GAMEDAY CENTRAL: NGU wraps up 2018 with trip to North Alabama

GAMEDAY CENTRAL: NGU wraps up 2018 with trip to North Alabama
Thursday, November 8, 2018
GAMEDAY CENTRAL: NGU wraps up 2018 with trip to North Alabama

Tigerville, S.C. – North Greenville football will strap it up one more time this season as the team travels to Florence, Alabama to take the Lions of North Alabama in the 2018 season finale.

A Look Back: North Greenville downed by Florida Tech

The Panthers of Florida Tech have had NGU’s number in recent meetings including this season’s contest, one the Crusaders must flush quickly. North Greenville struggled out of the gates as the Panthers forced a pair of turnovers on NGU’s first two possessions. The first pair of turnovers yielded just six points for Tech though as North Greenville’s defense once again rose to the occasion, keeping the Panthers out of the end zone despite two drives starting well inside of NGU territory.

The wheels quickly started shaking midway through the first quarter and eventually fell off. North Greenville’s offense was unable to establish any momentum. NGU’s third drive of the game ended in a punt while two more interceptions and one more punt ended in a 30 – point first half for the Panthers. 13 of the 30 points in the first two periods were a result of North Greenville turnovers.

The second half was much more manageable for NGU’s defense as it held the Panthers to just one touchdown which came in the final seconds of the third quarter. NGU defenders forced a pair of FIT punts in the opening two drives of the third but North Greenville’s offense was unable to capitalize on the extra opportunities.

The Crusaders scored with 9:34 remaining on the third-period clock when EJ Humphrey scampered in from a yard out which made it 30 – 7. The score came off of the only FIT turnover of the game, a blocked field goal which gave NGU the ball at the Florida Tech 41 yard line. Tech responded with its final score with eight seconds left, capitalizing on another NGU turnover to make it 37 – 7.

Full Recap: Slow start, turnovers plague Crusaders in loss to Florida Tech

A Look Back: North Alabama

The Lions made quick work of Shorter University last weekend, scoring at least 10 – points in three of the game’s four quarters. The Lions scored 14 – points in the first and second frames while holding the Hawks scoreless in the process. Christian Lopez hit Jakobi Byrd from 24 – yards out while finding Cartez Hall from 11 on a pair of throws to make it 14 – 0 while one more passing TD and a rushing score fro CJ Sturdivant extended the lead to 28 – points.

The Lions went up 31 – 0 with a field goal midway through the third quarter before the Hawks finally found paydirt to cut the lead to 24 – points on a long 56 – yard burst from Tupac Lanier. Lopez added a touchdown run to answer the Shorter touchdown to make it 38 – 7 with 3:42 left.

The Lions added one more field goal early in the fourth quarter while Shorter scored once more with the fourth quarter clock ticking down as North Alabama improved to 6 – 3 on the season.

Full Recap: Lions Rout Shorter

QUICK FACTS: NORTH GREENVILLE VS. NORTH ALABAMA

The Series: NGU Trails 3 – 0

  • NGU and UNA are no strangers to each other having played each other in a series that dates back to the 2008 football season. North Greenville and the Lions will renew the series this week, having met for the fourth time on the playing field. North Greenville currently trails in the series as UNA leads 3 – 0 including a pair of regular season losses and a loss in the quarterfinals of the 2016 playoffs.
  • North Alabama Season Statistics  North Greenville Season Statistics

Movin’ on Up:

  • When North Greenville signed on the dotted line to be a member of the Gulf South Conference, it was thought that North Alabama would be one of the nine conference games the Crusaders would prepare for each year.
  • North Alabama had a different idea of the future for its athletic squads though as the school eventually made the leap to Division I following the 2016 season.
  • The Lions made the leap after football’s trip to the national championship, accepting an invite to play in the Atlantic Sun Conference.

Opponents in the National rankings

Team Record AFCA D-II Football
West Georgia 10-0 3 3
Valdosta 9-0 5 7
Lenoir-Rhyne 9-1 17 23

 COMPLETE RANKINGS:  Coaches Poll  D2football.com Poll

Opponents in the Regional Rankings

If there was any doubt that NGU’s 2018 schedule was going to be a tough road to haul, the first three regional rankings should erase any of that doubt.

The Super Region Two rankings rank the top 10 – teams around the southeast, seven of which earn a spot in the NCAA Division II Playoffs.

Of those top seven teams, North Greenville played five, including the top three teams in (1) West Georgia, (2) Valdosta State, and (3) Lenoir-Rhyne.

North Greenville also played and defeated the fifth-ranked West Alabama Tigers and fell last weekend the sixth-ranked Florida Tech Panthers.

CLICK HERE  for the complete regional rankings.

BY THE NUMBERS

NGU in the NCAA Statistics

  • North Greenville’s special teams have been solid all season, especially when it comes to blocking kicks. The Crusaders rank fifth in all of Division II football this season with seven deflections so far.
  • North Greenville also ranks fifth in the nation in blocked punts with three.
  • NGU’s kick return defense has also been stellar this season as the Crusaders are allowing just 20.2 yards per return on kickoffs and just 8.8 yards on average for punts.
  • North Greenville’s defense has undoubtedly been the cornerstone of the team this year, especially on third down. The Crusaders are currently ranked 22nd in D-II on third down defense, allowing opponents to convert just 30 – percent of the time.
  • Individually, Aaron Watson leads the Gulf South Conference and is tied for 12th in D-II football with five INT’s on the season.

NGU in the Gulf South Statistics

  • North Greenville players are on the or near the top of several statistical categories in the Gulf South Conference.
  • Matt Gravely is tied for first in the league with one more punter for the season’s longest boot, booming a 76 – yard kick against Tusculum in the first game of the season.
  • As mentioned above, Aaron Watson is first in the league with one weekend to go in the regular season with five interceptions on the season.
  • Zeke Stringer’s coming out party last week ranks him tops in the conference with most tackles for loss in a single contest with five. Three of those five TFL’s were quarterback sacks which ranks him second in the league for most sacks in a game.
  • Offensively, Will Hunter owns two of the top passing performances of the season including his 396 – yard performance against Valdosta State which is tops in the conference and a 350 yard showing versus Shorter which is ranked sixth. Hunter also tossed for 324 – yards against Lenoir-Rhyne in week two.
  • Hunter also has the second most completions in a game this season with 29 connections against Lenoir-Rhyne and 26.against Valdosta which was good enough for seventh.
  • Kyle Belack is the owner of the fourth-longest reception of the season, a 75 – yarder against Shorter University back in October.
  • Adrian McGee is one of five players in the league with a punt return for a touchdown.

GULF SOUTH RANKINGS

TEAM WINS LOSSES PERCENTAGE OVERALL PERCENTAGE
Valdosta State 7 0 1.000 9 - 0 1.000
West Georgia 7 0 1.000 10 - 0 1.000
Florida Tech 4 3 .571 7 - 3 .700
West Alabama 4 3 .750 7 - 3 .700
West Florida 4 3 .571 6 - 4 .600
North Greenville 3 4 .429 4 - 5 .444
Mississippi College 1 5 .167 3 - 6 .333
Delta State 1 6 .167 1 - 8 .111
Shorter University 0 7 .000 0 - 10 .000

Those unable to make it to Florence this weekend can, of course, catch the action online. A live broadcast, live statistics, and twitter handles are provided below. The game is scheduled for a 1:30 central time (2:30 EST) kickoff in Florence Alabama. 

Lion Vision (Live Video)  WBCF (Live Audio)  Live Statistics  @Crusader_Sports (Twitter)