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FCS East Wrapup: Nova Beats Temple... Again

Every week, I try to go through the rest of FCS Eastern football and highlight some of the other goings-on in FCS that have an impact on the subdivision in which Lehigh plays. This week saw three different FCS teams - all at one time rumored as expansion targets for the Patriot League - upset FBS teams. It seems inconceivable now that any of them would accept a place in a league with need-based scholarships.

But first, let's look a bit more at the Patriot League's wins - and losses - in Week One.

  • Holy Cross' 20-7 win over Georgetown may have been somewhat underwhelming by my account - but senior QB Dominic Randolph's 36-for-56 414 yard performance earned him the Sports Network's Offensive Player of the Week honors anyway as well as the Gridiron Club of Boston's "Golden Helmet" award. It probably wasn't the way Randolph wanted to break the Patriot League's all-time passing yardage mark - trailing 7-6 to Georgetown entering the fourth quarter, with 2 interceptions - but it was still a record-breaker, and the most impressive offensive performance on the weekend. The "close call" also didn't hurt the Crusaders' Sports Network Top 25 ranking, either, as Holy Cross held on to the No. 25 spot. But certainly head coach Tom Gilmore will want to see more than 20 points to show for the offense against Sacred Heart at home last week - after the Pioneers were shocked 31-12 by non-scholarship Marist last week.
  • Georgetown, who were widely expected to get creamed by Holy Cross, played up the "moral victory" of the 20-7 loss. Senior DE Chidi Obinawu and sophmore DB Wayne Heimuli shined, with 10 tackles and 5 tackles for loss between them in a good defensive effort that couldn't survive Georgetown's offensive woes. With Lafayette (coming off a bye week) next week, it underscores the fact that Georgetown may have the worst schedule in all of D-I: with two tough league contests in the first two weeks (and, for good measure, the defending FCS champions Richmond the second to last week of the season), the Hoyas may be out of the Patriot League title race by next weekend.
  • In a rough week for the Patriot League, evne what should have been the best win on the weekend - Colgate's 35-23 over a title contender in the NEC, Monmouth - ended up on a downer. After the game, sophomore RB Nate Eachus - who ran for 139 yards and 3 TDs in the game - came up with broken ribs after the third touchdown. Senior RB Mark Colon took his place in the Monmouth game, but didn't exactly light it up with 33 yards rushing and a 2.5 average. Will junior QB Greg Sullivan be able to pick up the slack for the Raiders against Stony Brook next week? The Seawolves are eager to put a 17-10 loss to Hofstra behind them and still have last year's 42-26 domination of Colgate fresh on their minds, too. If Colgate suffers another loss to the Seawolves, the chants of Patriot League impotence in the face of teams with "full scholarships" will grow louder.
  • On paper, Fordham looked like it could hang with a team like Rhode Island. Forham had senior QB John Skelton, they had a surprising number of seniors on both sides of the ball, and looked to be ahead of Rhode Island, whose third head coach in the last three years was making his head coaching debut on Saturday in Kingston, RI. Instead, Rhode Island's new offense ran roughshod over Fordham, racking up a 41-7 lead before Skelton and the offense scored late to make the score a bit more "respectable" 41-28 win. The stat sheet for Fordham - heading into a bye week this week - isn't pretty at all: five turnovers, including four fumbles. 125 yards return yards allowed. 455 yards of total offense allowed. Head coach Tom Masella will have a lot to discuss with his veteran team before they face crosstown rival Columbia in a couple of weeks.
  • Bucknell hadn't beaten Duquesne since 2002 - but the Bison ceased to be the Dukes' daddy in 2009 after their 24-19 loss. Once again - here's those dreaded words again - "full scholarships" could be a major factor in the Dukes' resurgence, as senior QB Connor Dixon, a transfer from Michigan State, was one of the key ingredients in Duquesne's win. Once again, a Patriot League school would give up over 400+ yards of offense to a team with "full scholarships", albeit Duquense does not appear at this time to be carrying the FCS limit of 63. With Colgate "only" giving up 300 to Monmouth (including a 100 yard rusher in senior RB David Sinisi), Patriot League teams not named Holy Cross gave up mammoth numbers of yards.
  • Meanwhile, around the CAA, teams that once were bandied about as expansion targets for football knocked off FBS school. The biggest - and arguably the most surprising - was William & Mary's 26-14 shocker over Virginia of the ACC. Rather than an App State-over-Michigan affair, though, it was mostly a story of Virginia's self-destruction - seven turnovers, including Tribe PK Brian Pate making 3-of-6 FG attempts from six of those gifts and the seventh being returned by freshman DB B.W. Webb for the game-clinching TD with 2:39 left. Time will tell, but it may have been more a story of Virginia sucking in the ACC rather than the Tribe's dominance in the CAA. Still, William & Mary jumped to No. 7 in the country with the win.
  • Another not-exactly-a-surprise was the defending FCS national champions Richmond beating an outmatched Duke team 24-16. Unlike the William & Mary game, the Spiders' domination of the Blue Devils was more dominating, their "stonewall defense" holding Duke to 19 yards rushing and leading the game almost the entire way. Senior QB Eric Ward didn't exactly light up the scoreboard either, going 12-for-23 for 143 yards passing, but it was enough - and more impressively, the Spiders didn't turn over the ball once. They rode that win to the No. 1 ranking in the country, and face off next against 1-0 Delaware (who throttled D-II West Chester 35-0).
  • As if Lehigh needed any more bad news, Lehigh learned that they will be facing the No. 3 team in the nation as Villanova was one of three FCS teams that upset an FBS team last week with their 27-24 "upset" over Temple. After Villanova failed to score in the first half, falling behind 10-0, senior FS Ross Ventrone opened up the second half with a 59 yard fumble return for a touchdown that changed the momentum in the game. Temple would turn over the ball five times - the final one which set up Villanova's game-winning FG with no time left on the clock.

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