September 28th, 2023 4:00am
Week Five in the PSAC is coming up and things are already starting to get interesting as we enter into the second week of Divisional play. Three teams from the PSAC have been ranked in the D2Football.com Top 25 all season so far. Two won last week and one lost. Remaining the same is #12 Slippery Rock (4-0, 1-0 PSAC West). #18 IUP (3-1, 1-0 PSAC West) moved up one spot. #23 Shepherd (3-1, 0-1 PSAC East) lost and fell nine spots. East Stroudsburg (4-0, 1-0 PSAC East), who beat IUP in Week Two, has not cracked the Top 25 yet. My PSAC Game of Week for Week Five has now become Games of the Week. We have two huge contests coming up on Saturday, one in the East and one in the West. In the East, East Stroudsburg is headed to Kutztown for a Noon time game. In the West, #18 IUP will be headed to #12 Slippery Rock with kickoff scheduled at 6:00 pm. In all the reality, the winners of these two games will be in the driver’s seat and will control their own destinies in the quest to represent their Division in the PSAC Championship Game to be played on November 11, 2023. Here is my PSAC Power Ranking heading into Week Five:
Last week I was correct in predicting the six of the eight winners in the eight Divisional Games played. For the season, I have predicted the winners in 30 out of 39 (77%) of the games played. Below is my preview for each game this week and my prediction for who will win each contest.
Shippensburg (1-3, 1-0 PSAC East) at #23 Shepherd (3-1, 0-1 PSAC East) – 12 Noon
Shippensburg beat Bloomsburg 7-0 last week. Shippensburg quarterbacks Sam Stoner and Joey McCracken combined for four completions and 45 yards passing in the game. McCracken threw an interception. Running back Tanner Hess had 100 yards rushing on 26 attempts and had the games lone touchdown. Shippensburg’s offense is ranked last in the conference in points per game at 13.5 scored and in yards per game averaging 243.5 each week. Isaiah Gilmore led the defense with 10 tackles.
#23 Shepherd lost to Kutztown 20-3 last week. The offense had the ball for less than one-third of the game. In addition to losing the time of possession battle, turnovers were also a factor in the Rams loss. Quarterback Seth Morgan was 10 of 24 for 95 yards with two interceptions. Morgan is second in the PSAC averaging throwing for 266.8 yards per game. He has a 63.3 percent completion rate. Running back Malakai Brown had 87 yards on 16 carries. Barry Hill had two catches for 34 yards and Cameron Dorner had two catches for 19 yards. Dorner is second in the PSAC averaging seven catches per game with a 114.7 yards per game receiving average. On defense, Enelio Pena had 14 tackles and a tackle for loss. He is third in the conference averaging nine tackles per game. He has 36 total stops on the year so far. Dewayne Grantham had eight stops in the game.
My Prediction: #23 Shepherd – The Rams bounce back from last week’s loss.
Lock Haven (2-2, 0-1 PSAC East) at Millersville (3-1, 1-0 PSAC East) – 12 Noon
Lock Haven lost to East Stroudsburg 35-21 last week. Quarterback Danny Sanchez was 8 of 21 for 178 yards and two touchdowns. Running back Chris Collier had 68 yards on 18 attempts and one touchdown. He leads the PSAC in rushing averaging 99.8 yards per game and has 399 yards on the ground in the four games played. On defense, Cody Romano had nine tackles and a sack.
Millersville beat West Chester 23-14 last week. Quarterback Robert Footman, Jr. was 9 of 29 for 81 yards and two touchdowns. He also had 76 yards rushing on 17 attempts. Running back Jaheim Morris ran the ball 30 times for a career-high 177 yards and a touchdown. For his performance, Morris was named the PSAC East Offensive Athlete of the Week. Hakim Melvin and Mekhi Alexander both had touchdown receptions for the Marauders. On defense, linebacker Garrett Cox had 11 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, and 2.5 sacks. Cox is second in the PSAC in tackles with 41 and is averaging 10.3 per game. Cox is ranked first in the conference in tackles for loss with a 2.38 average per game and 9.5 total for the season so far. He is also fourth in sacks with 3.5 and has two fumble recoveries. Fellow linebacker Isaiah Onuschak had four tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, and 1.5 sacks in the game. On special teams, punter Zach Banta had an 83-yard punt flipping the field in the game. He had six punts on the afternoon with a 47.2-yard average. For his performance in the win, Banta was named the PSAC East Special Teams Athlete of the Week. Millersville has won eight of their last 11 games going back to last season. The 3-1 start is the best since 2003.
My Prediction: Millersville – The Marauders are on a roll with their only loss earlier this season handed to them by #12 Slippery Rock on the road.
*PSAC EAST GAME OF THE WEEK*
East Stroudsburg (4-0, 1-0 PSAC East) at Kutztown (2-2, 1-0 PSAC East) - 12 Noon
East Stroudsburg beat Lock Haven 35-21 last week. The win was number 500 for the East Stroudsburg football program. Quarterback Charlie McKee played in the first drive and Sean McTaggart took over from there. McTaggart was 15 of 24 for 241 yards with four touchdowns and one interception. He also had 42 yards rushing on 13 attempts. Running back Tyriq Lewis had 37 yards rushing and a touchdown. Lewis is third in the entire PSAC with a 93.3 yards per game rushing average. He has 373 yards on the ground through four games. Justin Cook had five receptions for 52 yards. Randy Fizer had two catches for 56 yards and a touchdown. John Siggins had four catches for 55 yards and a touchdown. East Stroudsburg has the highest scoring offense in all of the PSAC averaging 41.3 points per game, which includes their season low of 13 points scored when they beat then ranked #12 IUP. The Warriors are third in the league with a 415.5 yards per game average. On defense, linebacker Sergei Felizor had eight tackles, two tackles for loss, and a sack. Matthew Davis had six stops and a tackle for loss. East Stroudsburg had four sacks in the game. The Warriors are ranked second in the entire PSAC in average points per game given up at 15.8 and yards per game allowed at 258.5.
Kutztown beat Shepherd 20-3 last week. Quarterback Judd Novack was 16 of 27 for 146 yards, a touchdown, and two interceptions. Darryl Davis-McNeil ran the ball 19 times for 79 yards and a touchdown. Nick Lovenguth had the receiving touchdown for the Kutztown. The Golden Bears dominated the clock in the win having possession of the ball for 41:12 in the game. Kutztown’s offense is seventh in the PSAC in points scored per game averaging 26.8 and fifth in yards per game averaging 375. Defensive lineman Gabe Gipli had three tackles, an interception, and forced a fumble and recovered it to lead the way for the defense in the win. For his performance, Gipli was named the PSAC East Defensive Player of the Week. Brandon Hile had six tackles for the Golden Bears and Oyame Adoga and Tyler Whary each had five stops. Nigel Wilson had three tackles, a tackle for loss, and a sack. The Golden Bears held Shepherd to just 189 yards of offense in the game. Kutztown’s defense is ranked fifth in the PSAC in points given up per game with a 19.8 average and third in the league in yards allowed with a 271.8 yards per game average.
My Prediction: East Stroudsburg – The Warriors get the edge for being more consistent in their games played so far this season, even with three different quarterbacks at the helm. Judd Novak has proven himself at quarterback for the Golden Bears and showed his ability to extend plays and make things happen in the game last week with Shepherd. Kutztown certainly can win this game if they play all four quarters as they are capable of playing, like they did last week beating a ranked opponent, and unlike when they gave up 24 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to California (PA) to lose 31-20.
Bloomsburg (1-3, 0-1 PSAC East) at West Chester (2-2, 0-1 PSAC East) – 2 PM
Bloomsburg lost to Shippensburg 7-0 last week. Quarterback KJ Riley threw for 44 yards in the losing effort. Kaleb Monaco only had 27 yards rushing on the day but he is second in the PSAC in rushing with a 95.8 yards per game average. He has 383 yards on the ground so far this season. Ty Pringle had 31 yards rushing in the game. On defense, Brady Thompson led the team with 9 tackles with one tackle for loss.
West Chester lost to Millersville23-14 last week. Quarterback Jordan Cooper was 7 of 19 and threw for 85 yards and a touchdown. He also threw two interceptions. The Golden Rams scoring consisted of two big plays. Trey Blair ran the ball five times for 89 yards which included an 80-yard touchdown run. Rahiem Bowens had two catches for 72 yards receiving including a touchdown reception of 62 yards. On defense, linebacker Connor Noble had 17 tackles and he leads all of the PSAC in tackles so far this season averaging 12.3 per game and total tackles with 49. Khalib Slaughter also had 16 tackles in the game.
My Prediction: West Chester – The Golden Rams get the win avenging their loss at Bloomsburg last season 21-16.
Clarion (1-3, 0-1 PSAC West) at California (PA) (2-1, 1-0 PSAC West) – 12 Noon
Clarion lost 27-20 to Gannon last week. Quarterback Anthony Guercio was 11 of 18 for 96 yards with two interceptions. He also had 29 yards rushing and a touchdown. On defense, linebacker Kareem Hamden had nine tackles and half a tackle for loss. Defensive lineman Jake Tarburton had three tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, and 1.5 sacks.
California (PA) beat Edinboro 31-10 last week. Quarterback Davis Black was 15 of 26 for 224 yards and two touchdowns with one interception. Black leads the PSAC in passing yards per game with an average of 275.7 yards per game. His completion rate is 63.9 percent. Running back Eric McKan III had two rushing touchdowns in the game. He had 35 yards on 12 carries. Omari Hopkins had six catches for 121 yards and a touchdown. Eric Williams III had six catches for 83 yards and a touchdown. He leads the conference in receiving with an average of 132.7 yards per game on an average of 6 receptions each game. On defense, linebacker John Hutchinson led the team with six tackles. Defensive lineman Gaige Hill had four tackles, a tackle for loss, and a sack. Linebacker Ibrahim Sanogo, who had two tackles and a tackle for loss in the game, is third in the PSAC in tackles for loss averaging 1.83 per game with a total of 8 in the three games the Vulcans have played this season.
My Prediction – California (PA) – The Vulcans keep rolling in the PSAC West.
Mercyhurst (1-3, 0-1 PSAC West) at Edinboro (1-3, 0-1 PSAC West) – 2 PM
Mercyhurst lost 30-13 to IUP last week. Quarterback Adam Urena was 15 of 29 for 156 yards and two touchdowns. Jaylen Butera led the team in rushing with 48 yards on eight carries. Rylan Davison had five catches for 77 yards and two touchdowns. On defense, Dillon Ferretti had nine tackles. Camden white had eight tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, and .5 sacks. Mercyhurst is ranked last in the PSAC on defense in points given up per game with an average of 40 each week and in yards allowed with an average allowed of 486 per game. In all fairness, Mercyhurst may have had the most brutal schedule for the first four games of any team in the PSAC this season. Week One they lost to the defending National Champion and #1 team in all the Polls so far this season, Ferris State, 54-12. Week Two they beat Lock Haven, a team on the rise, 41-29. Week Three, the Lakers lost to the preseason number one ranked team in the PSAC East, Kutztown, 47-14. Last week, as already mentioned, they lost to currently ranked #18 IUP 30-13.
Edinboro lost to California (PA) 31-10 last week. Quarterback Isaac Bernard was 14 of 29 for 113 yards with one interception. Bo Swartz had the rushing touchdown for the Scots. On defense, linebacker CJ Walder had 12 tackles and a tackle for loss. Defensive End Ty Thorton had eight tackles, a tackle for loss, and a sack. Edinboro’s defense leads the PSAC in fumble recoveries with eight. On special teams, punter Reed Martin had five punts for an average of 48.8 yards in the game. He also had a 28-yard field goal. Martin, who leads all of the PSAC in punting average at 45.3 yards per punt, was named the PSAC West Special Teams Athlete of the Week for his performance. Much like Mercyhurst, Edinboro has had a tough schedule so far. Edinboro’s three losses so far this season are to Division I FCS Duquesne, Shepherd, and California (PA).
My Prediction: Mercyhurst – Edge to the Lakers but this should be a good game between two teams looking to get back into the win column.
Gannon (1-3, 1-0 PSAC West) at Seton Hill (1-3, 0-1 PSAC West) – 4 PM
Gannon beat Clarion 27-20 last week. Quarterback Nate Mikell was 22 of 32 for 267 yards and two touchdowns. Wide receiver Donell Mason had six catches for 164 yards and had two touchdowns. On the other side of the ball, defensive back Kam Snell had three solo tackles, a broken-up pass, and a pick six late in the fourth quarter to put the Golden Knights on top for the first time in the game. His performance earned him the recognition as the PSAC West Defensive Athlete of the Week. Snell is tied for the PSAC lead in interceptions with three on the season. The Golden Knights held Clarion to 244 yards. As a unit the defense had two interceptions, recovered two fumbles, and had five sacks.
Seton Hill lost 35-21 to Slippery Rock last week. Ky’Ron Craggette had 73 yards rushing and a touchdown. On defense, Musa Tama had 11 tackles and Josh Cohen had nine tackles and two tackles for loss. Ben Weaver is second in the PSAC with an average of 2.38, 9.5 total, tackles for loss per game and he is also second in sacks with four averaging one per game.
My Prediction: Gannon – The Golden Knights keep the momentum going after opening up divisional play last week with a win.
#18 IUP (3-1, 1-0 PSAC West) at #12 Slippery Rock (4-0, 1-0 PSAC West) – 6 PM
#18 IUP beat Mercyhurst 30-13 last week. Quarterback Karst Hunter was 16 of 21 for 185 yards and a touchdown. He also ran the ball 9 times for 80 yards with two touchdowns. Running back Dayjure Stewart ran the ball 19 times for 61 yards. Adam Houser, who had 36 yards on seven carries, had a rushing touchdown for the Crimson Hawks. Wide receiver Hilton Ridley had 5 catches for 43 yards and a touchdown. The Crimson Hawk offense is ranked fifth in points scored per game averaging 28.5 per contest and sixth in yards per game averaging 368.8. On the other side of the ball, defensive back Darius Bruce had six tackles, a tackle for loss, and a sack. Defensive back Naszhir Taylor had five tackles, a tackle for loss, and a sack. Defensive End Tyrone Fowler, Jr. had two tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss and a sack. IUP has the number one ranked defense in the entire PSAC. They are only allowing 14.3 points per game and only giving up an average of 249 yards per game to the opposing offenses.
#12 Slippery Rock beat Seton Hill 35-14 last week. Quarterback Brayden Long was 20 of 35 for 213 yards and had three touchdown passes with one interception. He also rushed for a touchdown. His performance earned him PSAC West Offensive Athlete of the Week honors. Long is third in the PSAC in passing yards per game averaging 263.3 each week but he is ranked first in touchdowns with 14 (fifth nationally), and completion rate with a 67.5 average. Running back Chris D’Or ran the ball 13 times for 93 yards. Isaiah Edwards had a rushing touchdown for the Rock. Receivers Kyle Sheets, 85 yards on nine catches, Cohen Russell and Logan Ramper all had receiving touchdowns in the win. On the season, Sheets is ranked third in the conference in receiving per game with an average of 104.5 yards per contest. He is number one in touchdown receptions with six. The Slippery Rock offense averages the most yards per game in the entire PSAC with 426.8 per game. The Rock is second in scoring averaging 38.5 yards per game. On the other side of the ball, linebacker Kyle Kudla had eight tackles and 2.5 tackles for loss. Defensive back Josh Stokes had eight tackles and a tackle for loss. Stokes is tied for the most interceptions in the PSAC so far this season with three. The Slippery Rock defense is ranked fourth in points per game surrendered at 17.8 and fifth in the league with yards allowed per game with a 297.3 average through the first four games.
My Prediction: #12 Slippery Rock – The Rock will be playing at home and be in their element on Saturday night. Slippery Rock has not lost a night game since 2010. They will be looking for payback for last season’s 20-12 regular season loss to IUP. This should be a great game from the opening kickoff to the final whistle as the Rock’s high powered offense does battle with IUP’s stubborn defense. IUP’s offense and Slippery Rock’s defense aren’t too shabby either.