District football notebook: IUP defense leads the way to 6-1 mark
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College football has become an offensive game, at least at the highest level, but there are a few district teams proving you can win with great defense.
IUP is 6-1 and ranked in the top 20 in Division II. Though the Crimson Hawks have an excellent running game and are efficient on offense, their strength is on defense. Statistically, they have one of the best units in the country.
IUP has given up an average of 218.14 yards per game, which leads Division II in total defense. They are also ranked No. 1 in scoring defense (9.29 points per game).
IUP has given up 65 points in seven games, and only once -- in a 26-24 loss against California -- has an opponent scored 20 or more.
The Crimson Hawks are No. 3 in the country in rush defense, allowing 52.57 yards per game and 1.79 yards per carry. They have given up three rushing touchdowns in seven games.
Waynesburg hasn't been quite that dominant, but the Yellow Jackets defense has been impressive and is nationally ranked in a number of categories in Division III.
The Yellow Jackets (7-0) are No. 22 in rushing defense, allowing 90 yards per game and 2.92 yards per carry, and has given up five rushing touchdowns in seven games.
Waynesburg is No. 24 in total defense, allowing 269.57 yards per game, and No. 32 in scoring defense, allowing 15.43 points per game. It has allowed two teams -- Bethany and Muskingum -- to score more than 20 points against them.
The PSAC West was supposed to be a two-team race in football between IUP and California, and though those two teams are having great seasons, a third team, Mercyhurst, has emerged.
The Lakers (6-1, 4-0) are on a six-game winning streak, and, if they can extend that streak to seven Saturday at IUP, they might become the favorite to win the West Division. They will play California at home Nov. 3.
The winning streak, tied for the second longest in school history, has not gone unnoticed. The Lakers are receiving votes in the Division II coaches poll for the first time since Sept. 26, 2011.
The longest winning streak in school history is seven games, in '10. That team won the PSAC championship.
The IUP men and Gannon women will attempt to defend their PSAC golf titles this weekend in Hershey, Pa.
Seven men's teams will compete Saturday and Sunday at the Hershey Links course, and the women will compete Friday and Saturday at Hershey Country Club's East Course.
The Crimson Hawks, who have won five PSAC titles in a row and have 25 total titles, are the favorite to win a sixth. They are led by junior Zack Kempa and senior Derek Baker, who tied for fifth last year at 9 over.
Gannon won last year by 16 strokes and is led by its top two performers from last season, Amanda Teodorsson and Bhanisha Nagindas. Teodorsson won the individual championship last season.
Robert Morris defensive lineman Nolan Nearhoof, a senior from Mars, has broken the school record for career sacks with 21.5. Nearhoof set the mark Saturday with a career-high three sacks in the Colonials' 38-35 loss against Bryant.
Geneva senior Nick Edinger broke his own school record Saturday at the Oberlin College Regional Rumble Cross Country meet. Edinger, from Mars, finished 11th at the event and ran the 8K in 24:23, breaking his school record of 25:46 by 1:23.
California remains the highest-ranked district team at No. 14 in the Division II coaches poll and No. 12 in the D2football.com poll. IUP is No. 20 in the coaches poll and No. 19 in the D2football.com poll, and Mercyhurst is receiving votes in the coaches poll.
Waynesburg is receiving votes in both the Division III coaches poll and the D3Football.com poll. It is the only district Division III team receiving votes for either poll.
And despite a two-game losing streak, Youngstown State (4-2) is No. 16 in the Division I-AA coaches poll and No. 15 in the Sports Network Poll.It is the first time this season the Penguins are not in the Top 10.
First Published October 18, 2012 12:00 am