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Wayne Cavadi | | November 7, 2021

5 upsets rock the DII football top 25 before the final regional rankings of the 2021 season

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

It wouldn’t be a DII football Saturday without a slew of upsets, would it? This Saturday certainly fit the bill with wins by teams like Slippery Rock, New Haven, Minnesota Duluth and Southeastern Oklahoma State sure to mess up the Super Regions in Monday’s final rankings before the selection show on Sunday, Nov. 14.

Just when the bracket was starting to get a little clearer… DII football happened.

RANKINGS: The latest Power 10 | Regional rankings

Let’s get caught up on the wild Saturday that was.

8 storylines you may have missed in Week 10 of the DII football season

1. Southeastern Oklahoma State certainly bolstered its playoff resume. In fact, the Savage Storm may be the best team no one sees coming this postseason. Sitting at No. 9 in Super Region Three, the Savage Storm went into Arkadelphia, Arkansas and beat No. 5 overall — and No. 7 in the region — Ouachita Baptist, 35-21. Running back C.J. Shavers had a big day in the victory, rushing for 154 yards and two touchdowns. The Storm now has wins over Harding and Ouachita Baptist and narrowly lost 27-24 to nationally ranked Henderson State. Ouachita Baptist is suddenly in a must-win situation next week at the Battle of the Ravine against Henderson State or its fourth-straight trip to the postseason is in serious jeopardy. 

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2. New Haven did its best job to completely upend the DII football regional rankings. The No. 24 Chargers took down No. 9 Bentley in dominant fashion, 31-14. The Falcons were undefeated, owners of the longest current winning streak in DII football and No. 1 in Super Region One, all of which now changes. Chargers quarterback Connor Degenhardt was the dominating force totaling four touchdowns on the day, but kudos to that New Haven defense. It held the NE10’s top offense to just 215 yards in a complete victory. 

3. Though Kutztown already had its spot locked up in next week’s PSAC championship game, a loss to West Chester would be huge in Super Region One rankings. The Golden Bears were able to sneak past the Golden Rams, 21-14 on Eric Nickel’s 22-yard touchdown pass to Jerome Kapp with just eight seconds remaining and should now leap into the top spot in the Super Region come Monday. It was Nickel’s third touchdown of the day — rushing in the other two — as Kutztown mounted its comeback after West Chester jumped out to a 14-0 first-quarter lead. 

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

4. Kutztown will face off against No. 15 Slippery Rock who, by rankings, pulled off an upset over No. 3 Cal (PA) to lock up its third-straight PSAC West title. If someone can become a Harlon Hill Trophy contender in just two games, Noah Grover is making the case. The Slippery Rock quarterback is on a hot streak that has been matched by few this DII football season. He has now thrown for 12 touchdowns in his past two games, his first two games of the season at that. Kutztown and Slippery Rock also faced in the 2019 PSAC championship game with The Rock winning in thrilling fashion, 37-35.

5. Speaking of game winners, Findlay and Ashland were tied at 17 with just two ticks left on the clock. That’s when Oilers kicker Austin Snyder stepped on the field and connected on a 35-yarder. The win keeps Findlay’s playoff hopes alive in a Super Region One that saw some significant losses this past Saturday. Later in the day, David Heaton booted a 43-yard field goal as time expired to give No. 16 Henderson State the 36-34 victory and keep their playoff hopes alive. And how about a game-winning blocked field goal? That's exactly what Washburn did, blocking Pittsburg State's potential go-ahead field goal with just 30 seconds on the clock to hold onto a 28-26 lead and improve to 8-2 keeping its playoffs hopes alive. 

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6. Minnesota Duluth needed to make a statement to improve its regional positioning and the Bulldogs answered the call. UMD, ranked eighth regionally, utterly dominated No.2-seeded Augustana (SD) 41-15. The Bulldog defense picked off Vikings’ quarterback Kyle Saddler four times, forced one fumble and sacked Saddler three times. It was a total onslaught and should be the big victory Minnesota Duluth needed to jump into the top 7. The Vikings will plummet quite a bit considering Central Washington, which sits right behind Augustana in the rankings, had a dominating victory behind quarterback Quincy Glasper’s 442-yard, five touchdown day.

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7. Speaking of Super Region Four, 7,000 fans were on hand in Canyon to watch their West Texas A&M Buffs outlast Midwestern State. The Mustangs were ranked fourth in the region and with a huge statement victory by Angelo State and wins by Western Colorado, Bemidji State and Minnesota Duluth, Midwestern State will be playing for its playoff lives against a solid UT Permian Basin team. Kudos to the Buffs defense in forcing three turnovers as running back Jarrod Compton controlled the clock with 160 yards on the ground. 

8. Other games of note:

  • Can Lenoir-Rhyne salvage its season after two early losses? The Bears won their fifth in a row much like the four wins prior: in dominant fashion. Dwayne McGee continues to shine, rushing for 152 yards and catching a touchdown pass. With No. 23 West Alabama losing to West Florida, there is room for the Bears to move up. 
  • Shippensburg, winners of three in a row, improved to 8-2 and is in the hunt for the final spot in Super Region One, especially with all the regional losses this week. 
  • Bemidji State held off Northern State 36-34 for a share of the NSIC North Division. It is a huge win for the Beavers over a fellow Super Region Four-ranked team and should at the very least keep them at No. 7 in the final regional rankings. 
  • Making its pitch for the best offensive line in football, UIndy's front plowed the way for 260 total yards on the ground. Keep in mind that is without Toriano Clinton who, despite leaving early last week and missing this game is still leading DII football in rushing. This week it was redshirt-freshman JaQuan Buchanan erupting for 154 yards and two scores.  
  • We don't give Southwest Baptist's Cooper Callis enough love for what he's done this season. That's mainly because the Bearcats are 4-6 and get lost in the shuffle, but Callis should not. This past weekend he had his fourth game of the season with more than 400 yards passing and his four touchdown passes gives him 31 on the season. 

The best stats from the AFCA Top 25

There was a plethora of huge passing days from elite DII football quarterbacks. This, by no one's surprise, led to some very impressive statistical days from the top receivers in the division. Here are the standout stat lines from those teams inside the AFCA Top 25 rankings.

Player School Position Stats
Noah Grover Slippery Rock QB 466 pass, 4 TD
Tyson Bagent Shepherd QB 437 pass, 6 TD
Austin Reed West Florida QB 403 pass, 4 TD
Adam Morse Henderson State QB 373 pass, 2 TD
Ivory Durham Valdosta State QB 315 pass, 107 rush, 1 TD
Cade Peterson Grand Valley State QB 218 pass, 62 rush, 5 total TD
T.J. Davis Nebraska-Kearney QB 147 pass, 179 rush, 3 total TD
Jared Bernhardt Ferris State QB 73 pass, 120 rush, 3 TD
Gavin Lavat Frostburg State RB 227 rush, 2 TD
Zach Mauro New Haven RB 175 rush
Al McKeller Northwest Missouri State RB 140 rush, 3 TD
Calil Wilkins Bowie State RB 137 rush, 3 TD
T.J. Cole Ouachita Baptist RB 135 rush, 1 TD
Idris Lawrence Notre Dame (OH) RB 118 rush, 2 TD
Michael Zeman Colorado School of Mines RB 106 rush, 39 receiving, 3 total TD
Ronnie Brown Shepherd RB 102 rush, 1 TD
Duce Sproles Henderson State RB 100 rush
Brian Saunds Valdosta State WR 220 receiving, 1 TD
Josh Gontarek Shepherd WR 195 receiving, 2 TD
Cinque Sweeting Slippery Rock WR 177 receiving, 1 TD
Jermaine Wynn Jr. Slippery Rock WR 169 receiving, 2 TD
L'liot Curry Henderson State WR 155 receiving, 2 TD
Malik Morris Frostburg State WR 146 receiving, 1 TD
Ka'Ron Ashley West Florida WR 125 receiving, 2 TD
Tristan Smith Colorado School of Mines WR 116 receiving, 1 TD
Devanaire Conliffe Notre Dame (OH) WR 110 receiving
Xavier Malone Henderson State WR 110 receiving
Derek Lockhart Cal (PA) WR 106 receiving, 2 TD
David Durden West Florida WR 105 receiving, 2 TD
Kaden Davis Northwest Missouri State WR 102 receiving, 1 TD
Mountaineers Western Colorado Defense 3 defensive touchdowns

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