Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Xavier Classic matchups revised

NEW ORLEANS — Xavier University of Louisiana announced Tuesday a revision in the pairings of this week's Xavier Classic women’s basketball event.

The revised pairings will consist of two games at XU's Convocation Center. Fisk will play Langston at 5 p.m. Thursday, and Xavier will play Fisk at 4 p.m. Friday. Xavier will not play Thursday. The original schedule called for four games over two days.

Tickets for each day will cost $10 for ages 13 and older. There will be free admission for ages 12 and younger and for XU students, faculty and staff with a valid XU ID.

Langston, coached by hall-of-fame player Cheryl Miller, is 6-0 and ranked 24th in NAIA Division I. The Lady Lions won 71-68 at home Nov. 15 against NAIA No. 1 and defending national champion Oklahoma City.

Xavier (3-4) is ranked 18th and has a 21-game home winning streak.

Ed Cassiere, Sports Information Director

Derrick Burroughs will not return to Jackson State

JACKSON, Mississippi -- Derrick Burroughs was among the first hires by Jackson State head coach Harold Jackson.

Now, he's the first one out.

Burroughs will not return as JSU's defensive coordinator, the school announced in an email late-afternoon Tuesday.

"I thank Coach Burroughs for the contributions he made to the Jackson State football program," Jackson said in the email.

It comes shortly after after the Tigers concluded their season with 34-31 win over Alcorn State on Saturday.


With Grambling improved, excitement grows for the Bayou Classic

NEW ORLEANS -- There was a time when conventional wisdom held that, when it came to the Bayou Classic, records didn’t matter. Fans would fill the Mercedes-Benz Superdome regardless.

And they did, making Thanksgiving weekend in New Orleans a must for those wanting to both see and be seen — the model for such events around the country.

But times change and, with one program or the other down in recent years — sometimes both — turmoil inside and outside the athletic departments of both schools and even a post-Hurricane Katrina malaise, that hasn’t been the case.

Some even suggested the Classic needed a major shakeup — namely, dropping Grambling and finding another foe to face Southern.

That didn’t happen.

And now, with the SWAC Western Division title on the line for both teams Saturday for ...


Grambling defensive coordinator back in Bayou Classic

NEW ORLEANS -- On Thanksgiving Day in 2010, Terrence Graves sat like many others, surrounded by his family and with food covering the table.

“It was different,” Graves said Sunday. “First time in almost 16 years I had been able to go home.”

Coaching is Graves’ calling. An intense competitor who refuses to let much hinder preparation for the next game, Graves’ Southern defenses often practiced straight through Thanksgiving Day, preparing for the Bayou Classic alongside longtime head coach Pete Richardson.

But when Richardson and his coaching staff were fired in 2009, Graves’ journey changed. He became Mississippi Valley State’s assistant head coach and linebackers coach, unsure if he’d ever be back in the rivalry.


Bayou Classic attendance could be on the way up with SWAC West title on the line

NEW ORLEANS -- Grambling coach Broderick Fobbs took a stroll down memory lane during Tuesday's Bayou Classic kickoff press conference in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. He recalled spending many Thanksgivings in New Orleans growing up while attending the Bayou Classic.

He also played running back for the Tigers from 1993-96 and remembers the buzz around the game.

Fobbs will be leading his squad onto the field in the 41st Bayou Classic on Saturday for the first time as head coach.

Many things have changed since Fobbs attended and played in the game. Back then, the event drew in excess of 65,000 fans every season. But since Hurricane Katrina, attendance has been significantly less. The last four seasons, Bayou Classic attendance has averaged 44,394 fans, including 47,385 in 2013. That number is tickets distributed and not actual attendance.


Game Notes: BU Huskies Return To NCAA Playoffs vs. Virginia State at Home Saturday

#14 BLOOMSBURG (10-1) vs. #23 VIRGINIA STATE (10-2)
Saturday, November 29, 2014 - 12:00 noon
Danny Hale Field at Redman Stadium


Complete Game Notes (PDF): BLOOMSBURG
Live Radio: WHLM (930 AM / 94.7, 104.3 FM / Berwick: 1280 AM / Danville: 105.5 FM)
Live Radio Stream: Click Here
TV: SportsFever (check Playoffs Central link for local listings)
Live Stats: Click Here
Twitter Updates: @GoBUHuskies
NCAA Playoffs Central


First meeting.

- Bloomsburg is making its 11th appearance in the NCAA Division II Playoffs and third straight.

- Saturday's game will mark the first time since 2006 that Bloomsburg has played a team from outside the PSAC in the NCAA Playoffs. Bloomsburg lost to Northwest Missouri (33-3) in the 2006 National Semifinals after defeating Shepherd (24-21) in the Regional Final that year. BU has played six straight playoff games vs. PSAC teams since.

- The Huskies are seeking their first NCAA Playoff win since a 28-26 first round victory at California (PA) in 2010.

- Bloomsburg has not lost a game to an opponent outside the PSAC since a 24-14 season-opening loss to Ashland on Sept. 4, 2010.

- PSAC East Defensive Player of the Year Justin Shirk (Harrisburg/Central Dauphin) is on the list of nominees for both the Harlon Hill Trophy and the Cliff Harris Small College Defensive Player of the Year.

- Saturday's winner advances to the Super Region One final vs. the Concord/West Chester winner on Saturday, Dec. 6 at the site of the highest remaining seed.

For the Huskies, the NCAA Playoffs are a familiar place – Bloomsburg is in the playoffs for the third straight season and 11th overall after recording 10 wins for the 10th time in school history. Virginia State, however, is an NCAA Playoff newcomer as the Trojans are making their first entry into the national playoffs.

The teams also enter the game on opposite ends of the spectrum in recent history – while the Huskies are looking to erase the sting of a loss in the PSAC Championship Game at Slippery Rock following 10 straight wins to begin the year, Virginia State opened the year with a pair of losses but enter this week on a 10-game winning streak.

Where both teams are similar is in their ball-hawking defenses. Bloomsburg leads the nation in turnovers generated (39) and Virginia State led the CIAA in interceptions (16). Bloomsburg, meanwhile, paced the PSAC in interceptions with 21.

Both the Huskies and Trojans own run-first mentalities offensively – the Huskies rank third in the PSAC in rushing (228.7 yards/game) and 14th in PSAC passing (160.1 yards/game) while Virginia State likewise does much of its damage on the ground, ranking third in the CIAA at 178.9 yards per game on the ground and ranking next-to-last in the CIAA in passing at 176.3 yards per game through the air.

> 14 
- The Huskies had 14 All-PSAC East selections – most of any team in the conference.

> 18 - The 18 fumbles forced by the Huskies defense are the most by any team in Division II.

> 39 - Bloomsburg's defense has generated 39 turnovers this season, most in Division II, or an average of 3.5 turnovers gained per game. Across all divisions, only Castleton and Wesley of Division III have generated more (43, 41).

> 39 - The Huskies and Trojans have combined for 39 interceptions this season.

> 41% - Bloomsburg opponents are scoring touchdowns on just 41% percent of trips to the red zone this year (11-27).

> 113 - Both the Huskies and Trojans have done much of their damage in the second quarter, each scoring 113 points this season during the second period. Bloomsburg has outscored opponents 113-51 during the second while VSU boasts a 113-63 advantage in the second quarter of games this season.

> 113.9 - Running back Eddie Mateo (Bethlehem/Freedom) is averaging 113.9 yards rushing per game in the nine complete games he has played this year. Mateo missed the Nov. 8 game at Lock Haven and was limited to just six carries on Nov. 15 at Slippery Rock due to injury.

> 293 - Quarterback Tim Kelly (Camp Hill/Cedar Cliff) had a career-high 293 yards passing in the PSAC Championship Game, the most by any Huskies passer since Pat Carey had 311 at Mercyhurst on Nov. 13, 2010.

> 1,114 - The Huskies and Trojans have combined for 1,114 wins all-time – Bloomsburg is 569-436-32 all-time while VSU is 545-349-53.

> 1988 - Bloomsburg has not played a CIAA team since 1988, a 14-6 home win over Norfolk State.

> 1995 - Virginia State has not beaten a team from the PSAC since 1995 (an 81-9 win at Cheyney), playing against PSAC opposition just three times since including a Week 1 loss to California (PA), 33-24, this season.

• Not only is Virginia State adept at creating turnovers, its defense is dangerous with the ball as well – VSU has scored six defensive touchdowns this season, second-most in the nation behind only Sioux Falls (7).

• The Trojans have also done a good job of limiting mistakes – with just four interceptions thrown on the year, VSU ranks second in the nation in that category.

• VSU opened the season with a pair of losses – 33-24 at PSAC member California (PA) in Week 1 and then a 34-6 home defeat at the hands of last year's national runner-up Lenoir-Rhyne. The Trojans have won 10 straight since, however, including a 21-17 win over Winston-Salem State in the CIAA Championship Game in what was most likely a must-win to get into the NCAA Playoffs.

• Quarterback Tarian Ayres was suspended for the CIAA Championship Game, but returned for last week's NCAA First Round win over LIU Post. Ayers helped the Trojans to a 28-17 home victory, finishing 9-of-21 for 151 yards and one interception. Ayers, who has thrown for 1,978 yards with 14 touchdowns and only four interceptions, also is a threat to run with 305 yards and seven rushing touchdowns on the year. Freshman Niko Johnson named MVP of the CIAA Championship Game replacing Ayers, completing 12-of-19 attempts for 125 yards with 76 yards rushing.

• Like Bloomsburg, VSU has multiple options out of the backfield, though Kavon Bellamy has seen the lion's share of work with 922 yards on 229 carries with 12 touchdowns. Earl Hughes averages 5.4 yards per carry with 491 yards and five touchdowns on 91 attempts while Louis Johnson has carried 77 times for 348 yards and three scores.

•  Kicker Matt Hillquist is 5-for-11 on field goal attempts this season, but has not made a field goal longer than 26 yards. Hillquist has also not attempted a field goal since Nov. 1 vs. Chowan, making both attempts that day.

• VSU has scored touchdowns on 69% of its trips to the red zone this season (35-51).

• This year's conference championship is the first for VSU since 1996.

The Huskies are making their 11th appearance in the NCAA Division II Playoffs including a school-record third straight trip. The Huskies all-time playoff record is 8-10; 5-3 at home and 3-7 on the road.

Bloomsburg is looking for its first NCAA Playoff victory since 2010 at California (PA), a 28-26 win. The Huskies are seeking to snap what is a three-game playoff losing skid.

With their 11th entry into the NCAA Division II Football Playoffs, only two PSAC schools have reached the national tournament more - IUP (15, 18-15 record) and West Chester (13, 9-10 record).

This year's senior class has been tremendously successful, recording a 39-7 record over the past four seasons with three NCAA Playoff berths and a PSAC championship to their credit thus far. Already the group is among the winningest in school history - the Class of 2008 posted a  41-8 record from 2005-08 and the Class of 2013 went 39-9 from 2010-13. This year's seniors are also 20-3 at Redman Stadium.

Quarterback Tim Kelly (Camp Hill/Cedar Cliff) set career highs in in completions (21), attempts (42) and passing yards (293) in the PSAC Championship Game loss at Slippery Rock on Nov. 15.

It was the first time a Huskies quarterback has had more than 20 completions in a game since Pat Carey did so with 22 at Mercyhurst on Nov. 13, 2010. The 42 pass attempts were also the most by any Huskies quarterback since Eric Miller had 43 at UC Davis on Dec. 2, 2000.

A pair of Kelly's targets also had career days receiving - Lawrence Elliott Jr. (Utica, NY/Thomas R. Proctor) set career bests for receptions (five) and receiving yards (102) while Chad Hoffman (Drums/Hazleton) did likewise with six catches for 84 yards. In the past two games, Hoffman has 11 catches for 165 yards - in the previous nine games, he had 11 receptions for 91 yards.

Slippery Rock running back Shamar Greene became just the second player to rush for over 100 yards against the Huskies this season. Greene's 116 yards on the ground in the PSAC Championship Game were the most by any opponent this year (Brandon Brown-Dukes of Mercyhurst had 102) and the most since Rondell White recorded 211 yards for West Chester on Nov. 3, 2012.

Lawrence Elliott's career receiving day at Slippery Rock was just a continuation of his strong season. Elliott brings a big play ability each time he touches the ball - the true sophomore leads the Huskies with 22 plays of over 30 yards this season.

The Huskies have had at least 30 rushing attempts in 59 straight games, dating back to Oct. 31, 2009 - a record that nearly was broken in Week 9 of 2013 when Bloomsburg ran exactly 30 times vs. Shippensburg and again in Week 3 of 2014 when the Huskies once again rushed exactly 30 times at Mercyhurst, a 38-22 win.

The run of success for the Huskies over the past 15+ years is nearly unparalleled in college football. Bloomsburg has won seven or more games in 16 consecutive seasons – a streak that is impressive at any level. Only four schools in the divisions of NCAA (FBS, FCS, Division II, Division III) have a longer streak of seven or more victories – Florida State and Virginia Tech in the FBS; Northwest Missouri in Division II and Mount Union in Division III. The 16-year streak is also a PSAC record, surpassing the previous mark of 13 straight years set by IUP from 1984-1996.

Entering this week's game, Bloomsburg has an on-going streak of 42 straight games with at least one rushing touchdown – the last time the Huskies failed to run for a score came on Sept. 15, 2011 at IUP.

This year's offensive line has continued a long tradition of Huskies excellence up front. Four members of the line were named All-PSAC East - Christian Whiteside(Broomall/Marple Newtown) to the first team and Ryan Geiger (Southampton/La Salle),Dakota Hoagland (Shoemakersville/Hamburg) and John Garland (Hatfield/North Penn)to the second team. The starting five has not missed a start all season.


MSU Bears Face No. 16/18 Richmond in First Round of FCS Playoffs on ESPN3

Gamenotes (PDF)

The Morgan State Bears will face #16/18 Richmond in the first round of the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) Playoffs. Game time at Robins Stadium is scheduled for 1 p.m. and will be broadcast on ESPN3.  The game will be broadcast live by Morgan State's flagship station WEAA, 88.9 FM, also on Heritage Sports Network (HSRN) and Sirius XM. It will air on Sirius Channel 136 and XM Channel 204.  The winner of the game will play at No. 7-seeded Coastal Carolina on December 6.
• Morgan State (7-5 overall, 6-2 MEAC) won a share of the MEAC Championship and earned the conference's automatic qualification. This is the first Division I postseason trip for the Bears.
• Richmond (8-4, 5-3 CAA) finished fourth in the Colonial Athletic Association. The Spiders are an at-large qualifier and will be making its ninth trip to the Football Championships (FCS) Playoffs, including a national championship in 2008. This will be the first trip to the playoffs since 2009.
•Saturday's matchup marks the first meeting between the two schools. 
• MSU QB Moses Skillon set the school record for most touchdown passes in a game – the Florida native tossed five TDs in a 69-7 rout at Hughes Stadium against the Hornets. It was the most points by the Bears since posting 69 points vs. Hampton in 1967.
• MSU has 12 senior Bears who will be suiting up for the first Division I postseason appearance in school history.
• Morgan State and Richmond are ranked among the FCS leaders when it comes to passing and defending the pass. The Bears rank No. 2 in passing yards allowed (141.4), while the Spiders rank No. 9 (307.7) in pass offense.
• Senior DE Christopher Robinson set the school's career sack record (28.5) two weeks ago and recently set the school's single season sack record ... he currently has 15 sacks and counting...
• Sophomore RB Herb Walker Jr. is a member of the Walter Payton Award Watch List.
• Lee Hull's Bears were predicted to finish last in the MEAC's Preseason Order of Finish. However, MSU not only finished with it's first winning record since 2009...but they also captured its first MEAC Title in 35 years.
• Senior LB Nate Ayers recorded a pair of interceptions vs. Delaware State - The Baltimore product has eight picks for his career.
MSU enters its 116th season of football, and the first under head coach Lee Hull.
The Spiders finished with an overall mark of 6-6 and were T-5th place with a 4-4 CAA record during the 2013 season.
• They returned16 starters from a team that won its final four games of the 2013 season.
• Richmond will enter this weekend's contest fresh off of a 34-20 win at William & Mary. The Spiders snapped a 2-game losing streak and earned an at-large bid for its ninth appearance in the FCS playoffs.
• The Spiders offense is led by QB Michael Strauss. Strauss completed 29-of-40 passes for 291 yards including a pair of touchdown passes to lead Richmond past the Tribe. 
• Seth Fisher, 6-2, 232 pound r-junior, is the Spiders premier running back by accounting for 717 yards on 148 carries (4.8 avg) with 10 TDs.
• Wideouts Reggie Diggs, Brian Brown and Rashad Ponder have led the Spiders as  favorite receiving targets. Diggs has 885 yards on 69 catches with a five TDs, while Brown has 65 receptions for 873 yards and 2 TDs, and Ponder has 56 catches for 644 yards. Richmond has eight players with over 100 receiving yards. 
• The Spiders have one of the top defenses in the CAA. The defense ranked No. 3 in the conference in total defense (332.1) , No. 3 in rushing defense (126.2), and No. 7 in pass defense (205.9).
• Richmond's defense has been led by Eric Wright, Omar Howard and Justin Grant. Wright leads the Spiders with 82 tackles and 7 TFLs, Howard has 72 stops wth three sacks.  Grant has 71 tackles with five breakups. The Bears O-Line will also have to account for Justin Williamson who paces the Spiders with seven sacks, and nine TFLs.
• Danny Rocco is in his 3rd year as Richmond's head coach. He has led the Spiders to a 22-13 record. In 2012, Rocco led Richmond to a share of the CAA Football championship, posting an overall record of 8-3 and a conference mark of 6-2.  As a result of his effort, he was named a finalist not only for the Eddie Robinson Award, but also the Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year Award.
MSU was a power as a former member of the CIAA. The Bears posted 173 wins between 1929 and 1959 when Edward P. Hurt was the head coach and the Bears won 14 CIAA championships. Earl Banks added to the championship collection by winning four titles during the 1960s and a MEAC title in 1971. Clarence Thomas led the Bears to a MEAC title in 1979...and now - after a 40-year drought - Lee Hull has added a MEAC title.
Morgan State was the best in the MEAC at scoring in the red zone. Through the first 12 games, the Bears scored 31-of-37 (83%) times inside its opponent's 20 yardline ... 29 of the 31 scores have been TDs.
Here are a few 2014 FCS national statistics of note on offense, defense and special teams that pertained to the Bears:
• Herb Walker Jr. currently ranks in the FCS No. 12 in yards per game (117.1 ypg), No. 16 in rushing yards (1,288 yds), No. 17 in rushing yards per carry (6.08 avg); T-No. 27 in scoring (90), has the No. 4 highest rushing total (271 yds vs. Holy Cross) in the FCS;
• Senior LB Cody Acker ranks T-17 nationally in solo tackles (66 TT); has the T-No. 12 highest total tackles (19 vs. E. Michigan) in the FCS;
• R-Senior LB Christopher Robinson ranks No. 4 nationally in sacks (15), ranks T-No. 21 in tackles for loss (18);
• The Bears rushing offense ranks 24th nationally total offense (211.3);
• The Bears passing efficiency defense ranks No. 10 (104.3) and No. 2 in passing yards allowed (141.4).
• The Bears rank No. 30 in 3rd down conversions (.425).
The latest Heritage Sports Radio Network (HSRN) released Monday morning has Morgan State moving up to No. 6 (80 votes) for Week 12. The Bears remained at No. 7 in the BoxToRow Coaches Poll (82) and improved to No. 7 (74 votes) in the BoxToRow Media Poll.
... give the Bears an 8-5 record...its most wins since recording an 8-2 finish in 1970 under legendary MSU head coach Earl C. Banks.
... give Lee Hull his first NCAA FCS Playoff victory as a head coach.
... would be the Bears' seventh win in the last 10 games.
... improve the Bears record against Richmond to 1-0.
... mark the Bears first NCAA FCS Playoff victory...and its first postseason victory since defeating Wester Chester State 14-6 on December 10, 1966 at the 21st Annual Tangerine Bowl Classic in Orlando, Florida.
The following is the list of the Morgan State senior football players play in their last regular season game as collegiate student-athletes last Saturday at Hughes Stadium against Delaware State. These 12 seniors are working diligently to complete their final courses so they can obtain their degree and take a step into the world as educated young men. The 2014 seniors are:
#15     QB      Robert 'Josh' Council
#55     DE      Christopher Robinson
#62     C         Clarence Swain
#94     DT       Micale Allen
#5       LB       Cody Acker   
#22     LB       Nathan Ayers
#25     LB       Donyae Olton
#42     S         Paul Eatman Jr.A
#72     OT       Darren Pinnock       
#76     OG      Randon Key
#99     NG      Bradley Sanchez

Morgan State first-year head football coach, 
Lee Hull has been nominated as a finalist for the Eddie Robinson FCS Coach of the Year Award. The Robinson Award, now in its 28th year, is given to the top coach in the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) each year and is named after legendary Grambling head coach Eddie Robinson. Picked last (9th) in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference preseason poll, Morgan State posted a 7-5 overall record, and captured a share of the MEAC Title with a 6-2 conference record, marking its first conference championship since 1979.