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Wayne Cavadi | NCAA.com | September 12, 2021

4 top-25 upsets and a pair of 200-yard rushing days highlight a busy DII football Saturday

How last year's lacrosse player of the year became Ferris State's QB1

The DII football Power 10 rankings will certainly have a different look come Week 3. No. 5 Minnesota State and No. 6 Texas A&M-Commerce were part of a wild weekend that saw four AFCA and D2 Football top-25 teams fall. One thing is for certain: Consensus No. 1 West Florida is on a mission to repeat. Austin Reed and his Argos had another monster week, winning 63-14.

RANKINGS: Week 2 DII football Power 10 rankings

Before we jump into this week's headlines and star players, here's a look at how the DII football Power 10 fared:

Rank Team Record Result
1 West Florida 2-0 W 63-14 Southwest Baptist
2 Lenoir-Rhyne 1-0 Idle
3 Ferris State 2-0 W 45-19 Ashland
4 Slippery Rock 2-0 W 22-7 East Stroudsburg
5 Minnesota State 1-1 L 30-10 Minnesota Duluth
6 Texas A&M-Commerce 1-1 L 31-30 Midwestern State
7 Northwest Missouri State 1-0 No contest
8 Colorado School of Mines 2-0 W 31-21 New Mexico Highlands
9 Valdosta State 2-0 W 51-7 Virginia Union
10 Notre Dame (OH) 2-0 W 31-15 Wheeling

Five things you may have missed this weekend in DII football

1. What a wild one in Texas. No. 7 Texas A&M-Commerce jumped out to an early 14-0 lead and appeared to be heading to victory up 30-10 in the third quarter. But Midwestern State didn’t relent, coming all the way back — sparked by a 14-point fourth quarter — to win 31-30. Quarterback Dillon Sterling-Cole was quiet until the third quarter but threw for three touchdowns in the final 20 minutes, including the game-winner to Sam Hodges with 25 seconds remaining.

2. What an even wilder one in Durant, Oklahoma. Southeastern Oklahoma built up a 17-10 halftime lead over No. 17 Harding before a thrilling finish ensued. Harding scored 21 straight points to take the lead with 3:45 left in the game, but Daulton Hatley found Skye Lowe for a 4-yard touchdown pass with 46 seconds left to secure the 32-21 upset. It was Hatley’s first touchdown pass of the day.

Harlon Hill 2021: 23 preseason hopefuls to watch | The ultimate guide to the history of the award

3. Raise your hand if you had Nebraska-Kearney, Washburn and Emporia State tied atop the MIAA two weeks into the season. Nebraska-Kearney went into The Jungle in Pittsburg, Kansas and came out victorious, taking down the No. 23 Gorillas 28-17. Quarterback TJ Davis was superb, throwing for 198 yards and three touchdowns while rushing for 105 yards and another score. The Lopers will be at home this coming weekend in a showdown of undefeated teams against Washburn. 

4. As predicted here on NCAA.com, No. 20 Minnesota Duluth defeated No. 3 Minnesota State in dominating fashion by a score of 30-10. Bulldogs quarterback John Larson — who exploded for 447 yards passing and six touchdowns in Week 1 — totaled 209 yards and three touchdowns in a game that never was in question. That was in large part due to the defense dominating the Mavericks, allowing just 249 total yards. The victory snaps the Mavericks 36-game NSIC winning streak. It doesn’t get any easier for Minnesota State — 2-0 Bemidji State is up next.

5. Justin Felder was my bold prediction to lead DII football in rushing. Through two games this season he’s averaging 180 yards per game. He erupted Saturday for 183 yards and five touchdowns and barely touched the ball over the final 20 minutes of the game. He is a handful for opposing defenses — his 5’8, 175-pound frame can run you over or get outside — and if that happens, it’s nothing but end zone. Stonehill is 2-0 and is heading to Bentley next week.

Justin Felder is an absolute beast. I'm telling you he's going to lead #D2FB in rushing this year. Best RB in the nation you never heard of. @stonehill_info

1st TD of the day right here. He now has four on the season through five quarters. Have fun stopping him. pic.twitter.com/zHbgxe1Nyq

— Wayne Cavadi (@UofDWayne) September 11, 2021

Quick hits:

  • Texas Permian Basin hasn’t lost since 2019 and have won seven in a row. Quarterback Clayton Roberts tossed six touchdowns in defeating West Texas A&M.
  • Grand Valley State returned to Lubbers Stadium for the first time since 2019 and dominated No. 19 CSU Pueblo 34-14. Juwan Johnson, making his Lakers debut after a standout career at Midwestern State, returned a punt for a touchdown one of Cade Peterson’s two touchdown passes in the statement victory.
  • A few high-scoring offenses were back at it Saturday: Ferris State won big again, impressing over Ashland. The Bulldogs' offense has been unstoppable with Jared Bernhardt under center and is averaging 49.5 points per game. Augustana (SD) is off to a 2-0 start and is averaging 46 points per game in doing so. Jarod Epperson reeled off 127 yards rushing and two touchdowns to lead the way. West Georgia also improved to 2-0 and is averaging 46 points per game as well. 

Standout players from the top 25

There were standout performances from players on top-25 teams aplenty in Week 2. Ferris State's Jared Bernhardt showed Week 1 was no fluke, erupting for 210 yards rushing and two touchdowns on the ground in another big victory for Ferris State. Tyson Bagent, one of our preseason picks for the Harlon Hill Trophy, had a big day under center himself, throwing for 363 yards and five touchdowns as Shepherd improved to 2-0. 

TWO-SPORT STAR: Jared Bernhardt, the best lacrosse player in the country, is now starting QB at Ferris State

Player School Position Stats
Ja'rome Johnson Bowie State QB 409 pass, 3 TD
Tyson Bagent Shepherd QB 363 pass, 5 TD, 23 rush
Nick Watson Tiffin QB 340 pass, 1 TD, 13 rush, 1 TD
Austin Reed  West Florida QB 257 pass, 4 TD
Zach Bronkhorst Angelo State QB 230 pass, 67 rush, 4 total TD
Ivory Durham Valdosta State QB 175 pass, 112 rush, 4 total TD
Cade Peterson Grand Valley State QB 158 pass, 86 rush, 3 total TD
Jared Bernhardt Ferris State QB 86 pass, 210 rush, 2 TD
       
Toriano Clinton UIndy RB 270 rush, 4 TD, 10 receiving
Nijere Peoples Wingate RB 131 rush, 2 TD, 5 receiving
Seth McGill Valdosta State RB 129 rush, 1 TD, 9 receiving
Michael Zeman Colorado School of Mines RB 122 rush, 1 TD
Tim Smith Slippery Rock RB 122 rush
Jordan Davis Kutztown RB 119 rush, 1 TD
Kendel Givens Ouachita Baptist RB 114 rush, 3 TD
Tyris Dickerson Notre Dame (OH) RB 102 rush, 3 receiving
Taylor Bissell Harding RB 100 rush, 1 TD
       
Darious Bowman Bowie State WR 175 receiving, 1 TD
Jerome Kapp Kutztown WR 160 receiving, 2 TD
Anthony Lowe Tiffin WR 160 receiving
Duane Brown Indiana (Pa) WR 131 receiving, 1 TD, 20 rush
Rodney Coates West Florida WR 126 receiving, 2 TD
Jalen Martin Pittsburg State WR 112 receiving, 1 TD
Josh Gontarek Shepherd WR 108 receiving
Kellen Pachot Angelo State WR 101 receiving, 2 TD, 10 rush
Jalen Thomas Tiffin WR 87 receiving, 2 TD

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