The big boys of the Big South did all they were supposed to do as the race for the conference championship prepares to shift into high gear.
Campbell seemingly pulled a rabbit out of the hat, not once, not twice, but three times on the way to a triple-overtime win over Gardner-Webb to remain perfect in league play, while co-leader Monmouth kept pace behind a record-setting performance from quarterback Kenji Behar. Kennesaw State, which entered the weekend with a No. 4 national ranking, has a chance to move up in the polls after knocking off North Alabama on Saturday. Whether or not that was impressive enough for the pollsters to move the Owls of No. 3 South Dakota State, remains to be seen after the Jackrabbits battled tough before succumbing to rival and top-ranked North Dakota State on Saturday.
Hampton and Presbyterian both had non-conference games over the weekend. Hampton prevailed, while PC remained winless on the season.
The upcoming Big South Conference schedule features Monmouth at Kennesaw State on Saturday. The Owls are 2-0 in BSC action and are one-half game behind the Camels and Hawks for the top spot in the league. Campbell plays at North Alabama on Saturday. That game does not count in the league standings.
Marquee: Drama Rules the Day for Camels
Cliches abound in the sports world. Campbell University just might have created a few more that may soon become part of sports lexicon.
The Camels scored twice in the 1:55 of regulation and went on to defeat Gardner-Webb 49-47 in triple overtime on Saturday. It was the sixth straight win for Campbell, a new school record.
Greg Streater blocked a Gardner-Webb punt and teammate Alex Santiago secured the loose ball before scampering 41 yards up the sideline for the score as time expired in regular. Colin Gary’s conversion kick tied the game at 27-27 and forced the first extra session.
Caleb Snead, Hajj-Malik Williams and Johnathan Hawkins all scored TDs in overtime for Campbell.
Snead caught a pass from Williams over the middle on the first play of overtime to give the Camels the lead. It was the second score in seven seconds of action for Campbell.
G-W responded on back-to-back scoring drives to regain the lead. Kalen Whitlow hooked up with Chuma Awanna for both scores to put the Bulldogs in front 41-34.
Rally again? Sure, why not?
Williams scampered 22 yards before Hawkins scored from three yards out to put Campbell back in front. Williams ran in the conversion and the Camels were in front 49-41 and putting the pressure on the Gardner-Webb offense to respond.
Too little to complete the task.
Jayln Cagle scored on a one-yard run, but a conversion pass to tie the game fell short to seal the win for the Camels.
Campbell had clawed back into the contest when Jalen Kelsey caught an eight-yard pass from Williams with 1:55 remaining in regulation.
The ensuing onside kick was recovered by G-W, but the Bulldogs were forced to punt the ball back to the Camels just before the final buzzer and setting the stage for Streater and Santiago to shine.
Williams completed 22-of-36 passes on the afternoon for 208 yards and a pair of scores. He added 100 yards rushing in the contest. Hawkins led the way on the ground with 105 yards and what proved to be the decisive touchdowns for the Camels.
Snead finished with four receptions for 104 yards and a touchdown. Teammate Davarius Bargnare caught nine passes in the game for 38 yards. His nine receptions was just one off the school record.
Cagle paced the Bulldogs with 103 yards rushing and added 39 yards through the air. Whitlow finished with 131 yards after completing 15-of-20 passes on the afternoon.
Bahar Sets Mark as Hawks Roll Past Bucs
Monmouth got a big day from quarterback Kenji Bahar as the Hawks remained perfect in conference action with a 35-13 road win at Charleston Southern on Saturday.
Bahar, a senior, completed 15-of-27 passes for 194 yards and three touchdowns. He now has 8,000 passing yards in his career at the school, a new top mark in the Hawks’ record book. His three scoring passes increases his total to 56 at the school, just two shy of tying Brian Boland atop the charts in that department.
Bahar completed scoring passes to Terrance Greene and two scoring strikes to Shawn Clark in the game. Pete Guerriero rushed for 221 yards for the Hawks. It was the fifth time he has rushed for at least 100 yards this season.
League-Leading Owls Impressive
The few times Kennesaw State went to the air against North Alabama was largely for show. After all, the Owls were dominating on the ground throughout the day on the way to a 41-17 win over the Lions on Saturday. The win improved No. 4 KSU to 7-1 on the season.
Kennesaw State attempted just four passes on the afternoon and completed none of them. It was the first time in school history KSU failed to complete a pass in a game. The Owls really didn’t need to against the Lions.
The Owls amassed 492 yards rushing on the day, including 316 in the first half, and were never seriously challenged by UNA, which is transitioning to FCS football and not eligible for the Big South title until 2022.
Daniel David, Johnathan Murphy and Kevin Ficklin combined to rush for 289 yards for the Owls. David led the way with 11 yards and three touchdowns. It was the fourth multi-rushing touchdown game of the season for David. Murphy, a freshman, and Ficklin, meanwhile, added 98 and 80 yards, respectively, for KSU. Ficklin rushed for two touchdowns and Murphy added one of his own on Saturday on the wet turf at Fifth Third Bank Stadium.
Blake Dever, a junior, got his first start of the season at quarterback for UNA and finished with 261 yards after completing 23 passes on the day. The Lions managed just 57 yards on the ground.
Francois Keys Hampton Past Dragons
Deondre Francois threw for 135 yards and passed for 62 more while accounting for four touchdowns as Hampton secured an impressive 56-6 non-conference win over visiting Virginia-Lynchburg on Saturday. It was homecoming for the winning Pirates.
Hampton scored 17 points in the first quarter and extended its lead to 29-0 in the second period before the visiting Dragons managed to get on the board. The Pirates held a 35-6 lead at the intermission.
Hampton’s defense forced four turnovers in the game to thwart whatever comeback hopes the Dragons had.
Francois, a graduate transfer from Florida State, completed 16-of-23 passes and tossed for three touchdowns. He carried six times and another score. Teammates Jadakis Bonds and Ronald Bell combined for 11 receptions on the day. Bonds hauled in five passes, including one for his 10th touchdown of the season and finished with 56 yards, while Bell caught a team-high six passes for 43 yards.
Shai McKenzie paced the Pirates with 104 yards on 21 carries and two TDS
McKenzie ran 21 times for 104 yards and two touchdowns to lead a ground attack that gained 222 yards. Francois was 16-of-23 for 135 yards and three touchdown passes, while gaining 62 yards on six carries with one score.
Blue Hose Close, But No Cigar Against Merrimack
Presbyterian College went toe-to-toe with Merrimack College. But, in the end PC simply didn’t have enough in the tank as the Warriors secured a 24-21 win in non-conference action at home in North Andover, Mass.
PC remains winless on the season with the loss. The Blue Hose fell to 0-8 on the year.
Sophomore Jarius Jeter scored on a 70-yard touchdown run to give the Blue Hose the early lead. He finished with 118 yards and became just the seventh player in school history to reach 1,000 rushing yards in a career. Freshman QB Tyler Huff had a career day for the Blue Hose. He threw for 244 yards on 17 completions and a pair of touchdowns. He also tallied a career-high 56 yards rushing on the day. Dohnte Meyers paced the Blue Hose with 86 yards rushing on the afternoon and one score.
The PC defense was led by Colby Campbell, who had 12 tackles to give him his sixth game this season with double digit stops and the second in as many outings. He also surpassed the 200-tackle plateau for his career.
A native of Bismarck, N.D., Ray is a graduate of North Dakota State University where he began studying athletic training and served as a student trainer for several Bison teams including swimming, wrestling and baseball and was a trainer at the 1979 NCAA national track and field championship meet at the University of Illinois. Ray later worked in the sports information office at NDSU. Following his graduation from NDSU he spent five years in the sports information office at Missouri Western State University and one year in the sports information at Georgia Tech. He has nearly 40 years of writing experience as a sports editor at several newspapers and has received numerous awards for his writing over the years. A noted sports historian, Ray is currently an assistant editor at Amateur Wrestling News.