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Numbers Never Lie: Special teams play the death or praise of teams

1:54 PM, Oct 21, 2012   |    comments
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Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Coaches always preach that in order to be successful a team, you must win all three phases of a football game.

Offense, defense and special teams. The last phase is often overlooked.

For a couple of teams in Week 8, the kicking game was the most important factor in getting a win or a loss.

Tennessee State suffered its first loss of the season in a 27-24 overtime defeat versus Jacksonville State. TSU place-kicker Jamin Godfrey missed two field goals, the first a 47-yard kick which would have won the game as time expired in regulation and the second a 42-yard field goal to end the first possession of overtime. The Gamecocks wound up winning the game on their own possession, with a Griffen Thomas 44-yard field goal spoiling the Tigers' perfect season.

Lehigh became the first team in the FCS to move to 8-0 in a 42-19 victory over struggling Bucknell. The Mountain Hawks blocked four total kicks - three punts and an extra point - to help pull away in the second half.

In the intriguing Missouri Valley Conference race, Southern Illinois picked up another impressive come-from-behind victory over Youngstown State. Even more impressive than forcing five Penguins turnovers was the fact SIU blocked a punt for a touchdown for the third straight game.

Richmond was on the fortunate side of the special teams' track with a 35-29 upset win over No. 2 James Madison. The Spiders improved to 5-3 overall, despite going just 2-of-5 on extra point attempts.

Needless to say, special teams play always seems to become an important factor for teams which make, or miss, the postseason.

With the FCS Top 25 getting shaken, stirred and mixed up in recent weeks, plenty of teams have the opportunity to make statements before the NCAA playoff committee decides on Nov. 18 which teams will receive a seed.

For all the promise in its teams, some things can never be ignored.

Whether it be scores, statistics or standout performances, the numbers never lie.

Here are some important figures from Week 8 of the 2012 FCS season that should not be overlooked:

Two teams remained undefeated on the season through Week 8, while three teams have yet to record a victory in 2012. Lehigh is the only team in the FCS with an 8-0 record and Cal Poly is the only team in the FCS with a 7-0 record. The three teams without a win in 2012 are Rhode Island, Austin Peay and Valparaiso. On the other hand, Savannah State ended an FCS-worst 13-game losing streak by defeating Edward Waters, 42-35.

North Dakota quarterback Braden Hans0n and wide receiver Greg Hardin both set new school and Big Sky Conference records in a dramatic 40-34 victory over Montana. Hansen threw for 660 yards and five touchdowns (the second-highest FCS single-game performance of 2012). Hardin finished with 12 receptions for 333 yards and three touchdowns, while it was his third three-touchdown game of the season. The biggest play of the game for both players came with 12 seconds left in regulation as Hansen found Hardin for 32 yards to seal the victory.

Southern Illinois has now won three straight games, while moving into a first- place tie atop the Missouri Valley Conference with a 4-1 record The Salukis forced five turnovers and scored 28 unanswered points to defeat Youngstown State, 38-21. It was also the third time in the last three games which SIU has blocked a punt for a touchdown, setting a new conference record along the way.

Every team ranked in the Top 10 came away with victories in Week 8 except No. 2 James Madison. Seven other Top 25 teams also suffered losses. They were, No. 11 Illinois State, No. 13 Appalachian State, No. 15 Youngstown State, No. 17 Tennessee State, No. 18 Towson, No. 20 South Dakota State and No. 22 Harvard.

In Duquesne's 35-3 victory over Sacred Heart, linebacker Dorian Bell helped the Dukes limit SHU to just 215 total yards. The junior finished with 14 tackles, four sacks, five tackles for loss, one forced fumble and he had an interception.

Jackson State defeated Mississippi Valley State, 14-7, in double overtime and the Tigers limited the Delta Devils to an impressive negative 23 rushing yards on 29 attempts. It was the second-best rush defense total in the 2012 season. It was also the 18th straight win for JSU in the series.

In Princeton's 39-34 upset victory over Harvard, the Tigers scored 29 unanswered points with less than 12 minutes remaining to stun the previously unbeaten Crimson. It was the first victory over Harvard since 2006, which is also the last year that Princeton won the Ivy League title. The Tigers entered the contest having thrown just three touchdown passes on the season, but threw four passing touchdowns alone in the final quarter. Princeton was outgained 634-419 in total offensive yards, but it snapped a 14-game Harvard winning streak - all of which had come by double-digit totals.

Colgate's dangerous "Double-Mac Attack" due of quarterback Gavin McCarney and running back Jordan McCord have now accounted for 26 total touchdowns through the team's first seven games. In a 57-36 win over Georgetown Saturday, McCarney threw for 377 yards and three touchdowns, while rushing for 133 yards and two touchdowns. McCord rushed for 154 yards and two touchdowns.

Currently, through Week 8 of the 2012 season, four teams which are ranked in the FCS Top 25 are also ranked in the Top 10 for total defense in the FCS. They are North Dakota State (185 yards per game), Georgia Southern (274 yards per game), Indiana State (289 yards per game) and Montana State (300 yards per game). The six other teams ranked in the Top 10 for total defense have a combined record of 21-21.

In Idaho State's 52-14 loss at Northern Colorado, the Bengals gave up 537 total yards. Northern Colorado quarterback Seth Lobato threw for 243 yards and a career-high five touchdowns, while running back Tromaine Dennis rushed for a career-high 178 yards and two scores. Dennis set the school's Division I single-game rushing record. Idaho State has not won a road contest since 2006 and the Bengals rank last in the FCS in allowing 554 yards per game, and have given up 48 total touchdowns on the season.

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