points per game in 2020. The Griffons are looking for their first win of the new year. We knew they would struggle with so many new faces on the field and such an odd environment to get acclimated in this year. This would be a big momentum builder in a tough venue for visiting opponents.
7 crazy numbers from DII football Saturday
One is a pretty big number for Pittsburg State. The Gorillas were able to get new head coach Brian Wright his first career win on Saturday. Quarterback Mak Sexton led the way with 147 yards and two touchdowns for Pittsburg State in the 20-7 win over Missouri Western. In a day when rushing numbers were being piled up across DII football, the Gorillas defense held the Griffons to just 43 yards rushing on the day.
Here are some other numbers that caught our eye on Saturday.
0 — That's exactly how many times Pittsburg State has lost in its second game of the season since 2000. The Gorillas rolled to a relatively easy victory over Missouri Western, 20-7 to get to 1-1 on the season.
2 — Players who eclipsed the 200-yard mark on the ground on Saturday. Alfred Grear rattled off 247 yards for Angelo State and quarterback TJ Davis went for 252 yards on the ground in helping Nebraska-Kearney get to 2-0 behind a 45-35 victory over Chadron State.
3 — Rushing touchdowns scored by TJ Davis. The Lopers' quarterback tossed his first touchdown pass of the season as well, giving him four total touchdowns on the day and eight in two games this season. He's scored in every game since October 5, 2019, amassing 30 total touchdowns over that span.
4 — Touchdowns scored by Angelo State's Alfred Grear on Saturday. The final touchdown was a 68-yard scamper that put the game out of reach, giving the Rams a 34-21 victory over Abilene Christian. It was the first DII over FCS victory of the season.
7 — Touchdowns scored by Chadron State Jalen Starks this season. Starks, a big addition from UCLA, scored his sixth and seventh touchdowns of the season for the Eagles on Saturday. He totaled 125 yards rushing and now has three multi-touchdown games in a row.
286 — Yards Eagles' star quarterback Dalton Holst threw for on Saturday in defeat. The senior is closing out a remarkable career, eclipsing the 200-yard mark in every game this season. But it's more than 2020 — Holst has been a model of consistency. Since September 15, 2018, Holst has thrown for more than 200 yards and at least one touchdown in 22 of his last 23 games.
955 — Total yards rushing that Angelo State and UNK combined for on Saturday. The Lopers reeled off an amazing 541 yards while the Rams totaled 414 on the ground as both teams earned victories.
The Small College Basketball Classic, explained
Sadly, 2020 will have no Small College Basketball Hall of Fame Classic. The two-day tournament in St. Joseph, Missouri, has become the signature opener of the DII men’s basketball season since 2016. Founded by John McCarthy, Small College Basketball presents the Bevo Francis Award on an annual basis, curates the Small College Basketball Hall of Fame and conducts the annual tournament. The field has often been stacked with some of the biggest stars and top-ranked DII college basketball teams.
BEVO FRANCIS: DII college basketball's all-time scorers
Here’s a quick look at the history of the event.
Tournament MVPs and top scorers
Ryan Hawkins had a monster performance at the 2019 Classic. He set the single-game scoring record with 44 points, the first player to eclipse the 40-point mark in tournament history. He went on to score 68 points in Northwest Missouri State’s two games, breaking the tournament mark of 64 set by Justin Reyes of St. Thomas Aquinas in 2017.
Jeril Taylor’s performance in the inaugural Small College Basketball Classic is one to remember. He scored 30 and 31 points in his two games in earning the first MVP honors of the Classic’s history. Only Jhonathan Dunn of Southern Nazarene in 2019 has matched the feat of scoring at least 30 points in both his team's appearances.
|Tournament Most Valuable Player|
|2016||Jeril Taylor||Southern Indiana|
|2017||Justin Reyes||St. Thomas Aquinas|
|2018||Trevor Hudgins||Northwest Missouri State|
|2019||Ryan Hawkins||Northwest Missouri State|
The best of the best converge on St. Joseph annually
Six teams have appeared in the Classic twice, but only one has a perfect record. That honor goes to the Northwest Missouri State Bearcats, who started each of the previous two seasons undefeated in St. Joseph.
|Ferris State||2017, 2018||3-1|
|Kentucky Wesleyan||2016, 2017||1-3|
|Lincoln Memorial||2016, 2019||2-2|
|Missouri Western||2018, 2019||1-3|
|Northwest Missouri State||2018, 2019||4-0|
|Southern Indiana||2016, 2017||3-1|
|St. Thomas Aquinas||2017||0-2|
|West Texas A&M||2019||2-0|