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CAA in the Second Round
As one of FCS Football’s premier conferences, CAA Football certainly has no shortage of news and notes from around the league. Here are some of the latest storylines coming out of the conference and Saturday’s matchups featuring New Hampshire and Old Dominion in Second Round postseason play.
CAA FOOTBALL IN THE PLAYOFFS
After Villanova earned CAA Football’s autobid in the final week of the regular season, New Hampshire and Old Dominion punched their postseason tickets by earning at-large berths.
The Monarchs were named the No. 4 seed in the playoffs and will remain at home through the Quarterfinal Round should they advance.
CAA Football has had multiple NCAA Postseason berths in each of the last 22 seasons.
15 CAA Football programs (including the Yankee Conference and Atlantic 10) have earned 83 postseason berths all-time dating back to 1978.
CAA Football has been represented in the NCAA Division I National Championship game in seven of the last nine seasons, with a league program winning two of the last four and four of the last nine national titles.
In 2007, CAA Football became the first league to ever garner five postseason berths in the NCAA Division I Football Championship field of 16. The league, which has three postseason berths this season, has accomplished the feat three times since 2007.
Over the last three seasons CAA Football teams are 21-13 in NCAA Division I Championship games when not facing nonconference opponents.
Over the last nine seasons, the league is 49-31 (.613) in playoff games, second only to the Southern Conference’s mark of 28-17 (.622) in terms of winning percentage.
CAA Football teams are 42-24 (.636) in playoff games over the last nine years when not facing league foes, representing the best nonconference playoff percentage by any automatic-bid conference.
The league is 4-5 in NCAA Second Round games since the round was added to the tournament scheme in 2010.
CAA Football holds a 10-9 playoff record versus the Southern Conference since 2003 and is 12-14 all-time against the SoCon in the postseason.
The league is 0-1 versus the Big South all-time in the postseason after Villanova fell to Stony Brook in last Saturday’s First Round of play.
COASTAL CAROLINA (8-4, 5-1 Big South) VS. (No. 4 seed) OLD DOMINION (10-1, 7-1)
Old Dominion’s matchup with Coastal Carolina is the first-ever meeting between the two teams and the first postseason meeting between a CAA Football team and the Chanticleers. CCU is 2-4 all-time against the league.
The Monarchs, who wrapped up the regular season with five straight wins, are 1-1 in the playoffs and are unbeaten at home in postseason play. The team’s loss came last year against Georgia Southern (55-48), which ODU would face if both teams win their respective Second Round games.
ODU leads the nation in total offense (538.3 yards) and ranks second in passing offense (382.0 yds) and scoring offense (44.5 points).
CAA Offensive Player of the Year Taylor Heinicke paces FCS Football with 378.0 passing yards per game, 4,158 passing yards, 412.27 total offensive yards per game, 24.18 points responsible per game and 35 touchdown passes.
With his 357 yards in the JMU win, Heinicke became just the 18th quarterback in FCS history to throw for 4,000 yards in a season and is currently 13th all-time with 4,158 yards in a season.
Junior PK Jarod Brown, senior DL Chris Burnette, senior P Jonathan Plisco and senior WR Nick Mayers all joined Heinicke on the All-CAA First Team. 10 total Monarchs earned all-conference honors in the program’s final year playing as part of CAA Football at the FCS level.
Senior LB Craig Wilkins ranks ninth on the all-time active career tackle leaders list with 327 and is 12th among all active players with 171 career solo stops.
In his first year with the Chanticleers, head coach Joe Moglia was named Big South Coach of the Year after leading the team to an 8-4 overall record and the league’s autobid this season.
CCU sophomore LB Quinn Backus was named the Big South Defensive Player of the Year after setting a school record for tackles in a season with 123 and ranking 11th nationally with 11.0 stops per game.
Chants senior QB Aramis Hillary leads the Big South with 2,835 yards of total offense and was named National Performer of the Week for throwing for five scores in the first half against Presbyterian earlier this season.
NEW HAMPSHIRE (8-3, 6-2) VS. WOFFORD (8-3, 6-2 Southern)
New Hampshire has earned nine consecutive postseason berths, representing the nation’s longest active streak, and has won its opening playoff game in six of the past eight years.
The Wildcats own a 6-10 all-time postseason record, including a 5-7 mark on the road, and are 1-9 all-time in the month of December.
While the Wildcats have never faced Wofford, CAA Football teams are 3-0 against the Terriers in the playoffs. The most recent meeting was James Madison’s 38-35 win over Wofford in 2008.
UNH has not faced a SoCon opponent since a 27-23 First Round victory at Georgia Southern in 2004, which also marked the program’s first-ever postseason win.
The Wildcats are 6-8 in playoff games under head coach Sean McDonnell. The team has lost its last two postseason contests, but has never dropped three straight in the Coach Mac Era.
Saturday’s showdown marks the 11th-straight road playoff game for UNH, which is 4-6 since its last home postseason game in 2005.
The Wildcats lead the league and rank third nationally in red zone offense, as they have scored on 46 of 49 attempts inside the 20-yard line (36 TDs, 10 FGs). The team turned in a perfect 22-for-22 clip in home red zone opportunities and has a streak of 23 straight successful conversions.
UNH’s 64-35 setback to Towson on Nov. 17 snapped the team’s 10-game home winning streak and a nine-year stretch of victories in a regular-season finale. Of the Wildcats’ 14 postseason appearances, Saturday’s game is the first that comes on the heels of a loss.
Senior LB and reigning Buck Buchanan Award winner Matt Evans paces CAA Football with 115 tackles in 2012, 77 of which are solo, and ranks second with 10.5 tackles per game. Evans is the FCS active career leader in both total tackles (449) and solo stops (256).
The Wildcats have successfully utilized their two-QB system comprised of rookie Sean Goldrich and sophomore Andy Vailas. Goldrich can most often be found under center, while Vailas has proved an optimal run option in the Wildcats’ often prolific offensive attack.
Sophomore WR R.J. Harris leads the league with 89.2 receiving yards per game and sits just shy of the 1,000 plateau with 981 receiving yards this fall.
Southern Conference Co-Champion Wofford returns to the playoffs for the fifth time in the last six seasons after securing its 10th winning record in 11 years in addition to boasting the nation’s second-best rushing attack and a top-20 defensive unit.
Terriers senior FB and SoCon Offensive Player of the Year Eric Breitenstein ranks third nationally with 150.3 rushing yards per game and pacing all conference players with 1,653 rushing yards and 16 scores.
Compared to his 103 rush attempts, junior QB Brian Kass has only recorded 43 passes as part of the Terriers’ tricky triple-option offense. Kass finished the regular season with six passing TDs, five rushing scores and has not thrown more than eight balls in any of Wofford’s 11 games this season.
By Zach Burrus, Director of Communications & Operations of CAA Football