MVFC Week 11 In Review

Nobody really wanted to go to the playoffs this year, right?

The Scores

Northern Iowa – 10
Youngstown State – 31

Illinois State – 23
Indiana State – 28

Western Illinois – 12
South Dakota – 17

South Dakota State – 57
Southern Illinois – 38

North Dakota State – 48
Missouri State – 7

Northern Iowa at Youngstown State

UNI and YSU started the game trading drives that pretty much went nowhere. Eventually, with about 5 minutes left in the first quarter, the Penguins QB Montgomery VanGorder hit WR Darius Shackleford with a 62-yard TD pass to take a 7-0 lead. Into the second quarter, UNI RB Marcus Weymiller fumbled the ball at their own 11, which was recovered at the 5 by YSU DE Shereif Bynum. One 5-yard TD run by RB Tevin McCaster and YSU was up 14-0. With less than a minute left to go in the first half, the Panthers finally put points on the board with a 4-yard TD pass to TE Briley Moore after they’d been set up with good field position following a 26-yard punt return by WR Jalen Rima. YSU then ran out the clock on the first half, going to the locker room with a 14-7 lead.

In the second half, it took Youngstown State all of two plays to cover 81 yards and hit “pay dirt” again with a 52-yard pass to TE Miles Joiner was followed up with a 29-yard TD run by RB McCaster. UNI responded on their next drive, however, after DB Xavior Williams had a big kickoff return and the Panthers were able to pull within range of a 34-yard FG by PK Austin Errthum, making it 21-10. A little while later, YSU found the end zone again after a long 12-play drive capped off with a 1-yard TD run by RB McCaster and the Penguins were up 28-10. In the 4th quarter, a pass by YSU QB VanGorder was intercepted by UNI DB Williams and returned 61 yards all the way to the YSU 4 yard line. A 3-yard run got UNI to the 1 yard line, but then a snap over the head of QB Eli Dunne would be picked up by YSU LB Ray Anderson and run back 45 more yards, not only killing UNI’s chances at a score, but also giving YSU the ball at the UNI 36. A few plays later, PK Zak Kennedy hit a 28-yard FG to make it 31-10 Penguins, but on the ensuing kickoff, there was a scary situation with the TE Moore when he ran headfirst into his own player and was down and not moving for a significant amount of time. They were able to load him into a cart and he gave a thumbs up as he was taken off the field, so hopefully everything will be ok with the young man. From there, Youngstown State was able to hold the Panthers the rest of the game to seal the 31-10 victory.

UNI QB Eli Dunne had only 73 passing yards with 1 TD in this game, with the TD going to TE Briley Moore. RB Marcus Weymiller ran for 89 yards but also fumbled the ball once. DB Korby Sander, RB (RB?) Christian Jegen, and LB Duncan Ferch all had 8 tackles, and DB Xavior Williams had 3 tackles to go along with his interception. YSU QB Montgomery VanGorder threw for 209 yards and 1 TD with 1 INT, with 73 of those yards and the TD going to WR Darius Shackleford. RB Tevin McCaster had a great day rushing for 136 yards and 3 TDs. LB Armand Dellovade led the Penguins with 9 tackles, DT Savon Smith had 5 tackles and a sack, and both DE Shereif Bynum and LB Ray Anderson had fumble recoveries.

Northern Iowa sees their playoff chances drop to nearly zero, falling to 5-5 overall and 4-3 in the MVFC. They will finish out their season hosting Missouri State next weekend. Youngstown State’s win takes them to 4-6 with a 3-4 conference record and will finish up with a road game at Illinois State next weekend.

Illinois State at Indiana State

This battle between ISU’s was essentially a must-win for both teams if they wanted to keep their playoff hopes alive. Around 7 minutes into the first quarter the Redbirds struck first, with kicker JT Bohlken hitting a 27-yard FG to take a 3-0 lead. Two plays from scrimmage later, the Sycamores gave it right back to the Redbirds when QB Ryan Boyle’s pass was intercepted by ILSU DB Luther Kirk. The ILSU offense moved down the field and scored again on a 26-yard TD run by RB Markel Smith, going up 10-0. The second quarter, though, INSU came roaring back, when, after a fumble forced by INSU DB Denzel Bonner and recovered by LB Matt Thompson, INSU RB Titus McCoy ran the ball 34 yards to the 4, then the final 4 for a TD on the next play to pull within 3. On ILSU’s next drive, INSU DB Bonner one-upped himself by intercepting a pass by ILSU QB Brady Davis giving the Sycamores the ball at the Illinois State 25. 6 plays later, they were back in the end zone on a 6-yard pass to WR Dante Jones II to take a 14-10 lead, and then after holding ILSU to a 3-and-out and getting good field position on a bad punt, the Sycamore offense found their way to the blue turf once again on a 2-yard run by RB McCoy. Late in the half, ILSU kicker JT Bohlken missed a 30-yard FG attempt, keeping the score 21-10 going into halftime.

In the second half, it was again the Redbirds’ turn to get the points, when an 11-play, 57-yard drive ended in a 2-yard TD pass to WR Spencer Schnell. Late in the 3rd, they’d go for it on a 4th and 2 at the INSU 34, but turned the ball over on downs. In the 4th, the Sycamores’ first drive finished with a 25-yard TD pass to WR Dakota Caton, putting the “trees” up 28-17. Their defense held the next drive and once they got the ball back, despite not getting very far (37 yards), INSU was able to eat nearly 6 ½ minutes of clock time with 11 plays including 8 straight runs. Five plays into the Redbirds’ next drive, a Davis pass was intercepted by INSU DB Jamal Jones. They didn’t do much with it, and once ILSU got the ball back, they were able to drive 84 yards down the field ending in a 15-yard TD pass to WR Schnell to pull within 5. Unfortunately for the Redbirds, the drive used up nearly 2 minutes and they were left with less than 30 seconds when the onside kick failed and Indiana State was able to hold on to win 28-23.

ILSU QB Brady Davis threw for 294 yards with 2 TDs and 2 INTs and had two receivers go over 100 yards: Spencer Schnell (155 yards and 2 TDs) and Andrew Edgar (104 yards). RB Markel Smith ran for 83 yards and 1 TD. DE Romeo McKnight and DB Luther Kirk led the Redbirds with 9 tackles and Kirk had an interception. INSU QB Ryan Boyle only had 82 yards passing with 2 TDs (to receivers Dante Jones II and Dakota Caton) and 1 interception. RB Titus McCoy had 132 rushing yards and 2 TDs. LB Katrell Moss topped the list with 13 tackles (7 solo) and 1 sack and was awarded the MVFC Defensive Player of the Week award, and LB Jonas Griffith had 10 tackles (9 solo). DB Jamal Jones had an interception, as did DB Denzel Bonner. Bonner also forced a fumble recovered by LB Matt Thompson.

Illinois State saw their playoff hopes dashed, falling to 5-5 with a 2-5 conference record. They’ll host Youngstown State next weekend to close out the season. Indiana State on the other hand, is still in business, now at 6-4 and 4-3 in the MVFC and they’ll hit the road to close out the regular season at Western Illinois, needing one more win to likely claim a playoff spot.

Western Illinois at South Dakota

WIU scored first on a 52-yard FG early in the game, but South Dakota took their first lead shortly thereafter on a 2-yard TD pass to WR Caleb Vander Esch after a 75-yard drive. A good kick return for the Leathernecks gave them the ball on USD’s 42 yard line, but they weren’t able to do anything with it, having to settle for a punt, pinning the Coyotes deep at their own 9 yard line. Early in the 2nd, USD was making all the plays they needed to to move the ball, but went for a long pass that was intercepted in the end zone by WIU DB Xavier Rowe for a touchback. Later, despite poor tackling from the Leatherneck defenders, USD was stopped short on a 3rd and 15 with an 11 yard gain, but a great punt pinned WIU at their own 1 yard line. They were able to drive the ball across to the USD 23 but missed on the 39-yard FG attempt. Nearing the end of the first half, with USD nearing the end zone, QB Austin Simmons fumbled the ball around the 1 yard line which was recovered in the WIU end zone for another turnover touchback, keeping the score at 7-3 going into halftime.

Five minutes into the second half, USD’s drive stalled out in the red zone and had to settle for a 32-yard FG by kicker Mason Lorber to pull ahead 10-3. On WIU’s next drive, a 45-yard pass got WIU within the red zone, but an tipped pass was intercepted by South Dakota DB Michael Frederick to give them the ball at their own 5 yard line. Early in the 4th quarter, WIU was able to get close enough for kicker Sam Crosa to hit a 44-yard FG making the score 10-6, but USD was able to answer with a long drive for a 4-yard TD run by RB Kai Henry to go ahead 17-6 with just over 9 minutes left in the game. Having no luck on offense, WIU has to resort to a blocked punt to find the end zone, but the 2-pt conversion failed leaving the Leathernecks down by 5 with 5 minutes left to play and no time outs. The comeback eventually failed and WIU dropped the game 17-12.

WIU QB Sean McGuire threw for 251 yards with 1 interception, with 116 yards of that going to RB Clint Ratkovich. He would have done quite a bit better, but for some reason a lot of the passes ended up being dropped by receivers (like…easy catches, nobody around, right in their hands.) The run game woes returned for the Leathernecks though, as the team was held to only 21 net yards combined. Ratkovich also led the team in rushing yards though, with 18. LB Quentin Moon led the team in tackles with 10 (7 solo) and had a forced fumble recovered by DB Darren Wheeler. LB Pete Swenson continued his string of terrorizing QBs with 3 sacks and a pass breakup. USD QB had 220 yards passing with 1 TD and 1 INT, with 71 of those yards going to WR Kody Case. RB Kai Henry had 70 rushing yards with 1 TD. LB Alex Coker led the team with 10 tackles (2 solo) and DB Michael Frederick had 8 tackles and an interception. Punter Brady Schutt had 6 punts that averaged 48.8 yards per with 2 inside the 20 including one that rolled out of bounds at the 1 yard line. Schutt earned the MVFC Special Teams Player of the Week award.

Western Illinois is now mostly out of playoff consideration as well, although would likely have the best chance of any of the 6-5 teams…IF (big “if” there) they were to win their last game. The Leathernecks are now 5-5 with a 4-3 conference record and host a surging Indiana State team at home for Senior Day next weekend. South Dakota brings their record to 4-6 with a 3-4 MVFC record and will hit the road, taking on in-state rival South Dakota State next weekend.

South Dakota State at Southern Illinois

Offenses were on display in Carbondale, as the Jackrabbits got things started on their first drive with RB Mikey Daniel running the ball in for a TD to take an early lead. Halfway through the 1st, the Salukis got their first points on a 50-yard FG. SDSU responded with a 21-yard FG on their next series, making it 10-3. SIU got down to the SDSU 1-yard line as the quarter ended, but had to wait until early in the 2nd to make it into the end zone on a 1-yard run by QB Matt DeSomer, tying things up at 10. A couple of drives later, SIU had to punt from their 22 yard line, but the kick was blocked by CB Don Gardner and recovered in the end zone by WR Jadon Janke for a TD. SIU took 13 plays to move 75 yards on their next drive, finishing with another 1-yard run by QB DeSomer, but the Jackrabbits answered right back with a 72-yard TD run by RB Pierre Strong Jr. on the second play to go up 24-17. Nearing the end of the half, SDSU QB Taryn Christion hit WR Cade Johnson for a 56-yard TD pass (XP failed), putting the score at 30-17 going into halftime.

In the 3rd quarter, Southern Illinois started with the ball and drove down the field, scoring on a 10-yard run by QB DeSomer to pull back within 6. Three plays later, South Dakota State was back in the end zone on a 42-yard TD pass to WR Johnson (2-pt conversion failed). A 67-yard run by SIU RB DJ Davis got the Salukis close, and DeSomer would again run it in, this time from 10 yards out, making it 36-31 Jackrabbits. They’d respond again though, with RB Strong taking the ball another 43 yards into the end zone. SIU stalled out on their drive, but SDSU didn’t have the same problems, using a 26-yard pass to WR Johnson to get close and let RB Daniel run it the last yard into the end zone to pull ahead 50-31. The Salukis weren’t about ready to give up though, as a pass to WR Raphael Leonard was taken 53 yards and across the goal line to end the 3rd quarter down 50-38. SDSU came right back in the 4th though as RB Strong would again live up to his name, powering himself 24 yards into the end zone and giving the Jackrabbits a 57-38 lead. Apparently that was the point where the bus carrying the defenses showed up, because SIU got to the SDSU 9, but came away empty handed, then SDSU missed a 48-yard FG, SIU had a pass intercepted, SDSU missed a 28-yard FG, and Southern Illinois would run out of time, falling 57-38 to South Dakota State

SDSU QB Taryn Christion threw for 341 yards and 2 TDs and ran for 30 yards. R-Freshman Pierre Strong Jr. ran for 188 yards with 3 TDs and received the MVFC Newcomer of the Week award. WR Cade Johnson hauled in 7 catches for 198 yards and 2 TDs. LB Christian Rozeboom led the Jackrabbits with 12 tackles, Safety Brandon Snyder had 5 tackles with a sack and an interception, and punter Brady Hale averaged 43.3 yards on 3 punts with 2 inside the 20. SIU QB Matt DeSomer had 184 yards and 1 TD through the air (the late INT was thrown by QB Sam Straub) and ran for 66 yards and 4 TDs. The passing TD went to WR Raphael Leonard who also had 76 yards, and RB DJ Davis ran for a career-high 201 yards. Safety Qua Brown topped the Salukis with 11 tackles while DE Anthony Knighton had 6 tackles, 3 of which were for loss including 2 sacks. Punter Lane Reazin had 3 kicks averaging 45.3 yards per with 1 inside the 20.

South Dakota State finds themselves essentially a lock for the playoffs now, sitting at 7-2 with a 5-2 conference record. They’ll close out the regular season hosting in-state rival South Dakota next Saturday. Southern Illinois drops another and is 2-8 with a 1-6 conference record and having been long-since eliminated from playoff contention, will hit the road to Fargo to take on the undefeated Bison next weekend.

North Dakota State at Missouri State

I mean…I think we all can figure out by now that if Missouri State had won this game, it’d be a giant upset discussed all over the message boards, twitter, reddit, etc. and you would have heard about it by now. So, since you didn’t, you know that MSU didn’t…and I’m going to do this one a bit differently than usual. In the first quarter, NDSU had TDs from: a 29-yard pass to WR Dallas Freeman, a 29-yard pass to TE Ben Ellefson, and a 43-yard pass to TE Nate Jenson…and they had a successful onside kick. MSU meanwhile, had 3 plays going a total of 9 yards, 0 first downs…and threw an interception. First play in the second half was another Bison TD on a 5-yard pass to TE Ellefson, although MSU’s defense started to step up a bit, forcing NDSU to punt on back to back drives. Eventually the Bison broke through again on a 27-yard pass to RB Lance Dunn, to make the score at this point 34-0 NDSU. MSU’s defense was able to get a sack on NDSU QB Easton Stick and get an interception on the next play, but considering their only first downs of the first half were 3 in one drive earlier in the 2nd quarter, they didn’t come away with any points this time.

In the second half, about 6 minutes in, the Bears finally reached the end zone after a couple of big plays got them close and RB Jeremiah Wilson ran it 6 yards in for a TD. NDSU came right back with 4 plays finishing RB Adam Cofield running 14-yards into the end zone, making the score 41-7. On their next drive, Cofield decided he liked it so much that he returned to the end zone, running it in from 5-yards out to pull ahead 48-7. In the final quarter, NDSU essentially just ran the ball a whole lot, eating time. MSU meanwhile, did pick up some yardage on a couple of drives, but none were able to get them close enough to score, and the score would stay 48-7 to the end, with the Bison remaining undefeated.

NDSU QB Easton Stick threw for 238 yards, 5 TDs and 1 INT, ran for 11 yards and earned the MVFC Offensive Player of the Week Award. Even more impressively, he also surpassed former NDSU QB Brock Jenson at the top of the career passing yardage list and now holds that school record. RB Seth Wilson led the Bison on the ground with 95 yards, but RB Adam Cofield found the end zone twice while running for 85 yards. TE Nate Jenson had 81 receiving yards and 1 TD on 2 catches, while TE Ben Ellefson had 2 TDs on his 2 catches, WR Dallas Freeman had 1 TD on 2 catches and RB Lance Dunn had 1 catch for 1 TD. LB Jabril Cox led NDSU with 9 tackles including 1 sack. Safety James Hendrix had an interception, and Punter Garret Wegner had a 45 yard average on 5 punts with all but 1 of those ending up within the red zone. MSU QB Peyton Huslig had a rough day, completing only 6 of 23 pass attempts for 87 yards and 1 interception. RB Jeremiah Wilson ran for 87 yards and the lone MSU TD. Safety Jared Beshore and DT Claudio Martin each had 8 tackles (3 solo each) and Martin had 1.5 sacks. LB Kevin Ellis had 6 tackles and an interception.

NDSU is now 10-0 with 7 of those wins in the MVFC and have…well…probably locked up the #1 seed for the playoffs already regardless of what happens next week. It’s unlikely there’ll be much worrying in Fargo though, as the Bison are hosting last-place Southern Illinois next weekend. Missouri State drops to 4-6 and 2-5 in the conference, seeing a promising start to the season head straight down the drain, having lost their last 4 games. They’ll close out their season on the road at Northern Iowa next Saturday.

MVFC Standings

Team, Overall (MVFC) – last game

North Dakota State, 10-0 (7-0) – Southern Illinois
South Dakota State, 7-2 (5-2) – South Dakota
Indiana State, 6-4 (4-3) – @ Western Illinois
Northern Iowa, 5-5 (4-3) – Missouri State
Western Illinois, 5-5 (4-3) – Indiana State
South Dakota, 4-6 (3-4) – @ South Dakota State
Youngstown State, 4-6 (3-4) – @ Illinois State
Illinois State, 5-5 (2-5) – Youngstown State
Missouri State, 4-6 (2-5) – @ Northern Iowa
Southern Illinois, 2-8 (1-6) – @ North Dakota State

As has been the case the last few weeks, “Professor Chaos” over at has written an excellent breakdown of each team’s playoff chances at this point.

The short version is essentially:

  • NDSU has locked up the conference auto-bid and probably the #1 seed.
  • SDSU has also locked up an at-large playoff spot, but should get a seed if they win their final game.
  • INSU should make it in if they win their last game against WIU.
  • WIU might have a chance to get an at-large if they beat INSU…but they’d need help from elsewhere.
  • UNI essentially needs to win their last game, and hope that a LOT of games go their way across the FCS to have even a slight chance.
  • ILSU, MSU, USD, YSU, and SIU are all effectively eliminated.

How’d I Do?

(do I have to?)

UNI at YSU – I thought UNI by 7, it was YSU by 21. UNI laid an egg (that’s the polite way of saying it, anyway).
ILSU at INSU – I thought ILSU by 3, it was INSU by 5. Oh how the mighty mustache has fallen.
WIU at USD – I thought WIU by 6, it was USD by 5. Honestly I’m not sure either team wanted to win this game…sure didn’t look like it anyway. Someone had to though, so the home team did.
SDSU at SIU – I thought SDSU by 15, it was SDSU by 19. Ok, finally got one right…this one pretty much went “as expected”.
NDSU at MSU – I thought NDS by 26 depending on when NDSU let off the gas, it was NDSU by 41. They let up a bit later, and MSU had a bit more trouble stopping NDSU’s 2nd string. I consider this a win…I need every one I can get these days.

Previously I was 14-11 in my picks. I went 2-3 this week, so I’m sitting at 16-14. I can’t technically finish at .500 on my picks, but if I have another week like this, it’ll be close.

One more weekend of regular season football. One more game for many team’s senior class. One more chance for many fans to see their team play until the long cold winter sets in. The final games of the regular season include Youngstown State at Illinois State, Indiana State at Western Illinois, South Dakota at South Dakota State, Southern Illinois at North Dakota State, and Missouri State at Northern Iowa. INSU @ WIU could be considered a “play-in” game for a playoff spot…maybe, SDSU wants to solidify a decent playoff seed, and NDSU is trying to go undefeated in the regular season for the first time since 2013.

Written by 

Father, runner, drum corps alumnus. Former member of the Western Illinois Marching Leathernecks. Following Leatherneck football and I-AA/FCS football since 1996.

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