Defenses Turn Up the Heat as #NECFB Stretch Run Arrives

They say “defense wins championships,” and although no champion was crowned in Week 10, there was plenty of defense to go around.

Defense dominated the day as the November portion of the schedule opened with three key conference contests.

Robert Morris and Duquesne both won crucial home matchups and bottled up two of the nation’s most-dynamic playmakers while doing so.

For the first time in six tries, Robert Morris finally solved Bryant.  The Colonials, who had dropped all five of their prior meetings with the Bulldogs, surrendered only 3 points in what was billed as the #NECFB Game of the Week on ESPN3.

Moving past Bryant, and into a tie for second place in the NEC standings, Robert Morris produced its best defensive output of the season, and cornerback Antwan Eddie helped make it possible.

The defensive back held the NEC’s all-time leading receiver – Bryant’s Jordan Harris – to only 22 yards on two catches. Eddie also picked off a pair of passes as the Colonials cruised to the 24-3 victory.

Like Sacred Heart, Duquesne’s defense did not surrender a touchdown during a Week 10 win.  The 21-10 win over Saint Francis kept the Dukes (3-1) in the driver’s seat of the NEC title race.

Duquesne was the first team all season to contain Walter Payton Award candidate Kyle Harbridge.  The SFU running back, who entered the week as the FCS national leader in rushing average, managed only 41 yards on 15 carries against the Dukes’ swarming defense.  SFU’s lone touchdown came on an interception return by Lorenzo Jerome.

Although its fourth-quarter offensive explosion stole the headlines, Central Connecticut put forth a formidable defensive effort in its road win at defending NEC champion Wagner.  Officially eliminating the Seahawks from title contention, the Blue Devils forced three turnovers and sacked the Wagner quarterback five times.

CCSU limited Wagner’s Dom Williams, who is one of only a handful of active FCS players with at least 4,000 career rushing yards, to only 2.6 yards per carry.

The teams that opened November with NEC victories were the teams that turned in superior defensive efforts.

The stretch run is here, and over the next couple of weeks, we’ll see if defense really does win championships.

#NECFB Fan Poll

 

What’s Next

Only three weeks remain in the regular season, and six of the seven NEC teams are mathematically alive in the conference title race.

Two of those teams will tussle in the #NECFB Game of the Week on ESPN3 as Sacred Heart hosts Duquesne on November 9 at 12:00 pm.  A loss by Sacred Heart would knock the Pioneers out of contention, but a win puts them in prime position to capture the program’s first NEC title since 2001. For Duquesne, two more victories will guarantee the Dukes at least a share of the conference crown.

If the title implications aren’t enough to draw you into watching this one, then how about the fact both teams start two of the nation’s top rookies under center.  Duquesne quarterback Dillon Buechel and Sacred Heart signal caller RJ Noel both have winning records as rookies and both are amongst the select group of national candidates for the Sports Network’s Jerry Rice Award.

espn3 game nov 9

Click here to watch the game beginning at 12:00 pm on November 9.

 

Quote of the Week

“It’s tough to figure this league out. Wagner physically beat Sacred Heart, which physically beat us.”

Central Connecticut head coach Jeff McInerney following his team’s 52-17 Week 10 win at Wagner.

 

Play of the Week

See: Moses Webb

 

Postgame Tweet Sheet

#NECFB Headlines

Duquesne, RMU get wins in NECPittsburgh Tribune Review (Staff Reports)

Robert Morris defeats Bryant on outstanding defensive effortRMU Sentry (Chris Mueller)

Monmouth can’t catch up with Sacred HeartAsbury Park Press (Josh Newman)

Sacred Heart finishes off MonmouthConnecticut Post (Bill Paxton)

CCSU routs Wagner with fourth-quarter eruptionStaten Island Advance (Jim Waggoner)

CCSU picks up big road win at WagnerNew Britain Herald (Matt Straub)

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