Football Homecoming Preview: McKendree at Urbana
URBANA, Ohio (October 20, 2012) - On this Homecoming Saturday, Urbana (5-2) and McKendree (2-5) will face off for the 4th time in school history. Urbana owns a 2-1 edge in the all-time series, which began when the schools were members of the NAIA & Mid-States Football Association. The teams met on 3 occasions during conference “cross-over” games. (UU was in the MSFA’s east division, while McKendree resided in the west division.) McKendree won the first-ever meeting in 1998, but Urbana exacted its revenge in ‘06 and ‘07. The wins were some of the biggest in school history as McKendree was ranked each time the Blue Knights knocked them off. Urbana’s 5-point win at home vs. #7 McKendree 6 years ago led to a #20 national ranking for UU, and the Blue Knights' 2-point win at #15 McKendree the following year also helped UU climb into the NAIA national rankings.
Saturday’s matchup pits the GLVC 3rd place Blue Knights (3-1 GLVC) against the 5th place Bearcats (2-3 GLVC). Urbana needs a win today to remain within striking distance of first-place Indianapolis, who comes to Urbana on the final Saturday of the regular season. Indy plays at GLVC last place and winless Kentucky Wesleyan this week.
Saturday’s game marks UU’s 27th Football Homecoming. UU is 14-12 all-time on Homecoming, including wins in 9 of the last 10 Homecoming games. Last season, on a beautiful, but blustery afternoon, the Blue Knights pounded the Pumas from St. Joe’s 42-0. UU held St. Joe's to just 103 total yards of offense, earning their first home shutout since Homecoming in ‘04. The only time SJC even breached UU's 30-yard line was on a fumbled punt return that set the visitors up just 29 yards from paydirt. That drive ended on downs after 4 plays that netted -1 yard. The Pumas actually finished the game with more penalty yards than total offensive yards (129-103).
Offensively, Urbana overcame the windy conditions with a balanced attack. QB D.J. Mendenhall orchestrated 4 TD drives before the half. (Mendenhall has been fantastic in 2 career Homecoming games. As a freshman, he accounted for 6 total TDs in a 39-25 Homecoming win over KWC.)
Defensively, Urbana was led by Perry Jenkins' 11 tackles, including 2 sacks and 3 tackles for a loss. Juan McKeever, Wes Edwards and Drew Underwood all recorded INTs. Rodney Huston had 6 tackles and 0.5 TFL. Nineteen different Blue Knights recorded at least 2 tackles in the blowout.
Saturday's Homecoming kickoff is slated for 12:00 p.m. at Urbana University Stadium. Tailgating usually begins around 9:00 a.m. Don't worry about the weather. The Homecoming tents are already up! 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 once again 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. Before the game, you can read McKendree's Week 8 Game Notes here, and the GLVC's Week 8 Notes are below.
The Week Ahead...
GLVC football action opens this weekend with McKendree (2-5, 2-3 GLVC) visiting Urbana (5-2, 3-1) and Missouri S&T (6-1, 4-1) traveling to Quincy (1-6, 1-3) for 12 p.m. CT starts. League-leader Indianapolis (5-2, 5-0) hits the road to Kentucky Wesleyan (2-5, 0-4), while William Jewell (2-5, 1-3) welcomes Saint Joseph’s (3-4, 2-2) to Liberty, Mo. Both contests are 1 p.m. CT kicks. Central State (2-5, 2-3) is idle this week.
Indianapolis Earns Votes in AFCA D-II Poll
In the latest AFCA Division II Poll released Monday, Indianapolis is the lone GLVC team to earn recognition as the Greyhounds are once again receiving votes outside the top 25. UIndy earned votes in the preseason poll, but dropped out of consideration following the season opener. Since then, a GLVC team has received votes outside the top 25 each week, as Urbana was recognized after the first two weeks of play, and Missouri S&T was represented the following two weeks. UIndy has been the lone conference representative to received votes the past three weeks.
Emphasizing the Run
This week’s McKendree vs. Urbana matchup features one of the GLVC’s top rushing programs against the league’s top defense in stopping the run. Urbana is second in the league with 195.4 yards on the ground each time out, while McKendree rates first in rushing defense, allowing just 90.0 yards per game. Overall, Urbana is first in total offense (467.9) with McKendree fourth in total defense (362.0). Typically, a strong run game puts forth the opportunity for the passing game to thrive, but Urbana’s No. 2 GLVC-passing attack (272.4) might also be grounded with McKendree’s pocket pressure. The Bearcats rank second in the league with 2.57 sacks per game, while Urbana is seventh with 2.71 sacks allowed each time out.
Preparing for the Pass
In addition to the run-game focus of the McKendree/Urbana matchup this week, another conference contest will pit two teams that have had success passing -- and defending the pass -- this year. Missouri S&T paces the conference with 299.7 yards per game, which have come with 22 TDS and a completion rate of 66.1. Quincy ranks second in the GLVC in pass defense, allowing just 167.0 yards in the air, including 13 aerial scores and a completion clip of just 52.5.
Kentucky Wesleyan’s Jeff Ward and Indianapolis’ Mar’Quone Edmonds scored a combined 48 points last week, including Ward’s GLVC-record 30-point effort, which also helped earn him GLVC Special Teams Player of the Week honors. Edmonds notched three scores en route to GLVC Offensive Player of the Week accolades. Edmonds has been no stranger to putting points on the board this year, and that goes for his teammates as well. UIndy controls three of the top four positions in conference scoring, as Klay Fiechter is first (90 points), Edmonds is second (60) and kicker Scott Miller is fourth (47). Only KWC’s Ward has prevented a 1-2-3 sweep for the Hounds, registering 54 points this year, including his 30 from a week ago.
Speaking of UIndy’s Klay Fiechter, the junior running back continues to hold a commanding lead in conference rushing with 136.7 yards per game, which is also 11th nationally and some 44 yards more than second-place Jeffvon Gill of Urbana (92.6) in the GLVC. Gill’s average spiked after last week as he rushed for 170 yards on 36 attempts. The 36 carries were a conference record, while his 170 markers were the second-highest in the league this season. Fiechter, who owns the top single-game mark at 190 yards, rushed for 153 yards against Central State and now has three 150-yard, and six 100-yard ground games this season. He has also tallied 13 rushing touchdowns on the year, just one less than a combined Gill (5), Central State’s Michael Wilson (5) and Missouri S&T’s Scott Hendricks (4), who ranked Nos. 2-4, respectively, among GLVC rushers. Staying on the ground, KWC’s Jeff Ward’s 74-yard run against Lindenwood-Belleville last week was the second-longest scamper in the conference this season.
Several GLVC standouts also impressed in the passing game last week. UIndy’s Chris Mills threw four touchdowns for the second consecutive week, three of which went to Mar’Quone Edmonds to tie the conference record. Edmonds also set new GLVC marks in receiving yards (212) and receptions (14) en route to his third 100-yard receiving game this year. Additionally, Urbana’s D.J. Mendenhall and Marc Johnson hooked up for an 80-yard strike to register the league’s third-longest pass and reception in the conference this year.
GLVC Well-Represented Among NCAA Stat Leaders
The GLVC remains well-represented among the nation’s top 25 in select statistical categories in a report released by the NCAA on Sunday. Missouri S&T’s Carlton Westbrook sits first with a punt-return average of 26.22, while Indianapolis’ Klay Fiechter is second in scoring (12.86) and all-purpose running (202.14), and Central State’s Darius Wilson is second with 12.7 tackles per game. Four different teams pace the GLVC in select team stats, including No. 2 Kentucky Wesleyan in punt-return average (28.13), No. 8 Missouri S&T in turnover margin (1.29), No. 9 Indianapolis in passing defense (162.43), and No. 15 Urbana in total offense (467.86).
Dominating Defender Depth
With the 2012 campaign seven weeks old, one might find it difficult to pinpoint who the most outstanding defender has been in the league this year. Certainly Central State’s Darius Wilson’s national-best average of 12.7 tackles per game holds weight, but other impressive efforts have come from Kentucky Wesleyan’s Matt Davis (11.0 tpg, 10th NCAA, 2nd GLVC), McKendree’s Sherrod Stancil (1.79 TFL/game, 1st GLVC; 0.79 sacks/game, 2nd GLVC, 4.9 tpg, 36th GLVC), Missouri S&T’s Eddie Rascon (1.07 sacks/game, 8th NCAA, 1st GLVC; 1.43 TFL/game, 3rd GLVC) and a trio of UIndy linebackers, including Max Davis (9.9 tpg, 3rd GLVC), Todd Hacker (8.6, T-5th) and Tyler Peterman (8.6, T-5th).