William and Mary football on top of CAA

By Pete Vasquez

The William and Mary football team continued its surprising start to the Football Championship Subdivision by defeating Central Connecticut State, 33-14, this past Saturday night in Williamsburg, Va. 

The Tribe (2-0) carried on with their steady rise to the top of the FCS standings, settling into the top five during an off-week after being ranked 14th in the preseason. 

Following their stunning upset over Virginia last week, when they forced seven turnovers and pressured the Cavaliers to use all three of their quarterbacks, the Tribe’s defense continued to dominate. 

Their blitzing resulted in negative rushing yards for the Blue Devils (1-1) after one quarter in stark contrast to William and Mary’s 108 yards on the ground. Running back Jonathan Grimes became the first player in Tribe history to reach 1,000 career rushing yards in 13 games. 

Quarterback R.J. Archer threw two touchdown passes besides rushing for another score as the Tribe scored on 4-of-5 first-half possessions. He finished 9-of-16 for 129 yards and one interception. 

William and Mary will try for its first 3-0 start since 1998 when it takes on Norfolk next week. 

Appalachian State’s stumble invigorates cowboys

Appalachian State added to its troubles after its loss to McNeese State in the final seconds. Josh Lewis kicked an 18-yard field goal with four seconds remaining as the McNeese State Cowboys stunned the Mountaineers, 40-35. 

The field goal capped a 79-yard, 10-play drive, following a game-tying score by Appalachian State (0-2). The No. 1-ranked team in the preseason for the fourth consecutive year could not stop the Mountaineers.  Kentrell Butler tackled Tavaris Cadet after Appalachian State tried helplessly to lateral in hopes of a miracle. Instead, the resulting safety sealed the win for McNeese State (2-0). 

Derrick Fourroux had 341 passing yards for the Cowboys while going 25-of-34 with three touchdown passes and an interception. Cowboys receiver Todd Pendland caught 10 passes for 121 yards while rushing for 127 yards on 19 carries. Devon Moore rushed for 155 yards on 23 carries to lead Appalachian State. 

With the win, McNeese State secured the biggest leap of the week in the FCS standings, as it climbed from 16th to eighth place. 

This was the Mountaineers’ second-straight loss in the final seconds, as they fell from the No. 2 spot to No. 10. Appalachian State will try to stop the bleeding as it takes on Samford next Saturday. 

Northern Iowa back on track

Northern Iowa recovered from its agonizing defeat last week to stampede over South Dakota, 66-7. Pat Grace single handedly carried the Panthers to its convincing win by throwing for 445 yards and four touchdowns as well as running for three more scores. 

This came a week after Northern Iowa (1-1) witnessed Jeremiha Hunter block two straight field goal attempts in the closing seconds of the Panthers’ season opener against in-state rival Iowa. Panthers kicker Billy Hallgren lined up for the potential game-winning field goal with seven seconds left. Northern Iowa recovered the blocked kick with one second remaining only to have the second attempt blocked once more by the same Iowa player. 

The Panthers preferred to not have this week’s game come down to the wire. Receiver D.P. Eyman collected 197 yards on nine catches including a touchdown grab from Grace, who finished 24-of-32.

South Dakota receiver Ben Oberle caught six passes for 112 yards and a touchdown, coming on the Coyotes’ first play of the game – a 70-yard flea flicker.

Other than the one play, Northern Iowa’s defense gave its offense a boost by recovering three fumbles and intercepting two passes while holding South Dakota (1-1) to 113 rushing yards. The Panthers finished with 712 yards of total offense. 

Northern Iowa received six first-place votes in the FCS poll and closed the week at No. 3. 

Pete Vasquez can be reached at [email protected]