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The Pioneer Football League Report: Week 10
Photo courtesy Butler Athletics Media Relations
Photo courtesy Butler Athletics Media Relations

Thursday, November 2, 2023
by Cody Bush, PFL Media Relations

THIS WEEK'S PFL SCHEDULE

Drake at Marist, Noon
Broadcast: ESPN+
Location: Poughkeepsie, New York    Stadium: Tenney Stadium
Series: DRA leads, 8-2    Streak: MAR, two wins
Last Meeting: Marist def. Drake, 30-25 (2022)

San Diego at Presbyterian, 1 p.m.
Broadcast: ESPN+
Location: Clinton, South Carolina    Stadium: Bailey Memorial Stadium
Series: SAN leads, 3-0    Streak: SAN, three wins
Last Meeting: San Diego def. Presbyterian, 28-3 (2022)

Davidson at Stetson, 1 p.m.
Broadcast: ESPN+
Location: DeLand, Florida    Stadium: Spec Martin Memorial Stadium
Series: DAV leads, 7-6    Streak: DAV, four wins
Last Meeting: Davidson def. Stetson, 56-48 (2022)

Butler at Morehead State, 2 p.m.
Broadcast: ESPN+
Location: Morehead, Kentucky    Stadium: Jayne Stadium
Series: Morehead State leads, 18-9    Streak: BUT, one win
Last Meeting: Butler def. Morehead State, 56-20 (2022)

Dayton at Valparaiso, 2 p.m.
Broadcast: ESPN+
Location: Valparaiso, Indiana    Stadium: Brown Field
Series: DAY leads, 26-4    Streak: DAY, one win
Last Meeting: Dayton def. Valparaiso, 31-24 (2022)

PREVIEWING THIS WEEKEND'S ACTION

Drake at Marist: PFL co-leader Drake takes its eight-game PFL win streak on the road to meet a Marist side returning to Tenney Stadium seeking to defend its two-game home winning streak. The Bulldogs defense has been particularly stingy in PFL play, allowing only nine touchdowns and limiting opponents to a league low 14.2 points per game. Defensive lineman Finn Claypool, last season’s Freshman Defensive player of the Year has five sacks in PFL play. Marist’s offense ranks fourth with 25.7 points per game and is No. 2 in the league in time of possession (34:25) in league play. Amin Woods is one of two PFL running backs with 100 rushing attempts this season and his 497 rushing yards ranks sixth in the league.

San Diego at Presbyterian: Another cross-country trek awaits San Diego as it travels east to face Presbyterian. The Toreros third of four trips to the Eastern Time Zone – all in PFL play – follows a home victory against Morehead State. The Blue Hose return to Bailey Memorial Stadium seeking their first PFL home win after picking up the program’s first PFL win back on Oct. 14. San Diego boasts three receivers among the Top 10 in receiving yards per game, Ja’seem Reed leading that group with 96 yards per game. Presbyterian quarterback Tyler Wesley looks to build on last week’s outing that saw him post the second most rushing yards by an FCS quarterback this season, running for 198 yards and passing for another 189 yards at Davidson.

Davidson at Stetson: PFL co-leader Davidson makes a trip south, putting a six-game PFL win streak at risk when it faces Stetson. As has become their custom, the Wildcats lead the league in scoring offense at 45.2 points per game and are outscoring league opponents by 18 points per game. The Hatters enter the Week 10 affair facing their third straight team from the Top 3 in the standings, falling to St. Thomas and Drake the past two weeks. Davidson brings a potent one-two punch at running back into the contest with Mason Sheron and Mari Adams each averaging more than 100 rushing yards and combining for 18 touchdowns in league play – more touchdowns than 10 FPL teams have scored in PFL action. Stetson defensive back Rassie Littlejohn is one of three PFL defenders with three interceptions in PFL play and also one of three with a pick-six during conference play.

Butler at Morehead State: After back-to-back weeks that took it to Texas then California, Morehead State returns back to Kentucky for back-to-back home games, beginning this weekend when Butler makes its second straight road trip. The Eagles actually play in Jayne Stadium for the first time since Oct. 7 when they defeated Dayton before pouncing on Valparaiso the following week 24-21. The Bulldogs head east with the Hoosier Helmet in hand after defeating Valparaiso 17-7 last week. The game offers a matchup between the league’s top runner and its top passer. Morehead State quarterback Carter Cravens leads the league with 1,411 passing yards in league play as the only passer with 200 pass attempts. Meanwhile, Butler running back Jyran Mitchell has 805 rushing yards on 128 rush attempts in league action, amassing nearly 300 more passing yards than any other PFL running back.

Dayton at Valparaiso: Dayton and Valparaiso meet with each team seeking its first PFL victory of 2023. Both teams have seen their offenses battle through the PFL campaign, with neither offense averaging more than 300 yards per game and with both teams using three quarterbacks this season, they also are averaging less than 200 passing yards per game. The Flyers have leaned on running back Michael Neel who has 307 rushing yards on 82 carries during PFL play this season. The Beacons have seen Solomon Davis overcome his team’s uncertainty at quarterback to amass 401 yards on 26 receptions, ranking fourth in the PFL in receiving yards per game.

NOTES FROM AROUND THE PFL

MITCHELL PASSES 1,000 YARD MARK

Butler running back Jyran Mitchell became the first PFL running back to surpass 1,000 yards this season, finishing Week 9 with 1,088 rushing yards – second most in the FCS behind Monmouth’s Jaden Shirden and his 1,173 rushing yards. He leads the PFL rushing yardage race by 378 yards with one additional game played in relation to his chasers.

RUNNING BACK REVIVAL

Mitchell is one of five league running backs entering Week 10 ranked among the FCS Top 40 in rushing yards per game. Mitchell is ranked fifth in the FCS with 120.9 yards per game. San Diego’s Isaiah Williams moved up to 19th with 89.4 yards per game while Davidson’s Mari Adams (89.4 ypg) slipped to 19th among FCS rushers this week. They are joined by Davidson’s Mason Sheron (29th, 79.6 ypg) and Dayton’s Michael Neel (38th, 74.5 ypg).

YOU’RE IN GOOD HANDS WITH THESE PFL TEAMS

Davidson is one of the FCS’ toughest teams to get the ball away from, with the Wildcats committing just four turnovers to lead the FCS. Butler, Drake, and Morehead State have lost nine turnovers this season and are tied for 28th among FCS teams.

TOP OF TAKEAWAYS

Marist remains the league’s best at forcing turnovers, getting two more takeaways in Week 9 to enter this week’s action with 18 turnovers gained – fourth in the FCS. Stetson nabbed four turnovers in Week 9 and now is tied with San Diego with 15 turnovers gained in 2023, good for 19th in the FCS.

ZURAK, MIKKO BATTLE FOR TOP KICKER

Butler’s Luka Zurak has picked up right where he left off last season, making 14 of his 17 field goals this season – leading the FCS with those 14 makes. He is being challenged for that crown by Presbyterian freshman kicker Mack Mikko, who has converted 13 of his FCS-leading 18 attempts. Mikko moved ahead of Zurak in field goals made per game, his 1.62 average ranking fourth in the FCS while Zurak’s 1.56 rate is sixth in the subdivision.

WATCH THESE RETURN(ER)S

Marist’s Tristan Shannon and Valparaiso’s Jashon Butler are among the FCS kick return corps’ leaders in 2003. Shannon is No. 2 in the nation with 585 combined kick return yards this season while Butler is No. 3 nationally at 575 combined kick return yards. Butler’s 575 return yards are all on kickoff returns and he leads all FCS returners in kickoff return yardage and is fourth in kickoff return average.

FREE FOOTBALL ABOUNDS

PFL members have been involved in five of the FCS’ 24 overtime games in 2023. Presbyterian and Dayton became the latest to need extra time to determine a victor in Week 7. Drake, San Diego, Stetson, Marist, and Valparaiso also have played overtime outings in 2023. Road teams are 4-1 in the PFL’s five overtime games this season, including Presbyterian’s win at Dayton in the most recent outing. Stetson is lone home team to win an overtime game in the PFL this season, defeating St. Thomas on Sept. 2.

 

 

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