Football Preview: Urbana at West Virginia Wesleyan
BUCKHANNON, West Virginia (September 29, 2012) - For the third time in 4 years, the Blue Knights and Bobcats from West Virginia Wesleyan College will meet on the gridiron. Saturday's meeting in Buckhannon will be the last as a non-conference matchup as both schools are headed to the Mountain East Conference next season.
In their previous 2 meetings, each team has a win. The Blue Knights clipped the Bobcats 20-19 in a wild one at Urbana in 2009, and the Bobcats returned the favor in a 17-14 victory in Buckhannon in 2010.
Last season, the Blue Knights and Bobcats took a break playing each other, but both squads posted school records for wins. Urbana finished 8-3 and won a GLFC Championship, while the Bobcats went a disappointing 9-2. The 9 wins were a disappointment because the Bobcats opened the year 9-0 and appeared to have a WVIAC Championship and D-II playoff berth wrapped up, but the Bobcats faltered in their final 2 games of the season (11-point and 8-point losses on the road at Charleston and Concord), and lost out on conference championships and playoff appearances.
The Bobcats' disappointment leaked into 2012, as WVWC dropped each of its first 3 games this season, but just last week, the Bobcats seemed to right the ship with a 41-17 win over Seton Hill. Urbana also defeated Seton Hill earlier this year, by a mark of 34-31. The Blue Knights enter Saturday's contest 3-1 overall. Saturday's game is the final non-conference game of the season for both clubs.
Kickoff is set for 12:00 p.m. at West Virginia Wesleyan's Ross Field. If you can't make the 266-mile trek to Buckhannon, check in here for LIVE STATS and LIVE AUDIO. Also, be sure to follow @UUSports on Twitter for live in-game updates. And check out D2Football.com for WVIAC writer David Bykowski's game preview and prediction.
Urbana is the only GLVC team playing out of conference on Saturday, so keep tabs on the rest of the league below.
Standings Showdown Set for Saturday
Five games are on tap this week in GLVC football, including four conference games and an early battle for the league lead. Indianapolis (2-2, 2-0 GLVC) and Missouri S&T (4-0, 2-0), both undefeated in conference play, will square off in Rolla, Mo., Saturday night at 6:30 p.m. Elsewhere, Saint Joseph’s (2-2, 1-0) looks to get to 2-0 in the league by hosting Quincy (0-4, 0-2), William Jewell (2-2, 1-0) hopes to do the same by welcoming Central State (1-3, 1-1), while McKendree (0-4, 0-2) and Kentucky Wesleyan (1-3, 0-2) will fight for their first GLVC win of the season. Urbana (3-1, 1-1) hits the road in non-conference play this week, traveling to West Virginia Wesleyan.
Three GLVC Stars Recognized by Beyond Sports Network
Three GLVC football players were honored Tuesday as Division II National Players of the Week by Beyond Sports Network. William Jewell’s Sean Shelton was recognized at QB position following his 306-yard, five-touchdown performance at South Dakota Mines & Tech last week. Central State’s Darius Wilson earned the nod at linebacker after his 22 tackles against Saint Joseph’s, which included 16 stops and two TFLs. Quincy’s Brandon Mulloy was featured at punter for his six punts and 45.2-yard average against Urbana.
Impressive Punt Performers
In addition to Mulloy’s punting numbers, several other impressive totals were recorded both in the punt and punt return areas. Urbana’s Clay Lust punted a school-record 11 times Saturday for a conference-record 424 yards, while both Lust and Mulloy booted 66-yard punts in the game. Additionally, Saint Joseph’s Gavin Voss registered a 63-yard punt in the Pumas’ win over Central State, which represents the third-longest kick in the GLVC this year. In the return game, three punts were taken back for touchdowns last week, including two in the Kentucky Wesleyan/Missouri S&T matchup in Rolla, Mo. One of those returns -- a 74-yarder -- belonged to Carlton Westbrook, who was named GLVC Special Teams Player of the Week on Monday. Central State’s Joseph Blount and Kentucky Wesleyan’s Kendall Tinsley also recorded punt returns for a score last week. On a national level, the GLVC boasts the country’s top-two punt returners in UIndy’s Klay Fiechter (33.00) and S&T’s Westbrook (29.13).
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. S&T has received votes the past two weeks, Urbana garnered votes the two weeks prior to that, while Indianapolis earned 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, Kentucky Wesleyan (33.25) and Indianapolis (33.00) rank second and third in punt returns, respectively, while Missouri S&T ranks fifth in turnover margin (2.00), sixth in total defense (232.25) and pass efficiency defense (87.41), and 10th against the rush (56.25). Individually, Missouri S&T’s Smook Thomas leads the country in receptions per game (10.25) as does UIndy’s Klay Fiechter in punt returns (38.00).
Look For Smook
Speaking of Missouri S&T’s Smook Thomas, the talented wideout has registered the conference’s highest total for receptions in a game in each of the past three weeks. In last week’s win over KWC, Smook hauled in 13 balls, just as he did in the win at Arkansas Tech on Sept. 6. In the week following that win, Thomas reeled in 12 catches in the victory over McKendree.
S&T Stands for Sacks & Turnovers (caused)
Missouri S&T, which shares the conference lead with Indianapolis, has been wreaking havoc on opposing defenses over the first four weeks of the season. One week after posting a conference-high six sacks against McKendree, the Miners set a new mark last Saturday with seven sacks against Kentucky Wesleyan. S&T also holds the league’s top mark in turnovers caused, having forced five mistakes in both the KWC (Sept. 22) and Arkansas Tech (Sept. 6) contests. The Miners are fifth nationally with a +8.00 (2.00 avg) turnover margin.
The Marauders’ Machine
Over the past two weeks, Central State linebacker Darius Wilson has established the conference record for tackles in a game, averaging 19.5 hits over that span. After racking up 17 stops in a conference win over Urbana two weeks ago, Wilson returned to total 22 tackles, including 16 solo stops in last Saturday’s loss to Saint Joseph’s. That performance soared Wilson up the charts nationally, as he is now the nation’s second-best tackler with 13.75 stops each time out.
Other Top Week-Four Performances
In addition to the other aforementioned performances from last week, a few others worth noting include UIndy’s Klay Fiechter conference-high 138 yards rushing against McKendree. Teammate Mar’Quone Edmonds hauled in 169 receiving yards, the second-most in the GLVC this year, while Central State’s Michael Wilson was responsible for a league-high 62 offensive plays, including 49 passes, which also topped the conference charts.