The news service I-AA.org has announced the 2004 debut of the Gridiron Power Index (GPI), the BCS-style ranking for I-AA and top indicator of playoff selection, with Georgia Southern ranked #1. The Atlantic 10 Conference led the way with seven teams in the top 25; the Southern Conference placed four; the Big Sky Conference, the Southland Conference, and the Gateway Football Conference placed three each; the Ivy League and Great West Football Conference placed two each; the Ohio Valley Conference placed one. (Games through 10/2/04)
Great West Individual Team Rankings: 8. Cal Poly SLO (8.44) (4-0) 14. UC Davis (13.89) (4-0) 28. N Dakota St (27.44) (4-1) T 37. S Utah (33.44) (2-2) 39. S Dakota St (33.56) (3-2) 48. N Colorado (41.33) (1-4)
One player each from Northern Colorado, North DakotaState and Cal Poly earned Great West Football Conference player of the week honors for their performances in games on Oct. 2. All three players are two-time GWFC player of the week award winners.
Northern Colorado wide receiver Vincent Jackson was chosen as offensive player of the week for the second straight week while North DakotaState strong safety Craig Dahl picked up defensive player of the week honors for the second time this season. Selected as special teams player of the week was Cal Poly wide receiver/kick return specialist Darrell Jones, the second time he has won a player of the week award this season.
Cal Poly defeated South DakotaState 14-7 while Northern Colorado fell 30-20 to UC Davis in Great West Football Conference games Saturday. In non-conference contests, Southern Utah routed McNeeseState 56-14 and North DakotaState was a 24-14 winner over NichollsState.
Games scheduled for Oct. 9 include a pair of Great West Football Conference matchups -- Cal Poly (4-0, 1-0) at Southern Utah (2-2, 0-0) and North Dakota State (4-1, 0-1) at South Dakota State (3-2, 0-2) -- plus a pair of non-conference games -- Stephen F. Austin at UC Davis (4-0, 2-0) and Northern Colorado (1-4, 1-1) at Southeastern Louisiana.
Jackson caught nine passes for 246 yards and three touchdowns in the Bears' loss at home to UC Davis. The 246 yards was the second-highest total in UNC history. It was the second straight game that Jackson went over the 200+ receiving yard mark. The game also marked the 4th 200+ receiving yards game in Jackson's career at UNC. Jackson also tallied 323 all-purpose yards with 65 punt return yards and 12 kick return yards. The 323 all-purpose yards ranks as the second-highest total in UNC history behind last week's 349 all-purpose yardage effort.
NichollsState, which runs a triple option, was held to 125 total rushing yards and fumbled the ball away twice. Dahl had 17 tackles including 12 solo stops. The dozen solo tackles tied the school record set by former Bison All-American defensive end Jerry Dahl against South DakotaState in 1974. He had one fumble recovery and one tackle for loss. Dahl leads NDSU with 36 tackles including 18 solos and two tackles for losses. He also has three fumble recoveries, a sack, one pass breakup and an interception..
For the fifth time in his Cal Poly career, Jones returned a punt for a touchdown. His 89-yard romp in the second quarter came 82 seconds after the first Mustang touchdown of the game, giving Cal Poly a 14-0 lead late in the first half. Jones also has three career kickoff returns for touchdowns. In all, Jones returned four punts 131 yards in Saturday's 14-7 win over South DakotaState. He broke Cal Poly¹s record for career punt return yardage. Jones also had five catches for 35 yards Saturday.
Offense -- Southern Utah quarterback Casey Rehrer, Cal Poly running back Geno Randle, UC Davis quarterback Jon Grant and North DakotaState halfback Kyle Steffes.
Defense -- UC Davis linebacker Ben Reece, South Dakota State defensive end Joe Abell, Southern Utah linebacker Mike Overly, Cal Poly free safety Kenny Chicoine and Northern Colorado linebacker Ryan Palmer.
Special Teams -- Southern Utah punt returner Ryan Felipe, UC Davis return specialist Jesse Oliva and North DakotaState kicker Cory Vartanian.
This Week's Action #24/25 UC Davis at Western Oregon - Monmouth, OR - (PT) UC Davis is looking for its first 5-0 start since 2000 when it went 12-1 when the Aggies battle Western Oregon. Aggies head coach Bob Biggs is now 100-34-1 in his 12th season. The Aggies are averaging 42.8 ppg through their first four games and are giving up just 18.0 ppg. QB Jon Grant has an efficiency rating of 189.99 and has completed 70 percent of his passes for 1,107 yards and 10 TDs. WR Jesse Oliva is
averaging 28.0 yards per punt return and has three consecutive games with at least a 60-yard return. Five Aggie receivers have at least10 catches this season led by Kevin Freeman who has 20 for 353 yards. The Aggies are averaging 443.5 yards per game of total offense and are giving up 350.2.
Northern Colorado at Southeastern Louisiana - Hammond, LA - (CT) The University of Northern Colorado Bears (1-4 overall, 1-1 GWFC) will play its first-ever game in the state of Louisiana on Saturday evening when they take on the Southeastern Louisiana Lions (3-2 overall). UNC will look to snap its four-game losing skid as they travel to Hammond, La. SE Louisiana snapped a two-game losing streak with a 33-17 win over Mississippi Valley State on Saturday. The 2004 season marks the second season of football at Southeastern Louisiana after being revived in 2003. The Lions fielded a football team from 1930 to 1985. The Lions went 5-7 in 2003.
#10/10 Cal Poly at Southern Utah - Cedar City, UT - (MT) Homecoming takes on a new meaning for Southern Utah's football team this week after playing the first four games of the 2004 season on the road. The Thunderbirds will finally get a chance to play at home this Saturday when they host Cal Poly in SUU's annual homecoming game. The game will also be SUU's first Great West Football Conference encounter. The Thunderbirds (2-2), are coming off a 56-14 win over then-No. 23 McNeese State, a win which snapped a two-game losing streak. SUU will also be playing its third straight ranked team when they host the No. 10 Mustangs. Prior to the win over MSU the Thunderbirds lost a 24-21 decision at No. 4 Stephen F. Austin on a 53-yard field goal as time expired. Cal Poly (4-0) will be looking to stay undefeated and atop the GWFC standings after opening league play with a 14-7 win over South DakotaState last week in San Luis Obispo. The Mustangs are 2-0 on the road so far, with wins at IdahoState (35-20) and MontanaState (27-14).
North DakotaState at South DakotaState - Brookings, SD - (CT)
North DakotaStateUniversity (4-1, 0-1 GWFC) is scheduled to play South DakotaState (3-2, 0-2 GWFC) for the Beef Bowl Saturday, Oct. 9 at Coughlin-Alumni Stadium (16,000, natural grass) in Brookings. The teams will battle for the "Dakota Marker", a new traveling trophy unveiled last April and supported by the NDSU Blue Key chapter and the SDSU Student Association. Both teams are looking for their first win in the Great West Football Conference. The Bison have won three straight since a 15-13 loss to Northern Colorado, while the Jackrabbits had a three-game winning streak snapped on the road at Cal Poly (14-7).
Last Week's Games UC Davis 30, Northern Colorado 20 Quarterback Jon Grant threw for 272 yards and three touchdowns and linebacker Ben Reece recorded a pair of sacks and recovered a fumble as UC Davis beat Northern Colorado 30-20 in a Great West Football Conference game on Saturday afternoon, giving head coach Bob Biggs his 100th career win.
The victory keeps the Aggies unbeaten, improving their overall record to 4-0 and their conference mark to 2-0. Northern Colorado, one of the preseason favorites for the first-year league's championship, dropped to 1-4 overall and 1-1 in the GWFC.
"I'm very, very happy for our coaching staff and happy for this group of players," Biggs said of his 100th win. "To be able to win it with this group of players - because this is as unselfish and close a football team as I've been associated with - I'm very happy for them and our coaching staff."
UC Davis withstood an outstanding offense performance by Bears wide receiver Vincent Jackson who finished with nine catches for a career-best 246 yards and three touchdowns, a week after gaining 227 yards on 15 catches in a 27-16 loss at Montana last week. Jackson tallied 323 all-purpose yards in the game.
The Aggies were held without a score in the second half after scoring 23 points in the second quarter for a 30-14 halftime lead. Grant helped lead the way in the opening half, throwing for 213 yards and all three of his scores. He hit receiver Kevin Freeman on a 30-yard scoring strike just under two minutes into the game, scrambled to his right and threw across his body to find Tony Kays on a 20-yard score on the first play of the second quarter, and then threw a seven-yard touchdown pass to Jesse Oliva midway through the quarter.
Quarterback Tony Christensen's 18-yard touchdown strike to Jackson tied the game in the first quarter before the two paired up on a 62-yard passing score just after Kays' touchdown, knotting the game 14-14.
But Oliva's touchdown reception capped a 10-play, 66-yard drive with 8 minutes, 8 seconds left before half for a 21-14 lead while tackle Tyler Birkley's and cornerback Angelo Caffese's sack of Christensen in the endzone resulted in the team's first safety in more than two years with 4:39 to go.
UC Davis took the free kick after the safety and drove to the 1, allowing running back O.J. Swanigan to score the Aggies' final touchdown, this one giving them a 16-point halftime lead.
However, Northern Colorado's defense stiffened after halftime, forcing the Aggies into four punts while blocking the second of two field goa attempts. The UC Davis defense, though, tightened as well picking up three turnovers, two of them deep inside the Aggies' territory.
The first came when Andre Wilson was hit and fumbled at the 10, a ball which was recovered by strong safety Dan Reece. His brother, Ben, who finished with seven tackles to go with a pair of sacks that resulted in 13 yards of losses, then recovered a fumble at the Bears' 17 with left in the third.
Dan Reece then made one of the game's biggest defensive play, grabbing a ball right out of the hands of receiver Jamar Farbes' hands in the endzone with left in the game, returning it to the Aggies' 1. An ensuing drive of nearly four minutes helped the Aggies chew a lot of the remaining clock.
UC Davis recorded a season-high six sacks in the game which resulted in 32 yards of losses. Six different players got hands in the sacks with Ben Reece leading the way with his two.
Cal Poly 14, South DakotaState 7 Darrell Jones returned a punt 89 yards for a touchdown as Cal Poly defeated South DakotaState 14-7 in a Great West Football Conference game Saturday night before 8,417 in Mustang Stadium.
Jones was nearly tackled as he caught the ball at his own 11, but broke free and recorded his fifth career punt return for a touchdown, giving Cal Poly a 14-0 lead with remaining in the second quarter.
Senior running back Geno Randle had given Cal Poly a 7-0 lead 82 seconds earlier on an eight-yard run. Randle finished with 92 yards on 15 carries.
With the win, the 13th-ranked Mustangs improved to 4-0 on the year, their first 4-0 start since 1997. South DakotaState fell to 3-2.
Cal Poly trailed in total offensive yards, 262 to 225, but collected twice as many first downs as the visiting Jackrabbits, 14-7. The Mustangs gained 157 yards on the ground against a South DakotaState defense that had given up an average of just 55 yards a game.
Defensively, Cal Poly gave up 90 rushing yards, more than the 66-yard average the Mustang defense had prior to the game.
Mustang quarterback John Mende completed eight of 12 passes for 60 yards. Jones caught five passes for 35 yards. South DakotaState quarterback Brad Nelson connected on 16 of 38 passes for 172 yards. His favorite targets were Brian Janecek and Solomon Johnson, each with five receptions. Anthony Watson gained 62 yards on 20 rushes for the Jackrabbits.
The lone South DakotaState score came on a five-yard run by Andy Kardoes with to play, cutting Cal Poly's lead to 14-7. The Jackrabbits had two more chances to score, but one drive ended with a punt and the other ended on an interception by Kenny Chicoine with four minutes to play.
Southern Utah 56, McNeeseState 14 Southern Utah set a school-record for margin of victory on the road, tied its record for points scored on the road, had its punt return for a score since 1998, its first blocked punt for a score since 1999 and its first interception return for a score of the season as the Thunderbirds took advantage of three third period turnovers and a blocked punt to stun I-AA's 23rd-ranked team Saturday night, notching a 56-14 win over McNeese State.
SUU won for the second time in two tries in Lake Charles in evening its record at 2-2 on the season while McNeese St. fell to 2-3 with the loss
Casey Rehrer completed 18-of-28 passes for 246 yards and four touchdowns to lead the offense while linebackers Nick DiPadova and Mike Overly paced the defense with 12 and 11 tackles, respectively.
Southern Utah dominated the first half, taking a 21-0 lead and holding the Cowboys to 101 yards of offense, but MSU looked like it was going to turn the tables, taking the opening kickoff of the second half, marching 64 yards on five plays and pulling within 21-7 on a 15-yard Scott Pendarvis-to-Chris Thomas pass. That was all the glory the Cowboys would have in the quarter, however, as the Thunderbirds took advantage of three fumbles and a blocked punt to score 28 unanswered points and take control.
Mike Palefau forced a fumble by Darrick Brown to set up a 13-yard Rehrer to Ben Anderson scoring pass to give the Thunderbirds a 28-7 lead. On the following MSU possession Steve Smith stripped Jason Miller, giving SUU the ball on the MSU 28 and Elaisa Tuiaki was on the scoring end of a 10-yard pass from Rehrer for a 35-7 SUU edge.
On the ensuing MSU possession it was Derek Hoods turn to shine, as the sophomore defensive tackle tallied a sack and then forced a fumble to give SUU the ball on the MSU 18 and on their first play from scrimmage the T-Birds cashed in as Rehrer hit A.J. Smith on an 18-yard scoring pass. SUU's final score in the period came after Amoni Finau blocked a Jason Cook punt into the end zone where Jonathan King made the recovery for the score and a 49-7 lead. Southern Utah's final score came on a 69-yard interception return by Brandon Perkins.
Southern Utah took a 7-0 lead after marching 84 yards the game's opening possession with Tuiaki carrying one yard for the score. On the Cowboys' ensuing possession the Thunderbirds made a major defensive statement by holding McNeese State on second-, third- and fourth-and-goal to hang on to the 7-0 advantage.
"That goal-line stand was huge," Meier said. "We knew we had to come out strong and establish the offense. We wanted to put the first points on the board and set the tempo of the game. We're excited about this win, We've had a couple of close losses on the road and we wanted to come out and re-establish ourselves and I thought we did that."
Ryan Felipe staked SUU to a 14-0 lead with a 65-yard punt return and the Thunderbirds took a 21-0 halftime advantage after Rehrer hit Smith in the left flat on a four-yard touchdown pass.
North DakotaState 24, NichollsState 14 The North DakotaStateUniversity football team improved to 4-1 on the season after holding on against NichollsState for the Bison's first road victory.
Second year running back Kyle Steffes was the workhorse again for the Thundering Herd. Contending with the Louisiana humidity, Steffes carried the ball 24 times for 144 yards and two touchdowns. His first score came with left in the opening quarter to give the Bison an early 7-0 lead.
Before entering halftime, NDSU went up 14-0 with a 36-yard strike to wide receiver Allen Burrell from quarterback Tony Stauss.
The scoreboard went unchanged for most of the third quarter, with NichollsState scoring the only points with an 8-yard scamper by senior running back David Plaisance, completing a 10-play, 64-yard drive. NDSU answered back with a pair of scores in the fourth. A 33-yard field goal by Cory Vartanian at the mark and another Steffes score, this time from two yards out, gave the Bison a 24-7 advantage with left in the game.
Quarterback Yale Vannoy scored a late two-yard touchdown run for the Colonels to cut into the Bison lead, but the ensuing onside kick was recovered by the Bison enabling them to run out the clock. Sophomore strong safety Craig Dahl was the standout for the Bison defense. Dahl was involved in 17 tackles, including 12 solo stops to keep the Colonel attack bottled up. He also recorded a fumble recovery in the contest.