Great West conference near end in ’07

Chris Mangan

Chris Mangan

With two weeks left in the season, the Great West Football Conference’s title race is starting to heat up.

The Jackrabbits beat Central Arkansas 38-10 this past weekend to move above .500 for the first time all year. The Jacks (5-4, 2-0 GWFC) used a 70-yard touchdown pass from junior quarterback Ryan Berry to junior wide receiver Saunders Montague on the first play from scrimmage and three interceptions from senior defensive back Tyler Koch to propel themselves past the Bears. Senior running back Cory Koenig rushed for 204 yards and two touchdowns while Berry was an efficient 14-19 for 132 yards and two touchdowns.

The Jacks will face Southern Utah this weekend at Coughlin-Alumni Stadium with kickoff set for 1 p.m. Junior wide receiver JaRon Harris is listed as questionable with a lower leg injury. Southern Utah’s starting quarterback, Wes Marshall, is done for the year with a knee injury, but Cody Stone threw for 310 yards and two touchdowns last week against Cal-Poly. A victory by the Jacks would mean playing for the conference title next weekend against North Dakota State, but the Jacks are not overlooking Southern Utah.

“We focus on one thing every week, and that’s being 1-0 and 1-0 is not against the next opponent but against this opponent,” head coach John Stiegelmeier said.

The North Dakota State Bison (9-0, 2-0 GWFC) are undefeated on the year and have not lost since falling to the Minnesota Gophers last Oct. 21, a span of 13 games, and are currently ranked first in the Division I-AA coaches poll. The Bison’s balanced offensive attack is led by junior running back Tyler Roehl, who is averaging just over 156 yards per game and 18 rushing TDs on the year, and senior quarterback Steve Walker who is averaging just over 200 yards passing per game with 17 passing TDs on the year. The Bison travel to visit Cal-Poly this weekend before finishing up the season against the Jacks at CAS. The last time the Bison went on the road against Cal-Poly, they suffered the worst loss under current Head Coach Craig Bohl.

“We got took to the woodshed and that was a great job by Cal-Poly that night,” Bohl said about the loss to Cal-Poly two years ago. “I think we were on our heels, we didn’t react to things well as a coaching staff or players.”

Cal-Poly currently stands in third place in the conference with victories against UC-Davis and Southern Utah, with their lone loss coming at the hands of the Jacks three weeks ago. Cal-Poly (6-3, 2-1 GWFC) has won six of their last seven games, including a 28-21 win against Southern Utah this past weekend, heading into the contest against the Bison and are currently ranked 24th in the Division I-AA media poll. In their six wins this year the Mustangs are averaging 551.8 yards of total offense and 44.3 points. Junior quarterback Jonathon Dally has thrown for 1,584 yards and 21 touchdowns while throwing just one pick in the Mustangs six wins. Junior wide receiver Ramses Barden broke several school records, including touchdowns in a game (4), season (16) and career (30). Barden also has seven games this year where he went over 100 yards receiving. After the Bison come to town, the Mustangs will host Iona College to finish the season.

The UC-Davis Aggies have had a down year; this is the first year in 37 years where they have not had a winning season. The Aggies (4-6, 1-3 GWFC) lone win in the conference came against Southern Utah, a 41-21 victory. The Aggies beat Sacramento State this past weekend and will finish up their season against the University of San Diego on the 17th.

Southern Utah is currently in last place in the conference and will finish there no matter what they do against the Jacks because of the loss to UC-Davis. The T-Birds (0-9, 0-3 GWFC) have lost 16 straight games dating back to last year, including a 31-21 setback at the hands of the Jacks last year in Cedar City. The T-Birds have been in some close games this year, including a 23-22 setback to Youngstown State and the 28-21 defeat by Cal-Poly this past weekend. The T-Birds will finish up on the road against Northern Iowa after facing the Jacks.