Despite some big programs being on bye in Week 4, there were plenty of DII football surprises to shake up the national top-25. Both Shepherd and Virginia Union were upset, and Harding and Henderson State battled in another memorable showdown.
There's one game left on the Week 4 docket on Sunday, but there is still plenty to break down. Let's get to what you missed in Week 4.
WEEK 4 SCOREBOARD: Every score and stat from DII football Saturday
Kutztown stuns No. 13 Shepherd
In a game full of turnovers, the Kutztown Golden Bears went into Shepherdstown, West Virginia and pulled off the huge upset. The Rams were averaging just over 35 points per game this season and the Kutztown defense held them to just three points, the fewest points scored by the Rams since Shepherd was shutout on opening day of the 1994 season. The Rams' defense played well, but when you give a team as good as Kutztown as many turnovers as the Rams offense did (two interceptions and three fumbles), it’s not a recipe that bodes well.
Fayetteville downs No. 15 Virginia Union
This was one of my games to watch this week and it turned out to be a good one, despite the 10-7 score. After an 0-2 start, the reigning CIAA champion Fayetteville State Broncos are back on track, disposing of Virginia Union 10-7. The game's weather conditions certainly played a role as rain and wind limited both teams to just 276 total yards combined. A fumble in the final four minutes led to the game-winning drive that saw the Broncos' Jacob Meneses plink one off the left upright and through for the go-ahead score. It's the second game-winning field goal for Meneses in as many weeks.
No. 10 Harding stays undefeated, downs No. 20 Henderson State
The Bison were a top-10 team in the AFCA Coaches Poll this week, and this impressive victory sees them (spoiler alert) jump into the Power 10 for the first time this season. The Reddies came out and led 9-0 at one point, but Harding proved to be too much once the ground game got going. Blake Delacruz reeled off 179 yards on the ground, scoring three more touchdowns to bring his 2023 total to 10. The Harding triple-option "flexbone" offense threw just four passes, completing one in keeping the ball out of Austin Edwards hands, dominating time of possession 40:03 to 19:57. I'll tell you, I was impressed with Edwards' arm strength — he made a pair of throws that didn't look possible, but the day belonged to the Bison.
Elsewhere around DII football
Mars Hill is one of two undefeated teams remaining in the SAC. Quarterback JR Martin had a nice day with 160 yards passing and 167 more rushing but hats off to the Lions’ defense for keeping Barton’s Jordan Terrell in check with just 47 yards rushing. Put the Allen Yellowjackets on your radar. This team moved to 3-0 and is scoring 35.3 points per game and winning games by 17 a week. Let's see what happens in the heart of SIAC play. Northwest Missouri State really needed a win, and dominated its way to a 59-0 victory. Running back Jay Harris had another 100-yard day and yet another touchdown. Minnesota Duluth won 33-0 and has been very impressive thus far. The Bulldogs are scoring more than 40 points per game while allowing just over 16. Let's see if they start jumping the top 25.
The DII football Power 10 Rankings: Week 4
No. 1 Ferris State | Previous: 1
Nothing to see here. The Bulldogs had a much-deserved break after traveling to Ashland and Montana. They now prepare to open GLIAC play against Northern Michigan.
“Montana didn’t know what was coming”@WayneCavadi_D2 was very impressed by @FerrisFootball in their matchup at FCS Montana this weekend 🐶— Division 1 Rejects (@D1_Rejects) September 21, 2023
No. 2 Colorado School of Mines | Previous: 2
Look, there's a lot of football left and with the explosive offenses of South Dakota Mines and top-25 Western Colorado still on the schedule, nothing is certain. But this team is on a mission after stomping CSU Pueblo 55-14 this week. John Matocha is on pace to at least match, if not surpass, his 2022 Harlon Hill Trophy campaign numbers. This offense looks unstoppable, and Chadron State is the next RMAC school to try and figure out how to stop it.
No. 3 (tied) Pittsburg State, Grand Valley State | Previous: 3 (tied)
For the fourth week in a row, the Gorillas got off to a slow start, once again trailing at the half to Nebraska-Kearney. But as they have done in the previous three weeks, Pitt State got it together and rolled off a 30-point second half en route to a commanding 33-14 victory. The defense forced three interceptions and allowed just 277 total yards. The Gorillas look to solve those first-half woes against Northeastern State next week.
The Lakers had a bye week after going 2-1 to open the season against three nationally ranked, 2022 DII football tournament teams. That should answer all your questions on why they are ranked this highly. Saginaw Valley State awaits.
No. 5 Minnesota State | Previous: 5
Shen Butler Lawson Jr. is not human. The Mavericks running back isn't simply averaging 166.8 yards a week and 2.2 touchdowns a week; he's doing it on a ridiculous 8.6 yards per carry. That means he's not out there getting hit hard or playing a lot of minutes and will be fresh for the long haul. The Mavericks have yet to win a game by fewer than 17 points, but that could change with a trip to Bemidji State in Week 5.
FOOTBALL SUNDAYS: Former DII football players on 2023 NFL rosters
No. 6 Bemidji State | Previous: 6
Did someone say Bemidji State? The No. 6 team in our Power 10 romped its way to another victory, now 4-0 and setting up a massive top-10, NSIC showdown against the Mavericks next week. Brandon Alt threw for four more touchdowns (surprise, surprise) and already has 12 through four games... and 96 since 2021. That is a lot of offense for one person.
No. 7 Ouachita Baptist | Previous: 7
Kendel Givens had yet another monster game and wide receiver Connor Flannigan is settling in as one of the most consistent go-to pass catchers in DII football. He now has a touchdown in each of the past three weeks and recorded his third 100-yard game in four tries. Both the offense and defense are clicking, and the Tigers should remain undefeated over the next two weeks until its top-10 showdown with Harding on Oct. 14.
No. 8 Delta State | Previous: 8
Delta State scored eight touchdowns on Saturday and quarterback Patrick Shegog was responsible for seven of them. The star quarterback threw for five scores and rushed for two more and now has 19 through four games in 2023. The Statesmen hit the road to West Alabama this week, where this offense that is averaging 45.3 points per game should keep rolling.
No. 9 West Florida | Previous: 9
The Argos opened Gulf South play against West Georgia and was ready to put the FCS loss behind them. West Florida erupted for 35 points in the first half and routed the Wolves 49-21. I've discussed the instant connection previously, but Peewee Jarrett and John Jiles are one of the more dangerous quarterback-receiver duos in the division. This week, the two connected for 175 yards and two touchdowns. North Greenville is up next.
No. 10 (tied) Emporia State, Harding | Previous: 10, First five out respectively
Emporia State holds onto its top-10 status but has some company this week. I said coming into the season, Braden Gleason was arguably the best throwing quarterback in DII football not named John Matocha and with another four touchdowns, he is looking the part. Gleason has also not thrown an interception and is completing 78% of his passes. Missouri Western is on deck.
Harding's victory over Henderson State was impressive and has to boost them into the top-10 after being the first one out last week. This team is outscoring its opponents by 31 points per game, and it should be more of the same this week against Southwestern Oklahoma State.
First five out (in alphabetical order)
- Benedict: I don't care what the schedule is: The Tigers were one of DII football's best defenses last year and have followed it up by allowing 10 points so far this year. TEN.
- Davenport: Welcome to the first five out, Panthers. William Jewell gave them a scare, but I really liked how they adjusted and utterly dominated the second half. This is a good ball team.
- Lenoir-Rhyne: The Bears allowed just 57 total yards in the second half to clamp down and improve to 4-0. Expect the SAC’s best defense to keep rolling in Week 5.
- Slippery Rock: The Rock is scoring points aplenty, so essentially, The Rock is being The Rock. A huge matchup against top-25 Indiana (PA) awaits this week.
- UIndy: The Greyhounds have yet to play a close game as this offense looks very good. They begin GLVC play this week against Missouri S&T and look to set the tone right off the bat.
Week 4 box score stuffers: The DII football five stars
Delta State has been a Power 10 team for the past two seasons, and it is in large part thanks to its dual-threat quarterback. With yet another stellar performance, Patrick Shegog is the Week 4 NCAA.com player of the week (stats listed below).
- Week 1: Braden Gleason, Emporia State
- Week 2: Zach Zebrowski, Central Missouri
- Week 3: Jordan Terrell, Barton
- Week 4: Patrick Shegog
Each week, I’ll pick five stars of the week for the passing, rushing and receiving performances that stood out. This week, there is an extra running back due to some sensational performances.
|Nick Bohn||Wayne State (Neb)||QB||378 pass, 5 TD|
|Demilon Brown||Arkansas-Monticello||QB||247 pass, 154 rush, 3 total TD|
|Dawson Herl||Central Oklahoma||QB||363 pass, 37 rush, 3 total TD|
|Patrick Shegog||Delta State||QB||218 pass, 138 rush, 7 total TD|
|Zach Zebrowski||Central Missouri||QB||369 pass, 25 rush, 5 TD|
|Shen Butler Lawson Jr.||Minnesota State||RB||199 rush, 2 TD|
|Blake Delacruz||Harding||RB||179 rush, 3 TD|
|Kendel Givens||Ouachita Baptist||RB||171 rush, 20 receiving, 2 TD|
|Elijah Zeh||Eastern New Mexico||RB||194 rush, 19 receiving, 2 TD|
|Jariq Scales||Southern Arkansas||RB||151 rush, 3 TD|
|Tre Stewart||Limestone||RB||104 rush, 85 receiving, 3 total TD|
|Keenan Brown||Colorado Mesa||WR||152 receiving, 1 TD|
|Alonzo Derrick||UIndy||WR||162 receiving, 2 TD|
|John Jiles||West Florida||WR||175 receiving, 2 TD|
|Jadon Johnson||Wayne State (Neb)||WR||153 receiving, 2 TD|
|Jaylen Varner||Emporia State||WR||147 receiving, 3 TD|