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Wayne Cavadi | NCAA.com | October 17, 2021

No. 1 and No. 2 fall as top-25 upsets rock the DII football landscape. Here's what you missed

2021 DII football predictions: Can anyone dethrone West Florida?

In an absolutely mind-boggling Week 7 of DII football, both No. 1 West Florida and No. 2 Northwest Missouri State were upset on Saturday. But that was just the start. 

Five more AFCA top-10 teams — No. 6 Slippery Rock, No. 7 Grand Valley State, No. 8 Wingate, No. 9 Henderson State and No. 10 West Alabama — all lost as well.

RANKINGS: The Week 6 Power 10 will get a shakeup Monday

We are going to not only have a new No. 1 but a revamped DII football top-25 and Power 10 rankings come Monday. First, let’s break down how this wild Saturday unfolded.

9 things you missed in Week 7 of the DII football season

1. Down goes West Florida. For the first time since Nov. 9, 2019, the Argos were handed a loss. That snapped an 11-game winning streak which included six victories over nationally ranked opponents, an FCS school and of course, the 2019 national championship. This was a back-and-forth battle as West Georgia went into the locker room at the half with a 17-9 lead. Per usual, the Argos came storming back to take a late 26-24 lead, but West Georgia's Harrison Frost led the decisive fourth-quarter drive, connecting with Terrill Cole for the game-winning 16-yard score. West Georgia’s victory creates a cluster of top-25 teams atop the Gulf South Conference and keeps its playoff hopes alive. 

2. You aren’t going to go into Yager Stadium and win this season. Northwest Missouri State found that out Saturday as the No. 2 Bearcats were stunned by Washburn 17-16 in Topeka, Kansas. The Ichabods moved to 4-0 at home in the win, a victory that snapped a 15-game losing streak to their MIAA foe. Washburn’s redshirt-freshman quarterback Kellen Simoncic — with all of four career pass attempts to his name — was called on to replace starting quarterback Mitch Schurig, who was knocked out of the game due to injury. He responded by throwing for 157 yards and two touchdowns, with the last score coming with just 48 seconds left on the clock to put Washburn ahead and secure the upset.

3. The Anchor-Bone Classic was just that — an instant classic. No. 3 Ferris State and No. 7 Grand Valley State battled in front of a record 17,007 fans at Lubbers Stadium with the Bulldogs prevailing 35-28. Ferris State looked to have this one put away early in the third quarter, jumping out to a 28-7 lead, but the Lakers’ Cade Peterson led two touchdown drives in the final five minutes of the frame to make this a final quarter to remember. Bulldogs' quarterback Jared Bernhardt returned after missing three games and threw for 217 yards and rushed for another 116 to lead the way as Peterson threw for 175 yards and three touchdowns in a battle of fine QB play. Ferris State is now 6-0 and could very well be No. 1 come Monday.

4. Did someone mention No. 1? Valdosta State put its name in the hat with a dominating victory over No. 10 West Alabama. The win moves the Blazers to 6-0 in the Gulf South with West Florida, West Georgia and West Alabama — all nationally ranked — stuck right behind them with one loss apiece. This one was close as it started with a 14-14 first quarter, but as is often the case, Valdosta State pulled away for a 42-17 victory. Blazers' quarterback Ivory Durham — who just set his career-high mark for passing yards in a game two weeks ago — exploded for a new personal-best 341 yards and three touchdown passes as the Blazers rolled up 500 yards of offense for the third-straight game. 

5. The Crimson Hawks ended Slippery Rock’s 19-game PSAC West winning streak in dominant fashion. Fueled by quarterback Harry Woodbery, the offense erupted for a 48-21 victory. This game was never really in doubt as Indiana (PA) put up a 21-point second quarter to run away with it. Woodberry threw for 312 yards and a program-record five touchdowns, connecting with Irvin Charles for three of those scores and All-American wide receiver Duane Brown for 136 yards and a touchdown. At 5-1, the Crimson Hawks should find themselves back in the top 25 this week. 

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6. Barton’s start to the season was already impressive but this win will live in Barton football history forever. The Bulldogs — amid their first full season as a DII football program — shocked No. 8 Wingate in overtime. If you didn’t know the name Jordan Terrell before this past Saturday, you will now. Terrell — who leads DII football in rushing — racked up another 174 yards on the ground with three more scores, including the game-winner in overtime. Terrell has now rushed for more than 108 yards in every game he’s played, totaling 1,245 yards and nine touchdowns through seven games. Barton sits at 4-3 in handing Wingate its first loss of the season. 

7. While this one wasn’t a tremendous upset by the rankings, No. 20 Harding completely upended No. 9 Henderson State 46-21. Running back Cole Chancey was the workhorse, racking up 231 yards rushing on 27 carries to go with four scores. Henderson State’s All-American wide receiver L’liott Curry showed even DII football’s best defenses can’t hold him down, totaling 100 yards and a score in the losing effort. The GAC is heading for a wild finish as Harding, Ouachita Baptist, Henderson State and Southeastern Oklahoma State all sit atop the conference at 6-1 with each team losing to one of the other four.

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8. Wayne State (NE) was on a tear through the NSIC, taking down nationally ranked and undefeated foes on a weekly basis. That led the Wildcats to their first top-25 ranking in a decade. No. 22 Augustana (SD) felt enough was enough and knocked off No. 23 Wayne State (NE), 32-24. It was the Vikings first victory over a top-25 opponent since 2015. Augustana (SD) led a balanced attack as quarterback Kyle Saddler was sensational in the win, tossing for 332 yards with Jarod Epperson rushing for 127 on the ground. 

9. Quick hits:

  • No. 24 Western Colorado improved to 6-1 and have quite the scary duo in its backfield. The Mountaineers’ running back combo of Josh Cummings and Deyvon Butler totaled 388 yards rushing, 72 yards receiving and four scores in the victory. 
  • Truman’s Cody Schrader had his fifth-straight 100-yard rushing day (and sixth in seven tries this season) piling up 101 yards and two scores in a loss to Southwest Baptist. Bearcats' quarterback Cooper Callis threw for 401 yards and three touchdowns in the victory. Callis has thrown for 913 yards in the past two weeks. 
  • Lenoir-Rhyne’s freshman running back Dwayne McGee continued his impressive first full season. He rumbled for 200 yards and tied a program record with five touchdowns on the ground. It was a historic day for the Bears as Grayson Willingham — who threw for 363 yards and two touchdowns — became the program’s all-time passing leader. 

The best stats from the AFCA Top 25

There were plenty of juicy stat sheets on this monumental DII football Saturday. Here are the standout stat lines from those teams inside the AFCA Top 25 rankings.

Player School Position Stats
Austin Reed West Florida QB 419 pass, 3 TD
Ivory Durham Valdosta State QB 341 pass, 41 rush, 3 TD
Kyle Saddler Augustana (SD) QB 332 pass, 4 TD
TJ Davis Nebraska-Kearney QB 306 pass, 96 rush, 4 total TD
Ja'rome Johnson Bowie State QB 246 pass, 51 rush, 5 total TD
Jared Bernhardt Ferris State QB 217 pass, 116 rush, 2 TD
Stephen Strum Bentley QB 188 pass, 38 rush, 5 total TD
       
Cole Chancey Harding RB 231 rush, 4 TD
Josh Cummings Western Colorado RB 206 rush, 2 TD
Deyvon Butler Western Colorado RB 182 rush, 61 receiving, 2 TD
Calil Wilkins Bowie State RB 168 rush, 31 receiving, 1 TD
TJ Cole Ouachita Baptist RB 151 rush
Al McKeller Northwest Missouri State RB 138 rush, 58 receiving, 1 TD
Tyris Dickerson Notre Dame (OH) RB 128 rush, 1 TD
Jarod Epperson Augustana (SD) RB 127 rush
Michael Zeman Colorado School of Mines RB 116 rush, 3 TD
Ronnie Brown Shepherd RB 115 rush, 70 receiving, 1 TD
Kalen Clark Wingate RB 109 rush, 1 TD
Dayton Sealey Nebraska-Kearney RB 4 rush, 152 receiving, 1 TD
       
Ka'Ron Ashley West Florida WR 169 receiving, 3 TD
Brian Saunds Valdosta State WR 168 receiving, 1 TD
Armani Carmickle Minnesota Duluth WR 149 receiving
Sean Engel Augustana (SD) WR 144 receiving, 2 TD
Terrill Cole West Georgia WR 118 receiving, 1 TD
Tristan Smith Colorado School of Mines WR 117 receiving, 1 TD
L'liott Curry Henderson State WR 100 receiving, 1 TD

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