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Wayne Cavadi | NCAA.com | September 26, 2021

Two top-10 teams fall among a slew of upsets in Week 4 of the DII football season

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The DII football top 25, beware. No one is safe in the bonkers 2021 season as two more AFCA top-10 teams fell this week. We had top-25 upsets, games decided in the final seconds and enough stats to keep the analytics fanatics busy for a week.

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Monday's rankings will surely see a new look with No. 8 Ouachita Baptist, No. 10 Shepherd and No. 11 Minnesota Duluth all losing on a thrilling Saturday. Let's get caught up on Week 4 of the DII football season.

FULL SCOREBOARD: Week 4 DII football scores

9 things you missed in Week 4 of the DII football season

1. TJ Davis does it again. The Nebraska-Kearney quarterback led the Lopers to their third come-from-behind victory in the waning seconds of a game this month. Davis threw for 225 yards and a pair of touchdowns while rushing for two more, including the game-winner with just 24 seconds on the clock. This comes one week after he punched it in to take down Washburn with just 57 seconds left on the clock. The comeback kids are climbing the top-25 ladder and Davis has to be a top Harlon Hill Trophy candidate at this point. 

2. Well, how about those Bentley Falcons? The Falcons were 6-4 last time we saw them, opening the 2019 season to a 1-4 start. This past Saturday, Bentley improved to 4-0 on the 2021 season, so you may notice that’s a nine-game winning streak dating back to its last full season. The Falcons won 35-27 over then-undefeated American International. They were led by a pair of 100-yard rushing performances; one by running back Nathaniel Larkins (131 yards, two touchdowns) and the other from quarterback Stephen Strum (103 yards on the ground). Bentley has scored 35 or more points in three of its victories and have big wins over West Chester, Assumption and now AIU. It’s time to get the Falcons on your radar.

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3. Truman proved me wrong. Last week, I jumped aboard the Cody Schrader hype train, but told you a healthy Nick Watson could lead No. 12 Tiffin to the victory. Oops. The Cody Schrader train was full speed ahead, as the Bulldogs took down Tiffin 38-35. In fact, it was Schrader’s run with just 26 ticks on the clock that sealed it, capping off a 164 yard, two-touchdown day. Watson was sensational, throwing for four touchdowns but they all came in the first half. Truman made some great adjustments at half time to come from behind. Truman is top 25 bound this week and could make a substantial jump. 

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4. Harding, on the other hand, helped me break even in my predictions. No. 8 Ouachita Baptist was on a 30-game Great American Conference winning streak. Its last loss was to Harding, and it felt like the Bison were going to end the streak. They delivered, knocking off Ouachita Baptist 38-21. Omar Sinclair was the work horse at running back, reeling off 182 yards and a touchdown, while quarterback Preston Paden punched it in three times himself.

5. For the second straight week, No. 19 UIndy football was upset. This week it was to unranked Ohio Dominican, 19-16. Evan Ernst had a big game for the Panthers, throwing for 276 yards and a touchdown. The defense deserves kudos as well as it held UIndy star back Toriano Clinton to just 67 yards on 22 carries. UIndy’s top-25 status is in jeopardy with two losses on the young season.

6. Minnesota Duluth leapt into my Power 10 on the heels of an impressive victory over Minnesota State. That appearance will be short-lived as Wayne State (Neb.) upset the Bulldogs, who were No. 11 in the latest AFCA poll, 31-28. Running back Anthony Watkins piled up 101 yards and a score, while receiver Tauren Grady caught eight balls for 133 yards and a touchdown to lead the way.  

7. No. 10 Shepherd fell to Kutztown this past week. The win could boost the Golden Bears back into the top 25 while bumping Shepherd from the top 10. Kutztown won convincingly, 37-28, but had no answer for Tyson Bagent who still threw for nearly 400 yards and four touchdowns. A blocked field goal that Kutztown returned 87 yards for a touchdown really turned the tide for good in the first half. With Shippensburg, Cal (Pa) and Slippery Rock all moving to 4-0 this week, paired with one-loss IUP, Kutztown and Shepherd, well, the PSAC is shaping up to be quite the slugfest of potential top 25 teams.

8. Despite the plethora of upsets, the top 25 did deliver some potent defensive performances in Week 4. No. 2 Northwest Missouri State shut out Central Oklahoma 38-0 while limiting the Bronchos to just 118 total yards, including -23 net rushing yards. No. 3 Ferris State also won by a score of 38-0 over Davenport, holding the Panthers to just 56 yards passing and totaling four sacks. No. 14 West Georgia set a school record with 653 total yards in the Wolves second shutout of the season, this one a 56-0 thumping of Shorter. No. 23 Bowie State got into the shutout party with a 49-0 victory over Livingstone. The Bulldogs held the Blue Bears to a mere 72 total yards with Jordan Carter taking a fumble 45 yards to the end zone.

9. Some more fun numbers that caught our eye:

  • Ashland finally found the win column, defeating Quincy 63-23. Quarterback Austin Brenner had a monster day, throwing for 327 yards and five touchdowns, while rushing for 56 yards and two more scores.
  • When the Virginia Union quarterback-wide receiver duo of Khalid Morris and Charles Hall is on, they are one of the toughest to stop. They were exactly that on Saturday in a 43-7 victory. Morris threw for 390 yards and five touchdowns while Hall reeled in 193 yards and two touchdowns.
  • There was a nice little running back showdown in the NE10. Stonehill’s Justin Felder had his fourth 100-yard day in as many tries while his counterpart, Assumption’s Khaleed Exum-Strong, ran for 173 yards and a score. 
  • There was a shootout in the GAC, and it resulted in some big numbers. No. 18 Henderson State held on 56-49, but it was Southern Arkansas' players that really stuffed the box scores. Quarterback Hayden Mallory threw for 376 yards and four touchdowns while running back Jariq Scales rushed for 204 yards and a pair of scores. 
  • Last week, we reported that Chowan improved to 3-0 when quarterback Bryce Witt totaled seven touchdowns. Well, folks, he outdid himself as Chowan moved to 4-0. This week he had eight total touchdowns — four through the air and four on the ground. Laurence King caught three of those TD passes and has at least one score in every game.
  • Fort Hays State evened its record at 2-2 thanks to 198-yard, two-touchdown performance from running back Adrian Soto.
  • The aforementioned Shippensburg Red Raiders should be on your radar. Quarterback Brycen Mussina is establishing himself as a player of the year candidate with 742 yards and seven touchdowns over the past two weeks.  

The best stats from the AFCA Top 25

We've already discussed some of the juicy numbers from a big DII football Saturday. Here are the standout performances from those teams inside the AFCA Top 25 rankings.

Player School Position Stats
Tyson Bagent Shepherd QB 398 pass, 4 TD
Nick Watson Tiffin QB 367 pass, 4 TD
Andrew Koester Slippery Rock QB 323 pass, 5 TD
Chris Brimm Notre Dame (OH) QB 319 pass, 2 TD
Kyle Saddler Augustana (SD) QB 316 pass, 7 total TD
Harrison Frost West Georgia QB 315 pass, 2 TD
Dillon Sterling-Cole Midwestern State QB 300 pass, 3 TD
       
Tyris Dickerson Notre Dame (OH) RB 208 rush, 3 TD
Cazz Martin Minnesota Duluth RB 163 rush, 3 TD
Al McKeller Northwest Missouri State RB 142 rush, 1 TD
Michael Zeman Colorado School of Mines RB 133 rush
Tariq Reid Grand Valley State RB 131 rush, 4 TD
Dwayne McGee Lenoir-Rhyne RB 122 rush, 1 TD
Demetrius Battle West Alabama RB 109 rush, 2 TD
TJ Cole Ouachita Baptist RB 106 rush
Charles Coleman Minnesota State RB 103 rush, 1 TD
       
Alec Tatum Northwest Missouri State WR 205 receiving, 2 TD
Jalen Thomas Tiffin WR 190 receiving, 2 TD
Dareke Young Lenoir-Rhyne WR 160 receiving, 3 TD
Henry Litwin Slippery Rock WR 148 receiving, 3 TD
Mechane Slade West Georgia WR 146 receiving
Kylan Harrison Midwestern State WR 116 receiving, 2 TD
Davis Patterson Notre Dame (OH) WR 115 receiving
Jermaine Wynn, Jr. Slippery Rock WR 111 receiving, 2 TD
Jonathan Moss Shepherd WR 108 receiving, 1 TD
Marcus Taylor Ferris State WR 101 receiving

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