Nov 21, 2013, 11:49 AM EDT
With Week 12 of CAA Football in the books, we now turn the page to Rivalry Week, arguably the most important week of the season given the various playoff implications that have presented themselves.
For the first time since 2002, Maine earned its first CAA Football title and thus the automatic playoff bid. The Black Bears, who handled Rhody, 41-0, have never hosted a home playoff contest, but look to bolster their chances to do just that with a win over rival New Hampshire this week. Oh, and they have the chance to return to Orono with the Brice-Cowell Musket with a victory as well.
In other action, Richmond and red-hot QB Michael Strauss won their third-straight game, scoring a touchdown in the final seconds to stun the Blue Hen faithful in Newark on Saturday. Delaware takes its 7-4 record to PPL Park to play rival Villanova, which is coming off its second open week of the season. Towson made key plays on money downs (3rd and 4th, holding W&M to 3-of-11 and 0-for-4, respectively) to defeat the Tribe, 15-9, and put itself in the drivers seat for a potential home playoff bid. New Hampshire utilized two key plays from redshirt freshman RB Dalton Crossan (51-yard TD run and 93-yard kickoff return TD) to pull away from UAlbany down the stretch, while senior Kyle Negron passed for a career-high 395 yards to lead Stony Brook to an impressive 41-38 road win over James Madison.
*Reminder that the 2013 FCS Championship field features 24 total teams, with 11 automatic bids, 13 at-large bids and eight seeds. The FCS Playoff selection show will air live on Sunday at 11:30 a.m. (ET).
- In UAlbany’s 37-20 loss to New Hampshire, QB Will Fiacchi passed for 251 yards to push his season total to 2,222 yards. He’s now the only signal caller in program history to throw for over 2,000 yards in multiple seasons and needs just six more completions to reach 197 and become the all-time single-season leader. Junior RB Omar Osbourne totaled 109 yards on the ground and added one TD, while senior WR Kevin Chillis hauled in nine catches for 86 yards in defeat. Division I football’s active winningest coach with 265 career victories, head coach Bob Ford will guide his team on the sidelines for the final time after more than 40 years with the Great Danes.
- Delaware QB Trent Hurley returned from injury for the first time since Oct. 26 to finish with four TD passes against Richmond. WR Michael Johnson totaled 132 receiving yards and one score – an 80-yard reception that represented UD’s longest play from scrimmage this season. Senior RB Andrew Pierce had 55 yards and one TD en route to overtake former Blue Hen Omar Cuff (2004-07) for second place in the school’s rushing annals with 4,408 career yards.
- Maine’s victory over Rhody gave the team its 11th-straight win over an FCS opponent, a streak that dates back to last season. The Black Bears, who were picked to finish eighth in the CAA Football preseason poll, captured their first conference title since 2002 and now have a chance to become just the second team to ever go undefeated in CAA Football play (JMU went 8-0 in 2008). RB Rickey Stevens set a program record with a 90-yard TD run in the Rhody win en route to finishing with 127 yards on 14 carries. In all, Maine outgained the Rams, 364-125, while allowing only 24 rushing yards.
- New Hampshire redshirt freshman Dalton Crossan accounted for 185 all-purpose yards in the Wildcats’ road win over UAlbany. The CAA Football Rookie of the Week had a 51-yard rushing TD and also sparked the Wildcats with a 91-yard kickoff return for a TD in the fourth quarter to extend the team’s lead to 14. Senior WR Justin Mello caught two TD passes and now has a league-leading eight on the season. CB Manny Asam finished with 11 tackles, including 2.5 for loss, and one pass breakup to lead the defense.
- Rhode Island wrapped its 2013 season on Saturday in Orono. Senior CB Mackenzie Elliot was a bright spot in the loss, registering 117 kick return yards to finish the year with 878 yards, representing the second-most in program history behind Brandon Johnson-Farrell’s 907 in 2008. QB Bob Bentsen did not play due to concussion, but the senior ended his career fourth in the school record books with 4,359 passing yards and 25 TDs.
- Richmond signal caller Michael Strauss continued his ridiculous offensive output on Saturday in Newark, setting a program record with 543 passing yards in one game while also matching a school mark with five TDs for the second straight week. The junior finished 35-of-46, with his final throw of the game to WR Reggie Digs with seven seconds remaining accounting for the game-winning score. In another first for the program, three Spiders surpassed 100 yards receiving, with Rashad Ponder (9 catches, 175 yards), Stephen Barnette (8 catches, 127 yards, one TD) and Brian Brown (3 catches, 109 yards, one TD) all going over the 100-yard plateau. Richmond finished with a school-record 680 yards of total offense, though the Spiders’ defense failed to record an interception for the first time in 20 games.
- Stony Brook’s victory at JMU snapped the Dukes’ six-game home winning streak and chance for an unbeaten mark at Bridgeforth this season. Senior QB Lyle Negron had one of his best games of the year, setting career-highs with 395 yards and three TDs to go with two rushing TDs. His favorite targets aided the cause, with WR Adrian Coxson recording 183 yards and one TD and Will Tye totaling 95 yards and two TDs. Negron’s 395 passing yards on Saturday surpassed his combined yardage in the Seawolves’ last three games.
- Towson’s defense limited William & Mary to three field goals and 275 yards of total offense as the Tigers racked up their 10th-straight win on the road, 15-9, over the Tribe. Towson also held W&M to just 4-of-11 on third down and 0-for-4 on fourth down. Through 11 games this season, the Tigers rank ninth in the FCS in defensive fourth down conversion percent (.704).
- William & Mary’s loss to the Tigers was its first setback in six games at Zable Stadium this season. The Tribe still leads the FCS in scoring defense (12.5) despite the loss. RB Mikel Abdul-Saboor registered his sixth 100-yard rushing game of the season after finishing with 105 yards on the ground, with Terrance West becoming the first player to rush for over 100 yards against W&M since the Tribe’s Week 1 loss to West Virginia.
EYE-OPENING STATS OF THE WEEK:
- Maine QB Marcus Wasilewski has thrown for 14 TDs and no INTs over his last six games.
- Richmond’s Strauss has thrown for 11 TDs and two INTs over his last three games.
- Towson’s Terrance West became the first Tiger to rush for more than 4,000 yards on Saturday, doing so in just 32 career contests.
- CAA Football has had more than two teams earn playoff berths every year since 2003.
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- CAA Football Media Teleconference - Jan. 2