EWU’s Adams, Robert Morris’ Branch Are Freshman Honorees

Robert Morris CB Marcelis Branch

College Sports Journal

News Release


PHILADELPHIA, PA. — Quarterback Vernon Adams of Eastern Washington and cornerback Marcelis Branch of Robert Morris have been named as the College Sports Journal freshmen of the week for the fifth week of the Football Championship Subdivision season.


Adams, a 6-foot-tall, 180-pound redshirt freshman from Pasadena, CA., helped Eastern Washington complete an incredible comeback at home against Montana on Saturday night, throwing a pair of touchdown passes in the final two minutes, 19 seconds of the game to result in a 32-26 victory over the Grizzlies.


Making just his second start, Adams fired a 30-yard TD pass to Brandon Kaufman with 2:19 to play to bring the Eagles to within 26-24. After EWU recovered an onside kick, it took little more than a minute for Adams to get the Eagles into scoring range again.


His 20-yard TD toss to Ashton Clark with 53 seconds remaining lifted Eastern Washington to a six-point lead and the Eagles held on from there to win after Montana's own freshman quarterback Trent McKinney marched the Grizzlies back to the EWU 29 in an important Big Sky Conference showdown.


Taking over at midfield after the onside kick, Adams had his first pass broken up on that game-winning drive and then completed passes of 15 and 16 yards before firing his TD pass to Clark.


Adams also hit Kaufman for a 36-yard TD strike in the second quarter on a day where he hit on 25-of-41 passes for 353 yards and three TDs. In the fourth period alone, Adams was 13-of-21 for 171 yards.


He also used his legs to rush 10 times for 54 yards, including a 17-yard gain. For the afternoon, Adams finished with 407 yards of total offense, the best performance by a freshman quarterback this season in FCS.


Branch, a 5-11, 175-pound, freshman cornerback from Homestead, FL., turned in an incredible defensive performance in the Robert Morris 31-28 home win against previously unbeaten Lafayette in a non-conference game on Saturday night.


Making just his third college start, Branch forced a first-quarter fumble on Antwan Eddie that was recovered by Mike Neilson at the Lafayette five. Neilson ran in the recovery for the first score for the Colonials. 


Branch picked off a pass on a third-and-five situation in the second period from the Leopards' Andrew Shoop at the Robert Morris 40 to set up another touchdown that extended the Colonials' lead to 28-7.


On the ensuing kickoff, Branch tackled Ross Scheuerman after a 22-yard gain to prevent a big return. He had two tackles in kick coverage on the day.


With the score tied at 28 late in the fourth quarter and Lafayette facing a third-and-20 situation, Branch tackled receiver Rodney Gould 10 yards short of a first down to force a punt.


After getting the ball back, Robert Morris drove down the field for Greg Langer's winning field goal.


Branch finished with 15 tackles, with 12 solo stops and three assists in addition to his forced fumble and interception.


Other candidates considered included:


Josh Armstrong, Sacramento State, Defensive Back: Had four pass breakups and six tackles, with four solo stops, two assists and one sack for a five-yard loss in the Hornets' 54-31 victory at Idaho State on Saturday.


Nolan Bieck, Princeton, Kicker: Coming off a tough week in a one-point loss to Georgetown, Bieck rebounded to go 4-for-4 on field goals and 3-of-3 on extra points to help the Tigers to a 33-6 victory at Columbia on Saturday afternoon. Bieck hit on field goals of 34, 20, 29 and 24 yards on the way to finishing with 15 points as he earned Ivy League special teams player of the week honors. His first two field goals came at critical times as they answered scores from Columbia and allowed Princeton to reestablish 14-point leads.


Bryson Brindle, Presbyterian defensive end: Brindle had four tackles in a 28-13 non-conference win at Davidson, but three of them were second-half sacks for a total of 29 yards in losses. One of the sacks thwarted a Davidson drive at the PC 22-yard line and his final sack put an end to the Wildcats' comeback hopes on their final drive. Brindle, who was the Big South freshman of the week, ranks 10th nationally in sacks.


Zac Browning, Southern Utah, Linebacker: Had 15 more tackles, his third time with double figures this season, in a 24-17 loss at home to No. 4-ranked Montana State on Saturday. Browning came through with eight solo stops and seven assists as he registered his best game of the season. One of the tackles was a sack that resulted in a three-yard loss for a player who has 45 tackles in five games.


Anthony Gaffney, Princeton, Cornerback/Kick Returner: Had a 94-yard kickoff return for a touchdown on the opening kickoff to spark the Tigers to a 33-6 victory at Columbia on Saturday afternoon and intercepted two passes — the first two-inteception day for a Princeton player since 2007 — to lea the defensive effort. Gaffney, the Ivy League rookie of the week, is a part of a vastly improved secondary that is the only Division I program not to allow a passing touchdown yet this season. The Tigers allowed 2.4 TD passes per game in 2011.


Reese Hannon, Furman, Quarterback: Hit 13-of-21 passes for 230 yards and one touchdown in the Paladins' 45-24 victory over Western Carolina on Saturday. Hannon, who has made four starts in a row for Furman, ranks 12th nationally in passing efficiency.


Ryan Heaston, Missouri State, Running Back: Rushed 20 times for 148 yards and two touchdowns, averaging 7.4 yards per carry to keep the Bears close in a 17-7 Missouri Valley Football Conference loss to South Dakota State. It was the second straight 100-yard performance for the back, who had 126 yards against Southern Illinois.


Jacob Huesman, Tennessee-Chattanooga, Quarterback: Completed 11-of-14 passes for 86 yards and one touchdown and rushed 14 times for 80 yards to pile up 166 yards of total offense as the Mocs upset No. 5-ranked The Citadel 28-10 Saturday at home.


T.J. Lally, South Dakota State, Linebacker: Had 10 more tackles for his third consecutive game in double figures to help the Jackrabbits to a 17-7 victory at home against Missouri State on Saturday. Lally had nine solo stops and one assist and also forced a fumble.


Sean Price, Appalachian State, Wide Receiver: Had a school-record tying third 100-yard receiving performance in just his third college game, grabbing eight passes for 128 yards and two TDs, including a 69-yarder in the first quarter to put ASU ahead 14-0 in what eventually became a 55-14 win. Price, the Southern Conference freshman of the week, is the only Mountaineer player with three 100-yard performances. DaVon Fowlkes (2004), Brian Quick (2011) and Bob Agle (1968) are the only other Mountaineers with three consecutive 100-yard games and all did it as upperclassmen. He does not yet qualify for NCAA individual statistics, but Price would rank fifth in receiving yards (120.3 yards per game) and sixth receptions (8.7 per game).


Kalif Raymond, Holy Cross, Wide Receiver/Kick Returner: Had eight kickoff returns for 156 yards and two punt returns for 35 for a total of 191 all-purpose yards in a 52-3 loss at Harvard. Raymond had a long kickoff return of 42 yards and a long punt return of 35 yards.


Elandon Roberts, Morgan State, Linebacker: Had 14 tackles and one sack in a 21-18 win in a nationally-televised game at North Carolina A&T on Thursday night in MEAC play. Roberts managed 11 solo stops and three assists, while his ace resulted in a two-yard loss.


John Robertson, Villanova, Quarterback: Led the Wildcats to their fourth win in a row in four starts and the second straight on the road with a 35-14 decision at Maine in Colonial Athletic Association play. Robertson rushed 14 times for 79 yards and a touchdown from 10 yards out that broke the game open at 28-7 in the third quarter. He also hit 11-of-16 passes for 128 yards and touchdowns of 27 yards and 26 yards in the first quarter to give the Wildcats a 14-7 lead. He finished with 207 yards of total offense.


Ladarius Vanlier, Tennessee Tech, Running Back/Kick Returner: Had 11 kickoff returns for 237 yards and one touchdown and caught four passes for 24 yards to finish with 261 all-purpose yards in a 70-35 Ohio Valley Conference loss at Murray State. Vanlier took a second-quarter kickoff return 94 yards for a touchdown and his 237 yards of kickoff returns in a game is a single-game high this season in FCS.


Luke Rhodes, William and Mary, Linebacker: Had a team-high eight tackles, with five solo stops, three assists and a pass breakup in the Tribe's 35-3 win over Georgia State. His play helped the Tribe hold the Panthers to 249 yards of total offense.


Jonathan Woodard, Central Arkansas, Defensive End: Had two forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries, returning one 72 yards for a fourth-quarter touchdown that pulled UCA within a touchdown with 4:29 remaining in a 42-37 loss at Stephen F. Austin. Woodard also had two tackles for loss, amounting in six lost yards and five total tackles, with three solo stops and two assists.