KANSAS CITY, Mo. - The Heart of America Athletic Conference football schedule reaches the second half of the 2012 slate with nine of its teams hitting the gridiron this Saturday, October 6.
Week 7 Previews
#10 MidAmerica Nazarene (3-1, 3-1 HAAC) at Culver-Stockton (0-5, 0-5 HAAC), Ellison Poulton Stadium, Canton, Mo., 1:00 p.m.
All-Time Series: MNU leads, 24-10
Last Season: MNU 60, Culver-Stockton 14
Last Time Out: MNU 49, Baker 20; Missouri Valley 47, Culver-Stockton 7
About the Pioneers: MNU took a big step toward reclaiming its spot among the NAIA elite with a decisive 49-20 win over Baker last week in a top 20 showdown. Sean Ransburg threw for a career-high five TD passes while Greg Gates ran for 167 yards and a touchdown while catching another as the Pioneers scored 42-unanswered points. MNU allowed just 144 total yards and forced four turnovers in its most complete performance of the campaign and one that could spark the team toward a return to the postseason. Two newcomers, LaDon Hudson and Mike McJunkins, have helped ignite that spark on both sides of the ball. Hudson has caught four touchdowns over the past two games to give the offense an athletic target over the middle while McJunkins has 14 tackles in two games including a pair of sacks. Ransburg was also happy to have Austin Conyers back in the lineup, connecting with him five times for 72 yards and a TD.
About the Wildcats: A week after playing the league's top team, things won't get any easier for Culver-Stockton as they play a team with a chip on its shoulder following a humbling defeat to Missouri Valley back on September 8. The Wildcats managed just 2.1 yards per play last week against the Vikings and are last in the league in scoring, total offense and rushing offense. The Wildcats are averaging 183.6 yards passing per game, but have just five touchdowns to show against eight interceptions. The pass protection has also been an issue as the Wildcats are allowing almost four sacks per game. The quarterback position still isn't settled after four players got a chance last week, though Curtis Widener continues to sit atop the depth chart. Bobby Nelessen led the team with 10 tackles last week and is 4th in the HAAC with 9.6 tackles per game.
Central Methodist (2-3, 2-2 HAAC) at #12 Benedictine (4-1, 2-1 HAAC), Larry Wilcox Stadium, Atchison, Kan., 1:00 p.m.
All-Time Series: Benedictine leads, 23-3
Last Season: Benedictine 26, Central Methodist 3
Last Time Out: Lindenwood-Belleville 23, Central Methodist 20; Evangel 54, Benedictine 44
About the Eagles: A late comeback attempt came up short for the Eagles as they dropped their only non-conference contest of the season at NAIA newcomer Lindenwood-Belleville. Ezequiel Rivera got a chance to tie the game with a 53-yard field goal with 2:01 remaining, but his attempt missed the mark. Workhorse RB Burton Iosefa rushed 19 times for 166 yards and currently sits 4th in the HAAC in rushing at 85.8 yards per game. Skyler Jameson rushed for 53 yards, but was just 4-of-11 passing for 42 yards as the passing game continued to struggle with its top two quarterbacks sidelined due to injury. The defense held the Lynx to just 14-of-31 passing, but a number of big plays amounted for 259 yards through the air as the home team piled up 23 first downs to just 14 for the Eagles. Trevor Robinson was named the HAAC Defensive Player of the Week after recording three sacks among his 11 total tackles.
About the Ravens: A team that has dominated with its defense and allowed just 13 points over the previous three weeks allowed almost 700 yards and 54 points on the road last Saturday evening. The Ravens struggled to make the transition from facing predominantly running teams to a wide-open attack that boasts the league's top passer and receiver. Jordan Ancar, Ashton Stephens and the rest of the unit must shift its focus completely again as they face the Eagles' flexbone attack that averages almost 50 carries and 275 yards on the ground per game. The offense continued to churn out yardage as Bill Noonan threw for 357 yards and five touchdowns while Cameron Fore and Kevon McGrew combined for 207 yards rushing. An uncharacteristic four turnovers and allowing 9-of-16 third down conversions also played a key role in the defeat.
Avila (1-4, 0-3 HAAC) at #19 Baker (4-2, 3-2 HAAC), Emil Liston Stadium, Baldwin City, Kan., 2:00 p.m.
All-Time Series: Baker leads, 11-0
Last Season: Baker 37, Avila 20
Last Time Out: Avila 35, Bethany (Kan.) 19; MNU 49, Baker 20
About the Eagles: Avila went on the road and out of conference, but its first win of the season was just as satisfying as Harley Kreisman rushed 14 times for 137 yards and two touchdowns, including the go-ahead score from a yard out early in the second half to give the Eagles a 35-19 win. Jacob Hicks had a solid day as well, completing 23-of-35 for 226 yards and two touchdowns with a pair of interceptions while also rushing nine times for 68 yards. The Eagles piled up 583 yards in offense and converted 7-of-10 third downs to help offset five turnovers. Avila is second in the HAAC with 24.6 first downs per game and has a 42 percent 3rd down conversion rate, but tied for 7th in turnover margin with -4 and is allowing 1.5 sacks per contest. If Hicks has time to throw, he can present problems for the Baker defense and take pressure off of the defense.
About the Wildcats: An early 48-yard TD pass from Jake Morse to Jake Green must have given Baker the feeling that it was off to a great start last week against MNU. However, a 10-minute blitz by the MNU offense turned the tables and the Wildcats were never able to recover. There is little time to lick your wounds in a busy schedule and Baker is still a game away from its two-week break against a team that is coming off its best performance of the season. The Wildcats never got their running game going last week, but faces a team that is allowing 220.0 yards on the ground and 36.2 points per game. A veteran defense led by Andre Jolly and Adam Steele need to shore up the holes that were exploited the past two games and work towards restoring the confidence that was evident through the first four weeks of the season.
Evangel (3-2, 2-1 HAAC) at Graceland (3-2, 2-1 HAAC), Huntsman Field, Lamoni, Iowa, 2:00 p.m.
All-Time Series: Evangel leads, 17-7
Last Season: Evangel 27, Graceland 21
Last Time Out: Evangel 54, Benedictine 44; Graceland 28, Peru State 20
About the Crusaders: Not enough can be said about the turnaround over one week for Evangel following a 73-17 loss to NCAA FCS-member Nicholls State (La.) to pulling off one of the biggest upsets of the season thus far. The Crusaders marched 89 yards on 11 plays to take the lead for the final time with 1:54 remaining on a 3-yard run by Tommy Meyer, giving the team its biggest win since knocking off 3rd-ranked Benedictine in 2001. Andrew Brimhall had another stellar game under center, throwing for 371 yards and two touchdowns, increasing his average per game to just under 300 yards. Jesse Vaughn had another monster game with nine receptions for 211 yards and two scores while Meyer carried 24 times for 184 yards and three touchdowns. The Crusaders are #2 in the NAIA in pass offense (342.0) and #3 in yards per game (500.8).
About the Yellowjackets: Graceland deserves its own accolades after shaking off a humbling defeat to Benedictine three weeks ago and putting its bye week to good use in preparing for a 28-20 win over Peru State. Marcus Griffin rushed for 133 yards and a touchdown while Matt Fink completed 6-of-15 passes for 122 yards. The biggest number for the Yellowjackets on the day was a zero in the turnover column while forcing three turnovers on the defensive side. The pass defense was much improved over the prior game, yielding just five completions on 19 attempts. Eric Escamilla and the secondary will have their hands full against the Evangel passing attack and will need to limit the big-play potential of Vaughn and the Crusaders' receiving corps. Raysean Brown needs to find a way to make big plays of his own as he shares the team lead with 14 receptions.
Trinity (N.D.) (2-3) at Peru State (2-3), Oak Bowl, Peru, Neb., 2:00 p.m.
All-Time Series: Trinity leads, 1-0
Last Season: Trinity 31, Peru State 5
Last Time Out: Waldorf (Iowa) 76, Trinity 35; Graceland 28, Peru State 20
About the Lions: Trinity has had a week to make adjustments after yielding 76 points, including 55 in the first half, despite just 385 yards of total offense. The Lions committed three turnovers and allowed three kickoff returns for touchdown as well as an interception return that went to the house. Jonny Perry rushed for 140 yards and a touchdown, but Austin Morris managed just 10-of-23 passing for 93 yards and was sacked four times as the Lions managed just 4-of-16 on third downs.. Seth Peterson led the defensive effort with 9.5 total tackles.
About the Bobcats: It was a tale of two halves last week for the Peru State defense as they locked things down in the second half after allowing 28 points before intermission to Graceland. Last season when the two teams met in Ellendale, N.D., the Bobcats threw for over 300 yards, but came up short on five 4th-down attempts and committed 11 penalties. The Lions also threw for 412 yards in that contest and were a perfect 4-for-4 on 4th downs. Ryan Ludlow had another stellar game on the ground last week, piling up 147 yards and two touchdowns as he leads the conference and is third in the NAIA in rushing with 122.8 per game. Dual-threat QB Bo Shepard is averaging 143.0 yards in total offense, but needs to continue to improve in the passing game to open up more space on the ground for Ludlow. Preston Bruss continues to pile up tackles as he is 3rd in the HAAC with 9.8 per game.