NCAA Independents Week 3 Recap and Week 4 Preview

September 22nd, 2021 3:20pm

NCAA Independents Week 3 Recap and Week 4 Preview

We have a winning streak!  Bluefield State won their second game in a row against the CIAA while Barton and Erskine fell on the road.  In the GNAC, Western Oregon lost but held their own at Division 1 Portland State, and Central Washington used a “hammer” to pull away from Simon Fraser in the second half. 


Let’s look back at Week 3’s games:

Barton loses at Catawba 17-10

Barton and Catawba don’t run exact the same offenses, but they both have the same objective – grind the game out on the ground and win in the trenches.  Despite gaining 194 yards on the ground and outgaining Catawba in the air 159-81, and holding the ball for nearly 10 more minutes, the Bulldogs came up short by a 17-10 score.  After matching field goals into the third quarter, Catawba quarterback Ken Avent (2 touchdowns rushing) took the shotgun snap on the first play after a Barton punt and ran to the end zone from 47 yards out to put Catawba ahead 10-3.  After an Avent 14-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter to put Catawba up 17-3, Barton answered with a Jaquan Lynch touchdown run from 6 yards out.  Barton had the ball last and reached the Catawba 32-yard line with time running out, but they advanced no further.  Jordan Terrell carried the load again and putting up big numbers on the ground with 177 yards on 35 carries.  Terrell now leads all of Division 2 with 514 rushing yards.  For Catawba, Jyrie Martin led with 105 yards rushing and Avent also had 95 yards on the ground to add to his 81 yards passing.  Lynch threw for 136 yards but was intercepted twice.  Catawba is now 3-0 entering SAC play. 


Erskine loses at Chowan 49-19

Erskine calls themselves the “Flying Fleet”.  Well, they needed air raid sirens to ready them for the Bryce Witt Air Show.  The Chowan quarterback, who leads all of Division 2 in passing yards and passing touchdowns, completed 22 of 33 passes for 405 yard and 7 touchdowns, tying his own school record for touchdowns in a game.  Five of those touchdowns came after Erskine pulled within 14-12 late in the second quarter on a 3-yard Lance Brownlee run (his only carry of the game).  The first came on a 33-yard catch by Imeek Watkins with 38 seconds left in the second quarter.  Watkins would also catch the first two touchdowns in a 28-0 all-Chowan third quarter that blew the game wide open.  Add to that the game’s first touchdown, and he led all receivers with 4 touchdown catches on the day.  Watkins now leads Division 2 with 9 touchdown catches after his big day. 

Erskine wouldn’t score again until midway through the fourth quarter on a Kaavon Parker (13 carries for 25 yards) 2-yard touchdown run.  Erskine’s Craig Pender attempted just as many passes as Witt, completing 20 of them for 208 yards, 1 touchdown, and 2 interceptions.  Senika McKie was solid once again, making 8 catches for 111 yards.  McKie now leads Division 2 in receiving yards with 518.  Along with the interceptions, Erskine lost a fumble and lost the turnover battle 3-0.  Erskine is still struggling on the ground, only gaining 21 yards, however, 38 yards were lost by Pinder on 7 sacks.  Chowan enters CIAA play in Week 4 with a 3-0 overall record. 


Bluefield State wins at Johnson C. Smith 20-12

In the Fall of 1976, Bluefield State won back-to-back games against Bridgewater State and Glenville State on their way to a 4-6 record.  Certainly, no one would have known back then that it would be 45 years before they repeated that feat.  The Big Blue won their second straight close game on the road against a CIAA opponent, this time winning at Johnson C. Smith 20-12 in their first matchup since 1942.  The Big Blue kept the Golden Bulls at arm’s length the entire way, jumping out to a 13-0 lead on two long touchdown passes from quarterback J’Rell Joseph.  The first was 68 yards to Perry Wilder and the second was 95 yards to Kentavious Jefferson.  The Golden Bulls would answer with a Davion Nelson (98 yards rushing) 3-yard touchdown run to pull within 13-6, but they would get no closer.  Jefferson scored again on an 11-yard touchdown run, and while Wader Hemingway (102 yards rushing) would score on a 13-yard run to make the score 20-12.  JCSU had the ball last in Bluefield State territory, but they couldn’t advance further than the 20-yard line before time ran out.   Joseph led Bluefield State with 273 passing yards and 34 rushing yards, and Perry Wilder led in receiving with 6 catches for 132 yards and a touchdown. 

The Big Blue concluded the CIAA portion of their schedule with a 2-0 record.  They will take some time away from this column as they have next week off.  In two weeks, they host the UNC Greensboro club football team in a game that will not count in the record books and will be minimally covered here.  Bluefield State will next play a game that counts on October 9 when they host NCCAA member Fort Lauderdale for their Homecoming game.  JCSU falls to 0-2 and enters CIAA play next week. 


Western Oregon loses at Portland State 21-7

Portland State started the game in a way that would make former PSU head coach and pioneer of the run-and-shoot offense “Mouse” Davis proud.  PSU called all passing plays on their first drive, with quarterback Davis Alexander completing 7 of 9 passes for 90 and the game’s first touchdown, a 9-yard throw to Beau Kelly to put the Vikings up 7-0.  PSU ran 17 pass plays before they attempted a run.  But a funny thing happened on this rainy Northwest evening - the Western Oregon defense stiffened up and conceded very little on the scoreboard despite giving up 417 total yards to the Division 1 Vikings.  The Wolves held Portland State to their lowest point total, rushing yardage, and passing yardage so far this season.  While the Wolves didn’t score until there was 4:16 left in the game and Portland State up 21-0, they only trailed 7-0 at halftime and didn’t back down at all.  197 total penalty yards and a few personal fouls show the game got a bit chippy at times.  Maybe it was the free beer that Portland State head coach Bruce Barnum offered to fans to attend the game (clearly he doesn’t remember 10-Cent Beer Night).

Portland State was led by Alexander, who had 295 passing yards, 2 touchdowns, and 1 interception.  WOU’s Ryan Worthley completed 24 of 37 passes for 211 yards and a touchdown.  Omari Land led WOU rushers with 47 yards, but like previous weeks, WOU is still moving the ball much better in the air than on the ground.  Portland State improves to 1-2 entering Big Sky Conference play, and WOU falls to 0-3 entering GNAC play. 


Central Washington wins at Simon Fraser 36-14

Simon Fraser opened their brand-new SFU Stadium at Terry Fox Field in front of 1200 fans….and one god of thunder. 

Late in the first quarter, Central Washington led SFU 8-7 when thunder and lightning struck nearby.  The teams headed inside waited for an hour as lightning, thunder, and torrential rains delayed the game.  Now, according to Viking mythology, this would mean that Thor was around, and when Thor is around, so is his hammer.  Well, it was Central Washington that brought the hammer in the form of junior running back Rashaad Boddie.  When CWU quarterbacks JJ Lemming (14 of 31 passes for 147 yards and 1 interception) and Quincy Glasper (3 of 5 for 53 yards and 1 touchdown) mostly struggled to move the ball through the air behind an inexperienced offensive line lacking left tackle Will Ortner, Boddie (who was named GNAC Player of the Week) shouldered the load with 279 yards on 25 carries and three touchdowns, capped with an 87-yard touchdown run for the game’s final score.  He averaged 11.2 yards every time he touched the ball in what may be the top rushing game in all of Division 2 so far this season.  Boddie was the difference in a game where CWU struggled for consistency except in the running game, where they gained 370 yards to SFU’s 58.  CWU head coach Chris Fisk compared Boddie to Earl Campbell, saying “It’s been a while since we’ve had a back like that in our program.”  Boddie’s game moved him up to #15 in Division 2 in rushing yards with 331.

CWU trailed SFU 14-8 in the second quarter after an 18-yard touchdown run by Glover Mason (it was SFU’s first and only lead of the season so far) and gave SFU chances to pull closer and possibly spring an upset.  CWU improves to 2-1 and while SFU falls to 0-3, it looks like Justin Seiber (23 of 50 passes for 285 yards, 1 touchdown and 1 interception) is SFU’s quarterback of the future. 


Starting this week, I will have a team records section after the recaps. 

Team Records


Bluefield State: 2-1
Barton: 1-2
Erskine: 0-3

GNAC (Best record out of 4 conference games wins the conference title)

Central Washington: 2-1, 1-0 GNAC
Western Oregon: 0-3, 0-0 GNAC
Simon Fraser: 0-3, 0-1 GNAC


Week 4 Preview

All games are on Saturday, September 25.

Barton (1-2) at Limestone (SAC, 0-2), 7:00 PM Eastern time

Series History: First meeting

Barton takes NCAA rushing leader Jordan Terrell back on the road for the third straight week to face SAC member Limestone.  This will be Limestone’s first home game of the season after their originally-scheduled first home game in Week 2 was cancelled.  The Saints have lost at North Greenville 37-16 in Week 1 and Tusculum 24-21 last week.  On offense, they average 220 yards passing and 114 yards rushing.  They have turned the ball over 6 times and forced 3 turnovers.  Dustin Noller has thrown every pass for Limestone, completing 34 of 61 with 4 touchdowns and 4 interceptions.  Anthony McAfee is their rushing leader with 125 yards, and Caden Peeler, Cedric Smith, and Joshua Gary lead the receivers.  Coastal Carolina transfer Jaiden Clayton leads the defense with 19 tackles from the linebacker position, including 3 tackles for losses and 2 sacks.  Defensive back Kris Williams leads the defensive backfield with one interception and 12 tackles. 

Barton will need to keep running the ball with Terrell and have Jaquan Lynch do enough to keep the Limestone defense honest.  If they can do that, they can stay close since Barton is not a team equipped to come from behind.  I think Barton keeps it close, but like last week against Catawba, they fall just short.  Limestone by 3 to 7 points. 


Erskine (0-3) hosts North Greenville (GSC, 2-1), 1:00 Eastern time

Series History: First meeting

Erskine travels to GCS member North Greenville to try to break their season-starting losing streak.  Despite having one of the national leaders in passing yardage in Craig Pender and receiving yards in Senika McKie, the Flying Fleet have struggled to hold on to the ball, losing the overall turnover battle 10 to 3.  They have also been outgained on offense by an average of 100 yards per game, 361 to 261.  Much needs to be fixed to stay competitive against the Crusaders, whose only loss so far this season has been to Division 1 FCS The Citadel.  NGU has beaten Limestone (Barton’s opponent this week) 37-16 and Newberry (a future Erskine opponent) 24-14.  On offense, graduate student Kaelan Riley averages 240 yards passing and has 7 touchdowns against 2 interceptions.  Sophomore Dre’ Williams is far and away their top rusher, with 265 yards and 1 touchdown.  Williams is also the Crusaders’ top receiver with 225 yards on 20 catches and 2 touchdowns.  NGU has four receivers including Williams who have at least 100 yards receiving on the season.  Linebacker Eddie Martin is the leading tackler with 17 tackles. 

Erskine has some things going for them, mainly the Pender-to-McKie connection, however, NGU has more depth on both sides of the ball and the Flying Fleet has been too mistake-prone.  I think this game is close in the first half, but NGU pulls away in the second half.  North Greenville by 20 points. 


Bluefield State has this week off

Go drink a Big Blue soda


Central Washington (2-1) hosts #23 Angelo State (LSC, 2-1), 6:00 PM Pacific time

Series History: First meeting

Can some home cooking start a Central Washington winning streak?  The Wildcats finally get to see Tomlinson Stadium after three straight road games to start the season when they host LSC member and nationally ranked #23 Angelo State.  The Rams are coming off a 35-17 home loss to now-#16 Midwestern State in a game where they led 17-14 at the half.  Midwestern State just happens to be visiting Ellensburg next week.  ASU’s wins have come on the road against Lindenwood and Chadron State. 

The Rams have about equal amounts of yards passing and rushing, averaging 237 yards per game passing and 226 yards per game rushing.  They have committed five turnover (4 lost fumbles and 1 interception), and their defense has made 10 sacks and forced three turnovers.  Nathaniel Omayebu III (#18 in Division 2 with 328 yards) and CJ Odom lead the running game, and quarterback Zach Bronkhorst is a dual-threat quarterback, gaining 100 yards rushing and 600 yards passing.  Kellen Pachot and Zorhan Rideaux lead in receiving yards.  Linebacker Hunter Kyle leads in tackles with 20 and linebacker Daron Allison leads in sacks with 3.  The Rams use a 3-4 defense and are big along the defensive front, averaging a height of 6’1” and a weight of to 300 pounds.  Their offensive line averages a height of 6’4” and weighs and average of 309 pounds.  They are big and will want to play the power game on both sides of the ball.  CWU is smaller on the defensive side, but the Wildcats also carry plenty of size on the offensive line as well.    

CWU will need to be strong up front to give the passing game time and to give the running game (specifically, Rashaad Boddie) a chance to run downhill.  If they can, it will be close throughout.  I think CWU takes advantage of the home field and moves to 2-0 against the LSC, winning by 3 points. 


Simon Fraser (0-3, 0-1 GNAC) hosts Western Oregon (0-3, 0-0 GNAC), 6:00 PM Pacific time

Series History: Western Oregon leads 30-10

Last Meeting: 2019 (Western Oregon won 45-14)

Western Oregon finishes their season-opening four-game road trip with their GNAC opener at SFU, who has their second and what looks like their final home game of the 2021 season.  SFU was scheduled to host LSC member UT-Permian Basin next week, but the game has been cancelled due to, according to the UTPB Athletics web site, “…travel related issues with the Canadian border brought on by the COVID pandemic.”  Not exactly sure what that means, and I’m not going to speculate here without more information, but it didn’t seem like CWU had any problems going to Canada and back last week, and I haven’t heard anything about WOU having any issues leading up to this week’s game. 

WOU has not lost to SFU since SFU joined the GNAC in 2010, a 20-game winning streak.  The last SFU win was by a 21-17 score in 2000.  SFU has improved a little bit every week, and I expect this week will be no different.  However, they’re still a bit behind their GNAC competitors.  WOU’s defense will do their best to make certain the Wolves come out on top.  Western Oregon has yet to find a consistent ground game and has had difficulty finishing drives.  However, SFU also has the same issues on offense as WOU, but the SFU defense isn’t at the Wolves’ level even though their secondary played well against CWU.  I think WOU begins to right some of their issues after three weeks of tough opponents.  Western Oregon wins their first game of the season by 17 points.