The Pirates trailed 26-9 at the time, but right on cue they came roaring back, scoring on TD drives of 90, 48, and 68 yards to take a 30-26 lead with 2:17 remaining. And when they then got the ball right back at the UCF 15-yard line with 1:47 to play after UCF went four-and-out, it looked like they were home free.
Uh, no. UCF still had 1 timeout left, so ECU knew they couldn't run the clock all the way out. But instead of running the ball (and risking a fumble) a couple of times to try to pick up a 1st down that would ice the victory, the Pirates went backward. A couple of kneel downs and then a keeper by QB Shane Carden lost a total of 9 yards, making it 4th and 19. Then instead of attempting a FG (and risk having it get blocked) that would have given them a 7-point lead, the Pirates retreated even further, with Carden taking an intentional sack all the way back at the 35-yard line. And just like that, the Knights had hope - slim hope for sure, as only 10 seconds remained; but that was better than no hope, which would have been the case had they started inside their 10-yard line, which likely would have happened had ECU simply run the ball up the middle four times in a row instead of going backward. A short pass moved the ball to the UCF 49 with :05 to go. And then this happened: http://espn.go.com/video/clip?id=11981332
After the UCF-ECU game on Thursday and the MAC title game on Friday, championship weekend got into full swing on Saturday. Here chronologically are some of the highlights and lowlights. (FYI: anything mentioned in parenthesis after an item most likely didn't occur at the same time as the item listed.)
11:06 AM CT - Not good. Iowa State TE E.J. Bibbs is shown on the sideline with a baseball cap on and not in uniform for the game at TCU.
11:11 - RB Mike Boone scores a 5-yard TD on a run off left tackle to give Cincinnati a quick 7-0 lead over Houston.
11:13 - Defensive holding penalty on CB Darryl Roberts gives Louisiana Tech a 1st down at the Marshall 21-yard line (6 plays later Tech kicked a FG for a 3-0 lead in the CUSA championship game).
11:16 - Cincinnati CB Leviticus Payne gets credit for PBU on deep pass intended for WR Deontay Greenberry.
11:21 - Following the Louisiana Tech FG, junior WR DeAndre Reaves returns the kickoff 44 yards to the Marshall 45-yard line (but the Thundering Herd go three-and-out and punt).
11:25 - After coming back from commercial break, ESPN briefly shows highlights of Cincinnati's senior day pregame ceremony, including shots of DE Terrell Hartsfield and ex-dread QB Munchie Legaux.
11:26 - Sophomore WR D'Vario Montgomery with a 17-yard reception for Iowa State to the ISU 42-yard line but is injured on the play.
11:40 - Oh, no. Sick S Trevon Stewart of Houston isn't sick today. It's the first time I can remember seeing him with his dreads reduced. Ugh.
11:43 - D'Vario Montgomery with a 14-yard reception to the Iowa State 49. Still limping though. (It would be his last catch of the game; he already had 4 catches for 42 yards, so there's no telling how big a game he might have had.)
11:54 - Later in same drive, senior WR Jarvis West is hit hard on a 5-yard reception to the TCU 7 on 3rd and goal. (ISU settles for FG on next play; TCU leads 14-3.)
11:57 - 4th and 15 from the Cincinnati 33, Deontay Greenberry has chance for TD catch but drops pass in end zone. He has only 2 catches out of 7 passes intended for him so far. (Game stays tied at 7 early 2nd quarter.)
12:08 PM - On next Houston possession, pass is thrown behind him but Greenberry makes spectacular one-handed catch for gain of 31 yards to convert a 3rd and 6.
12:09 - FCS playoff 2nd round game between Richmond and Coastal Carolina just underway. Senior CB Denzel Rice of CCU makes tackle after 6-yard reception by WR Reggie Diggs on 2nd and 20. (Richmond punted 2 plays later.)
12:11 - With Houston in FG range, freshman CB Aaron Brown has blanket coverage on WR Markeith Ambles on an out route and gets his 1st career INT at the Cincinnati 13-yard line.
12:12 - Marshall sophomore DE Gary Thompson goes offside on 4th and 5, giving Louisiana Tech a 1st down at the MU 30-yard line. (Tech scored a TD on the next play, upping their lead to 17-7 midway through 2nd quarter.)
12:15 - TCU junior WR Kolby Listenbee gets open deep for a 49-yard reception to the Iowa State 17-yard line. (If you look closely in the photo, you can see one of his dreads sticking out of the ear hole of his helmet.)
12:15 - Next play Listenbee picks up 7 yards on a catch but gets up slowly after hitting his head on the ground as he is tackled.
12:16 - Kolby Listenbee has his helmet off on the sideline as the trainers check him. (He left the game with a concussion. TCU kicked FG 3 plays later to up lead to 17-3.)
12:20 - On 3rd and 5 from the Cincinnati 9, Deontay Greenberry is interfered with on a pass in the end zone, but there's no call - just another incomplete pass. (UH kicks FG on next play, cutting UC lead to 14-10 late in 2nd quarter.)
12:22 - During break in the Houston-Cincinnati game, ESPN shows replay of Breshad Perriman's game-winning TD for UCF from Thursday night.
12:30 - On 2nd and 7 Richmond RB Jacobi Green runs for a gain of 8 to the UR 31-yard line (turned out to be his biggest gain of the game).
12:35 - On first play after a Richmond punt, sophomore WR Devin Brown makes catch for 8-yard gain. Coastal Carolina's black uniforms are making it hard to see his dreads (turned out to be his only reception in the game. Drive ends 10 plays later with a FG; CCU leads 3-0).
12:41 - At the Indiana State- UT-Chattanooga game, the camera is on UTC sophomore CB Dee Virgin. What did I miss? (A little later replay is shown of WR A.J. Johnson beating Virgin for a 75-yard TD reception, cutting UTC lead to 14-7 late in 1st quarter.)
12:43 - UTC senior FB Taharin Tyson picks up 18 yards to the ISU 37-yard line on a reception on last play of quarter. (Drive ended 7 plays later with a blocked FG attempt.)
12:51 - What's this? De'Angelo Henderson has dreads?!! ..... As he goes to the sideline with his helmet off after a play, I discover that Henderson, a sophomore for Coastal Carolina and one of the best RBs in the FCS, has dreads. Wish I had found this out sooner than Week 15.
12:55 - Coastal Carolina drive ends when Henderson fumbles the ball at the Richmond 4 on 2nd and goal (CCU lead stays at 3-0).
1:00 - Wow. Michigan loses to NJIT in basketball 72-70. Wow.
1:02 - Sick UTC freshman WR Alphonso Stewart makes great leaping catch along right sideline, but officials rule catch is out of bounds. But on the replay it looks like he got foot down inbounds. (Play is reviewed and ruling is changed to a catch, good for 28 yards to convert a 3rd and 18. But drive ends with goal line stand by Indiana State defense, stopping UTC on 4 straight runs inside the 2-yard line. Still 14-7.)
1:20 - On 3rd and 6 junior WR John Israel beats Richmond CB Mylon Blueford deep on go route, but pass is overthrown. (Coastal Carolina punts on next play.)
1:29 - In FCS 2nd round game between Sam Houston State and Jacksonville State, JSU junior DE LaMichael Fanning (the transfer from Alabama) gets credit for a half sack for a 5-yard loss on 1st and goal (but SHSU scores 10-yard TD on screen pass on 3rd down to tie game at 7 in 1st quarter).
1:31 - Pass intended for Iowa State senior WR Jarvis West on 3rd and 9 is intercepted and returned for TD. (44-yard pick 6 by S Derrick Kindred ups TCU lead to 34-3 midway through 3rd quarter.)
1:35 - Jarvis West gets open on double move on 3rd and 6 and makes catch for 45-yard gain to the TCU 26-yard line.
1:38 - Iowa State drive ends 4 plays later as Jarvis West can't make catch of pass thrown into double coverage in end zone on 4th and 6.
1:39 - Sophomore CB Samson Baldwin makes his 1st tackle of game on 6-yard catch by Richmond WR Rashad Ponder. (Richmond runs 4 more plays in final 30 seconds but time expires before they get into FG range; Coastal Carolina leads 14-0 at halftime.)
1:42 - Strong pass rush by Sam Houston State star freshman DE P.J. Hall draws a holding penalty on 3rd and 12, nullifying a 17-yard gain. (Jacksonville State got the 1st down on next play on pass interference penalty on 3rd and 21, but drive ended with an INT 5 plays later.)
1:56 - SMU RB Darius Durall makes catch for gain of 7 to the UConn 12-yard line. (SMU gets the TD on the next play to take 27-20 lead in 4th quarter.)
1:57 - Gary Thompson is celebrating after recovering fumble by Louisiana Tech near midfield; Marshall still trails 23-16 early in 4th quarter.
2:02 - TCU, leading 48-3 early in 4th, throws deep pass for gain of 38 yards.
2:07 - Replay is shown of Leviticus Payne getting beat on TD catch by WR Demarcus Ayers. Houston pulls within 38-31 of Cincinnati with 5:27 to go.
2:10 - Mike Boone limps to sideline after being bent backward as he is tackled on carry for no gain. Hope he's OK, but it looks like possible serious knee injury.
2:17 - Discover another player with dreads for Sam Houston State when #41 walks to the sideline slowly after colliding with a teammate while trying to make a tackle. (#41 is sophomore S Tyrel Stokes, whose dreads are too short to see with his helmet on.)
2:19 - On 3rd and 5 sophomore WR Anthony Johnson makes catch for 29-yard gain to SHSU 22-yard line (setting up FG 4 plays later that gives Jacksonville State 23-21 lead in 2nd quarter).
2:21 - With Houston still trailing by 7, Deontay Greenberry makes catch for 13-yard gain to UC 20-yard line. 30 seconds to play.
2:23 - On 2nd and 1 from the 11-yard line pass to Greenberry on fade route is incomplete. 2 seconds to go.
2:25 - Pass not thrown to Greenberry is incomplete. Cincinnati wins 38-31 and wins share of AAC championship.
2:30 - Score on ticker at bottom of screen says SMU defeats UConn 27-20 (1st win of season for SMU).
2:31 - Junior RB Donovan Williams runs for 9-yard gain on 1st and 10 to the Jacksonville State 11-yard line (Sam Houston settles for FG 3 plays later after Williams is tackled for 1-yard loss on 3rd and 1; SHSU leads 24-23 late 2nd quarter.)
2:35 - On 1st play after Marshall scores TD to take 26-23 lead, Herd get ball back on an INT with just 1:35 to play.
2:38 - Pressure by P.J. Hall draws another holding penalty against Jacksonville State .....
2:39 - ..... 2 plays later, on 2nd and 6 JSU moves into FG range on 18-yard reception by Anthony Johnson to the SHSU 32. (JSU kicked FG 4 plays later on last play of half to take 26-24 lead.)
2:40 - In separate shots, Gary Thompson and DE Ricardo Williams are shown with their helmets off celebrating at end of the game as Marshall defeats Louisiana Tech 26-23 to win CUSA championship.
3:03 - Dee Virgin breaks up deep pass on 2nd and 10 but is called for pass interference penalty; 1st down for Indiana State at ISU 35-yard line. (ISU turns ball over on next play, giving UT-Chattanooga possession 5:13 remaining and 35-14 lead.)
3:15 - After opening drive TD by Alcorn State in SWAC championship game, senior S Jaleel Richardson brings the kickoff back 34 yards to the Southern U 44-yard line. Shot is shown of him taking his helmet off on the sideline after the play.
3:17 - Alabama sophomore RB Derrick Henry is tackled at 1-yard line after 3-yard run on 1st and goal on opening drive of SEC championship game. (Crimson Tide scores TD on next play for quick 7-0 lead over Missouri.)
3:20 - Alcorn State's 2nd drive of game ends with INT by senior CB De'Andre Woodland. 11-yard return to the ASU 45-yard line.
3:23 - Samson Baldwin gets beat on 15-yard catch for Richmond TD, but Coastal Carolina still leads comfortably, 36-15, with 2:32 remaining in game.
3:25 - Southern goes three-and-out after Woodland's INT, as senior CB Hendrick Taylor gets PBU on 3rd and 3.
3:28 - Sophomore DT Josh Augusta tackles Derrick Henry for 5-yard loss at the Alabama 34-yard line. (Tide's 2nd drive of game ends with punt three plays later. Augusta's dreads are short and still confined inside his helmet.)
3:31 - SHSU RB Jalen Overstreet converts a 3rd and 4 with an 8-yard run to the Jacksonville State 34-yard line.
3:32 - Yes! Jalen Overstreet goes untouched on run right up the middle 33 yards to the house.
3:33 - Shot of a smiling Overstreet on sideline with his helmet off after his TD ups SHSU lead to 37-26 with 4:08 remaining in 3rd quarter.
3:51 - On 1st and goal from 1-yard line, Hendrick Taylor stops RB Lenard Tillery cold at 2-yard line for 1-yard loss.
3:56 - Hendrick Taylor breaks up pass in end zone on 3rd and goal (and Southern settles for FG on next play, cutting Alcorn lead to 10-3 early 2nd quarter).
3:59 - On first play after punt pins Sam Houston State at 5-yard line, Jalen Overstreet breaks loose for 20-yard run to the SHSU 25. Still 37-26 with about 10 minutes to go.
4:22 - Donovan Williams picks up big 1st down for SHSU with 8-yard run on 3rd and 8. Still 37-26 with 2:35 to go.
4:26 - It's over. Sam Houston State wins at Jacksonville State 37-26 to advance to FCS quarterfinals.
4:31 - Southern CB Rhaheim Ledbetter forces a fumble after a 5-yard reception by QB John Gibbs, but ball rolls out of bounds at the SU 39 and Alcorn State keeps possession.
4:35 - 4 plays later De'Andre Woodland makes TD-saving tackle at 1-yard line after 16-yard reception by WR Charles Hughes on 3rd and 9. (Alcorn State gets TD anyway 3 plays later on 3rd down, upping their lead to 24-10 just before halftime.)
4:47 - On 3rd and 1 Oklahoma State freshman CB Ramon Richards hits Oklahoma RB Samaje Perine 2 yards behind line of scrimmage; Perine then is hit by LB Seth Jacobs and fumbles ball, and OSU recovers at their own 29-yard line, keeping OU lead at 28-14 in 3rd quarter. (Perine is injured on the play and does not return.)
5:11 - Oklahoma CB Zack Sanchez puts hard hit on WR David Glidden, causing him to drop pass on 1st and 10 play from OSU 38-yard line. (Sanchez should get credit for PBU but doesn't. OSU punts 3 plays later; OU leads 35-21 midway through 4th quarter.)
5:17 - Shot of Rhaheim Ledbetter on sideline with his helmet off after his tackle holds Alcorn State to 9-yard gain on 3rd and 16. (On next play Southern blocks punt and scoops and scores, tying game at 24 in 3rd quarter.)
5:33 - Pass interference penalty on SU CB Kevin King on 3rd and 7 gives Alcorn State 1st and goal at SU 6-yard line. (ASU gets TD two plays later to regain lead 31-24 in 3rd quarter.)
5:51 - On 3rd and 12 Zack Sanchez intercepts pass at Oklahoma State 41-yard line. Oklahoma leads by 7 with 3:16 to play and OSU out of timeouts. (6th INT of season for Sanchez.)
5:53 - On 3rd and 9 from Alcorn 49, WR Brandon Vessell catches pass and eludes attempted tackle by De'Andre Woodland at SU 37 and takes it to the house for 51-yard TD. ASU leads 38-24 early 4th quarter.
5:57 - Wow. Oklahoma State RB Tyreek Hill takes punt return 92 yards to the house with 45 seconds remaining. OSU-OU now tied 35-35. Guess that's why they call it bedlam. (Sadly, less than a week later Hill was dismissed from the team after an arrest for domestic abuse.)
6:05 - Another blocked punt by Southern U. Junior WR Anthony Clark has chance for scoop and score but can't get a handle on the ball and ends up recovering it at 22-yard line. (SU fails to cash in as RB Malcom Crockett is stuffed for no gain four plays later on 4th and 1.)
6:15 - Derrick Henry goes untouched on 26-yard TD run. Alabama now leads 35-13 midway through 4th quarter. (90-yard drive in 8 plays.)
6:17 - After Oklahoma missed FG attempt on their possession in OT 6 minutes earlier, Oklahoma State kicks 21-yard FG to win 38-35.
6:20 - Hendrick Taylor makes tackle at Alcorn 35-yard line after 8-yard reception by SU TE Montrell Jones.
6:22 - Hendrick Taylor makes tackle for 3rd play in a row, on 12-yard reception by WR Willie Quinn to the 17-yard line.
6:25 - 2 plays later, on 1st and goal from the 4-yard line Lenard Tillery tries to extend ball across goal line but is stripped of ball short of end zone. Alcorn State gets FR in end zone for touchback. Still 38-24 with only 4:30 to play.
6:26 - Derrick Henry breaks loose for 45-yard gain, tackled at 1-yard line.
6:27 - Next play Henry gets TD on 1-yard plunge. Alabama leads 42-13 with 3:38 remaining. Derrick has career high 140 yards rushing.
6:38 - It's over at Atlanta. Alabama wins SEC championship, defeating Missouri 42-13.
6:46 - It's over at Houston. Alcorn State defeats Southern 38-24, their first SWAC championship in 20 years.
7:25 - Uh-oh. Is Big 10 championship game already over? .... Fox shows graphic that Ohio State is 20-0 when WR Devin Smith makes a TD catch after Smith's 39-yard TD catch on 6th play from scrimmage gives Buckeyes quick 7-0 over Wisconsin.
7:27 - Star RB Melvin Gordon runs for 2-yard gain on run off tackle on Wisconsin's first play from scrimmage.
7:28 - Gordon is tackled for 1-yard loss on draw play on 3rd and 4. Badgers go three-and-out on opening drive.
7:29 - On first play from scrimmage after Georgia Tech takes 7-0 lead in ACC championship game, freshman RB Dalvin Cook picks up 1st down for Florida State with 11-yard run to FSU 37-yard line. (Drive ends with TD 4 plays later to tie game at 7.)
7:41 - Georgia Tech senior RB B.J. Bostic gets hammered on a tackle by CB P.J. Williams after 3-yard run to FSU 11-yard line on 2nd and 8. (GT gets TD three plays later for 14-7 lead late 1st quarter.)
7:46 - On 3rd and 2 Melvin Gordon runs for 6-yard gain for 1st down at Wisconsin 34-yard line.
7:49 - 3 plays later on 3rd and 8, WR Kenzel Doe beats S Tyvis Powell deep but lands out of bounds as he makes the catch. UW punts on next play.
7:51 - Junior S Darion Monroe of Tulane is helped off the field after making tackle on 19-yard gain on screen pass on first play of drive by Temple. Part of his dreads are dyed red. (Drive ends with FG 8 plays later to tie game at 3 late in 2nd quarter. Monroe returned to game in 2nd half.)
7:53 - Ohio State RB Ezekiel Elliott runs untouched right up the middle for 81-yard TD. 14-0 Buckeyes.
7:54 - During shot of OSU sideline celebrating Elliott's TD, I discover that #93 has dreads. (#93 is freshman DE Tracy Sprinkle. That makes 2 players with dreads for Ohio State that I know of.)
7:55 - On 2nd and 1 Dalvin Cook reaches for the goal line but comes up just short on run for gain of 8.
7:55 - Next play Dalvin Cook scores on 1-yard plunge up middle. FSU-GT now tied at 14 early 2nd quarter.
7:58 - Melvin Gordon runs for 13-yard gain to UW 47-yard line. (Turned out to be his longest run of the game.)
7:59 - 2 plays later QB Joel Stave tries to hit Kenzel Doe, but pass is easily intercepted by S Vonn Bell and returned 7 yards to OSU 41-yard line (OSU kicked FG on ensuing drive for 17-0 lead.)
8:01 - Sick CB Ronald Darby makes tackle at FSU 49-yard line after 15-yard run by GT QB Justin Thomas. (Drive ends with TD 7 plays later; Georgia Tech back in front 21-14).
8:08 - On 3rd and 9 from Tulane 21, sick freshman CB Parry Nickerson breaks up pass in end zone intended for WR Keith Kirkwood. (Temple misses FG on next play, keeping game tied at 3 with 20 seconds to go until halftime.)
8:17 - Dalvin Cook picks up 14 yards to the GT 44-yard line on screen pass on 2nd and 25 (Seminoles get TD on next play, game tied again 21-21.)
8:19 - Another Devin Smith TD catch - 44 yards this time - 24-0 lead for Buckeyes.
8:32 - Another Ezekiel Elliott TD run - now 31-0 midway through 2nd quarter.
8:48 - Parry Nickerson recovers a Temple fumble and returns it 35 yards for a TD, but play is nullified by offside penalty against Tulane. Still 3-3.
8:51 - Oh, man, does it get any worse than this? On 2nd and 18 run up middle, Melvin Gordon is hit in backfield and stripped of ball at UW 11-yard line; ball rolls toward goal line and Ohio State scoops and scores a 4-yard TD, making it 38-0 with 36 seconds remaining in 1st half. Wow.
9:15 - RB Jay Ajayi picks up 7 yards for Boise State on his 1st carry of the game against Fresno State in MWC championship game at Boise. (Boise State scores 3 plays later, going 77 yards in 4 plays on their opening drive.)
9:44 - Melvin Gordon is picked up and slammed to the ground by DE Joey Bosa on 3-yard run on 2nd and 5 in 3rd quarter.
10:05 - After another Wisconsin pass is intercepted, Gordon makes the tackle after a 23-yard return by CB Doran Grant near end of 3rd quarter. Score is now 45-0.
10:06 - Great effort by Jay Ajayi to get ball into end zone before he goes down as he scores 9-yard TD on 2nd and goal, upping Boise State lead to 21-0 in 2nd quarter.
10:19 - B.J. Bostic makes 24-yard reception to 50-yard line. (Drive ends with TD 3 plays later; Georgia Tech cuts FSU lead to 37-35 with 1:47 remaining in game.)
10:26 - Replays are shown of Dalvin Cook's best plays of the game. Looks like he's going to be the head dread.
10:27 - Dalvin Cook runs for 10-yard gain on 3rd and 7 with :40 to go. Georgia Tech can't get the ball back now.
10:34 - Fox game announcer Gus Johnson on the UW-OSU telecast says new College Football playoff is great idea, but you have to make it 8 teams. Truer words have not been spoken all day. In fact, it'd be even better, Gus, if you made it 16 teams.
10:54 - Melvin Gordon and Kenzel Doe, with their helmets off, wander from the sideline onto the field after Wisconsin's 59-0 demolition at the hands off Ohio State is finally over.
I was planning to watch the entire MWC championship game to see how Jay Ajayi would do; but that 59-0 beatdown really spoiled my appetite for any more football. It's been a long time since the Badgers have taken that bad of a whipping. The final stats were just as ugly as the score, as the Buckeyes dominated in total yards 558-258 and averaged a whopping 10.0 yards per play. The Badgers, who entered the game averaging 334 yards rushing per game, gained all of 71 yards on the ground on 37 attempts for a miniscule 1.9 average per rush. And UW was -4 in turnover margin to boot. You know, I get it: Ohio State consistently has one of the most talented teams in the nation; so I never expect (only hope) Wisconsin to beat them. But the Badgers have a strong enough program that they shouldn't ever lose to anybody by 8 touchdowns. What a disaster.
IN THE FCS
Watching the playoffs must have been pretty agitating for fans of the Northern Iowa Panthers. While UNI was eliminated in the 2nd round of the tournament, two of their MVFC rivals - both of whom the Panthers defeated during the regular season - will be playing for the championship. In Week 10 the Panthers dealt Illinois State their only defeat of the season 42-28; and 7 days later 3-time defending champ North Dakota State came to Cedar Falls and suffered the same fate, losing to UNI 23-3 to end their 33-game winning streak. But despite those two strokes of brilliance, the Panthers finished just 8-4 during their regular season (with the 4 losses coming by a total of 9 points) and thus were on the road for round 2 of the playoffs in Week 15, as the top 8 seeded teams, all of whom received 1st round byes, took on the 8 survivors of round 1. Two of the 8 games were rematches between MVFC foes.
In other 2nd round action, sophomore LD DeVaughn Chollette had 4 tackles (2-2) and 1 TFL for top-seeded New Hampshire in a 44-19 win over Fordham; senior LB Joey Harmon had 6 tackles (2-4), including a half TFL, for Villanova in a tough 29-22 win over Liberty; and Eastern Washington eliminated Montana 37-20.
In the quarterfinals, which took place in Week 16 (on the weekend of Dec. 12-13), Sam Houston State won on the road again, as did Illinois State, while New Hampshire and North Dakota State advanced with home victories.
Jalen Overstreet's 1-yard TD run, capping a 75-yard drive in 10 plays, gave SHSU a 34-31 lead over Villanova with 4:03 remaining in the 4th quarter, and the Bearkats held on when the Wildcats missed a 51-yard FG attempt on 4th and 18 (after taking a delay of game penalty on 4th and 13, making the attempt 5 yards longer than it could have been) with 32 seconds to play. Overstreet (being tackled by LB Don Cherry in photo on right) finished with 30 yards rushing on 9 carries. P.J. Hall had 9 tackles (8-1), 2 sacks, 1 FF, and 1 PBU; and sophomore S Tyrel Stokes had 4 tackles (4-0). Joey Harmon had 8 tackles (4-4), including 3 TFL, in his final game for Villanova.
Illinois State built a 45-20 lead through 3 quarters then survived a strong finish by Eastern Washington, defeating the Eagles 59-46. Tevin Allen had kickoff returns of 45 and 24 yards, 1 tackle (0-1), and 1 PBU; and freshman CB Davontae Harris had 4 tackles (4-0) for ISU ..... UT-Chattanooga dominated New Hampshire in total yards 566-328, keeping the ball for 38:50 time of possession; but the final numbers on the scoreboard were in favor of New Hampshire 35-30. Richardre Bagley had 3 catches for 31 yards for UTC, and Dee Virgin and Tevin Lawson had 3 tackles (3-0) each. DeVaughn Chollette had 7 tackles (4-3) for UNH.
Coastal Carolina would have been a top 4 (or possibly even top 2) seed for the tournament had they not lost at home to Liberty 15-14 (CCU had a 24-yard FG attempt blocked on the final play of the game) in their final game of the regular season - their 1st loss of the season. But instead the Chanticleers were seeded #7 and had to take the trip to Fargo for the quarterfinals for the 2nd year in a row. CCU put on a much stronger performance than last year's 48-14 defeat, but it wasn't strong enough to win, as North Dakota State prevailed 39-32.
Devin Brown's 98-yard kickoff return to the house (photo above) tied the game at 17 in the 2nd quarter. After the Bison built a 31-20 lead, CCU wiped it out with 2 TD drives in the 3rd quarter. John Israel had a 24-yard reception on a 58-yard TD drive then made a 48-yard reception on a 95-yard drive that ended with a 1-yard TD run by De'Angelo Henderson, giving the Chanticleers a 32-31 lead on the first play of the 4th quarter. But CCU went three-and-out on their next possession, and the Bison then went 69 yards in 3 plays to regain the lead with 9:28 to play. And the Bison held on for the victory as Coastal got no further than the ND State 43-yard line on either of their final two drives. Henderson made the dread stars list again. Denzel Rice (2-1) and sophomore DT Jabari Bothwell (0-3) had 3 tackles each for CCU. Jordan Champion had 2 tackles (1-1) and 1 PBU for the Bison.
We'll check out the semifinals and the championship game when I do my bowl report later this year. Illinois State vs. North Dakota State (early PM later today, before the NFL playoffs begin) will be the first time two teams from the same conference have met for the title.
And finally, congratulations to Alcorn State on their first SWAC championship since 1994 (the year Steve McNair finished 3rd in the voting for the Heisman). The Braves defeated Southern U 38-24 in the league championship game at Houston to finish with a 10-3 record. ASU clearly was the better team from scrimmage, finishing with a big advantage in total yards, 480-268; but they got their ass kicked on special teams. The Jaguars blocked 2 ASU punts, one of which was returned for a TD, and also had an 85-yard punt return to the house to stay in the game. But after SU scored 2 touchdowns in the first 5 minutes of the 3rd quarter to tie the game, the Braves answered back with TD drives 59 and 83 yards to take a 38-24 lead early in the 4th and held on.
3. Junior WR Darius Joseph, a contender for a spot on my dread all-America team, spectacularly makes CB Javon Hadley miss after catching a pass on 2nd and 9, hurdling him before being knocked out of bounds at the UConn 29-yard line for a 12-yard gain during 3rd quarter. The Mustangs finished the 58-yard drive with a TD two plays later to tie the game at 20. Joseph made the dread stars list for the 2nd time this season, and the Mustangs won for the first time all season, avoiding an 0-12 record with a 27-20 win over UConn. The Huskies finished at 2-10 (how on Earth did they ever beat UCF?).
5. On 1st and goal Markus Golden tackles T.J. Yeldon but not until Yeldon is already across the goal line. The 2-yard TD upped Alabama's lead to 21-3 late in 2nd quarter. The Tigers scored 10 points in 3rd quarter to pull within 8 before the Tide pulled away with 3 consecutive touchdowns in 4th quarter.
19. After taking the snap in the wildcat formation on 2nd and goal, freshman RB Mike Boone breaks to the outside and takes it to the house for a 6-yard TD, as sophomore LB Steven Taylor makes the tackle a bit too late, upping the Bearcats' lead to 35-17 with 15 seconds remaining in 3rd quarter. The end zone is painted orange and black btw because the game was played at Paul Brown Stadium, home of the NFL's Cincinnati Bengals. Taylor finished with 10 tackles (3-7), including 1 TFL, but the UH defense saw their streak of forcing at least one turnover end at 34 straight games. Boone made the dread stars list.
- Mike Boone - Cincinnati - 17 carries for 85 yards and 3 TD rushing in 38-31 home W over Houston
- Derrick Henry - Alabama - 20 carries for career high 141 yards and 2 TD rushing in 42-13 W over Missouri in SEC championship game
- Breshad Perriman - UCF - named AAC offensive player of the week - 4 receptions for 139 yards, including 51-yard TD on final play of game, in 32-30 road W over East Carolina
- Darius Joseph - SMU - 9 receptions for season high 108 yards in 27-20 road W over Connecticut, ending Mustangs' 13-game losing streak
- Deontay Greenberry - Houston - 9 receptions for 103 yards in 38-31 L at Cincinnati
- Travis Greene - Bowling Green - 105 yards and 1 TD rushing on 18 carries in 51-17 L to Northern Illinois in MAC championship game
- De'Angelo Henderson - Coastal Carolina - 19 carries for 134 yards rushing, including 50-yard TD, and 4 receptions for 18 yards in 36-15 home W over Richmond in 2nd round of FCS playoffs ..... and had 143 yards and 1 TD rushing on 24 carries in 39-32 road L to North Dakota State in quarterfinals
HOUSE OF DREAD
The best performance by any player with dreads for the week was in the ACC championship game at Charlotte. With the Florida State defense struggling to stop Georgia Tech's option attack, the Seminoles had to rely on their offense to pull out a 37-35 victory over the Yellow Jackets. And a big part of that offense was freshman RB Dalvin Cook. With starting RB Karlos Williams unable to play due to a concussion, Cook stepped up big time in his first career start.
If you like, please click on the first link below for an article on Cook's record-setting freshman season from the Tallahassee Democrat. And the link below that is to a 2-minute highlight video of some of Dalvin's best plays against Georgia Tech.
What's that you say? Week 15 was a whole month ago? ..... Tell me about it. I could come up with every excuse in the book to explain why it has taken me this long to get this posted. The bottom line is I decided that after I got it started, I was going to finish it, no matter how long it took. Sorry for the delay.
Going forward, I don't know what I'm going to do next. I suppose I should do something on the NFL, but I don't have anything at all ready on the NFL right now. I'm further behind than I've ever been. All I can say is check in from time to time. I promise it won't be another 5 weeks until my next post.