#NECFB: And Then There Were None…

Week 9 is in the books and the race is wide open.

No team is undefeated in league play and five of the league’s seven teams have only a single blemish on their conference ledgers.

The unpredictability of conference play was again on full display this past Saturday.

Duquesne and Sacred Heart were both riding high into Week 9 road matchups with their Jerry Rice Award candidates under center, but both teams fell back to the pack in the race for the NEC title and the coveted FCS playoff bid that comes along with it.

Bryant (2-1) held the Dukes (2-1) without a touchdown pass for the first game this season and intercepted quarterback Dillon Buechel three times.  Still, Duquesne out-gained Bryant and recorded nine more first downs than the Bulldogs, but could not overcome a minus-4 showing in turnover margin.

Winning on the road in league play isn’t easy as Sacred Heart found out during its visit to Saint Francis.  The Pioneers, who are now 2-2 in league play, lost for the third time in their last three trips to DeGol Field.

Meanwhile, Saint Francis, which held SHU’s RJ Noel to only 94 yards passing and one touchdown, finally translated potential and ability into a NEC victory.

The Red Flash, who are 1-1 in league play after splitting their games against the NEC’s Nutmeg State contingent, will play their next two games on the road.

After hosting one half of the Steel City contingent in Smithfield during Week 9, Bryant will head out to Pittsburgh to face Robert Morris in Week 10.  The Colonials evened their league record at 1-1 with a Week 9 victory at NEC preseason favorite Wagner (1-3).

Central Connecticut was off from NEC play last Saturday, but the 1-1 Blue Devils are in the mix as well.

With two teams having a chance to move to 3-1 in NEC play this weekend, the picture may be a bit clearer heading into Week 11.

There is also the possibility of a three-way tie for first place after the Week 10 slate. The NEC standings may contain three 2-2 teams and another three teams at 2-1 come Sunday morning.

While the race for the NEC title is heating up, the race for the NEC’s all-time receiving record is over.

Bryant’s Jordan Harris, a Walter Payton Award candidate and a Preseason All-American, made six receptions for 91 yards in the 42-14 win over Duquesne.  The performance pushed him past former Saint Francis great Michael Caputo and into first place on the conference’s all-time receiving yards list.

Fans can watch Harris in action on November 2 when he leads Bryant into the #NECFB Game of the Week on ESPN3.  The Bulldogs will open the stretch run at Robert Morris in a game that will kick off at 12:00 pm EST.

#NECFB Fan Poll

Postgame Tweet Sheet

 

 

#NECFB Headlines

Robert Morris rallies past Wagner in thrillerStaten Island Advance (Jim Waggoner)

RMU defense, Prather spark comebackRivals.com (Andrew Chiappazzi)

Bryant defense sparks 42-14 win over DuquesneYahoo! Sports (AP)

Saint Francis shuts down Sacred HeartYahoo! Sports (AP)

CCSU football cruises to win over Salve ReginaNew Britain Herald (Matt Straub)

Noel, Noel: ‘Tis the Season for Rookie Quarterbacks to Shine

What a couple of weeks it’s been for RJ Noel.

After totaling 310 yards and five touchdowns in a NEC win over Central Connecticut on October 12, life has only gotten better for Sacred Heart’s rookie quarterback.

Two days later, the 6-foot-1 signal caller won the Sports Network’s National FCS Freshman of the Week award for that performance.  Then, on Thursday October 17, Noel received the honor of being the featured guest for the weekly #NECFB Google+ Hangout.

The level-headed Noel responded to the increased attention by going out and producing another five touchdowns as Sacred Heart (7-1, 2-1) picked up another NEC win – a 56-28 road triumph over Bryant on October 19.

The performance wasn’t enough to land Noel a second straight National Freshman of the Week honor, but it likely cemented the decision that was announced on October 22.

Likely impressed by the fact that the redshirt freshman has throw a NEC-best 18 touchdown passes to only three interceptions, the Sports Network added Noel to the Jerry Rice Award Watch List.  Noel joined 20 other rookies who are candidates for the honor, which is presented annually to the top first-year performance in Division I FCS.

Noel’s addition doubled the NEC’s presence on the Jerry Rice Award Watch List, which also features Duquesne rookie quarterback Dillon Buechel. While Noel has the most victories (7) and touchdown passes of all NEC quarterbacks thus far this season, Buechel leads the league in passing with 1,550 yards through six games.

On October 24, Duquesne receiver Gianni Carter, one of Buechel’s top targets, spoke about the rookie’s poise amongst other things during the latest weekly #NECFB Google+ Hangout.

Both rookie signal callers will face tough road tests in NEC play during Week 9.  Noel and the Pioneers must travel to Saint Francis, which enters off a bye.  Buechel and the Dukes make their longest road trip of the conference season to face a Bryant team looking to bounce back from a Week 8 setback to Sacred Heart.

 

#NECFB Week 8 Google+ Hangout w/ RJ Noel

 

#NECFB Week 9 Google+ Hangout w/ Gianni Carter

 

Jerry Rice Award Watch List

(from SportsNetwork.com)

Mouf Adebo, DE, Sam Houston State, 6-foot-1, 225 Seven games: 21 TT (11 solo), 6 TFL, 3 sacks, 1 PBU

Kourtney Berry, LB, Alabama State, 6-0, 210 Seven games: 62 TT (29 solo), 9 TFL, 5 sacks, 1 INT, 2 PBU, 1 FR

Trent Brittain, QB, Incarnate Word, 6-2, 195 Seven games: 111-of-208, 1,249 yards, 7 TD, 5 INT, 110.1 passing efficiency; 70 carries, 302 yards, 1 TD

Devin Borders, WR, Eastern Kentucky, 6-5, 203 Seven games: 24 receptions, 345 yards, 4 TD; 3 blocked kicks

Dillon Buechel, QB, Duquesne, 6-3, 176 Six games: 129-of-207, 1,550 yards, 9 TD, 7 INT, 132.8 passing efficiency

Marcus Cox, RB, Appalachian State, 5-10, 185 Seven games: 112 carries, 595 yards, 5 TD; 33 receptions, 498 yards, 5 TD

Lawrence Forbes, P, Morgan State, 6-4, 180 Seven games: 29 punts, 44.8-yard average, 78 long, 8 inside 20, 6 50 yards- plus

Matt Johnson, QB, Charlotte, 6-3, 230 Seven games: 157-of-246, 1,860 yards, 19 TD, 8 INT, 146.3 passing efficiency; 57 carries, 208 yards, 1 TD

Javancy Jones, DE, Jackson State, 6-2, 230 Seven games: 33 TT (16 solo), 11 TFL, 3.5 sacks, 2 PBU, 2 QBH, 1 FF, 1 TD

Michael Jones, CB, North Carolina Central, 5-9, 175 Seven games: 26 TT (18 solo), 2 TFL, 4 INT, 7 PBU, 1 FR

Cooper Kupp, WR, Eastern Washington, 6-2, 195 Seven games: 33 receptions, 595 yards, 9 TD

John Law, LB, Appalachian State, 6-0, 225 Seven games: 59 TT (22 solo), 1 sack, 2 INT, 1 QBH, 1 FR, 1 FF

Christophe Mulumba, LB, Maine, 6-1, 230 Seven games: 55 TT (15 solo), 1.5 sacks, 2 INT, 2 PBU, 1 FR

RJ Noel, QB Sacred Heart, 6-1, 190 Eight games: 114-of-208, 1,494 yards, 18 TD, 3 INT, 140.1 passing efficiency; 90 carries, 424 yards, 5 TD

Trenton Norvell, QB, Western Illinois, 6-5, 220 Eight games: 112-of-220, 1,200 yards, 10 TD, 9 INT, 103.5 passing efficiency; 52 carries, 23 yards, 2 TD

Donald Payne, S, Stetson, 6-0, 191 Six games: 57 TT (36 solo), 7 TFL, 1 sack, 2 INT, 7 PBU, 2 QBH, 2 FR, 2 FF, 2 TD

Peter Pujals, QB, Holy Cross, 6-2, 185 Six games: 115-of-177, 1,294 yards, 12 TD, 2 INT; 77 carries, 302 yards, 6 TD

Martin Ruiz, RB, Youngstown State, 5-11, 195 Eight games: 117 carries, 775 yards, 12 TD; 12 receptions, 125 yards, 1 TD; 119.6 all-purpose yards per game

Marquis Smith, LB, Savannah State, 6-3, 235 Eight games: 79 TT (49 solo), 8 TFL, 1 sack, 1 INT

Gage Steele, LB, James Madison, 6-1, 230 Seven games: 65 TT (24 solo), 2.5 TFL, 1 sack, 2 PBU, 1 FF

Payton Usher, RB, Mercer, 5-7, 162 Seven games: 103 carries, 707 yards, 2 TD; 9 receptions, 81 yards; 125.1 all- purpose yards per game

 

Fan Poll

#NECFB: Dukes, Pioneers in Early Lead with Rookie Signal Callers at the Controls

There is a lot of football to play before then, but that November 9 between Duquesne and Sacred Heart (slated to air on ESPN3) is becoming more meaningful by the week.

At the least, the game will showcase the NEC’s two talented rookie quarterbacks, who have each taken a turn at making national headlines.

Duquesne and Sacred Heart both have winning records and have both been beneficiaries of productive play at the quarterback position.

The Dukes, who are the lone remaining NEC unbeaten, moved to 2-0 in conference play by spoiling Homecoming Weekend at Steel City rival Robert Morris.

One week after being named to the Jerry Rice Award Watch List, Duquesne QB Dillon Buechel threw for 202 yards and two touchdowns in the razor-thin win over RMU.  He leads the NEC in passing yards (1,550) and completion percentage (62.3).

Sacred Heart separated itself from Bryant with a 28-point fourth quarter.  The Pioneers, who lead the nation in turnover margin (+19), came up with five takeaways and redshirt freshman QB RJ Noel was responsible for five touchdowns.  Noel has been one of the reasons for SHU’s stellar turnover margin.  The rookie has thrown a league-high 18 touchdown passes and has been intercepted only three times.

There are still two more weeks of football to be played before the two rookie quarterbacks collide at Sacred Heart’s Campus Field.

Duquesne’s next challenge comes on Saturday, October 26 in Smithfield.  Making their longest NEC road trip on the schedule, the 2-0 Dukes will face a 1-1 Bryant team that will be looking to give its title hopes a boost after last week’s loss.

Duquesne will attempt to do something that few NEC teams have been able to do in recent years – contain Bryant WR Jordan Harris.  The Walter Payton Award candidate caught 10 passes for 163 yards and three touchdowns against a formidable Sacred Heart secondary in Week 8.  With 3,403 career receiving yards, Harris enters the Week 9 matchup needing only 62 more yards to break the all-time NEC record.

While Duquesne has its hands full with Harris, Sacred Heart takes a dangerous trip to Saint Francis.

Despite the fact that the Pioneers carry a 7-1 (2-1 NEC) record into the game while Saint Francis sits at 2-4 (0-1 NEC), this one promises to be an ultra-competitive matchup.

First, Sacred Heart will be playing on the road for a second straight week while Saint Francis comes off a bye.  Next, one must consider that SFU’s DeGol Field has been a house of horror for Sacred Heart in its last two visits.  SHU has lost both contests, being outscored by an 85-24 margin.

Sacred Heart is a perfect 4-0 on the road (wins over Marist, Lafayette, Bucknell, Bryant), but that number won’t be enough to intimidate Saint Francis.  The Red Flash went toe-to-toe with nationally-ranked Fordham and James Madison already this season, and were either tied or ahead at some point in the fourth quarter of both games.

With their Week 8 triumphs now history, the top-two teams in the NEC standings and their rookie quarterbacks will face tough road tests in Week 9.

Should they pass, that November 9 game will become even more meaningful.

Postgame Tweet Sheet

#NECFB Headlines

Wagner running back Williams at 4,000 yards and counting – Staten Island Advance (Jim Waggoner)

http://www.silive.com/colleges/index.ssf/2013/10/wagner_college_running_back_wi.html

Sacred Heart beats Bryant, keeps rollingConnecticut Post (Bill Paxton)

Safety first propels Dukes to winPittsburgh Post-Gazette (Nick Veronica)

Duquesne edges Robert Morris, 21-20Pittsburgh Tribune Review (Bill West)

Duquesne dodges bullets, edges Robert MorrisYahoo! Sports (AP)

Noel leads Sacred Heart to win over BryantYahoo! Sports (AP)

 

#Week8 Highlights

 

 

#NECinNYC Update: Poll Results/All-NEC Teams Announced

Moments ago, Dave Popkin and Tim Capstraw unveiled the results to the 2013-14 Northeast Conference women’s basketball preseason coaches’ poll along with the five-member preseason all-league team.  We have listed the selections below.

The men’s announcement will happen on Front Row at approximately 12:05 pm.

2013-14 WBB Preseason Poll

1. Robert Morris (5)

2. Sacred Heart (3)

3. Mount St. Mary’s (1)

4. Saint Francis U (1)

5. Central Connecticut

6. St. Francis Brooklyn

7. Bryant

8. LIU Brooklyn

9. Fairleigh Dickinson

10. Wagner

2013-14 WBB Preseason All-NEC Team

Naana Ankoma-Mensa, Bryant (unanimous pick)

Sydney Henderson, Mount St. Mary’s

Artemis Spanou, Robert Morris (unanimous pick)

Gabrielle Washington, Sacred Heart

Alli Williams, Saint Francis U (unanimous pick)

From the Tweet Desk

 

UPDATED (12:22 pm):  Wagner headlined the 2013-14 #NECMBB Preseason Coaches’ Poll.

 

2013-14 MBB Preseason Poll

1. Wagner (7)

2. Robert Morris (2)

Bryant

4. LIU Brooklyn (1)

5. Central Connecticut

6. Mount St. Mary’s

7. St. Francis Brooklyn

8. Sacred Heart

9. Saint Francis U

10. Fairleigh Dickinson

 

2013-14 MBB Preseason All-NEC Team

Jason Brickman, LIU Brooklyn

Jalen Cannon, St. Francis Brooklyn

Alex Francis, Bryant (unanimous pick)

Dyami Starks, Bryant

Kyle Vinales, CCSU (unanimous pick)

Almost Time for Tip-Off: #NECinNYC One Day Away

NEC Hoops fans hearts must be pounding as another season is fewer than 24 hours away.

The Northeast Conference will ceremoniously tip off the 2013-14 college basketball season on Tuesday, October 22 at Barclays Center in Downtown Brooklyn.  For the second year in a row, the conference will host its Basketball “Social” Media Day event in New York City and the festivities will air live on NEC Front Row (www.necfrontrow.com) beginning at 11:00 am EST.

The two-hour on-air program will include coach and player interviews with representatives from all 10 men’s teams and all 10 women’s squads.  It will also give fans the first glimpse at the NEC preseason coaches’ poll results.

On-air talent Dave Popkin and Tim Capstraw will unveil the preseason predicted order-of-finishes along with the five-member All-NEC teams during the Front Row webcast.

The NEC will simultaneously disseminate the information via its @NECsports Twitter account, which will serve as an interactive mean of communication for viewers of the live webcast.

Fans will have plenty of opportunities to tweet their thoughts on the upcoming hoops season throughout the program.  Tweets including the #NECinNYC hashtag are eligible to be shown during the live webcast.

Fans are encouraged to tweet their reaction to the preseason poll results and all-conference teams.

Reporter Matt Martucci will be standing by live on Tuesday in the 40-40 club, working the Tweet Desk alongside the NEC’s social media team.

Martucci will provide periodic on-camera updates about the NEC-related social media activity transpiring during the show.  He’ll share some of the “Top Tweets” throughout the day, and will name the Overtime! Blog Tweeter of the Day at the program’s conclusion.

So, make sure you bring your “A” game on Twitter come Tuesday, and don’t forget to use the #NECinNYC hashtag.

On Monday, October 21, the NEC unveiled the list of student-athletes who will attend “Social” Day at Barclays Center.
Each NEC institution will be represented in-person by one men’s player and one women’s player. Check out the lists below.

 

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