Dougherty's Notes on 1AA and Socon

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Dougherty's Notes on 1AA and Socon

Postby gofurman on Mon Sep 04, 2006 1:48 am

Teams to watch out for:

Montana State pulled off I-AA’s biggest win against a I-A team by taking out Colorado, 19-10. Portland used a 17-0 second-half effort to beat New Mexico, 17-6. And a Richmond defense that nobody questions after last season showed it might just be better after controlling Duke’s offense in a 13-0 win.

This is scary too:
A near-miss by Illinois State almost gave I-AA teams a fourth win against their I-A counterparts, but a pair of special teams touchdowns and a failed two-point conversion late in the fourth quarter left the Redbirds just short in a 24-23 loss at Kansas State. While the three winners and Illinois State did I-AA proud and earned headlines, a bunch of competitive and sometimes surprising results in games between I-AA foes also made the first weekend one with potential implications in November.

*Worst Top 25 Loss: Elon 23, No. 25 Coastal Carolina 20
Coastal Carolina stayed in the playoff race right until the last seconds of its 2005 season because of an ability to come back and win close games. But the tide turned with an overtime loss to Charleston Southern to finish last year’s campaign, and the dangerous trend of playing close games against teams they should beat came back to hurt the Chanticleers in the 2006 opener. Elon should be better with Pete Lembo at the helm, but no one expected the Phoenix to beat a top 25 team in Lembo’s first game. But Elon’s defense forced four Coastal Carolina turnovers, and the Chants never really got a late drive going after closing the gap to 23-20 midway through the fourth quarter. With a brutal schedule in the next month, the Chants are almost in must-win mode already to keep their playoff chances afloat.

*Best Game: Kansas State 24, No. 9 Illinois State 23
The Redbirds probably should have notched a second win for I-AA teams against a Big 12 opponent. Illinois State held a 20-13 edge in first downs, outgained Kansas State by nearly 150 yards, and notched an eight-minute edge in time of possession. But the back-and-forth game did not go the Redbirds’ way because of special teams. A punt return touchdown late in the first half gave Kansas State a 10-3 halftime edge, and a short fumble return touchdown on a kickoff and two- point conversion put the Wildcats back in front, 24-17, with less than nine minutes to play. But Illinois State continued to fight, and quarterback Luke Drone engineered an 11-play, 47-yard drive that ended with a three-yard touchdown pass to Pierre Jackson with 3:02 left in the game. Head coach Denver Johnson made the decision to go for two points and the lead, but Drone’s attempt at a quarterback draw was stopped short. Illinois State had another possession, but could not muster a first down.

*Play of the Week: There were plenty of plays that decided crucial games, from Swinton’s blocked kick to Drone’s inability to score on a two-point conversion. But the play that might end up having the great playoff implications for both teams involved came in the Jacksonville State/Furman game. Furman freshman quarterback Jordan Sorrells, in relief of starter Renaldo Gray, threw a 19-yard scoring strike to Brantley Kendall with 28 seconds remaining to lift the Paladins to a hard-fought, 17-13, victory over a very game Jacksonville State team. The Gamecocks had just taken a 13-10 lead on the previous possession, and have to deal with a final-second loss against Furman to start the season for the second year in a row.

*While the Big Sky can crow about two I-A wins, no league had a more impressive overall resume than the Southern Conference. The headline teams did as expected, as Furman gutted out a win and Appalachian State played a respectable game against N.C. State. But it was the group below that really made noise, with wins against quality teams for Wofford and Elon and an easy, 31-7, victory by Chattanooga against Tennessee Tech.
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