(August 31, 2004)


Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference football heads into week two with 12 of the league's teams taking to the gridiron. Two games feature league teams squaring off against one another, three teams will play against Division I-AA competition, while two others will travel to Division II teams ranked among the nation's top 14, according to the American Football Coaches Association.

In addition to PSAC divisional titles, in 2004 conference teams will be competing for one of six playoff spots awarded to teams in the NCAA Northeast Region. This year's playoffs have been expanded to allow eight more participants - two each in the nation's four regions - allowing a total of 24 Division II schools to take part in the postseason. The first regional polls are scheduled for release on September 27.

The PSAC is represented well in the national polls. In the AFCA poll, Indiana is ranked No. 13, followed by Shippensburg (19), Bloomsburg (20) and Edinboro (21). In the D2Football.com poll, IUP checks in at No. 10, followed by Shippensburg (19), Bloomsburg (24) and Edinboro (25).

IUP's opponent this week, Nebraska-Omaha, is ranked 11th by the AFCA and 13th by D2Football.com. West Chester will square off with Northwest Missouri St., ranked 14th by the AFCA and 15th by D2Football.com.

Following is a brief preview of this week's action:

Thursday, September 2
Slippery Rock (0-1) at Youngstown St. (0-0) - 7:30 p.m.

Slippery Rock has played a Division I-AA opponent every year since 1994... Seven of those games have been against YSU, all losses, including last year's 45-12 setback... SLIPPERY ROCK is coming off a heartbreaking 20-17 loss to Bloomsburg in which it held the lead the entire second half until the 1:29 mark... A fourth-down pass interference call led to the Bloomsburg winning touchdown... The Rock defense held the Huskies to no points and 22 yards in the second half until the game-winning drive, when they surrendered 81 yards and the touchdown... That group was led by DB Kevin Johnston (7 TT, 2 TFL) and LB Greg Baker (5 TT, 2 PB, Sk)... The Rock defense posted five sacks on the night... Slippery Rock's offense was led by RB Josh Kniess, who had 176 yards and a TD on 30 carries (5.9 ypc)... WR Luke Wetzel caught 4 passes for 94 yards and a score... YOUNGSTOWN ST. ... The game marks the 2004 opener for the Penguins, who are coming off an uncharacteristic losing season at 5-7... The Penguins claimed I-AA's toughest schedule last year, as their opponenents combined for a .618 winning percentage and five of their I-AA opponents earned NCAA playoff bids... Two of YSU's 2003 wins came over PSAC teams (Slippery Rock and Edinboro)... The Penguins have six Division I-A transfers on this year's squad... SS Mike Bracken heads up the defense after recording 86 tackles a year ago... TE Mike Roberts tied for the team lead with 29 catches in 2003... Former California (Pa.) head coach Mike Kolakowski shares the defensive coordinator responsibilities for the Penguins... YSU has won nine straight openers.

Saturday, September 4
West Chester (1-0) at Northwest Missouri St. (1-0) - 12 p.m. (11 a.m. CST)

This is the first-ever meeting for the two squads... WEST CHESTER earned a 20-17 come-from-behind win over Clarion in its opener... Brandon Simmons caught an 8-yard TD pass on fourth down with just over four minutes remaining for the winning score... West Chester gained just 200 yards in the contest, nearly 256 less than its league-leading average in 2003... 88 yards came from via the rush from Osagie Osunde... The Golden Rams defense was led by LB Dan Faubel (8 TT, TFL), DE Graham Eggleston (6 TT, 2 TFL, Sk) and DB Isiah Harrison (5 TT, 2 TFL, INT)... NW MISSOURI ST. set school records for points and margin of victory in its 77-12 season-opening win over Minnesota State - Moorhead last week... The Bearcats have been one of Division II's top programs in recent years, which includes winning back-to-back national titles in 1998-99... QB Josh Lamberson played sparingly in the game, but managed to hit on 8 of 13 passes for 223 yards and two TDs... Both TDs went to WR Morris White, who accumulated 203 all-purpose yards on the day... The defense held MSU-M to 48 yards and one first down in the first half.

Cheyney (0-1) at Northeastern (0-0) - 12:30 p.m.

This is the first meeting between these teams... CHEYNEY showed a great deal of improvement from last season in an 35-19 opening-game loss to Lock Haven... The Wolves trailed only 14-12 at the half, and by just nine with 12 minutes remaining in the contest... Furthermore, Cheyney racked up 341 yards of offense and 181 yards rushing - numbers that topped any performance against a PSAC school in 2003... RB Tyrone Bryant averaged 6.7 ypc, totaling 153 yards on 23 carries in the game... QB Derrick Murry connected on 11 of 21 passes for 158 yards and 3 TDs... Two of those strikes went to WR Jamal Clark, who hauled in six passes for 73 yards... The defense received inspired play from DL Mark Wilkins... He earned Eastern Division Defensive honors by accumulating 11 TT, 4 TFL, two of which were sacks for -10 yards... LB Cavanaugh Nweze had game-highs of 12 tackles and seven solos... NORTHEASTERN has recorded 18 wins over the last two years, marking the best back-to-back seasons in school history... Last year the Huskies finished at 8-4... 15 starters are back, including eight from the record-setting offense, which set new school standards for points per game (34.5), first downs (245) and total yards (5,182)... QB Shawn Brady (54.7%, 1,972 yds, 17 TD) holds a 21-9 record as a starter... The defense is led by the school's all-time tackles leader LB Liam Ezekiel (140 TT, 10.5 TFL, 5.5 sks in 2003)... The team is under the direction of new head coach Rocky Hager who led North Dakota State to Division II national titles in 1988 and 1990.

East Stroudsburg (1-0) at Edinboro (0-0) - 1 p.m.

East Stroudsburg holds a 6-4 series advantage in the series dating back to 1967... Edinboro won last year's game, 31-20... Both teams went on to tie for divisional titles last year at 5-1... EAST STROUDSBURG makes another long road trip after posting a 26-21 win at Lenoir-Rhyne last week... The Warriors got another strong effort from PSAC East Eastern Division Offensive Player of the Week QB Jim Terwilliger... The sophomore signal caller had 376 yards of total offense, including 342 through the air and threw 3 TD passes... Six different Warriors caught passes, led by Tim Strenfel (5 - 139 - TD) and Evan Prall (5 - 55 - TD)... The Warrior defense looks to improve on the 503 yards it gave up to L-R... However, LB Henry Brackenridge (9 TT, blk FG) and DB Matt Crispell (3 TT, 2 INT) had standout performances... EDINBORO has 12 starters back from last year's NCAA playoff team... Among the seven back on offense is QB Justin Bouch, who set a school record by completing 65.9% of his passes for 15 TD and 2,044 yds, FB Matt Phillips (644 yds, 13 TD) and WR Justin Lipscomb (39 rec, 739 yds, 6 TD)... Edinboro's defense ranked third in the league last year and was second in points allowed (16.3 ppg)... The unit will rely on LB Seth Fragale (86 TT, 4 Sks, 14 TFL) and FS Raji El-Amin (80 TT, PSAC best 9 INT).

Shepherd (0-1) at Shippensburg (1-0) - 1 p.m.

These two teams have met every year since 1991, with Shippensburg holding a 9-4 advantage during that span... Shippensburg ended a three-year losing streak to the Rams with a 33-14 victory in 2003... The Red Raiders have lost the last two home games against Shepherd... SHIPPENSBURG had an impressive effort in winning its opener, 35-0, over Kutztown... The Red Raiders outgained Kutztown, 361-151, in total yardage, including a 208-70 advantage in the running game... One of the league's toughest defenses in 2003, it marked Shippensburg's fourth shutout in its last 11 games and sixth time in the last seven contests that it did not give up 100 yards rushing... LB Chris Leonetti led the effort vs. Kutztown with 9 TT and 2 TFL... FB John Kuhn, who tied for the national lead with 22 TDs in 2003, scored once in the lidlifter... WR Pat Ferguson caught TD passes of 48 and 40 yards... SHEPHERD got solid defensive play despite a 13-8 setback against Virginia St. last week... DE Ramal Faunteroy was named WVIAC Defensive Player of the Week after recording 6 TT, two TFL and tackled the VSU QB in the end zone for a safety... LB Demar Atwood posted a game-high 8 TT... RB Alex Herbert will test the Red Raider defense after posting 147 yards on 35 carries... WR Jesse Correll caught 7 passes and accounted for 70 of the Rams 120 receiving yards.

West Virginia Wesleyan (0-1) at Mansfield (0-1) - 1 p.m.

This the first-ever meeting between the two schools... MANSFIELD looks to overcome a devastating 63-6 loss to California last week... The Mountaineers scored the game's first points and then surrendered 63 unanswered points to the Vulcans... Despite behind held to 33 yards in the opener, RB Poohbear McNeal will be the main threat to turn around the Mountaineer fortunes... McNeal rushed for a PSAC-best 1,684 yards and 17 TDs last year... WR Joe Bennett (3 rec, 21 yds) led the PSAC in reception yardage (1,184) and receiving TDs (17) a year ago... The defense is led by LB Andre' Turner (7 TT, TFL) and CB Ronnie Montgomery (9 TT, PB)... WEST VIRGINIA WESLEYAN fell behind 29-7 at the half before falling, 45-28, to Wingate last week... WR Bryan Overton caught 5 passes for 131 yards from QB Marc Kimes (15-37, 266 yds, 3 TD)... DL Matt Bell tied for team-high honors with 10 tackles.

Clarion (0-1) at Kutztown (0-1) - 1:05 p.m.

Clarion leads the overall series, 12-3, and has won four of six as the teams have played every year since 1998... Kutztown won last year's game, 20-19... CLARION surrendered a touchdown on fourth and goal with under five minutes remaining in the game, resulting in a devastating 20-17 loss to West Chester... The Golden Eagles look to reverse their early season trend after dropping three of their first five games last season by four points or less... In last week's contest, the Golden Eagle defense held a West Chester offense that led the PSAC in 2003 to just 200 yards... DL Ben Heisel spearheaded the charge with 9 TT and 3 TFL... LB Zach Gourley had 7 TT and 2 TFL, while FS Bo Busch had 8 TT and 2 PB... Clarion's running game featured RBs Marcus Lowe (12 rush, 59 yds, TD) and Glenn Lovelance (6 rush, 37 yds), as well as QB Erik Yonish (14 rush, 37 yds, TD)... Yonish hit on 12 of 17 passes for 111 yards... KUTZTOWN was able to muster just 161 yards and gave up four turnovers against a stout Shippensburg defense, falling 35-0... RB Stephen Gammage was one of the few bright spots, rushing for 69 yards on 11 carries.. Gammage and fellow RB Tony Bria combined for 1,332 yards rushing last year... WRs Trevor Smith (60 rec, 843 yds, 7 TD) and Mike Connor (34-384-3) did not play due to injury... DB Michael Baldwin led the defense with 7 TT and a FF.

IUP (1-0) at Nebraska-Omaha (1-0) - 2 p.m. (1 p.m. CST)

IUP won last year's contest, 28-26, connecting on a field goal with three seconds to provide the margin of victory... It was the first game in the series between the two programs... IUP outscored Millersville 24-6 in the second and third quarters, lifting it to a 27-19 victory... The Indians got a strong performance from RB Mike Jemison (37 rush, 224 yards, TD) and a defense that posted seven sacks and yielded just 35 rushing yards... Leading that group was PSAC West Defensive Player of the Week DL Kirby Griffin, who had 9 TT and 3 sacks... LBs Tye Desiderio (9 TT, Sk, PB) and Kris Griffin (6 TT, 3 TFL, Sk, PB) were other standouts... NEBRASKA OMAHA was impressive in a 62-21 win over Nebraska-Kearney to open its season... RB Scott Anderson carried 16 times for 134 yards and a TD... In all, UNO amassed 278 yards and 4 TD on 50 rushes for a 5.6 ypc average... QB Brian Masek completed 12 of 21 passes for 141 yards and 3 TD... The Mavericks defense was led by LBs Kenny (9 TT) and Taiwo (7 TT, INT, 2 PB) Onatolu.

Millersville (0-1) at Glenville St. (0-1) - 6 p.m.

Millersville has won the two previous meetings, including last year's 27-25 triumph... This is the Marauders first visit to Glenville St. ... MILLERSVILLE had a hard-fought effort in a 27-19 loss to nationally ranked IUP last week... As they attempted to mount the tying score, the Marauders were able to get to the IUP 24-yard line under four-minute mark before turning the ball over on downs... QB Dan Csencsitz was a solid 23 of 39 for 264 yards and 3 TD despite facing an IUP defense that accumulated 7 sacks... WRs Andy Neupauer (8 rec, 94 yds) and Omar Sanders (6 rec, 90 yds) both caught TD strikes... Freshman Bakari Brown totaled 219 all-purpose yards, with 196 coming on 6 punt and 5 kickoff returns... LB Joe Hollister posted a game-high 13 tackles... GLENVILLE ST. was on the wrong end of a 604-192 total yardage margin in being handled by I-AA Murray St., 56-3... WR Antonio Carter led the Pioneers with six grabs for 71 yards.... LB Rich St. Julien led the Pioneer defense with seven tackles... QB Joey Conrad hit on 27 of 51 passes for 294 yards and four scores vs. Millersville last season... Conrad had a tough opener against the Racers (9-35, 64 yds).

Lock Haven (1-0) at James Madison (0-0) - 6 p.m.

James Madison has won both games in the series... The Dukes handed LHU a 72-0 setback in 2000... LOCK HAVEN earned its first season-opening victory since 1992 when it upended Cheyney, 35-19, last week... RB Maurice Walker posted an impressive 7.4 ypc average when rushing for 177 yds and 2 TD on 24 carries... WR Rafael Smith caught two passes - both for TDs - totaling 40 yards... Three LHU QBs played significant amounts of time, combining for a 7 of 12 passing effort and the two TDs to Smith... DB Will Jones had 10 tackles and an INT... JAMES MADISON is coming off a 6-6 year... the Dukes were 5-1 at home in 2003... Safety Rodney McCarter leads the defense... He piled up 94 tackles, 6 TFL and 6 PB last season... QB Matt LeZotte hit 59.8 percent of his passes last year... RB Alvin Banks led the team with 81.4 ypg last year.

Number of the week:

1870 - Round trip miles East Stroudsburg will have traveled by bus to play its first two contests of the 2004 campaign.