Afternoon Assessment – Reviewing the State of NEC Football Following Week 7

What to Take Away from the Weekend
Chances are NEC football fans knew that Bryant’s Jordan Harris was a special player well before Week 7 of the 2012 schedule. The Bulldogs’ star receiver only reaffirmed that notion when his team hosted Robert Morris this past Saturday.

Harris continued on the torrid pace that is likely to result in the best statistical season by a NEC receiver since Miles Austin was suiting up for the Monmouth Hawks rather than the Dallas Cowboys.

In what could be considered just “another day at the office,” Harris made 10 receptions for 201 yards and two touchdowns as Bryant finally broke into the win column. It was Harris’ 16-yard touchdown reception, with 5:35 remaining in the game, that provided the final difference in the Bulldogs’ 38-35 triumph.

It was the fifth straight game during which Harris has made a touchdown catch.

With 702 yards on 38 receptions, Harris is already closing in on his 2011 receiving total of 959 yards, a mark that currently stands sixth overall in NEC single-season history.

Harris has averaged 117.0 receiving yards per game over the first half of the 2012 campaign, ranking fifth amongst all Division I FCS receivers in that category. 

Even if Harris averaged only 51 percent of that output over Bryant’s last five games, he would become only the sixth man to produce a 1,000-yard receiving season in 17 years of NEC football.

Hitting the millennium mark would put Harris in an elite class that contains Austin and former NFL Draft pick Deveren Johnson (Sacred Heart).

He has already joined those two men, along with a handful of others, on the list of receivers with 200-yard games to their credit.  Harris has three of those during his career, and two of them have come in the past three weeks.

And don’t let Bryant’s 1-6 record diminish any of Harris’ statistical accomplishments.  Although his numbers haven’t translated directly into wins, he is, by no means, compiling “garbage time” stats.

The most-impressive piece of Harris’ 2012 resume thus far may be the fact that all eight of his touchdown receptions have either tied the game or given Bryant the lead.

If one thing is certain after the first seven weeks of the schedule, it is the fact that this special player is having one special season.

In terms of the race for first place in the NEC, preseason favorite Albany is right where the league’s head coaches predicted they would be.  Bob Ford’s Great Danes are the lone remaining NEC unbeaten (4-0) and will have a bye in Week 8.  Meanwhile, Wagner (3-1), which sits in second behind Albany, comes off its bye to face an upstart Saint Francis (PA) club.

 

 

Pigskin Tweets of the Week

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This Monmouth fan was obviously excited about QB Kyle Frazier’s performance, and can you blame her? All Frazier did was account for 513 yards of total offense at Cornell, the most-ever in a single game by a NEC player.  Oh, and his 451 pass yards were the third-most on the league’s single-game charts.

 

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Yes, as this Bryant defensive lineman tweeted prior to this past Saturday’s matchup with Robert Morris, the Bulldogs were hungry for a win. They found themselves on the short side of a few close calls during what was an 0-6 season start, but in Week 7, they finally got a taste of victory.

 

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Central Connecticut head coach Jeff McInerney points out the progress his Blue Devil defense is making.  After taking their lumps earlier in the season when they played three straight games against Top 20 teams, this young unit is starting to bring it together.  After Saturday’s performance against Duquesne, CCSU no longer has the last-ranked rushing defense in the NEC.

 

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Mike Croce no longer lines up under center for Bryant, but the former signal caller still keeps tabs on his Bulldogs.  Not surprisingly, Croce was rather impressed with the play of Mike Westerhaus (@WestQB), his successor, and receiver Jordan Harris (@StickSixHarris) this past Saturday.  With Harris beating defenders for another 200-yard day, Westerhaus set Bryant’s single-game program passing record (350 yards).

 

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Yes, the rumors are true folks. Elvis was IN THE BUILDING at Bryant this past week.

 

Who Gets Game Balls?
The Central Connecticut Offensive Line
Head coach Jeff McInerney used his Twitter account (@JMFireUp_) to praise this young group of Blue Devils on Monday, and rightfully so.  Sure, CCSU QB Andrew Clements and RB Rob Holloman put forth notable individual performances in lifting the Blue Devils to their first win of the season, a 38-31 decision over Duquesne, but those two men will receive plenty of recognition when fans look at their stat lines in the game’s box score. Meanwhile, the five guys who play in front of them will likely go unnoticed. We are having none of that here at the Overtime! Blog, though. That’s why Tyler Hurd, Devon Dixon, Blaise Rosati, Kris Patterson, and Taylor Fuller are recipients of Week 7 Game Balls. Without their effort, Central would not have passed for 202 yards or gained another 293 on the ground.

Jordan Harris
Kyle Frazier’s record day for Monmouth (513 yards of total offense) was the only thing standing in the way of Harris and the NEC Offensive Player of the Week award.  Although it’s not an official weekly award from the league office, a Week 7 Game Ball should serve as a well-deserved consolation prize for Harris’ second 200-yard receiving game in three weeks.  What this man has done thus far this fall has been simply amazing.

Keshaudas Spence
Although Spence was not one of the three Pioneers to receive a NEC weekly award for his Week 7 performance, the sophomore running back was as important as anyone to Sacred Heart’s 27-10 thumping of Ivy League member Dartmouth.  The burly back carried 19 times for 138 yards and three touchdowns in the Pioneers’ road win. SHU trailed 10-6 after the first 15:00 at Dartmouth, but Spence scored a touchdown in each of the subsequent three quarters. Since his breakout performance in the NEC-TV Featured Game of the Week on Sept. 29, Spence is averaging 8.1 yards per carry.

Honorable Mention Game Balls:
Voting Panel for FCS Top 25 Coaches’ Poll – For the second straight week, this poll rightfully includes Albany in the Top 25.  The Danes broke into at No. 24 on Oct. 8 and moved up to a tie for No. 22 in the Oct. 15 edition. On the other hand, the Great Danes still have not cracked the Sports Network’s Top 25, but we’re not sure why.  All six of Albany’s wins have come by double-digits, including a 30-20 road win over Maine, which was ranked 23rd in the Sports Network poll at the time.  The Danes’ lone loss? A 7-point road defeat to Youngstown State, which has been ranked as high as No. 3 this season.

Nolan Nearhoof – Robert Morris Academic All-American defensive end logged a single-game program record 3.0 sacks at Bryant and became the first-ever Colonial to record 20.0 sacks in a career.

 

Three Points of Prep for the Week Ahead
Harris on Hallowed Ground: Bryant’s Week 8 matchup takes the Bulldogs to the Jersey Shore, which is a hallowed ground of sorts and it has nothing to do with Snooki, Ronnie or DJ Paulie D.  Looking to become the NEC’s first 1,000-yard receiver since 2005, Bryant’s Jordan Harris will visit the former home of Miles Austin. While competing for Monmouth, Austin, now a NFL Pro Bowl receiver, was one of three receivers to hit the 1,000-yard mark during the 2005 campaign.  Despite only playing in eight games that season, Austin made 49 grabs for 1,004 yards.

Steel City Braces for Nutmeg Invasion: Both pieces of the NEC’s Steel City contingent – Duquesne and Robert Morris – return home after suffering NEC road losses in New England last week.  Their Week 8 opponents both hail from the Nutmeg State and are coming off victories. After closing out their non-conference slate at Dartmouth, Sacred Heart (1-2) steps back into NEC play at Duquesne (2-1).  Central Connecticut will be looking for a 2012 Steel City sweep when it visits Joe Walton Stadium on Saturday. CCSU stunned Duquesne, 38-31, at home last week.

Back in Action?: Duquesne did not have the services of the NEC’s leading rusher when it visited CCSU this past Saturday. RB Larry McCoy, who is averaging a league-high 127.0 rush yards per game, suffered an ankle injury in the Dukes’ Sept. 29 win over Saint Francis (PA).  With McCoy needing more than just Duquesne’s bye week to recover, Ryan Ho took on the primary rushing responsibilities in the Oct. 13 bout in New Britain and performed admirably. Ho gained 114 yards on 19 carries. We will be looking to see if McCoy makes his return in Week 8.

 

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