NAIA Game of the Week
No. 16 William Penn (Iowa) (0-0) at No. 9 Bethel (Tenn.) (0-0)
Saturday, August 31 | 12 p.m. CDT | Wildcat Stadium | McKenzie, Tenn.
Live Audio (Bethel) | Live Audio (William Penn)
• A pair of 2012 NAIA Football Championship Series (FCS) qualifiers face off to open the 2013 season, as No. 16 William Penn (Iowa) travels to No. 9 Bethel (Tenn.) on Saturday in the NAIA Football Game of the Week.
• William Penn owns a 1-1 all-time record in the series with both games coming in 2001. The Statesmen avenged a 17-16 loss in the inaugural meeting with a 48-3 thrashing of the Wildcats in the rematch.
• William Penn enters the year looking to continue the momentum of a 2012 season that saw the Statesmen claim a share of the Mid-States Football Association Midwest League (MSFAMW) title and snap a 37-year playoff drought by qualifying as the eighth and final at-large team.
• The Statesmen, who entered the playoffs searching for their first-ever victory, met then-defending national champion Saint Xavier (Ill.) in the first round. The Cougars ended William Penn’s season with a 31-0 shutout victory. Eventual NAIA Player of the Year Jimmy Coy had a strong day for Saint Xavier with 336 yards passing and two touchdowns.
• William Penn returns its top three rushers to an offense that ranked second in total rushing (3,630 yards) and third in rushing offense per game (302.5 yards per game). Senior quarterback Taylor Parsons headlines the trio. Parsons – a 2012 honorable mention All-MSFAMW award winner – paced the squad a year ago with 791 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns on 162 attempts. He eclipsed the 100-yard mark three times last season, including a season-best 124-yard effort against then-No. 10 St. Ambrose (Iowa). Fullbacks Evan Ressler and Shawn Davis make up the remainder of the group. Ressler was second on the team with 698 rushing yards and nine touchdowns a season ago, while Davis was third with 573 yards and four scores.
• The ground game was the primary focus of the Statesmen in 2012, accounting for 3,630 of their 4,338 yards of total offense – approximately 83.7 percent.
• Defensively, William Penn surrendered an average of 14.8 points, which was fifth in the NAIA, and 315.8 yards per game. The Statesmen held opponents to 14 points-or-less in 8-of-12 games. Junior linebacker Scott Adams, a second team All-MSFAMW selection, returns as the squad’s leading tackler with 90 stops (49 solo), including 3.5 tackles for loss last fall. In addition to Adams, senior defensive back Jacob Batterson, who was tied for the team lead in interceptions (4) and third in tackles (78), will be looked upon to play a key role.
• William Penn’s Todd Hafner is in his 10th year as the head football coach. He enters 2013 with a 61-40 career record, which ranks 14th amongst active NAIA coaches.
• Last season, Bethel won its fifth Mid-South Conference West Division title in the last eight seasons with a 6-0 mark in the league. The Wildcats finished 2012 with a 9-4 overall record.
• Bethel made an immediate splash in last year’s FCS by knocking off previously unbeaten and top-ranked Georgetown (Ky.), 45-44, in dramatic fashion. Trailing 44-39 with 30 seconds remaining, Wildcat kickoff return specialist Jahron Reynolds bolted 92 yards for Bethel’s third-straight non-offensive touchdown. Bethel’s two-point conversion attempt failed, however the defense held strong over the final 13.9 seconds. The upset marked the first time the top-ranked team in the final regular-season NAIA Football Coaches’ Top 25 Poll fell in the first round of the FCS, dating back to 1999.
• Bethel returns eight starters from 2012, including six on defense. Jocquel Skinner, who ranked 16th last year with a team-high five interceptions, highlights the returning defensive starters. Additionally, the Wildcats will lean on junior linebacker Anthony Debonis. Debonis was second on the team with 68 tackles a season ago, including a career-high 15 in Bethel’s regular season meeting with Georgetown on Sept. 29.
• As a unit, the Wildcats allowed an average of 28.5 points and 379.8 yards (178.4 rushing / 201.4 passing) of total offense.
• Offensively, the Wildcats showcased a balanced attack that averaged 213.1 rushing yards and 196.6 passing yards per game. Reynolds returns as the focal point for the offense in 2013. Last season, he paced the squad with 35 receptions, while ranking second on the team with 499 receiving yards. The first team all-conference selection also made a large impact on special teams, ranking amongst the top 15 nationally in kickoff return yards per attempt (33.5), total kickoff returns (872), total punt returns (253) and all purpose yards (1,635).
• Head coach Chris Elliott is entering his second year at the helm of the Bethel football program. After last season, Elliott was named the Mid-South Conference Western Division Coach of the Year.
• The NAIA Football Game of the Week is selected by the fans via the official NAIA Facebook page – Play NAIA. Game of the Week voting begins Monday evenings with the winner being announced Tuesday at 5 p.m. CDT. Click HERE to visit the Play NAIA Facebook page.
Note – Portions of this information was provided by the Bethel and William Penn Sports Information Departments.
This Week Around the Top 25
• This week (Aug. 26 – Sept. 1) features nine Top 25 teams in action in addition to the two programs featured in the NAIA Game of the Week. Those contests include
o Thursday – No. 19 Grand View (Iowa) at Drake University (Iowa)
o Thursday – No. 25 Cumberland (Ten.) at Tennessee Tech
o Saturday – RV Kentucky Christian at No. 2 Marian (Ind.)
o Saturday – Union (Ky.) at No. 8 Cumberlands (Ky.)
o Saturday – Menlo (Calif.) at No. 12 Carroll (Mont.)
o Saturday – RV Rocky Mountain (Mont.) at No. 14 Southern Oregon
o Saturday – Texas College at No. 21 Belhaven (Miss.)
o Saturday – No. 23 Langston (Okla.) at University of Northern Colorado
o Saturday – Briar Cliff (Iowa) at No. 24 Benedictine (Kan.)
• Top-ranked Morningside (Iowa) opens the season Sept. 7 against Valley City State (N.D.).
• No. 19 Grand View (Iowa) and No. 25 Cumberland (Tenn.), who both open the season Thursday, are the first ranked teams to begin play in 2013. The Vikings travel to NCAA Division I FCS Drake (Iowa), while Cumberland goes to NCAA Division I FCS Tennessee Tech.
• To view the complete 2013 NAIA Football Coaches’ Preseason Top 25 Poll, click here.
For the Record
• Rocky Mountain (Mont.) and Jamestown (N.D.) were the first college football teams to play a regular season game in 2013, as the two sides squared off August 23 at Connors Stadium in Miles City, Mont. Quarterback Bryce Baker tossed three touchdowns to rally the Battlin’ Bears to a 34-20 victory. Baker passed for 265 of Rocky Mountain’s 495 yards of total offense. He also rushed for one score.
• Three new programs will make their NAIA debut Saturday: Oklahoma Baptist, Reinhardt (Ga.) and Warner (Fla.). Oklahoma Baptist, who fields a football team for the first time since 1940, opens action against Southwestern (Kan.), while Warner travels to NCAA Division II Stetson, while Reinhardt goes to NCAA Division I FCS Mercer (Ga.).
• Future NAIA football programs are: College of Idaho (2014), Missouri Baptist (2014), Southeastern (Fla.) (2014) and Lyon (Ark.) (2015). Since 2008, the NAIA has added 16 varsity programs (portions of this information from the National Football Foundation).
• Morningside head coach Steve Ryan rests two wins away from becoming the 10th active NAIA coach to reach 100 wins. He enters the 2013 season with a 98-31 career mark. Ryan’s top-ranked Mustangs open the season Sept. 7 when they host Valley City State (N.D.).
• 2012 Team Offensive Leaders
o Scoring Offense per Game: Southern Oregon – 52.8 points per game
o Total Offense per Game: Southern Oregon – 642.0 yards per game
o Rushing Offense per Game: Tabor (Kan.) – 337.4 yards per game
o Passing Offense per Game: Southern Oregon – 448.8 yards per game
o Turnover Margin per Game: Tabor (Kan.) – 2.90 turnover margin per game
o First Downs per Game: Southern Oregon – 30.2 first downs per game
o Third Down Conversion: Southern Oregon – 52.0 percent (118-of-227)
o Fourth Down Conversion: Cumberland (Tenn.) – 71.4 percent (15-of-21)
• 2012 Team Defensive Leaders
o Scoring Defense per Game: Missouri Valley/Morningside (Iowa) – 13.2 points per game
o Total Defense per Game: Bacone (Okla.) – 243.2 yards per game
o Rushing Defense per Game: Nebraska Wesleyan – 64.0 yards per game
o Passing Defense per Game: MidAmerica Nazarene (Kan.) – 132.4 yards per game
o Sacks: Missouri Valley – 46.0 sacks
o Opponent Third Down Conversion: Georgetown (Ky.) – 25.7 percent (38-of-148)
o Opponent Fourth Down Conversion: Bacone (Okla.) – 16.7 percent (3-of-18)
• For a complete look at the 2012 NAIA statistical leaders, click here.
Looking Ahead to the National Championship
The 58th annual NAIA Football National Championship will take place at Barron Stadium in Rome, Ga., for the sixth-straight season. The 2013 championship will be contested Dec. 21 at 4:30 p.m. EDT. The NAIA Football Championship Series is scheduled for Nov. 23, 30 and Dec. 7 at campus sites.
NAIA Football National Championship Visitor Information – Click HERE