[Editor’s note: This should have been posted on Monday but Tony Gerdeman dropped the ball and he feels bad and he should feel bad.]
Week One – September 3, 2017
Simply stated, college football is back. And back in a big way. A six-day weekend of games featuring the top teams in the country has dominated the major network airwaves. ESPN, ABC, Fox and more have broadcast games in HD; showcased the with Game Day activities; analyzed games in the Coaches Film Room; presented them in “homer” and “goal line” formats; provided highlights, stats, and game breakdowns by experts and amateurs alike, and remarkably—at least as I write this Sunday evening—it’s not over yet.
You know about the Buckeyes, the Tide, Clemson, that team up north and the other big winners in week one. You may know that once mighty Baylor lost the opening game in the “Matt Rhule, wow, we’ve got a lot to clean up around here” Era to Liberty 48-45 indicating that Big 12 defenses can’t stop even a mediocre FCS opponent. Talk about starting off on the wrong foot. It’s possible the best week for anyone recently connected with Baylor was Art Briles who was fired before he was hired by the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in the CFL in a memorable, “hello, you must be going” Marx Brothers moment.
Hopefully you heard the great story about Jake Olsen the blind long-snapper for USC who executed a perfect snap on the Trojans last extra point attempt in their win over Western Michigan. But for those who want more from the opening weekend than just what the big boys did, we’re back with another season of highlights and lowlights that occurred “Elsewhere in College Football”…
Biggest Blowout of the Week—Mismatches in week one are common. Blowouts in many cases are the norm as teams try to start the season in a big way in front of the home crowd and in the opening week of the 2017 season there were myriad of choices for this award—South Dakota and Campbell won by 70 points; Millikin won by 73; Weber State slipped by Montana Western 76-0—but one team went way beyond that. It’s possible you’ve heard of the St. John’s University Johnnies, a long time D3 powerhouse. The Johnnies have won 32 MIAC championships, have 27 post -season appearances and 4 National Championships on their resume and oh, yes, are home to the winningest all-time coach in college football history, the legendary John Gagliardi, who in his 64-year career—60 of which were with St. John’s—went 489-138-11, but St John’s, the 10th ranked team in the preseason, set a DIII record for most points in a game between two DIII opponents by overwhelming St. Scholastica 98-0 in front of 6,082 fans at Clemons Stadium in Collegeville. Minnesota. The NCAA Division III record for points in a game is 105 set by Rockford (IL) against then-NAIA Trinity Bible back in September of 2003. St. John’s scored 63 points in the first half to set a new team record and according the official Johnnies web site, the entire 180-man roster, except for any injured players, saw action in the game. The Johnnies outgained the Saints of St. Scholastica 560-52 and they limited the Saints to -7 yards on 41 rushing attempts. Thirteen different players scored for St. John’s. Freshman running back Kendrick Hernandez led the Johnnies with 65 yards rushing. On two carries. He averaged 32.5 yards per carry. Overall three St. John’s QB’s combined to go 14 of 17 for 223 yards and 6 touchdowns. Three kickers converted extra points for St. John’s and the Johnnies last TD came on a 21-yard run by Bryar Topo with just over 10 minutes left in the game so it could have been worse. The Saints will travel to Grenville, Illinois next week to take on Greenville College and try and right their ship and the Johnnies will host NAIA Presentation College in their second game of the season.
Fewest Points by a Winning Team—In a game just slightly different from St. John’s and St. Scholastica, the Webber International Warriors turned back the Knights of St Andrews University 3-0 at Legion Field in Lake Wales, Florida. The lone score in this game was a 26-yard field goal by Marcus Mannerstedt with 11:02 left to play. This game only took two hours and fifteen minutes to play and the 250 fans in attendance saw the teams combine to run 129 plays and gain a total of 330 yards. That’s 2.5 yards per play. Try and imagine the excitement as the two teams turned the ball over 8 times, punted 12 times and went 7 of 22 on third down.
Most Points by a Losing Team—Notre Dame College traveled to Shepherdstown, WV to take on the Rams of Shepherdstown University a Mountain East Conference and in most cases we think Notre Dame would take 49 points and roll out with a win but Saturday 49 wasn’t enough as senior quarterback Connor Jessup accounted for 526 total yards and 7 TD’s to lead the Rams to a 54-49 win. Jessop completed 35 of 48 passes for 476 yards and 5 TD’s and he ran seven times for 50 yards and two additional scores. James Gupton, a senior inside linebacker from Ken Pryor’s North Point High School in Waldorf, MD led the Ram defense with 10 tackles including 7 solo stops, two tackles for loss and a forced fumble.
And the Beat Goes On—Grove City College, our favorite team with the nickname Wolverines, dropped their 31st straight game on Saturday falling to Juniata College 42-31 on a rainy Saturday at Chuck Knox Stadium in Huntingdon, PA. The last time Grove City won a game was a 50-44 overtime thriller over Thiel College on November 16, 2013. That was before selfies became a word, Jay Leno left the Tonight Show, Orange Is the New Black debuted and Robin Williams and Joan Rivers died. The Wolverines went 0-10 in 2014, 2015 and 2016 and so far in 2017 that trend continues. Grove City led 17-7 at halftime and 24-14 with 8:06 left in the third quarter before Juniata ran off four straight TD’s capped by Joel Reighard’s 70-yard punt return midway through the fourth quarter. Reighard had a big game for the Eagles. In addition to his punt return, the junior from Altoona, PA had 8 tackles as a starting DB, a tackle for a loss, a pass breakup and he kicked all 6 extra points. Grove City was led by QB Brett Laffoon who went 19 of 27 for 292 yards and 3 TD’s. The Wolverines host Washington and Jefferson on Saturday with hopes of ending the streak but W&J has beaten Grove City the past five years by an average score of 48-14 so the smart money here says loss #32 is a lock.
Big Upset in Bloomington—No, not Bloomington, Indiana but 200 miles northwest in Bloomington, Illinois the home of Illinois Wesleyan University, where the Titans upset #3 Wisconsin Whitewater 17-10. It was Whitewater’s first season-opening loss since 2003 when they fell 40-17 at Mt. Union. Illinois Wesleyan took the lead for good with 8:02 left to play on a 5-yard TD pass from Brandon Bauer to Jack Healy but Whitewater was its’ own worst enemy turning the ball over three times including two botched snaps at the Wesleyan 1-yard line and a fumble deep in Titan territory.
Going for Two with 0:00 Left—We stay in Illinois for more craziness, this time in Jacksonville, Illinois as the Fightin’ Engineers of Rose–Hulman Institute of Technology visited the Blueboys of Illinois College. In a back and forth game, Illinois College got a 50-yard field goal from Zack DeWitt with 1:36 remaining to tie the game at 26. Two plays and 27 seconds later Rose-Hulman QB Andrew Dion hit Raymond Burtnick with a 63-yard TD strike and Matt Murray’s PAT gave the Engineers a 33-26 lead but the Blueboys weren’t done. Illinois College got the ball one last time at their own 35 with 59 seconds left in the game. Two incomplete passes and a pass interference penalty later, Drew Chance, the Blueboys quarterback had a first and ten and he hit three passes to move the ball to the Rose-Hulman 30 with 5 seconds remaining. Illinois College called time out to set up the last play, the old “hook and lateral” and they ran it to perfection. Chance hit Kyle Obertino for 16 yards and Obertino pitched a lateral to Logan Uyetake who raced the final 14 yards for a touchdown with no time remaining. Rather than go for the tie, Illinois College elected to go for two and the win but Chance’s pass in the corner of the end zone was knocked away and Rose-Hulman secured a 33-32 win. The two teams combined to run 172 plays and racked up almost 800 yards in total offense.
Two for Two—Two teams, the McKendree University Bearcats and the Defiance Yellow Jackets, scored just two points in their season openers over the weekend. What makes this even better to me is that both teams lost by the same score, 42-2. McKendree generated just 127 total yards in their loss at Angelo State and the Yellow Jackets had more punts than first downs—10 to 8—as they fell to visiting Baldwin Wallace, also the Yellow Jackets, at Coressel Stadium in Defiance.
Finally, Box Scores We Love—
|W. Connecticut St.||0||7||20||21||48|
There are several things to love about this box score and this game. First, Hartwick led 28-0 with 4:00 to play in the second quarter. Second, there were 3 missed PAT’s, two by Hartwick which would have given them the win, and third, some of the numbers from this game are incredible. Hartwick ran 54 plays and gained 589 total yards or 10.9 yards per play. WCSU ran 93 plays and gained 522 yards. That’s 147 plays and 1,111 total yards and they combined for 50 first downs and 21 penalties. Individually, the QB’s led the way for both teams. WCSU QB Quinn Fleeting was 32 of 49 for 375 yards and 5 TD’s but Billy Pine, the Hartwick Hawks quarterback topped that with a record-breaking performance of his own. Pine completed 24 of 38 passes for 539 yards and & touchdowns. Receiver Koree Reed set personal best marks with 9 catches for 290 yards and 3 scores. Reed, and his fellow WR, Brad Garcia, who had three TD grabs of his own, averaged 32 and 29 yards per catch respectively. 1,109 fans were in attendance at Wright Stadium in Oneonta, NY and watched the game take 4 hours and 7 minutes to play. Without TV timeouts. My guess is if this game had aired on the worldwide leader, they still might be playing.