... And That's a Wrap for the Mountain East Conference's Regular Season
by, 11-15-2016 at 10:46 PM (871 Views)
Film study, practices, travel, game day ... except for a select few that process is over with as we conclude another regular season of Mountain East Conference football. Thanks to the conference schedulers and MetroNews, the MEC was on display throughout the season as it seems to have a monopoly on Thursday-evening football in Division II. Shepherd and Fairmont State extend their seasons at least one more week with admission into the post-season; Notre Dame had a remarkable season and came very close--putting the conference in a position to almost have three teams in the Super Region 1 playoff bracket. We'll talk more about the playoff games shorty, as for winding down the regular season ...
So, what happened ....
This game almost had as many punts as first downs. The first half saw 1 touchdown, 1 field goal, 2 missed field goal attempts, 2 interceptions and 9 punts. The second-half saw 14 more punts including one stretch of seven-consecutive possessions ending in a punt. The combined 23 punts nearly equaled the 26 combined first downs.
The Cavaliers’ defense pitched a shut-out for the first 35 minutes of the game; and held a lead for the first nearly 50 minutes. The defense couldn’t clamp down enough during those final 10 minutes as a Brett Benes 22-yard field goal tied the team with 10:42 left in the game, and a Marvin Elam 3-yard touchdown run with 6:38 remaining kept the Cavaliers’ win total at six on the season.
Charleston finished the season at 3-8; undoubtedly a huge disappointment after making the playoffs last year following a 10-1 regular season.
UVA-Wise finished at 6-5; a major improvement from last season’s 1-10 campaign. This was the Cavalier’s first winning season in nearly a decade—they were the fourth—and final—team in the conference to end the regular season with a winning record.
Glenville State 30
Fairmont State 37
A critical game for Fairmont State. Finishing the season with one-loss would practically guarantee the Falcons a spot in the playoffs. If they lost their season finale against Glenville State, they would join a pile of two-loss teams and their fate would be at the mercy of the selection committees.
A late field goal by the Pioneers near the end of the first half narrowed the lead slightly at halftime with Fairmont State in front 21-10. It appeared Fairmont State was well on their way to simply awaiting word about their ranking in the playoff bracket. Six of their final possessions of the game however, resulted in three punts, two interceptions and a missed field goal. Glenville State trailed 35-10 in the 3rd quarter however they pulled within a score of the Falcons with a bit over three minutes left to play in the game. At midfield and driving with seconds remaining, a Dante Roberts interception stopped any chance the Pioneers had of forcing overtime.
Each quarterback matched their number of touchdown passes with interceptions. Cooper Hibbs (26-41-275-2-2) led the Falcons well throughout the game, but his two interceptions late in the game allowed this game to be closer than it should have been. Dante Roberts (29-59-303-3-3) had one more touchdown pass, but it was his extra interception that proved fatal for the Pioneers. Terrell Charles (26-149-3) continued to prove he is a top back in the conference. The Pioneers’ stable of running backs kept getting banged up throughout the game and no one really shined. Fabian Guerra (11-94-1) and Laurence King (9-82-0) had typical days, while Dante Absher (9-116-3) continued to be the second-half of a fruitful Dante-to-Dante connection.
Fairmont State finished the season at 9-1—with their only loss against undefeated MEC champion Shepherd. The Falcons earned the fourth seed in the NCAA Super Region 1 Regional Rankings, and they will host Indiana University of PA (IUP) in the first round of the playoffs.
Glenville State had a quick start to the season, but finished at 5-6.
WV State 37
West Liberty 30
WV State scored first—and early—and they never relinquished the lead. West Liberty followed up the Yellow Jackets’ first touchdown with a touchdown of their own, but WV State blocked the PAT and the Hilltoppers continued to trail all game long. The Hilltoppers kept fighting as they pulled to within a point on three separate occasions. Trailing by 10 late in the 3rd quarter, kicker Christian Morris got the team within one score after converting a 37-yard field goal attempt with most of the 4th quarter to play. But WV State’s defense prevailed throughout the final quarter; with West Liberty’s final three possessions ending in a punt, fumble and turnover-on-downs.
Quarterback Matt Kinnick (30-38-367-3-0) had an impressive day through the air; as did his two receivers Tyrell Henderso (7-150-2) and Quinton Gray (11-122-1). Juawan Etheredge (20-76-2) added two scores on the ground. Dakota Conwell (25-45-435-4-0) had a monster showing for his final act as a Hilltopper as did his two favorite targets, Dan Monteroso (8-145-2) and Anton McCallum (5-119-1)
WV State finished the season with a record of 3-8. The Yellow Jackets won their final two games of the season and they return most of their playmakers on offense.
West Liberty finished the season 4-7. They lose MEC Tough-Man of the Year, QB Dakota Conwell as well as Monteroso and McCallum, leaving some big holes to fill.
Shepherd was pretty much a lock to make the playoffs, but their game against Urbana would have implications for position in the bracket and a chance to host at least one game. The Rams won in convincing fashion taking a 21-0 lead before the Blue Knights scored their first touchdown in the 2nd quarter. Following their second score, the Rams always maintained at least a 14-point lead in the game.
Quarterback Jeff Ziemba (23-33-298-2-0) demonstrated his high level of efficiency—limiting his mistakes and leading the team which converted 13-of-17 3rd downs. CJ Davis (7-125-1) was led the receiving corps where Billy Brown was limited and Ryan Feiss was absent. But the Rams utilized other tools including tough Tight End Jamie Deason. Brandon Hlavach (20-133-3) had one of his best showings of the season and Deonte Glover (91 all-purpose yards, 1 TD) made significant contributions as well including a 29-yard touchdown on a pass from Ziemba.
Blue Knight quarterback Marcus Graham (21-42-269-1-0) completed 50% of his passes for over 250 yards with a score. Trevon Sanders (7-93-1) led in receptions and yardage.
Urbana finished the season at 3-8.
Shepherd went undefeated in the regular season for the second consecutive year. They earned the 3rd seed in the NCAA Super Region 1 Regional Rankings; and they will host Assumption College (MA) at home in the first round of the playoffs.
Notre Dame 26
WV Wesleyan 21
Notre Dame needed to win in order to have a chance at making the playoff bracket for Super Region 1. The Falcons got the job done, but WV Wesleyan made them work for it. The Bobcats drew first blood—and each time Notre Dame tied the score, they would pull away again with another touchdown. Notre Dame trailed by five for most of the final quarter until quarterback Malik Grove (26-35-251-4-1; 12-50-0) connected with receiver BJ Baldwin (4-93-2) on a 40-yard touchdown pass with 3:39 left on the game clock.
DJ Greene (29-100-0) outshined conference star Michael Anderson (19-35-0) on the ground. Senior wide receiver Mitchell Shegos (11-101-1) closed out the season and his career with one more big day.
Notre Dame finished the season at 9-2, losing only to playoff-bound Shepherd and Fairmont State. The NCAA selection committees felt other teams were more deserving of a playoff spot so the Falcons’ season is over.
WV Wesleyan finished the season at 4-7.
Concord’s defense showed up for their season finale—limiting the UNC-Pembroke Braves to 144 yards of total offense, 6 first downs (3-13 on 3rd down). The Mountain Lions held UNC-Pembroke to their second-lowest point total of the season—their low of 16 points came in their only loss to 7-2 Tuskegee. The Braves were more accustomed to achieving 40+ points in a game.
Tied at halftime with the score 16-16, Concord recorded a safety early in the 4th quarter to take an 18-16 lead. With playoff implications on the line, the Braves took the go-ahead lead on a Matt Davis, 37-yard field goal with 5:46 left in the game. Kicker Matt Davis was the hero for UNC-Pembroke; 1-1 on PATs and 4-4 on field goals including a 53-yarder. The Braves relied on Davis because their offense failed to find the end zone. UNC-Pembroke’s only touchdown was a 98-yard kickoff return by Tra Chandler. Concord’s only offensive touchdown was a 4-yard touchdown pass thrown by wide receiver Jermeil Douse to running back Eric De Lucchi. The Mountain Lions other touchdown was a 29-yard pick six by Chaudlier Shepherd.
The Mountain Lions finish the season 2-9.
UNC-Pembroke finishes the season 9-1, the 5th seed in Super Region 2 and travels to Valdosta St. for the opening round of the playoffs.