Football Preview: Quincy at Urbana
On Saturday, the Blue Knights will try to get back on track against visiting Quincy University. Last week’s stunning 6-point loss in the conference opener at Central State wasn’t the first impression Urbana wanted to make in the GLVC. Perhaps a return home, where Urbana is 2-0 this season, will help the Blue Knights right the ship against the 0-3 Hawks.
Urbana’s 28-22 loss at Central State on Saturday halted the longest winning streak in program history and the 2nd longest winning streak in the country in D-II. Only #4 Grand Valley State’s 9-game (now 10-game) winning streak was longer than Urbana’s 8-game streak.
Quincy, who was picked to finish 7th in the GLVC in the preseason coaches’ poll, fell to preseason conference favorite Indy by a score of 35-7 in the Hawks’ Homecoming game last week.
The Blue Knights and Hawks have met 3 times before Saturday. The home team won all 3 games, but all 3 previous meetings occurred when both teams were members of the NAIA and MSFA conference. Urbana entered their last meeting ranked 17th in the country in the NAIA after a 6-2 start, but the 3-5 Hawks upset the Blue Knights in Quincy 45-30.
On the bright side, Urbana’s offense is still ranked in the Top 15 in the country, averaging 500 yards per game, and despite throwing his first interception of the season at CSU, QB D.J. Mendenhall is still the 12th rated passer in the country (168.34 rating). He’s also tied for 12th in total offense (328.3 ypg) and tied for 8th in points responsible for (66). WR Joe Webb is still 7th in the country in receiving yards (118.7 ypg).
A bright spot on the Blue Knight defense is senior defensive end Perry Jenkins. Jenkins leads the team in tackles for a loss (6.5), sacks (3.0), and fumble recoveries (3). He is tied for the team lead in forced fumbles (1) and blocked kicks (1). Jenkins 3 fumble recoveries give him 7 for his career, which is a new school record, breaking Juan McKeever’s old mark of 6. He currently leads the country in that category. Jenkins also ranks highly in TFL’s (28th) and sacks (18th).
Urbana’s special teams unit is led by senior punter Clay Lust. Lust currently leads the GLVC and is ranked 8th in the country with a 44.3 yard punting average. That boost has him over 40.0 yards per punt for his career, which will be a new school record if he can hold on to that average.
Saturday's kickoff is slated for 12:00 p.m. at Urbana University Stadium. Tickets are $7 for adults, $5 for children and senior citizens. Urbana will broadcast the game live on its UStream Channel. Athletic Director Doug Young will provide the play-by-play. Live Stats are also available here, and for in-game updates to your cell phone, be sure to follow @UUSports on Twitter. More Week 3 GLVC Notes are below.
S&T Momentum; CSU Upset Highlights GLVC Opener
Four teams sit atop the GLVC standings following one week of conference play, including the preseason favorite and the team picked to finish ninth in the league. Central State captured a 28-22 upset victory over Urbana University, a team that is slated to finish second in the conference by the league coaches. Missouri S&T continued its impressive start with a 31-0 blanking of McKendree to move the Miners to 3-0 overall. Elsewhere, GLVC preseason favorite Indianapolis opened with a 35-7 win at Quincy, while William Jewell earned its first league win with a wild 29-26 victory over Kentucky Wesleyan.
Five GLVC football games are on tap this Saturday, including four conference contests. Fresh off its upset of Urbana, Central State (1-2, 1-0 GLVC) travels to Saint Joseph’s (1-2, 0-0) for the Pumas’ first league contest, while the Blue Knights (2-1, 0-1) look to rebound at home against Quincy (0-3, 0-1). McKendree (0-3, 0-1) hits the road to GLVC preseason favorite Indianapolis (1-2, 1-0), and undefeated Missouri S&T (3-0, 1-0) hosts Kentucky Wesleyan (1-2, 0-1). After a win over KWC in league play, William Jewell (1-2, 1-0) travels to South Dakota School of Mines & Technology for its final non-conference game of the season.
This Saturday marks the first home game for two GLVC schools after spending the first three weeks on the road. Indianapolis opened the season traveling three straight weeks, falling at Ashland and Western Illinois, before rebounding to defeat Quincy. Saint Joseph’s won a 36-34 thriller at Valparaiso in the season opener, but has since dropped games at Charleston (WV) and Robert Morris. The road battles are not unique to just UIndy and SJC. Central State’s home win over Urbana last week was in the middle of four road contests, as was Quincy’s home loss to UIndy. William Jewell’s win over KWC was the Cardinals’ lone home game in their first four games. Following a 40-10 home loss to Walsh, Kentucky Wesleyan preps for its third-straight road trip this week, a 6:30 p.m. kick at Missouri S&T.
After Urbana’s D.J. Mendenhall scored a conference-best 18 points in the Blue Knights’ season-opening win on Sept. 1, it took two weeks for another to accomplish the same feat, only last Saturday it was matched by three different players. Indianapolis’ Klay Fiechter, Missouri S&T’s Sean Martin and William Jewell’s Jon Molzen all scored 18 points in their respective wins.
Hey Mr. Wilson(s)!
Three single-game conference records were set on Saturday by Central State quarterback Michael Wilson and linebacker Darius Wilson. The former registered the conference’s longest run (62 yards) and pass (95 yards), while the latter posted a league-high 17 tackles en route to GLVC Defensive Player of the Week honors.
Passing Records Hold Firm
Speaking of conference records, Missouri S&T quarterback Josh Firm holds the league’s top-two passing marks for yards in a game. In the win over McKendree, Firm threw for 352 yards, one week after tossing 308 yards. Firm leads the GLVC with nine touchdowns on the season and is second in the league with 282.7 passing yards per game.
GLVC Boasts Nation’s Top Receivers
Through the first three weeks of the 2012 season, the GLVC is represented by three of the nation’s top five receivers in terms of receptions per game. Saint Joseph’s Julian Walker is second with 10.33 receptions each time out, while Missouri S&T’s Smook Thomas (9.33) is third and Kentucky Wesleyan’s Jeff Ward (8.33) is fifth. Additionally, Urbana’s Joe Webb (118.67) is seventh overall in receiving yards per game, while Walker (115.33) is eighth and Thomas (111.33) is 13th.
Missouri S&T Earns Votes in AFCA D-II Poll
In the latest AFCA Division II Poll released Monday, Missouri S&T is the lone GLVC team to earn recognition as the Miners are receiving votes outside the top 25. Urbana received votes the past two weeks, while Indianapolis garnered votes in the preseason poll.
GLVC Ranked Among Top-10 Nationally
Seventeen GLVC teams and individuals are ranked among the nation’s top-10 in select statistical categories, released Sunday by the NCAA. Among the notables, Indianapolis (38.00) ranks second in punt returns and Missouri S&T ranks third in pass efficiency defense (79.10), seventh in scoring defense (11.00) and seventh in turnover margin (+2.33). Individually, UIndy’s Klay Fiechter (38.00) ranks first in punt return followed by Missouri S&T’s Carlton Westbrook (25.00) in fifth, while Fiechter (12.00) is also fourth in scoring. On special teams, Urbana’s Clay Lust (44.33) is eighth in the country in punting average, and S&T’s Adam Peden (1.67) and Kentucky Wesleyan’s Matt Wilson (1.67) are tied for ninth in field goals per game.