Football To Start Big Sky Play at Eastern Washington
Date: Saturday, September 19,
Kickoff: 1:05 p.m. Pacific/2:05 p.m. Mountain
Location: Cheney, Wash.
Stadium: Woodward Field
Surface: Natural Grass
Series: EWU, 5-1
Last Meeting: 2008: EWU 31-16
Radio: KFKA 1310 AM
Play-by-Play: Troy Coverdale
Color: Alex Egan
Television: SWX in Washington
Live Stats: uncbears.com
Video Streaming: bigskytv.org
Both teams have faced an FBS team ranked among the top 25 this season and enter the game with a 1-1 record... The two teams, along with Montana State and Portland State are all tied for second place in the league standings with records of 1-1... This will be the seventh meeting between the two teams with Eastern Washington holding the 5-1 advantage and the Eagles have won four straight... The two teams boast a brother duo as sophomore defensive tackle Dominique Ceja's younger brother Jerry is a freshman for the Eagles... EWU has one other player from Colorado in freshman Brandon Kaufman from Heritage HS... Northern Colorado has no players from Washington on its roster.
Northern Colorado kicks off its fourth season in the Big Sky Conference on Saturday at Eastern Washington. Last season, the Bears finished in eighth place with a 1-7 record and are looking for their first win in league play against the Eagles.
It's An Honor
Junior running back Andre Harris was named the Big Sky Conference offensive player of the week after rushing for 152 yards in the Bears' 31-12 victory over San Diego. Harris averaged 7.6 yards per carry, ripping off non-scoring runs of 39 and 45 yards. Harris scored on a 7-yard run with 11:43 to play to put the Bears up 24-12. He capped the scoring with a 19-yard run with 7:59 to play. Harris also caught four passes for 37 yards, giving him 189 all-purpose yards. His 152 rushing yards is the most at Northern Colorado since Andre Wilson rushed for 158 against Western Illinois on Sept. 23, 2006.
Best In The Big Sky
After two weeks, Northern Colorado ranks first in the Big Sky Conference in pass defense (170.0), rushing offense (165.0), interceptions (4-38 yds) and turnover margin (+1). The Bears are also the only team not to have thrown an interception this year. Individually, junior Matt King is tied for the league lead in sacks (1.0), while junior Andre Harris ranks second in rushing (87.0), senior Ryan Lutz is second in punt returns (10.0), juniors Korey Askew and Max Hewitt are tied for second in passes defended (2.0), senior Alex Thompson ranks third in reception yards per game (86.0) and freshman John Burnley is third in kick returns (23.6).
Big Play Bears
Northern Colorado had five plays go for more than 30 yards in the win over San Diego. In the first quarter, senior quarterback Bryan Waggener hit senior receiver Alex Thompson for an 80 yard touchdown pass. In the second quarter, junior Andre Harris and freshman John Burnley had back-to-back big gains, with Harris rushing for 39 yards and Burnley scoring a touchdown with his 34 yard run. On the next drive, Harris rushed for 45 yards, then in the fourth quarter Waggener connected with sophomore Patrick Walker for 65 yards setting up the first of Harris' two rushing touchdowns.
The Eagles are 1-1 on the season and one of four teams tied for second place in the Big Sky standings. They opened the season with a 35-14 victory over Western Oregon before falling to FBS #10 Cal last week, 59-7. Senior quarterback Matt Nichols ranks second in the Big Sky in passing efficiency and is third in total offense, while J.C. Sherritt is tied for the league-lead in tackles with 11.0 per game.
Northern Colorado defenders intercepted four passes in the win over San Diego on Saturday. It is the most since the Bears' picked four passes against Idaho State last season on Oct. 11 and the third straight year NC has had four interceptions in a single game. Four different student-athletes recorded a pick as junior Korey Askew, junior Max Hewitt, sophomore Chuks Nweke and senior Quincy Wofford each had one.
Junior cornerback Korey Askew has definitely returned to the form he showed as a freshman before being injured midway through 2007. Askew, in two games, already has more tackles than he had during six games in 2007 and is just four shy of his total from nine games in 2006. Askew leads the team with 8.0 tackles per game and has the longest interception return of the season at 24 yards. He also has three pass break ups and 1.0 tackle for loss and has recorded a career-high in total tackles in each game this year.
In the first quarter against San Diego, senior quarterback Bryan Waggener connected with senior wide receiver Alex Thompson for an 80-yard touchdown. It ties for the fifth-longest passing play in school history. Corte McGuffey passed to current running backs coach Keith Grable against Adams State in 1998 and Nick Hager completed an 80-yard pass to Cory Sleeth against Colorado School of Mines in 2005.
Votes For NC
For the first time since joining the Big Sky Conference, Northern Colorado is getting votes in the Sports Network Coaches Poll. The Bears are one of six teams in the league to be either ranked or receiving votes.
Making The Right Choices
Senior quarterback Bryan Waggener has attempted 67 passes without an interception, dating back to the 2008 season finale. This year, Waggener is 29-for-50 with no picks and is the only starting quarterback in the Big Sky not to have thrown one in 2009. Since his last INT, Waggener is 41-for-67.
For just the third time during head coach Scott Downing's career at Northern Colorado, the Bears had a 100-yard rusher and receiver in the same game. Junior running back Andre Harris had 152 rushing yards, while senior receiver Alex Thompson has 106 reception yards against San Diego. On Nov. 15, 2008 at Sacramento State, David Woods rushed for 103 and Thompson had 145 yards receiving, while on Nov. 11, 2006, Andre Wilson had 139 rushing yards and Robert Long tallied 107 receiving yards.
Rushing The Field
Against San Diego, Northern Colorado averaged 6.4 yards per rushing attempt, netting 256 yards on 40 carries. In the opener against Kansas, the Bears averaged just 3.0 yards per rush, netting 74 yards on 25 rushes. Northern Colorado leads the Big Sky Conference in rushing, averaging 165.0 yards per game, which also ranks 30th among FCS institutions.
Senior Ryan Lutz tallied 50 punt return yards against San Diego on Saturday. It is the most in a game since Aaron Henderson had 59 against Fort Lewis on Oct. 29, 2005. His 50 yards in the game is also just one yard shy of last year's season total for Dominic Gunn, the team's leading returner. In 2008, the Bears had just 74 punt return yards total, while in 2007 they amassed just 77 yards. Lutz currently ranks 14th in the nation averaging 10.0 yards per return and is second in the Big Sky Conference.
Northern Colorado snapped a seven-game losing streak with the win over San Diego. The Bears look to break an 18-game road losing streak on Saturday at Eastern Washington.
Singing In The Rain
The last two wins for Northern Colorado have both been in inclement weather. The team's lone win in 2008 against Idaho State was in rainy/sleety conditions, while on Saturday against San Diego it rained the entire second half of the game.
Hitting The Mark
*Junior linebacker Matt King had nine tackles in the win on Saturday, recording the 100th of his career with his last stop. King is third on the NC active list in tackles behind senior Stephen Michon (157) and junior Max Hewitt (124).
*With his 218 yards of total offense against San Diego, senior quarterback Bryan Waggener brought his career total over the 3,000 yard mark and now has 3,103 in 13 games (238.7 yards per game).
Senior kicker Michael York made the 16th field goal of his career on Saturday, putting him in ninth on the career charts at NC.
For the first time since 2006, Northern Colorado plays more home games than road games as the Bears had the first of six at Nottingham Field on Saturday.
For the second straight game, junior Korey Askew recorded a career-best in tackles, this time with 10 to lead all players. Sophomores VJ Holmes (5) and Colby Riggins (4) also tallied career-best totals in tackles. Freshman John Burnley (84) and junior Andre Harris (152) had highs in rushing yards, while Harris (37) and sophomore Patrick Walker (65) had career highs in reception yards.
Welcome to the Family
Defensive coordinator Cody Deti and his wife Megan gave birth to a son, Samuel Wayne, on Saturday morning, August 29. Both mother and baby are doing well. He is their first child.
What To Look For
*Junior Max Hewitt tallied his seventh career interception on Saturday against San Diego and now has 98 return yards in his career, needing just two more for 100.
*Senior wide receiver Alex Thompson needs just 68 more all-purpose yards for 1,000 in his career at Northern Colorado.
*Senior quarterback Bryan Waggener needs 68 passing yards for 3,000 in his career and with 74 more will tie for 10th on the career records chart with 3,006 yards (Mark Passard, 1998-02).
*Senior Quincy Wofford is now just 64 yards shy of 500 all-purpose yards in his career and is 16 tackles shy of 100.
Several Bears received preseason attention from various publications. Senior quarterback Bryan Waggener was named a 2009 Consensus Draft Services Preseason All-American Honorable Mention while senior kicker Michael York was named to the Phil Steele Preseason All-Big Sky Conference First Team and junior linebacker John Eddy was named to the Second Team.
Bears Story Lines
*Junior James Schrenk made the move from quarterback to linebacker during spring drills and is first on the depth chart.
*Redshirt freshman Darin McDonald joins the Bears team after a short stint at Wyoming. Prior to that, he spent three seasons in the Philadelphia Phillies minor league baseball system.
*Junior college transfer Andre Harris came to Northern Colorado for fall camp. He is considered one of the top running backs from California by several agencies.
*The Bears return all eight on the depth chart among defensive linemen from a year ago.
*Three players, safety Ryan Lutz, defensive back C.J. Stemo and kicker Michael York have all received their bachelor's degrees and have begun work on their masters.
*Northern Colorado athletics ranks first in the Big Sky Conference in graduation success rate, with last year's rate at 93%.
*Two upperclassmen on the team, junior kicker Zak Bigelow and junior offensive lineman Tim McGraw both have perfect 4.00 grade point averages and are in the Monfort College of Business.
*Both junior wide receiver Brandon Smith and senior offensive lineman Ryan Kemp are out for the remainder of the season with injuries.
This season, head coach Scott Downing decided to have a council of players who would lead the team and take more of a leadership role instead of the more traditional 2-3 captains. Those players, elected by their teammates are: junior Zak Bigelow, freshman John Burnley, freshman Cameron Friend, senior Chris Jones, senior Ryan Kemp, senior Ryan Lutz, junior Tim McGraw, sophomore Chuks Nweke, sophomore Dylan Orms, sophomore Colby Riggins, junior James Schrenk, senior C.J. Stemo, senior Thomas Stuemky, freshman Curtis Truett and junior Michael Van Portfliet.