Southland football teams take on three Division IA opponents this week

FRISCO, Texas – The Southland Conference heads into the second week of the season after going 6-2 in season openers. The home team won in all eight games, with the two blemishes coming against teams in the Football Bowl Subdivision (formerly I-A). In week two, half of the league’s six games are against teams in FBS conferences. Central Arkansas visits Louisiana Tech at 6 p.m., Nicholls State is at Western Michigan at 6 p.m. and Northwestern State meets LSU in Baton Rouge at 7 p.m. for the first meeting between the schools since 1942.

The three other conference games are within the championship subdivision. Lamar plays at South Alabama at 4 p.m. South Alabama is an FCS Independent that will join the Sun Belt Conference in football in 2013. In other games between FCS teams, Stephen F. Austin plays host to Northern Iowa at 6 p.m. in a battle of Division I playoff teams from a year ago and Southeastern Louisiana plays host to Savannah State in its home opener at 7 p.m.

Week One Rewind

The league got off to a fantastic 6-2 start in the first week of the season thanks to a 5-0 night on Thursday, Sept. 1. Sam Houston State beat 2010 NCAA Division I playoff team Western Illinois, 20-6, in the marquee game of the week. Other wins included Northwestern State over Delta State, 24-23; Central Arkansas over Henderson State, 38-14; Stephen F. Austin over McMurry 82-6; and Nicholls State over Evangel, 42-0. The league got another win on Saturday when Lamar shutout Texas College 58-0. McNeese State dropped a 42-24 decision at Kansas, while Tulane handed Southeastern Lou-isiana a 47-33 loss in the Louisiana Superdome. That was the 20th time since 2000 that a Southland team has come within 14 points of an FBS team.

Eleven Southland Games Scheduled Against FBS in 2011

The Southland Conference has 11 games scheduled against teams from the FBS in 2011. The Southland was winless in 11 games against the FBS last year, but did register one win against that subdivision in 2009 when Central Arkansas beat Western Kentucky for the Southland’s 16th win against the FBS since 2000. This year, the Southland will play teams from Conference USA as well as the Big 12, Mid-American, Mountain West, Southeastern, Sun Belt and Western Athletic con-ferences. The league is 0-2 in games against the subdivision this year with losses by McNeese State at Kansas and South-eastern Louisiana at Tulane.

McNeese, SFA, UCA Ranked in FCS Polls

Three Southland Conference football teams – Stephen F. Austin, McNeese State and Central Arkansas – are ranked in both The Sports Network and Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) Coaches polls. The Lumberjacks are ranked 14th in the coaches’ poll, followed by McNeese State, which is ranked 20th and Central Arkansas, which is ranked 22nd. In The Sports Network poll, Stephen F. Austin is ranked 17th, followed by Central Arkansas (18th) and McNeese State (20th). Sam Houston State and Northwestern State received votes in each preseason poll.

Week One Honors

McNeese State quarterback Cody Stroud won offensive player of the week honors after he completed 22-of-27 passes for 218 yards and a touchdown and ran for another at Kansas last Saturday. His .818 completion percentage was one of the best in school history. He scored on a 1-yard run and tossed a 14-yard strike to Champlain Babin for another. The defen-sive player of the week award was shared by McNeese State cornerback Terence Cahee and Northwestern State linebacker Derek Rose. Cahee recorded eight tackles and a fourth-quarter, 12-yard sack of Kansas quarterback Jordan Webb, while Rose spearheaded a defensive shutdown of Delta State in the second half that helped the Demons overcome a 17-point deficit. He finished with eight tackles, including three for loss. The special teams player of the week was Southeastern Louisiana’s Jordan Wells, who averaged 28.0 yards per kickoff return, totaling 224 all-purpose yards on eight returns.

Other Notable Performances in Week One

• Central Arkansas quarterback Nathan Dick completed 75 percent (27-of-36) of his passes for 280 yards and three touchdowns against Henderson State, the No. 24 team in Division II. He threw touchdown passes of 21, 34 and 40 yards as the Bears won their 12th consecutive home opener under coach Clint Conque.

• Lamar running back DePauldrick Garrett carried the ball 20 times for 105 yards and four touchdowns in a win over Texas College. He set school records for touchdowns and points in a game. His 24 points broke the 46-year-old record of 20 by Harold LaFitte in 1965 against Pensacola Navy. His 24 points were the most scored by an individual in the FCS last week.

• Nicholls State quarterback LaQuintin Caston had 16 carries for 137 yards and two touchdowns and completed 5-of-13 passes for 39 yards and score in a win over Evangel. Caston had touchdown runs of 52 and 48 yards and threw a 13-yard touchdown to Aldaro Russell. In his last three games dating back to last season, Caston has rushed for 410 yards and eight touchdowns.

• Northwestern State quarterback Brad Henderson came off the bench to guide the Demons to scores on four of their first five possessions of the second half to spark a 24-point, second-half rally that erased a 17-0 halftime deficit to Delta State, the Division II runnerup from last season.

• Sam Houston State quarterback Brian Bell completed 16-of-22 passes for 198 yards and two touchdowns in the win over Western Illinois, an NCAA Division I playoff from 2010. In 10 starts as the Bearkats signal caller, he has guided the Bearkats to a 7-3 record.

• Southeastern Louisiana receiver Brandon Collins totaled 157 all-purpose yards as the Lions rolled up 419 yards of of-fense against Tulane. He caught nine passes for 94 yards, returned four punts for 30 yards and added two rushes for 33 yards.

• Stephen F. Austin receiver Gralyn Crawford caught eight passes for 77 yards and three touchdowns.

• Sam Houston State defensive end Jarrett Brown accounted for two of the Bearkats’ five sacks in the win over Western Illinois. The Leathernecks totaled only 216 total yards and 1.3 yards per rush.

• Stephen F. Austin defensive end Malcolm Mattox notched three tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks totaling 12 yards in the win over McMurry.

• Central Arkansas kicker Eddie Camara made his debut by hitting all five PATs and his lone field goal attempt from 42 yards that gave the Bears a 17-0 lead in the third quarter against Henderson State.

• Kicking most of the night in driving rains, Lamar kicker Justin Stout tied the school record with eight PATs against Texas College. He tied Walter Smith’s 1961 record against Mexico Poly.

• McNeese State tailback/kick return specialist Camplain Babin totaled a game-high 206 all-purpose yards against Kan-sas. He caught five passes for 108 yards and score and rushed four times for 18 yards to go with 80 return yards.

• Against Evangel, Nicholls State cornerback/punt returner Bobby Felder returned four punts for 89 yards, an average of 22.3 per return. He also recorded five tackles.

• Northwestern State receiver/kick returner Phillip Harvey averaged 26.3 yards on four kick returns in the win over Delta State.

• Sam Houston State punter Matt Foster helped Sam Houston win the battle for field position against Western Illinois with a 46.8 punting average, including a long of 57 yards and one that rolled dead at the WIU 5-yard line.

NCAA Stat Leaders

• Lamar leads all schools in the FCS in pass efficiency defense. The Cardinals held Texas College to an efficiency rating of 19.94. Stephen F. Austin ranks fourth (51.34) and Nicholls State ranks sixth (58.53). The Cardinals rank second in pass defense after limiting the Texans to 19 yards on Saturday. Gardner-Webb is the FCS leader (18).

• Even without 2010 Walter Payton Award winner Jeremy Moses, Stephen F. Austin picked right up where it left off, leading the nation in passing offense, posting 507 passing yards in its season opening win over McMurry. It was the lone FCS team to pass for more than 500 yards in week one. The Lumberjacks also rank eighth in the FCS in rush defense (20.0). Sam Houston State ranks 10th (37.0) and Lamar ranks 12th (45.0).

• Northwestern State and Sam Houston State rank among the top 10 in the FCS in passing efficiency. The Demons rank fifth (192.31), while the Bearkats are ninth (178.30).

• Nicholls State totaled 326 rushing yards to rank fifth in the FCS through the opening week of the season. The Colonels also rank eighth in punt returns, after averaging 19.38 yards per return against Evangel.

• Lamar and Nicholls were among the four FCS teams to record shutouts last weekend.

• Three Southland teams were among the top 10 scoring offenses in week one. Stephen F. Austin easily led both Division I subdivisions with 86 points against McMurry. Lamar’s 58 points ranked third in the FCS, while Nicholls ranked sixth (42).

• Lamar allowed only 64 total yards by Texas College, which was the second lowest total in the FCS last week. Morehead State limited Kentucky Christian to only 40 yards in its opener.

• SFA also totaled 668 yards of offense and was topped only by Morehead State, which racked up 753 yards.

A Different Eight Southland Teams in 2011

There is a change in the Southland Conference alignment for the 2011 season. The league welcomes back Lamar to the conference gridiron. The Cardinals were an original Southland member in 1964, but became an independent in the Football Championship Subdivision following the 1986 season before they discontinued the program in 1989. Lamar reinstated football last year and played as an independent, going 5-6. While Lamar joins the league, Texas State departs. The Bobcats began their transition into the Football Bowl Subdivision in the offseason and as a result became ineligible for the NCAA Division I Championship and also for the Southland Conference championship. Texas State will play the 2011 season as an FCS Independent, and, while it stays on the schedule for the eight Southland teams, it will count as a non-conference game.

Northwestern State Nearing Milestone

Demon football is one win shy of 500 all-time victories since its first season in 1907. Northwestern is 499-416-22 after it opened the season with a 24-23 victory over Delta State.

Stephen F. Austin Going for Three-Peat

Stephen F. Austin claimed an outright Southland Conference championship in 2010 to give the school its first back-to-back conference titles. The last Southland team to win three consecutive titles was McNeese State, which shared the 2001 title with Sam Houston State before winning the league outright in 2002 and 2003. Arkansas State won three consecutive Southland titles from 1968-70 and Louisiana Tech won three in a row from 1972-74.

McNeese State, SFA Picked as Favorites

Stephen F. Austin and McNeese State, which finished as the top two teams in the Southland Conference last season, were again picked as the favorites heading into the 2011 season as voted on by the league’s coaches and sports information directors. McNeese State was the coaches’ preseason pick, receiving three out of a possible eight first-place votes and 44 points to edge defending champion SFA by just one point. In the SID poll, the Lumberjacks garnered four first-place votes and tallied 44 points to edge the Cowboys by just one point.

Southland TV Entering Fourth Season

As one of the nation’s most innovative broadcast opportunities, the award-winning Southland Conference Television Network became a reality in 2008 and has broadcast nearly 100 events during its first three years. The network, which reaches homes in Texas, Louisiana and Arkansas, has earned a College Sports Media Award (2009) and an honorable men-tion (2010) at the College Sports Video Summit as well as four prestigious Telly Awards. The conference will feature 11 football telecasts in 2011. The next game will be Sept. 14 when Northwestern State visits Nicholls State at 3 p.m.

New Announce Team for Southland TV

The Southland Conference Television Network has announced its primary football broadcast crew for its 2011 schedule of telecasts. Randy McIlvoy, sports director at KPRC-TV in Houston, will handle football play-by-play duties this fall, and will be joined in the booth by color analyst Shea Walker, a former Texas A&M standout and veteran broadcaster for the last 17 years. Jane Slater, a reporter for WFAA-TV in Dallas, will serve as the network’s sideline reporter.

Northwestern State’s Rose Named to Buchanan Watch List

Northwestern State junior linebacker Derek Rose has been named to the watch list for the 2011 Buck Buchanan Award sponsored by The Buchanan Award is in its 17th season and will be presented to the Football Championship Subdivision’s outstanding defensive player at the national awards banquet Jan. 6, 2012, in Frisco, Texas. Rose is one of six linebackers to be named to the initial watch list and is the only player from the Southland Conference to join the group. The New Orleans, La., native earned first team All-Southland Conference and All-Louisiana honors his sophomore season, as well as second team Sports Network All-America honors after he led the league with 138 tackles – the most at North-western since 1991 when senior All-America linebacker and Walter Payton Trophy runner-up Andre Carron set the single-season record with 176.

Frisco is Again the Goal

After a successful NCAA Division I Football Championship Game last year at Pizza Hut Park in Frisco, Texas, the des-tination remains the goal for every team in the Football Championship Subdivision. Eastern Washington beat Delaware, 20-19, in the first championship at the venue. It was the first of at least three scheduled championship games in Frisco, a north side suburb of Dallas and the nation’s fastest growing city. The Southland Conference, along with the City of Frisco and Hunt Sports Group serve as hosts for the game, which moved to Texas from Chattanooga, Tenn., last year after 13 seasons. Last year’s championship was played Jan. 7, 2011, to accommodate expansion of the playoff bracket from 16 to 20 teams. This year’s championship moves to Saturday, Jan. 7, 2012 and will be played at noon, Central, on ESPN2.

Lumberjacks Surprised in 2010 Playoffs

Making consecutive appearances in the NCAA playoffs for just the second time in school history, Stephen F. Austin re-ceived a first-round bye thanks to bracket expansion from 16 to 20 teams. A second-round date with defending champion Villanova was set for Dec. 4 with the winner advancing to the quarterfinals. SFA jumped out to a 21-7 first quarter lead, but struggled to hang on to the football. The Lumberjacks scored only three points on their next five possessions, which included an interception, a fumbled punt and kick return. Villanova seized the opportunity, outscoring SFA, 27-3, during the next 16 minutes to take a 10-point lead at the half. The Wildcats never trailed after that, rattling off 40 unanswered points in a 54-24 victory. Villanova upset No. 1 seed Appalachian State in the quarterfinals and played at Eastern Wash-ington in the semifinals.

Moses Won 2010 Walter Payton Award

Stephen F. Austin quarterback Jeremy Moses won the 2010 Walter Payton Award to become the first Southland Confer-ence player to receive the honor in its 24-year history. He was presented with the award Jan. 6, 2011, at the Frisco Confer-ence Center on the eve of the NCAA Division I Football Championship Game.

A two-time Southland Conference Player of the Year, and the 2010 Southland Offensive Player of the Year, Moses guided SFA to a 9-3 record and its second consecutive conference title. Moses guided the Lumberjacks through a historical season that was capped by a return trip to the NCAA Division I Playoffs. Moses was the catalyst for the nation’s most prolific passing offense each of the past two seasons. The Lumberjacks led the country, averaging better than 360 yards per game, and were also ranked among the nation’s top six in scoring offense and total offense.

No April Fools’ Joke

On April 1, 2011, Central Arkansas announced its plan to replace the grass field at Estes Stadium, the last natural grass field in the Southland Conference, with a colorful purple and gray artificial surface. It brought quite a bit of attention to the school from national media who wanted to know if the news release was a prank. As they found out this summer, it was no joke. The two-tone field alternates purple and gray every five yards with black end zones and is getting rave re-views from across the country. Central Arkansas set a stadium attendance record when 12,755 attending the season opener against Henderson State on Sept. 1. The new field makes its television debut Oct. 15 when McNeese State visits Conway on the Southland Conference Television Network.

Battle of the Piney Woods Returns to Reliant Stadium in Houston

The Battle of the Piney Woods between Sam Houston and Stephen F. Austin returns to Reliant Stadium in Houston, Texas, in 2011. It will be the 86th football duel between the two rivals. The series is the second oldest FCS rivalry in Texas. The Battle of the Piney Woods dates back to 1923, with Sam Houston State holding a 48-35-2 edge in the series. Stephen F. Austin won last year, 31-28, in the first of four games in the rivalry that will be played at Reliant.

Three from Southland Named Preseason First-Team All-Americans

McNeese State free safety Malcolm Bronson, Northwestern State linebacker Derek Rose and Stephen F. Austin return specialist Gralyn Crawford have garnered preseason first-team All-America honors by at least one organization. All three received first-team mention on the Phil Steele FCS Preseason All-America Team. Crawford was also honored by College Sporting News, The Sports Network, Consensus Draft Service and Lindy’s. Rose also received kudos from The Sports Net-work, Lindy’s and Beyond Sports Network. A total of fifteen Southland Conference football players earned recognition on preseason All-America teams.

Twenty-Six Southland Players on CFPA Preseason Watch Lists

A total of 26 Southland Conference football players were named to position watch lists by the College Football Perform-ance Awards. Recipients are selected exclusively based upon objective scientific rankings of the extent to which individual players increase the overall effectiveness of their teams.

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