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Wayne Cavadi | NCAA.com | October 31, 2021

Lenoir-Rhyne upsets No. 16 Wingate; DII football top-25 battles look to shake up regional rankings

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

There was only one upset in DII football this past Saturday, but it as a big one. Lenoir-Rhyne went to No. 16 Wingate and dominated its SAC rival in a game that is sure to mix up the DII football regional rankings come Monday. A few top 25 showdowns, including a thriller from No. 2 Valdosta State and No. 3 West Georgia, also had major postseason implications.

RANKINGS: The latest Power 10 | Regional rankings

Before Monday's second regional rankings are released, let's look back on Saturday's action.

7 things you missed this DII football Saturday

1. The Valdosta State vs. West Georgia game was just about everything you could hope for in this huge Gulf South battle. The No. 2 Blazers went up big on the No. 3 Wolves at the half, but as it has done all season, West Georgia fought all the way back. The Wolves fell just short as the Blazers pulled off their narrowest victory of the season, 36-34. Quarterback Ivory Durham led the way for Valdosta State with four total touchdowns while West Georgia’s Harrison Frost threw for three of his own. While the win solidifies Valdosta State atop Super Region Two, the Wolves shouldn’t fall too far from their No. 4 spot, perhaps flip-flopping with No. 5 West Florida after an Argos’ victory this past Saturday. 

SCOREBOARD: All of Saturday's DII football action

2. Northwest Missouri State made a huge statement in a complete victory over a very good Nebraska-Kearney team. This top-25 battle was expected to be a close one, especially after the Lopers’ shocking upset the last time the two faced. The Bearcats clearly remembered, and behind a 30-0 second quarter, put this one away at the half en route to a 66-13 victory. This Bearcats' defense has yet to allow 20 points to an offense in a game, and as the adage goes… well, you know what wins championships.  

3. It was quite the day for Slippery Rock’s Noah Grover. The North Dakota transfer made his first start of his Slippery Rock career… and set the program record with eight touchdown passes in the game. Three in a row went to All-American Henry Litwin, who was the only DII football player named a Walter V. Campbell Trophy finalist this past week. The Rock is hoping it saved some offense as it hosts undefeated Cal (PA) next Saturday in a game with major PSAC, regional and postseason implications on the line. 

FERRIS QB POWER: How Jared Bernhardt went from best in DI lacrosse to the DII football field

4. No. 20 Western Colorado made its mark on the RMAC in a big victory over red-hot No. 22 Colorado Mesa. There wasn’t a lot of offense to report on as there was just 580 total yards between both teams in this 23-9 slugfest. The win keeps the Mountaineers perfect at home and in position to win the RMAC title. Not bad for the team projected to finish fifth in the RMAC preseason poll, don’t you think?

5. Lenoir-Rhyne has righted the ship at a good time. Our preseason No. 2 fell out of the rankings altogether after two early season losses. The Bears have won four in a row, outscoring their opponents 135-9 over the last three. The most recent victim was longtime SAC-rival and No. 16 Wingate, 31-6. Not only was this a big upset for the Bears, but Wingate was also No. 6 in the first regional rankings. With a Mars Hill victory this past Saturday, Wingate likely drops from the top 7 and the Bears can get back in the postseason conversation. 

HARLON HILL 2021: 23 preseason hopefuls | The ultimate guide to the history of the award

6. In each of the past two tournaments, three of the final four teams left standing were undefeated. This season, there are only four undefeated teams in all DII football remaining. With Bentley and Cal (PA) in the same region, there is no chance that all four semifinalists will be undefeated this season. The Falcons currently own the longest winning streak in DII football, with 13 in a row dating back to their last full season. 

School Record
Ferris State 8-0
Valdosta State 8-0
Cal (PA) 8-0
Bentley 8-0

7. DII football quick hits:

  • Harding won 73-14 with three different freshmen running backs breaking the century mark. All-world running back Cole Chancey had a pair of touchdowns before being lifted early in this one. The Bison, who already had the top rushing offense in DII, didn’t attempt a single pass.
  • Bowie State locked up its third-straight CIAA North Division title with its 31-7 victory, securing a spot in the CIAA championship game on Nov. 13. The Bulldogs remain undefeated in DII play and 8-1 overall.
  • Kutztown is heading back to the PSAC championship game. The Golden Bears defeated Millersville 30-7 in their homecoming game in another defensive masterpiece. 
  • Lindenwood is back in the groove. The Lions are now 7-1 in DII play and perfect in the GLVC. Their remaining two contests are against teams with a 9-9 combined record, and with little room for error in the Super Region Three rankings, the Lions’ postseason has already begun.
  • Indiana (PA), which was ranked No. 7 in the first regional rankings, lost to unranked Edinboro. Wayne State (NE), also No. 7 in its Super Region, fell to previously winless Upper Iowa. Expect both teams to fall out of the top 7 and face a major uphill battle to the postseason. 
  • It was a defensive battle, but South Dakota Mines took the 136th Black Hills Brawl 13-10 over Black Hills State. It is the longest-played rivalry in DII football
  • Landon Freeman of Sioux Falls had himself a day. He ran for 213 yards and reeled in another 86 receiving with five total scores as the Cougars handed Minnesota State a loss. 

The best stats from the AFCA Top 25

With so many lopsided victories in the top 25, there were plenty of touchdowns scored and stat sheets filled this past DII football Saturday. Here are the standout stat lines from those teams inside the AFCA Top 25 rankings.

Player School Position Stats
Noah Grover Slippery Rock QB 439 pass, 8 TD
Tyson Bagent Shepherd QB 364 pass, 5 TD
Austin Reed West Florida QB 344 pass, 5 total TD
Noah Mitchell Cal (PA) QB 339 pass, 5 TD
John Matocha Colorado School of Mines QB 310 pass, 3 TD
Chris Brimm Notre Dame (OH) QB 305 pass, 5 TD
Kyle Saddler Augustana (SD) QB 271 pass, 5 total TD
Mike Hohensee Northwest Missouri State QB 270 pass, 68 rush, 4 total TD
Ivory Durham Valdosta State QB 212 pass, 72 rush, 4 total TD
Jared Bernhardt Ferris State QB 154 pass, 163 rush, 3 total TD
       
TJ Cole Ouachita Baptist RB 254 rush, 4 TD
Shomari Mason West Florida RB 179 rush, 3 TD
Jamar Thompkins Valdosta State RB 150 rush, 1 TD
Jhalen Spicer Harding RB 146 rush, 3 TD
Blake Delacruz Harding RB 136 rush, 1 TD
Josh Cummings Western Colorado RB 128 rush, 1 TD
Malcom Facey Frostburg State RB 125 rush, 1 TD
Tyler Minor Ferris State RB 120 rush
Zaire Jones Kutztown RB 117 rush
Will Fitzhugh Harding RB 116 rush, 1 TD
Calil Wilkins Bowie State RB 110 rush, 1 TD
Evyn Holtz Slippery Rock RB 109 rush
Andrew Brazicki Bentley RB 108 rush, 2 TD
Nijere Peoples Wingate RB 106 rush
Al McKeller Northwest Missouri State RB 91 rush, 4 TD
       
Larry Rembert West Florida WR 184 receiving, 3 TD
Devanaire Conliffe Notre Dame (OH) WR 151 receiving, 3 TD
Derek Lockhart Cal (PA) WR 135 receiving, 3 TD
Kylan Harrison Midwestern State WR 129 receiving, 1 TD
Henry Litwin Slippery Rock WR 127 receiving, 3 TD
Jayden Moore Midwestern State WR 122 receiving, 1 TD
JaQuae Jackson Cal (PA) WR 121 receiving, 2 TD
Ryan Beach Shepherd WR 113 receiving, 2 TD
Alec Tatum Northwest Missouri State WR 102 receiving

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