Jason Dannelly: NAIA Football Review/Preview for Monday, September 8th.

Photo Courtesy of SOU Sports Information

Photo Courtesy of SOU Sports Information

Breath.

Just inhale . . .follow with an exhale.

It’s going to be okay.

The college football season is officially fully underway and from looking at the NAIA twittersphere one would think the season is over for some of these teams. Sure there were some pretty good upsets this weekend but overall it shouldn’t change your opinion on many of these teams quite yet.

Unless the injury bug bit your team hard this weekend because the name of the game in the NAIA is depth. Teams that have depth can survive a few bumps and bruises while teams that lack it will really struggle this year.

Early last week I said the game of the week was going to be Carroll College at Southern Oregon. The NAIA national office also officially gave the game that title and the Raiders and Saints did not disappoint. SOU defeated Carroll 38-35 as quarterback Austin Dodge found Victor Dean from 22 yards out with just seven seconds left to play in the game. The TD capped off a seven play, 80-yard drive that took just 1:23 to execute.

Dodge was impressive going 21-30 on the day for 281 yards passing, two touchdowns and no interceptions but equally as impressive was Raider running back Melvin Mason who rushed 27 times for 202 yards and three touchdowns. Mason’s performance was easily the grittiest we have seen from a running back in a big NAIA game for quite a while.

Don’t discount Carroll College at all because of the loss. You have to consider they were on the road, for their first game of the year after one of the worse road trips in the NAIA. And they still only lost by three. That’s why I said last week that I still think Carroll wins the Frontier Conference despite this loss. Saints QB Max Roche turned in a top-notch performance going 20-32 through the air for 272 yards and three touchdowns. Both Roche and Dodge finished the day without an interception.

It doesn’t get easier this week as SOU faces off against interstate rival Eastern Oregon in La Grande on Saturday while the Saints take on their rival Montana Tech in Helena.

The biggest upset of the week came between the resident “Cumberland” schools in the NAIA. Cumberland (Tenn.) defeated University of the Cumberlands (Ky.) 34-27. Going into the 4th quarter the game was tied 20-20 when UC would give up two big plays. With 13:17 left to play UC QB Adam Craig would be picked off by the Bulldogs’ Anthony Knight for a 74 yard interception return for a touchdown. Then with 5:04 left Michael Green scampered 61 yards for a touchdown to put the Bulldogs up by two scores. The game certainly wasn’t riddled with turnovers, just costly big plays given up by Cumberlands.

Feels Like the First Time:
Arizona Christian is officially on the board with their first victory ever, defeating DIII George Fox 30-27. Both ACU and GFU are competing in collegiate football for the first time this year so it was only fitting the two met this season. Impressive crowd at GFU of 3659 were at the game.

College of Idaho accomplished the same feat in their first ever game by defeating Pacific University, 35-34. COI was pretty balanced rushing for 238 yards and throwing for 195 yards. Give COI credit as they only turned the ball over once and had just five penalties for 36 yards. That’s a great effort given it was their first time on the field.

Bluefield College is still looking for that elusive first win in the history of their program. The Rams started their program in 2012 and have racked up an 0-24 record to start. This week they will play The Apprentice School (USCAA) who has also struggled to get wins.

Warner University defeated Webber International 14-10 in a game I thought WIU would handle and get the first ever win in the history of the Sun Conference. That honor will now go to Warner as the Royals outgained WIU 246-199 in what would be a defensive battle. An interesting side note, Rod Shafer who started the Webber International program in 2002 coaches Warner and hired Kelly Scott to work with him when started the WIU team.

The “Hal Mumme Era” at Belhaven University is off to a good start as the Blazers took down Mississippi College, 32-14 and Mumme picked up his first win as an NAIA coach since he was the head coach at Iowa Wesleyan. Belhaven’s Conner Preston threw for 294 yards and three touchdowns as his defense limited MC to just 177 yards of total offense.

Stats on Stats on Stats:
Quarterback Branden Cresap of Lindsey Wilson College put up 481 yards of total offense in a 52-48 loss to Reinhardt. Cresap led the Blue Raiders, as they roared out to a 20-0 lead in the 1st quarter before Reinhardt scored 24 unanswered points in the 2nd quarter. From there it was back-and-forth until Reinhardt punched in the final score of the game with 1:35 remaining. The two teams combined for 1232 yards of total offense in the game so if you hate defense this was your spot on Saturday. RU’s LJ Stegal carried the ball 18 times for 146 yards and three touchdowns.

Someone will need to ice down Rocky Mountain College quarterback Bryce Baker’s arm. In a 37-30 over Montana Western Baker was 38-61 with two touchdowns. He main target was Andre McCullouch who finished with 13 receptions for 164 yards and a touchdown. RMC is now 2-0 and will play Montana State-Northern this weekend. The Lights actually had a statistical marvel of their own this weekend as kicker Jordan Rueschhoff nailed a 56-yard field goal in a 40-17 win over Dickinson State.

Outside of that there wasn’t anything that I considered to be out of the ordinary this week. Baker picked up a tough win over Ottawa, 20-12. Concordia upset No. 15 Sterling, 21-15 but that didn’t shock me. CU will be an improved team this year and a capable of hanging around the Top 25. Oklahoma Baptist continues to breakout this season as they defeated the University of Saint Mary, 62-37. Something seems scary good about OBU.

A Word of Thanks:
Last week I was hit up on social media, email, text message and carrier pigeon about my article. A lot of people I hadn’t heard from for a while sending me a note to say “great to have you back.”

A very heartfelt thanks to everyone who got ahold of me last week. It’s really like finding your favorite pair of jeans you haven’t worn for a while and forgetting just how comfortable they were. Thankfully VSN isn’t like my real life jean situation where they are tight, worn and sometimes really uncomfortable.

The best ways to track me down are email and twitter: jasondannelly at gmail.com and @JasonDannelly

This Week:
Tabor and Missouri Valley will face off this week in Marshall, Mo. for what will be the NAIA’s top game. Sterling at Baker, Montana Tech at Carroll, and Ottawa at Benedictine deserve mentioning but the Blue Jays and the Vikings will be a great one.

Tabor College at Missouri Valley: Style of football, attitude of football and coaching of football are all things that get me juiced up for this game. Paul Troth and Mike Gardner are two of the best in the NAIA and there is no doubt they will all be well prepared come Saturday. Edge to the home team. MoValley 24 Tabor 20

Montana Tech at Carroll College: You know the story already. Two schools that butt heads on everything in every sport. Every game is bragging rights but none more than football. Carroll is the better squad right now, but the Diggers will be well prepped. Carroll College 35 Montana Tech 21

Ottawa at Benedictine: Love the fact that the HAAC/KCAC play these cross over games and I love even more they will continue with KCAC/GPAC games when the HAAC expands. Benedictine gets the win this week in a tough one to pick. It’s a toss up in my book. Benedictine 24 Ottawa 21

(A) Anderson University @ (H) Concordia (Mich.)
(A) Ave Maria (Fla.) @ (H) Florida Tech
(A) Bacone (Okla.) @ (H) Hendrix College
(A) Belhaven (Miss.) @ (H) 4 Cumberlands (Ky.)
(A) Bethany (Kan.) @ (H) Graceland (Iowa)
(A) Bethel (Kan.) @ (H) Avila (Mo.)
(A) Bethel (Tenn.) @ (H) 12 Georgetown (Ky.)
(A) Briar Cliff (Iowa) @ (H) 21 Dakota Wesleyan (S.D.)
(A) Concordia (Neb.) @ (H) Hastings (Neb.)
(A) Dickinson State (N.D.) @ (H) Waldorf (Iowa)
(A) Doane (Neb.) @ (H) 13 Northwestern (Iowa)
(A) Dordt (Iowa) @ (H) Midland (Neb.)
(A) Edward Waters (Fla.) @ (H) Pikeville (Ky.)
(A) 19 Friends (Kan.) @ (H) 24 Peru State (Neb.)
(A) Howard Payne University @ (H) Wayland Baptist (Texas)
(A) Kansas Wesleyan @ (H) Central Methodist (Mo.)
(A) Kentucky Wesleyan College @ (H) 18 Lindsey Wilson (Ky.)
(A) 23 Langston (Okla.) @ (H) Truman State University
(A) Lindenwood-Belleville (Ill.) @ (H) 20 St. Francis (Ill.)
(A) Marian (Ind.) @ (H) Wisconsin-Oshkosh
(A) Mayville State (N.D.) @ (H) Trinity Bible College
(A) McPherson (Kan.) @ (H) MidAmerica Nazarene (Kan.)
(A) Missouri Baptist @ (H) Oklahoma Baptist
(A) Montana Tech @ (H) 2 Carroll (Mont.)
(A) Montana Western @ (H) College of Idaho
(A) 3 Morningside (Iowa) @ (H) Nebraska Wesleyan
(A) 14 Ottawa (Kan.) @ (H) 11 Benedictine (Kan.)
(A) Point (Ga.) @ (H) Concordia College Selma
(A) 9 Rocky Mountain (Mont.) @ (H) Montana State-Northern
(A) Saint Mary (Kan.) @ (H) Culver-Stockton (Mo.)
(A) Southwestern (Kan.) @ (H) Evangel (Mo.)
(A) 22 Southern Oregon @ (H) RV Eastern Oregon
(A) 15 Sterling (Kan.) @ (H) 5 Baker (Kan.)
(A) 17 St. Ambrose (Iowa) @ (H) Taylor (Ind.)
(A) 8 Tabor (Kan.) @ (H) 7 Missouri Valley
(A) Texas College @ (H) Lamar University
(A) Union (Ky.) @ (H) 10 Faulkner (Ala.)
(A) University of Indianapolis @ (H) 16 Saint Xavier (Ill.)
(A) Valley City State (N.D.) @ (H) Dakota State (S.D.)
(A) Warner (Fla.) @ (H) Southeastern (Fla.)
(A) Webber International (Fla.) @ (H) Campbellsville (Ky.)
(A) Western New Mexico University @ (H) Arizona Christian
(A) Wisconsin Lutheran College @ (H) Trinity International (Ill.)

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