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CSN So South: Teams Get Their Kicks in Exciting Day of So South Games
By Myron Hosea, CSN So South Columnist
Saturday’s games around the So South region provided evidence of why the kicking game ranks as one of the big three influencers on the outcomes of games. Five So South contests produced competitive finishes – 13-point margins or less – and placekickers had significant roles in the results. The kicking game directly influenced the finish of two.
Allow me to present the evidence:
+ In Charleston, Appalachian State got a 29-yard field goal from Jason Vitaris in overtime to beat The Citadel. His kick came after the Bulldogs missed a field goal attempt in the OT and after the Mountaineers blocked a field goal at the end of regulation to keep the game tied.
+ Field goals represented the only points for the majority of the Elon-Furman game in Greenville. After Elon scored a touchdown, Furman reached the end zone for a 12-10 lead. A bad snap and hold, however, kept Furman from kicking an extra point for a three-point lead. That left the door open for Elon’s Adam Shreiner to kick a 37-yard field goal with two seconds to go.
+ Patrick Hall’s two fourth-quarter touchdowns brought Gardner-Webb from behind, but Bulldogs kicker Ryan Gates hit two field goals earlier in the day, helping them to a 27-23 triumph at VMI.
+ Georgia Southern’s Adrian Mora booted his career-long field goal – twice – at Wofford. His 48- and 50-yard field goals aided the Eagles in defeating the Terriers 26-21.
+ Samford’s Cameron Yaw kicked a field goal in each of the final three quarters to give the Bulldogs some breathing space in a 16-3 home victory over Western Carolina.
More competitive games remain on the schedules of the Southern and Big South Conferences. Clearly, we’ll see some combination of kickers, punters, snappers and holders play key roles in the finish of several games.
Spotlight of the Week
Elon wide receiver Terrell Hudgins set a record while catching 16 passes against Furman. He snared the career receptions record – he has 331 – for NCAA Division I football. Hudgins moved closer to another big career receiving record. His 209 receiving yards Saturday narrowed the gap between him and the FCS career receiving yardage record – held by Jerry Rice – to just 327 yards. “As far as the record goes,” Hudgins said after the game, “it’s an honor. I thank my teammates for it. And it’s good to get a win.”
Players of the Week
Big South: Offense – Gardner-Webb quarterback Stan Doolittle; Defense – Gardner-Webb defensive back Darren Rogers; Special Teams – Stony Brook placekicker Wesley Skiffington and VMI’s Tim Maypray; Freshman – Gardner-Webb defensive tackle Matthew Goods
Southern: Offense – Elon wide receiver Terrell Hudgins; Defense – Furman linebacker Kadarron Anderson; Special Teams – Georgia Southern placekicker Adrian Mora; Freshman – The Citadel runningback Van Dyke Jones
Oct. 3 Review
This past weekend, I had the opportunity to experience something of a doubleheader. After covering the Georgia Southern-Wofford game in Spartanburg, I had time to drive to Greenville and see the final period of the Elon-Furman game. From a scoreboard standpoint, that’s when most of the action occurred. Let’s get into the review of the Oct. 3 action:
#12 Elon 19, Furman 12
After 55 minutes of game action, two of the best offenses in FCS had generated a meager nine points, and the home-standing Furman Paladins had nationally ranked Elon on the brink of an upset with a 6-3 lead over the Phoenix.
Then the scoreboard operator received a workout.
The Phoenix went on an eight-play, 69-yard drive for the game’s first touchdown and its first lead since Adam Shreiner’s 24-yard field goal late in the opening quarter. Elon’s record-setting wide receiver, senior Terrell Hudgins, stepped up on the series, catching four passes from quarterback Scott Riddle. The third pass was vintage Hudgins, catching the deep ball before getting stopped at the Furman two. Two plays later, Riddle went high and in the back corner, a perfect spot for Hudgins to make the touchdown grab. With Shreiner’s kick, Elon led 10-6 with 4:03 to go.
Furman didn’t go away, however, even after beginning the ensuing possession with a false start penalty. The Paladins would move 73 yards in seven plays to regain the lead. On third-and-15 at the Furman 22, quarterback Jordan Sorrells found Adam Mims for 16 yards to keep the drive going. He found Mims again for a short gain, but a face mask penalty pushed Furman forward to the Elon 41. On the next play, wide receiver Sedderick Cunningham made a great grab on a Sorrells pass at the Elon two. Tersoo Uhaa ran it in from the one a few plays later for a 12-10 Furman lead with 1:56 remaining.
Then things got really interesting.
The snap on the extra-point try came in low and went through Sorrells’ hands. Kicker Matthew Cesari attempted a pass, but it failed, opening the door for the Phoenix, who could now kick a field goal for the victory instead of a tie.
Riddle and runningback A. J. Harris hooked up on a 27-yard pass to spur a game-winning drive. After a timeout, Riddle ran for 1 4 yards, and then hit Sean Jeffcoat for nine more yards. Two plays and four timeouts later (Furman called two in a row to try to ice Shreiner), the Phoenix placekicker booted a 37-yarder for a 13-12 Elon lead with two seconds to go.
Furman tried some razzle-dazzle on the kickoff, but the third lateral got bounced into the end zone and recovered by Travis Greene for an Elon touchdown and the final score of 19-12.
After the game, Shreiner said he didn’t let a miss on a field-goal attempt earlier in the fourth quarter bother him. “The miss – I wasn’t even worried about,” he said. “I struck it really well. I looked up, and there were eight minutes left, and I knew that our offense was going to step it up. They hadn’t played well all day, and I knew the guys like Scott and T-Mobile were going to get out there and give me another chance. I was ready.”
Elon head coach Pete Lembo said the late-game drive resulted from lots of hard work the past few years. “The two-minute drive – that’s what football’s all about. We’ve got a more mature team now, more juniors and seniors playing. We’ve spent so much time working on those things and telling the kids we believe in them and th ey can make a play in those situations. To see all that come to fruition was really fulfilling.”
While its offense continues to generate numbers, the Phoenix defense is building its own reputation. “It’s all part of the evolution of the program,” Lembo said of the Phoenix defense. “We were here two years ago and lost a close game. All those kids were freshmen and sophomores, and now they’re juniors and seniors. We’re not perfect, but we’re playing hard, and they believe in what they’re doing. Last week, they came up with the plays at the end, and that’s how we beat Georgia Southern. This week, it was the offense coming up with the plays at the end.”
“We knew it was going to be a battle,” Furman head coach Bobby Lamb said. “We missed an opportunity there on the four-yard-line when we fumbled the pitch. A missed opportunity can hurt you in a game that was so tight.”
Still, Lamb said his team is still in the race. “This is only game five. There are a lot of games left. I told (the team) we’re going to have more Southern Conference games that come down to the wire like this. We’re in this thing. We’ve got to take our off week next week and=2 0get better and improve in some areas,” he said. “Once we do that, we’ve got to get ready for a great Samford team coming in here.”
Georgia Southern 26, Wofford 21
Georgia Southern had to work through a bit of role reversal at the end of Saturday’s SoCon showdown at Wofford.
A week earlier, two Elon turnovers in the fourth quarter had given the Eagles a shot at a big comeback. The Phoenix defense, though, turned them away both times.
Saturday, the Eagles needed their defense to shut off a golden opportunity for Wofford.
Leading 26-21 with less than two minutes to go, Georgia Southern prepared to pin Wofford deep in its territory. A bad snap led to a three-yard punt that Wofford’s Blake Wylie returned six yards for a Terrier first down at the Georgia Southern 42. Wofford’s Michael Scott ran for seven on first down, but a holding penalty wiped out a 10-yard pass completion.
That’s when things turned back to Georgia Southern. Wofford quarterback Mitch Allen fumbled on the pitch option, and after the ball bounced around a bit, Eagles linebacker Tavaris Williams recovered it to seal the triumph.
With the victory, Georgia Southern stays alive in the SoCon race with a 2-1 conference mark. Wofford, meanwhile, is in serious trouble with an 0-2 SoCon record heading into an off week and with Appalachian State, Elon and Furman among six remaining league games.
“We’ve put ourselves in a good position,” said Georgia Southern head coach Chris Hatcher of his team staying in the conference title chase. “I’ve said it all year long that this has been a really fun team to coach. They show up to work each and every week. They never really get too high and don’t really get down too much.”
Wofford head coach Mike Ayers said, “There are reasons you win and reasons you lose. We fought the whole way, and I thought our kids got better this week, but we didn’t win this week.”
Georgia Southern came out in an aggressive posture to start the game. Quarterback Lee Chapple came out with an accurate posture. He completed all 14 of his first-half pass attempts and pushed the streak to 17 before his first incompletion. Those 17 consecutive completions tied for sec ond-most in SoCon history.
“It felt great,” Chapple said. “Once you get in a rhythm with this offense it’s real easy. We got in a rhythm early, which helped us out a lot, and we ran the football really effectively.”
Behind Chapple, the Eagles went 78 yards on the game’s opening possession to take a 7-0 lead. Wide receiver Jamere Valentine struck the big blow on an end-around, rushing for 41 yards to the Wofford 29. Chapple then completed four passes, the last one covering 14 yards to Valentine for the touchdown.
Wofford started the second quarter with its trademark option offense. Mike Rucker took Allen’s pitch on the first play of the period and raced 65 yards to the Georgia Southern 18. He ran for nine on the next play, and two plays later, Allen hit Justice Joslin on a quick slant at the goal line for the touchdown.
The Eagles responded with a 40-yard drive that Adrian Mora capped with a 48-yard field goal, his career long at the time.
More vintage Wofford followed. The Terriers drove 76 yards on 16 plays over 7:59 to take temporary control of the game. Freshman halfback Alex Dunmire made back-to-back runs of 17 and 10 yards, the first on third and 10, to keep the drive rolling. Allen finished it with a three-yard touchdown run. Wofford led 14-10 at halftime.
Georgia Southern forced Wofford to punt following the second-half kickoff. Chapple and freshman runningback Darreion Robinson led the Eagles to a go-ahead score. Robinson ran for four, and Chapple followed with a pair of short completions. After a Robison run of 10 yards and a five-yard pass from Chapple to Patrick Baker, Robinson ripped off a 24-yard touchdown run. Georgia Southern led 17-14 with 11:07 left in the third.
The Eagles defense held Allen to four yards on fourth-and-five a few plays later, giving the ball back to the offense at the Georgia Southern 30. Following three first downs, Mora came on to make a new career long field goal of 50 yards and a 20-14 advantage.
Cornerback Darrell Pasco, who returned a fumble for a touchdown against Elon last week, made another big play by intercepting Allen and giving the Eagles the ball at the Terriers’ 23. Three plays later, Adam Urbano scored on a six-yard run, and Georgia Southern extended its lead to 26-14, though a try for two failed.
Wofford put together a fourth-quarter drive to cut the lead to its final margin of five points. Allen found wide receiver Brenton Bersin on a slant in for a 21-yard touchdown pass with 10:47 to go in the game.
“I thought today we got a little bit better, especially offensively,” Hatcher said. “Our defense, they continue to play exceptionally well and make big plays time and time again. Any time you go on the road in this conference and are able to win a game like we did today, it should do nothing but boost your confidence.”
“We have two weeks to get ready for one of the best teams in America, Appalachian State,” Ayers said with an eye on the second half of the season. “The kids are working really hard. The thing that I believe is that they will bounce back. It is not going to be easy, but that is part of life. If you get knocked down, you have to get back up.”
#10 Appalachian State 30, The Citadel 27, Overtime
The Citadel took Appalachian State past the brink Saturday before the Mountaineers sent the game into overtime and came out with a 30-27 triumph.
With 14,238 fans looking on, the teams swapped scores throughout the game until Appalachian State – which won the toss for overtime and chose to go second – captured the game on Jason Vitaris’s 29-yard field goal.
Appalachian State had to do a lot of things late in the day to leave Charleston with its second SoCon victory of the season. The Mountaineers, who did not get their first lead until the third quarter, turned to Armanti Edwards and wide receiver Brian Quick to catch The Citadel once last time. The two teamed up on a 74-yard touchdown pass with 4:28 to go in regulation. With the Vitaris extra point, the game was knotted at 27.
After the teams traded punts, The Citadel moved into position for Sam Keeler to try a 53-yard field goal, which the Mountaineers blocked. In overtime, the Bulldogs could not move the ball, and Keeler’s 37-yard field goal attempt went wide right after a bad snap. The Mountaineers ran the ball four times before Vitaris kicked the winning points.
The Citadel captured the early lead. Quarterback Bart Blanchard hit Alex Sellars for a four-yard touchdown pass at the end of a 70-yard drive. Early in the second quarter, Keeler booted a 50-yard field goal for a 10-0 Bulldogs’ lead.
Edwards scored the first of his two rushing touchdowns to get the Mountaineers on the board. This one covered 15 yards and came with three minutes left in the first half. The Bulldogs got another field goal from Keeler – 45 yards – for a 13-7 halftime lead.
Appalachian State scored twice in the fourth quarter to take the lead. Edwards ran it in from the one, and Vitaris booted a 44-yard field.
The Citadel recaptured the lead when Van Dyke Jones ran 69 yard for a touchdown early in the fourth quarter. Vitaris tied the game at 20 about four minutes later with a 30-yard field goal. Blanchard then hit Luke Caldwell for a 29-yard scoring pass to give the Bulldogs their last lead.
Gardner-Webb 27, VMI 23
Trailing by 10 points after three quarters, Gardner-Webb rallied behind a pair of Patrick Hall rushing touchdowns to beat VMI 27-23.
The teams alternated controlling quarters in the Big South opener for both. VMI took the opening period on a safety by Trae Watkins and on Tim Maypray’s six-ya rd rushing touchdown.
The Runnin’ Bulldogs came back to take the lead in the second quarter. Quarterback Stan Doolittle connected with James Perry III on a two-yard scoring pass. Placekicker Ryan Gates added the extra point and then hit a 36-yard field goal with 46 seconds left in the first half.
In the third quarter, momentum swung back to VMI. Keydets quarterback Kyle Hughes threw a 41-yard touchdown pass to Mario Scott for a 16-10 lead. Gates trimmed the VMI lead to six with a 44-yard field goal with 5:44 left in the third quarter. Just before the end of the third, however, Maypray returned a punt 86 yards for a touchdown, and VMI earned its 10-point lead going into the final quarter.
That’s when Hall made his mark. His first score came from the one-yard line with 11:09 to go in the game. Gardner-Webb’s defense – No. 1 in the league against the run – got the ball back for the offense. Defensive tackle Matt Goods recovered a fumble at the VMI 24, which led to Hall’s game-winning touchdown run of three yards with 8:33 remaining in the contest.
The Keydets would have two more shots, however. Bulldogs safety Darren Rogers stopped the first one with an interception at the Gardner-Webb two. The Bulldogs moved the ball to midfield, but a blocked punt gave VMI the ball at the Bulldogs 32 with 1:03 left. VMI converted on fourth down a few plays later and found itself at the Bulldogs’ nine with 38 second remaining. The Keydets, however, could not crack the goal line in four plays as Gardner-Webb held on.
Samford 16, Western Carolina 3
Samford’s defense held Western Carolina in check throughout and had enough offense to defeat the Catamounts 16-3.
The Bulldogs evened their SoCon record at 1-1 with the triumph. Placekicker Cameron Yaw booted three field goals for the last three scores of the game. The first two came at the end of long drives. One was 13 plays for 51 yards and the other 15 for 70. Yaw’s field goals covered 35, 27 and 47 yards.
After a scoreless first quarter, Samford’s defense helped get the Bulldogs on the scoreboard when Bryce Smith intercepted a pass at the Western Carolina 25. Runningback Chris Evans carried four straight times, the last one going two yards for the touchdown.
The Catamounts came back for their only points with a 12-play, 2038-yard drive, culminated by Blake Bostic’s 44-yard field goal.
Samford’s defense allowed Western Carolina only 48 yards rushing and 115 passing. The Bulldogs recorded two interceptions and a fumble recovery.
Charleston Southern 47, Savannah State 10
A 19-point second quarter helped Charleston Southern roll to its second-straight victory, 47-10 over Savannah State.
The Bucs continued to dominate the young series with the Tigers, having now won all six contests by a combined 211 to 74.
Gerald Stevenson enabled Charleston Southern to take control early with first-quarter touchdown runs of seven and 17 yards. Quarterback A. J. Toscano threw touchdown passes of three yards to Anthony Chalmers and eight yards to Tyrese Harris. John Paglia added 23- and 47-yard field goals to left the Bucs to a 33-7 halftime lead.
Toscano completed 21 of 26 passes for 230 yards and wound up as the team’s leading rusher for the game with 78 yards.
Charleston Southern outgained Savannah State 528 to 266.
Stony Brook 52, Presbyterian College 14
Stony Brook got an opportunity to roll to victory and took it Saturday, scoring 32 unanswered points to defeat Presbyterian College 52-14 in the Big South opener for both schools. Unfortunately for PC, it was the first time a game against a Big South opponent would count in the league standings.
The Seawolves finally broke loose with a rushing attack but actually generated more yards through the air. Quarterback Michael Coulter threw for 321 yards on 16 of 26 passing. He tossed touchdown passes of 59 and 60 yards to Donald Porter. Coulter also ran for a touchdown.
The teams played to a tie in the first quarter. Conte Cuttino got Stony Brook on the board with a five-yard touchdown run with 11:59 to go in the period. PC runningback Trandon Dendy tied the game nine minutes later with a four-yard run.
Stony Brook opened up a two-score margin on Edwin Gowins’ 44-yard touchdown run followed by the first Coulter-to-Porter scoring pass. The Blue Hose blocked the second extra point try to make the score 20-7.
PC scored its last touchdown with 5:55 left in the first half. Brandon Miley hit Dendy for 13 yards and the score. The Seawolves added a Wesley Skiffington field goal 22 yards for a 23-14 halftime lead. Skiffington booted four field goals on the day and finished with 16 points. Both of those marks established school records.
In the third quarter, Stony Brook scored 12 points and added 17 more in the fourth. The last Seawolves’ score came on Cory Giddings 63-yard scoring return of an interception. PC’s last nine offensive possessions ended in three punts, four interceptions and two fumbles.
Liberty 45, West Virginia Wesleyan 7
The Flames took care of business against Division II foe West Virginia Wesleyan Saturday, rolling to a 45-7 victory.
Runningback Aldreakis Allen’s 112 yards rushing on 10 carries highlighted a 264-yard ground assault for the Flames, who ran their record to 3-2 heading into an off week. Allen scored on touchdown runs of seven and five yards while Mike Brown ran for touchdowns of 27 and two yards. B. J. Hayes (one yard) and Danny Broggin (13 yards) also had rushing touchdowns for Liberty.
West Virginia Wesleyan scored a touchdown on its first possession, tying the score at 7-7 early in the first quarter. Liberty outgained its opponent 514 to 301.
Not playing this week: Chattanooga, Coastal Carolina
Numbers from Week Two
+ Elon quarterback Scott Riddle completed 35 of 48 passes for 374 yards and a touchdown.
+ Though it never sacked Riddle, Furman’s defense held the high-powered Phoenix to 49 yards on the ground. Taking away the six points on the fumbled kickoff at the end of the game, the Paladins held Elon 20 points below its per-game average.
+ Georgia Southern wide receivers Mitch Williford and Jamere Valentine and runningback Adam Urbano caught the bulk of the pass completions versus Wofford with seven, six, and six receptions, respectively.
+ Wofford runningback Mike Rucker led the Terriers with 95 yards rushing on 10 carries against Georgia Southern.
+ Appalachian State quarterback Armanti Edwards completed 22 of 29 passes for 327 yards and a score and ran 10 times for 80 yards and a touchdown.
+ The Citadel ran for 214 yards20versus Appalachian State with Van Dyke Jones (81 yards), Miguel Starks (48) and Terrell Dallas (44) leading the way.
+ Gardner-Webb wide receiver James Perry III caught 11 passes for 139 yards and a touchdown.
+ VMI’s Tim Maypray generated 256 all-purpose yards against Gardner-Webb and scored two touchdowns.
+ Samford runningback Chris Evans rushed 26 times for 140 yards and a touchdown against Western Carolina.
+ Western Carolina defenders Chris Collins and Adrian McLeod record 10 solo tackles each in the Samford game.
+ Liberty’s Mike Brown generated big numbers again this week. He finished with 173 all-purpose yards, including 68 receiving and 73 yards on kickoff and punt returns.
+ Stony Brook showcased a trio of runners Saturday: Edwin Gowins rushed for 135 yards, Eddie Mateo for 92 and Conte Cuttino for 61. Gowins and Cuttino scored a touchdown apiece.
+ Wide receivers Sean Adegbola and Patrick McKoy accounted for half of PC’s 22 completions at Stony Brook with six and five catches, respectively.
+ Charleston Southern’s Gerald Stevenson rushed for 49 yards and two scores and caught eight passes for 91 yards.
Coming Up This Week
Saturday, Oct. 10
This Saturday features a trimmed schedule of just eight games, and five of them are first-time meetings of the opponents. Two schools – Gardner-Webb and Georgia Southern – play FBS teams while Stony Brook ventures to the Midwest.
The Citadel (2-2, 0-1) at Elon (4-1, 2-0), 1:30 p.m.
Series Record: The Citadel leads 6-2 (Last meeting: Elon won 27-23 in Charleston last year)
The Bulldogs took Elon to the wire last year – just at they did Appalachian State this past weekend. Expect another competitive SoCon game in this one. Elon has won both of its home games this season while The Citadel has lost its last five conference road games.
Stony Brook (2-3, 1-0) at North Dakota (2-2), 2 p.m.
Series Record: First meeting
North Dakota, fresh off a defeat of South Dakota, welcomes the Seawolves to the Midwest for a nonconference tilt. Stony Brook comes in from a big victory in its conference opener and is used to the tough nonconference encounter.
Chattanooga (3-1, 1-1) at Samford (3-2, 1-1), 3 p.m.
Series Record: Chattanooga leads 22-9-3 (Last meeting: Samford won at Chattanooga in 2008, 30-7)
The two schools on the western border of the Southern Conference square off in Birmingham in what should be a competitive contest. Chattanooga is playing improved football under its first-year head coach, and it will have to challenge one of the best defenses in the league. This game features two of the top runners in the SoCon – Chattanooga’s Bryan Fitzgerald and Samford’s Chris Evans.
Gardner-Webb (3-1, 1-0) at Buffalo (1-4), 3:30 p.m.
Series Record: First meeting
Gardner-Webb makes one of its longest trips ever to play football as it visits the University of Buffalo. The Bulls have slipped off the bowl-season pace of last year, but they will provide a stern test for the Bulldogs. Buffalo, particularly, might test Gardner-Webb’s pass defense as the Bulls throw for 260 yards a game while rushing for just 125.
Georgia Southern (3-2, 2-1) at North Carolina (3-2), 3:30 p.m.
Series Record: First Meeting
Georgia Southern will try to avoid being the second SoCon team devoured by the Tar Heels this season (UNC whipped The Citadel in week one). North Carolina has fallen on rocky cliffs recently, suffering two straight losses. The Eagles might find more people thinking basketball with the defending national champion Tar Heels about to start roundball practice.
North Carolina Central (0-5) at Appalachian State (2-2, 2-0), 3:30 p.m.
Series Record: First meeting
This intra-state game has all the marks of a get-well opportunity for Appalachian State. The Mountaineers have played four challenging games thus far and likely would welcome a breather to work out more kinks before the finishing grind of six SoCon games.
Presbyterian College (0-5, 0-1) at Old Dominion (3-2), 6 p.m.
Series Record: First meeting
Two of the newest teams to Division I meet in Virginia’s Tidewater area Saturday night. Of course, Old Dominion is just plain new to football, as the Monarchs are halfway into their inaugural season. PC would relish a victory here after its brutal opening half of the season and with five Big South games to close out the season.
VMI (1-3, 0-1) at Coastal Carolina (2-2, 0-0), 7 p.m.
Series Record: Coastal Carolina leads 4-2 (Last meeting: VMI upset the Chanticleers at home a year ago, 47-20)
Coastal Carolina’s season stumbled badly in Lexington last year when VMI broke its long Big South losing streak with a 27-point triumph. The Chanticleers won’t be surprised this time, but still must find a way to stop the Keydets’ ground game. The role of the running game stands as one of the keys to this game. VMI and Coastal Carolina rank one and two in the league in rushing offense while the Chanticleers are second against the run, the Keydets third.
Not playing this week: Charleston Southern (2-3, 0-0), Furman (3 -2, 2-1), Liberty (3-2, 0-0), Western Carolina (0-5, 0-3), Wofford (1-4, 0-2)
* * *
News and Notes
+ Elon’s victory at Furman was just its second at Paladin Stadium.
+ Liberty has rushed for a touchdown in 34 consecutive games.
+ Stony Brook has now won nine of its last 12 home games at LaValle Stadium and three in a row.