Afternoon Assessment – Reviewing the State of NEC Football Following Week 9

Thanks to Hurricane Sandy, this week’s Tuesday Afternoon Assessment is way and abridged.  Although we had to shorten this week’s edition, we upheld our duty to award 3 Game Balls.

What to Take Away from the Weekend
Both Albany and Wagner avoided potential trip-ups and kept rolling along in NEC play this past Saturday.  The Great Danes win at Sacred Heart coupled with the Seahawks’ triumph over Robert Morris has set up a first-place showdown in Week 10.

Albany (5-0) will host Wagner (5-1) on Saturday, November 3.  The winner will put itself in prime position to capture the Northeast Conference crown and automatic NCAA FCS playoff bid that comes with it.

Wagner and Albany have played 13 times as NEC members and the latter has won 12 of the matchups.  Wagner’s lone win came by a 38-30 score during the 2000 season. 

Still, the Seahawks have not shied away from any challenge this season and are already in unchartered waters.  They had a fourth-quarter lead over Florida Atlantic in the program’s first-ever game against a FBS member back on Opening Day.  Currently, Wagner is riding a five-game win streak, marking the first time ever the Seahawks have won five consecutive NEC contests.

Meanwhile, despite both teams having suffered Week 9 setbacks, there is still plenty of reason to watch the NEC-TV Featured Game of the Week.  Robert Morris will host Duquesne in the NEC’s annual Steel City Showdown, which will air live on Fox College Sports, Root Sports (Pittsburgh) and ESPN3 beginning at 3:30 pm on Saturday. 

Why watch?

Well, when Steel City bragging rights are on the line, the fans come out in full force and the players lay it all on the line.  As cliché as that may sound, it’s true. You will see should you tune in on Saturday.  Also, it’s still too early to count out 2011 co-champ Duquesne when it comes to the 2012 title race.  Yes, the Dukes have two league losses, but they still have head-to-head meetings against Albany and Wagner on the schedule.

Who Gets Game Balls?
Rob Hollomon
There is no one in America hotter than Hollomon right now.  He ran for 208 yards in a 37-31 setback at Robert Morris in Week 8, only to top the 200-yard mark AGAIN in Week 9. Leading the Blue Devils to a 32-30 win over a tough Saint Francis (PA) squad, Hollomon has another one of those “Are You Kidding Me?” days.  He totaled 287 yards from scrimmage, rushing 24 times for 207 yards and catching two passes for 80 yards. His 49-yard and 45-yard touchdown runs turned a 20-9 deficit into a 22-20 lead.

Rob_hollomon

Paul Layton
One of the many reasons why Albany is unbeaten thus far in NEC play this season is the performance of its all-NEC punter.  Field position can sometimes be the difference between a win and a loss.  Layton punted five times, averaging 45.0 yards per kick, in Albany’s 23-20 road win over Sacred Heart.  His last punt of the day pinned the Pioneers at their own 6-yard line with 30 seconds to play, all but crushing their hopes of a comeback.  Although this is the first time we are honoring Layton this year on the Overtime! Blog, his sister, Jessica (@JessicaLayton13), has twice earned her way into our “Pigskin Tweets of the Week” section.

Nick Doscher
Doscher’s stat line may not be anything to salivate over, but Wagner’s veteran signal caller was more than effective in leading the Seahawks to their fifth consecutive conference win.  The dynamic Doscher threw for 228 yards and rushed for a touchdown in the 23-13 win over Robert Morris.  His hard-nosed style of play and leadership definitely have something to do with the Seahawks’ success.

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