Five men took their first snaps as a NEC starting signal caller this week and all five accounted for multiple noteworthy plays.
Four of the five quarterbacks are transfers from Division I FBS members and were not on their current teams’ rosters last year. Sacred Heart senior Kevin Duke is the lone member of the group to have already appeared in a NEC game.
Here’s how the five first-year starters fared in the 2017 season debuts…
EXCERPT: “It’s new for us to go up to that part of the country, but a couple years we opened against Old Dominion, they put 25-30,000 people in their seats and two years ago, we went up and playing Buffalo and actually were leading that game in the 4th quarter at one point in time,” said Schmitt.
EXCERPT: The Dukes are the first team to get a shot, and while they’ll be decided underdogs against the defending Missouri Valley Football Conference champions, they are not an early-season sacrificial lamb. This is an FCS team with some momentum of its own.
Their offense features the third-leading passer in NEC history, but the Dukes’ latest performance proves they’re much more than one-dimensional.
One week after scoring three touchdowns in a convincing win over Patriot League member Bucknell, freshman AJ Hines erupted for 189 yards rushing and two scores in a win over regional rival Dayton. The rookie running back accounted for the highest single-game rushing output by a DU freshman since Larry McCoy (the program’s all-time rushing leader) logged 195 yards at Nicholls State on Sept. 12, 2009.
As a result, Hines, who scored on touchdown runs of 10 and 37 yards, snared the STATS Inc FCS Freshman Player of the Week award.
The defending Northeast Conference champion Dukes had a hole to fill at running back and they’ve filled it with a true freshman. Hines was a workhorse in their 34-20 win over Dayton, which avenged a loss from last season. He carried the ball 29 times for 189 yards – the most by a Dukes freshman in seven years – and two touchdowns. Adept at picking up yards in bunches, he scored on a 10-yard run in the second quarter and a 37-yard run in the fourth quarter, giving him five touchdowns on the young season. He’s been named NEC rookie of the week in two of the season’s first three weeks. – STATS Inc
STATS, which also issues weekly awards on offense, defense and special teams, lauded two more NEC players with a Week 3 Honorable Mention. Duquesne’s Christian Kuntz was a top candidate for the Defensive Player of the Week honor after leading Duquesne’s dominant effort with 6.0 tackles for loss. Saint Francis’ Marcus Bagley, who ran for a Division I FCS single-game season high 220 yards at Columbia, was one of seven offensive players to receive an Honorable Mention. Read more here.
It was the biggest stage that Saint Francis had ever played on during its history as a Division I FCS program, but the moment wasn’t too big for the Red Flash’s All-American return man.
Senior Lorenzo Jerome, who was the 2015 national leader in kickoff return average, torched No. 13 Montana for 237 all-purpose yards. He logged 196 yards and one touchdown on four kickoff returns during the 41-31 season-opening setback that was played before a crowd of 26,002 in Missoula.
As a result, STATS Inc., the leader in FCS coverage, tabbed the SFU senior as its top special teamer of the week.
Jerome returned a kickoff 79 yards for a touchdown midway through the fourth quarter and it wasn’t even his longest return in the Northeast Conference team’s 41-31 loss at FCS power Montana. In the third quarter, the second-team STATS FCS All-America kickoff returner had an 86-yard return to the Montana 7, which set up a Red Flash touchdown and gave his team a 17-13 lead in the third quarter. He finished with 196 yards on four kick returns and had another 41 yards on two punt returns. He also terrorized Montana on defense, collecting 10 tackles (five solo), one tackle for loss, two interceptions and one pass breakup – STATS Inc.
See Two of Jerome’s Returns in this week’s #NECFB Super 7 Plays Countdown…
Don’t be satisfied with just competing. Have the crave to win every game, every rep and every second.
A special season calls for a special logo and the Northeast Conference has one for the 20th anniversary of its football sponsorship.
Set to kick off its 20th season on the gridiron this September, the NEC unveiled a special mark that will appear on the league’s printed and digital publications throughout the year.
The logo is part of the conference’s 20th anniversary celebration which will continue throughout the summer.
Prior to kicking off the 2015 campaign, the NEC will host a Social Media Day at MetLife Stadium on July 23. The event will feature head coaches and current student-athletes from all seven members as well as select NEC alumni. Fans will be able to watch the day unfold live on ESPN3 beginning at 11:00 am ET.
The NEC will also name a 20th Anniversary Team that will honor the top performers who have come through the conference since 1996.
Seven members – Bryant, Central Connecticut, Duquesne, Robert Morris, Sacred Heart, Saint Francis U and Wagner – will compete for the 2015 NEC football crown and the winner will recive an automatic berth into the NCAA Division I FCS playoff bracket.
June 29 – 20th anniversary logo unveiled
July 14 – #NECFB on ESPN3 schedule announcement show
July 23 — #NECFB Social Media Day at MetLife Stadium
September 4 – Week 1 kicks off
October 2 – NEC 20th Anniversary Team announcement