Tag: Southern Athletic Association

Player Perspective: Gavin Gray (Berry College)

Gavin Gray (2) has led the Berry College football team to back-to-back wins, including a come-from-behind win over Birmingham Southern last month. (PHOTO COURTESY: Berry College Athletics)

By NoontimeSports.com

Gavin Gray has enjoyed a successful spring season thus far, leading the Berry College football team to a pair of wins last month, including a come-from-behind victory against Birmingham-Southern College.

Gray, who was named the Southern Athletic Association (SAA) Newcomer of the Year in 2019, has tossed six touchdowns while recording 526 passing yards in two contests. His play on the field has positioned the Vikings for a chance to compete in the conference championship next weekend, but the focus for Gray and his teammates this week is an important matchup on Saturday, March 6 against Centre College.

Noontime Sports recently caught-up with Gray to discuss his team’s spring season, as well as what he and the Vikings must do to continue their recent success against Centre on Saturday.

Tell me about your team’s past two contests – from your perspective, what has worked on the offensive end?

From my perspective, each game had different aspects of our offense that worked. Against Birmingham-Southern, our run game wasn’t as strong so our passing game was our go-to. Against Rhodes College, our running game did well. I think it shows just how good our coaches are at finding what aspect of the offense (we) excel at during the game.

This may sound cliché, but how has the offense improved from your team’s initial spring game against Birmingham-Southern to last weekend’s 54-7 win over Rhodes?

I think the first game for everyone can be exciting and emotional. Our win against Birmingham-Southern gave everyone on the offense some valuable experience in not only a game (situation), but also a down-to-the-wire contest. Against Rhodes, it felt like everyone was more confident and knew what to expect.

Take me back to your team’s first spring game against Birmingham-Southern. What do you remember about that final drive, which saw you connect with Cameron Kawa for the game-winning touchdown?

We just told ourselves we needed to get first downs; don’t worry about the score because if we get first downs then the score will handle itself. The receivers on that last drive – and really all game – did a great job of coming back to me when scrambling, which helped us convert a big fourth down conversion. On the last play of the drive, Cam did a great job of getting open and giving me a ton of space to complete that pass for the touchdown.

We presume this was not the first time you led your team, both Berry and Calhoun (high school), on a game-winning drive, right?

I can’t remember having any game-winning drives but I do remember having game-sealing drives. Against Cedar Grove in the semifinals of the 2017 Georgia High School Association (GHSA) playoffs, the score was 14-6 and we needed to get a couple of first downs to run out the clock. I think those big moments like (that particular experience against the Saints) have helped me stay poised in moments like the final drive against Birmingham-Southern.

As you (and your team) turn the page to Centre College this weekend, what must you and the offense do to continue your recent success?

I think we have to continue to do what we do. Centre has a great team. They have a great defensive line with great linebackers and defensive backs. They are well-coached and stay disciplined. We know it is going to be a physical and tough game, but we just have to stay focused on the things we can control and make adjustments when they are needed.

Looking Ahead To A Busy Weekend of SAA Football

By Matt Noonan

The fifth week of the spring football season is upon us – crazy, right? – and there are a ton of matchups to follow this weekend, including some in the Southern Athletic Association (SAA).

As of this evening, three teams boast perfect records in the SAA – Berry College, Hendrix College, and Trinity University (Texas) – while Birmingham Southern College sits alone in the second place with a 2-1 record.

All four teams remain in contention for the SAA crown. But the same could be said for Centre College, which enters the final week of the conference’s regular season with a 1-1 record.

Let’s take a look at this week’s matchups with two of the three outcomes determining what two team will compete next Saturday, March 13 in the SAA Championship.


Hendrix at Trinity (Saturday, March 6): Both teams enter this must-see ad must-follow contest with identical 2-0 records. And the winner will most likely compete against Berry or Centre or perhaps see each other again next weekend in the SAA title game.

The Tigers’ offense has been impressive thus far, averaging 36 points per game, thanks to quarterbacks Tucker Horn and Wyatt Messex, who have combined for seven touchdown passes.

Trinity has not competed since February 13 while Hendrix appeared on the gridiron at the beginning and end of February. Their two wins have come against the same squads Trinity has beaten: Austin College and Millsaps College. Austin provided both squads with challenges, including Hendrix, which found a way to outlast a Kangaroos squad that produced a season-high 31 points last Saturday.

Kip Vanhoose was the player to watch on Hendrix last weekend – the Kansas City, Missouri native rushed for a season-high 94 yards on 10 carries and three touchdowns.

This has the making for an exciting matchup that should mimic the previous meeting from 2019, which saw the Tigers edge the Warriors, 20-17.

Berry College at Centre College (Saturday, March 6): It would be hard to pick against the Vikings of Berry, which enter the final week of its shortened season with a great deal of momentum.

The Blue and White scored two wins last month, including a come-from-behind victory against Birmingham Southern. Two weeks after their three-point victory, the Vikings rolled past Rhodes College, 54-7.

Quarterback Gavin Gray has tossed six touchdowns this season – last week, he connected with three different receivers for scores, including Cameron Kawa, who hauled in the game-winning touchdown last month against BSC.

Trentin Dupper will lead a Colonels offense that has recorded 65 points in two games, including 35 last week against BSC.

A win over Berry would help Centre’s chances with securing a spot in the SAA title game next weekend.

Berry College has won the last four meetings, including their most recent clash in 2019, which saw Gavin Gray complete 10 of 24 passes for 203 yards and three touchdowns in his team’s 45-22 victory.

Millsaps College at Austin College (Saturday, March 6): Despite back-to-back losses to Hendrix and Trinity, Austin seems primed to finish its shortened season with a win over Millsaps.

The Kangaroos enter their final contest averaging 27.5 points per game – let’s call it roughly four touchdowns – and will once again rely on quarterback Tyler James, who concluded last week’s contest against Hendrix with 320 yards of total offense.

Regan Wilkins and Jarrett Pleasant concluded the game with 10 total tackles, respectively, while John Aldridge converted five kicks, including four extra points.

Millsaps has not played since February 13 when they fell to Trinity by a score of 37-7. Quarterback Amryn Jeffrey finished the game with one touchdown while Mickale Massey and Liam Vincifora each recorded 13 total tackles.

Austin beat Millsaps in their last outing in 2019 by a score of 20-7. Evan Powell highlight the Kangaroos win by rushing for a game-high 117 yards on 13 carries.

Noontime’s Spring Football Notebook (Feb. 17, 2021)

By Matt Noonan

The third week of the spring college football season is quickly approaching, so let’s revisit some news, notes, and stories from the past two weeks, as well as slowly look ahead to this week’s slate of games.

McNeese State outlasted Tarleton State University in its season-opener: The Cowboys of McNeese State kicked-off the FCS spring season last Saturday with a thrilling 40-37 win over the Texans in double-overtime.

Cody Oregon highlighted his team’s victory against Tarleton State with five touchdowns, including two on the ground. Oregon’s 19-yard rushing touchdown during the second overtime period clinched the opening day win for a McNeese, which has not participated in a spring season since the 1890s.

Last Saturday’s win was the first for first-year coach Frank Wilson and the Cowboys, which have dealt with a lot over the past few months, including two major hurricanes that left the squad without a home or facility for close to six months.

The Cowboys are idle this weekend but will return to the field at the end of the month for their home-opener against Incarnate Word on Saturday, February 27. Kickoff is scheduled for 1 p.m. eastern.

Johnson ready to lead James Madison this Saturday: It’s been a little more than a year since the Dukes of James Madison University last played football, but the Purple and Gold will once again be a team to watch this spring – they enter their initial game against Morehead State on Saturday as the fourth-best team in FCS, per Hero Sports‘ preseason rankings.

Cole Johnson will be the team’s quarterback this spring after spending the past two years as the back-up to Bryan Schor and Ben DiNucci.

Johnson has certainly prepared for this moment, according to a recent interview with the Daily News-Record, and was able to secure the starting spot by beating fourth-year junior Gage Moloney.

Trinity (Texas) leads the SAA: It’s been a successful start to the Tigers’ 2021 spring season as the Maroon and White have won back-to-back games against Austin College and Millsaps College, thanks to some impressive play by its defense. The Tigers are currently in first place in the Southern Athletic Association (SAA) with a 2-0 record.

Trinity’s defense has limited opponents to an average of just two touchdowns per game this month – last week, they held Millsaps to just one score while the offense produced three touchdowns, thanks to quarterback Tucker Horn. Ryan Merrifield and Anton Noble combined for three touchdown receptions while Michael Edmonson rushed for a game-high 99 yards on 18 carries and one score.

Michael Jewett led the Trinity defense with two sacks for a loss of nine yards while Ryan Arnold recorded just one interception against Millsaps quarterback Amryn Jeffrey, who ended the contest 7 of 20 for 184 yards.

Prior to their win over the Majors last weekend, the Trinity defense produced four sacks and seven tackles for a loss of 25 yards while registering five pass breakups.

Trinity will entertain Hedrix College this weekend with a kickoff scheduled for 1 p.m. eastern.

Extra, Extra:

  • The East Texas Baptist Tigers will be idle this weekend but have won two games this month, including a 44-16 win over Belhaven University last weekend. KJ Kelly highlighted his team’s second win by posting 10 total tackles, including five solo stops and two interceptions, and two pass break-ups.
  • Mary Hardin-Baylor will enjoy its second bye week before returning to the field next Saturday, February 27 for an enticing matchup against Southwestern University.

    The Pirates of Southwestern were initially scheduled to play this weekend, but their matchup with Belhaven has been postponed due to “extreme weather conditions” in Texas.
  • Bryce Verble was named the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) offensive player of the week on Monday after setting a single-game school record for passing yards last weekend in his team’s 48-43 setback to St. Andrews University.

    The Bluefield College signal-caller ended their second contest of the 2020-21 season with 432 passing yards and six touchdowns.
  • Georgetown College outscored the University of Cumberlands, 17-7, during the final two sessions to secure an opening-day 27-20 win.

    Chris Cline converted two field goals in the win, including a 38-yard boot in the opening quarter, while quarterback Hunter Krause completed 14 of 22 passes for 298 yards and two touchdowns. Krause scored the game-winning touchdown on a one-yard keeper.

D3 Football Players Sign Undrafted Free Agent Contracts

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Three NCAA D-III Football players have signed undrafted free agent contracts as of Monday, April 27th afternoon. (PHOTO COURTESY: Anderson Mancini on Visual Hunt / CC BY)

By NoontimeSports.com 

Three NCAA D-III football players have signed undrafted free agent contracts as of mid-to-late Monday afternoon, including University of Redlands defensive back Jeff Hector, who inked his name on a contract last Saturday, April 25 with the Baltimore Ravens.

Hector was named an AFCA First Team All-American and D3football.com All-West Region honoree while securing a spot on the Southern Californa Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) last November. The Palos Verdes Peninsula, California guided the Bulldogs to a 9-2 overall record while recording 35.0 total tackles, including two tackles for a loss and one sack to go with two forced fumbles and eight interceptions.

Broc Rutter, who quarterbacked North Central College to a Stagg Bowl victory last December against UW-Whitewater, signed a contract with the San Francisco 49ers.

Rutter, who was the recipient of the Gagliardi Trophy, announced his signing on Twitter this past weekend, telling his fans and followers that he “can’t wait to get to work.”

The Naperville, Illinois native started all 15 contests for the Cardinals and established new single-season program records in passing yards (4,591), passing touchdowns (56), completions (309), passing attempts (435), and passing efficiency (199.9). He was named the Player of the Year by both D3Football.com and College Conference of Illinois & Wisconsin (CCIW).

Berry College wide receiver Mason Kinsey signed with the Tennessee Titans shortly after the conclusion of the 2020 NFL Draft.

The D3Football.com third-team All-American enjoyed a very successful final season with the Vikings, catching 65 passes for 1,221 yards and 16 touchdowns. Kinsey helped Berry win nine contests and capture the program’s fourth-straight Southern Athletic Association (SAA) championship. Kinsey is currently first in program history in touchdown receptions (50) and receiving yards (3,343), and second in total receptions (203).

Kinsey shared his excitement on Twitter earlier today, saying “Let’s shock the world.”

Saint John’s University‘s Ben Bartch was the only D-III football player to be drafted this past weekend by the Jacksonville Jaguars in the fourth round. Bartch becomes the most recent D-III student-athlete to hear his name called since Hobart‘s Ali Marpet was selected by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.