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Local colleges

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Cougars to take on offensive machine

And the playoff wheel of fortune comes up … Faulkner (Ala.) University.

The Eagles, of Montgomery, Ala., will be No. 6 Saint Francis’ first round NAIA playoff opponent, as the pairings came out Sunday afternoon. The game will be played at noon Saturday at Bishop John M. D’Arcy Stadium.

Faulkner (9-2) is ranked ninth and has won its last six games, including a 42-14 victory at Kentucky Christian on Saturday.

The Eagles lead the NAIA in total offense with (590.8 ypg), passing offense (421.1 ypg), total sacks (38) and scoring (48.0 ppg).

Six times they’ve scored 50 or more points, with a high of 66 in a 66-14 rout of Belhaven.

“I think they’re leading the country in offense,” Saint Francis coach Kevin Donley said. “Got a bunch of transfers, too.”

Among them is quarterback Josh Hollingsworth, a transfer from Furman who ranks No. 2 in the NAIA in passing yards per game (380) and total offense per game (375.4) and No. 3 in pass efficiency (170.7). He completes 66.4 percent of his passes.

A fair amount of them have gone to Steven Dawson, a 5-foot-11, 195-pound wide receiver out of Valdosta, Ga., who’s caught 60 balls, and A.J. Stevenson, a 6-4, 190-pound wideout who averages 80.5 receiving yards per game and has scored 90 points this season.

Then there’s Trump Harrison from Pasadena, Calif., another wide receiver whose 805 receiving yards is second on the team to Stevenson’s 885, and who ranked seventh in the NAIA in punt return yards per attempt (14.4), eighth in total punt returns (274) and 13th in all-purpose yards per game (148.1).

Besides Hollingsworth and defensive lineman Kenny Beck from Furman, Faulkner boasts transfers from Indiana State (WR Donald Spencer), South Alabama (LB Tony Threatt and RB Demetre Baker), Carson-Newman (DB Lorenzo Fitch), Lambuth (DB Brandon Horton) and Troy (DL Ty Hardnett), among others.

Defensively, the Eagles are led by senior linebacker Andrew Mahan, who ranks fifth in the NAIA with 10 sacks, and defensive back Donnie Ruggles, whose six interceptions rank seventh in the country.

“They’re averaging about 600 yards a game, 50 points, 92 snaps a game,” Donley said. “So they’re up-tempo spread.”

By comparison, the Cougars (8-2), who beat Marian 41-24 Saturday to clinch their 11th Mid-States Football Association Mideast League title, rank 18th in the NAIA in total offense (439.9 ypg), 10th in passing offense (284.8) and 24th in scoring offense (32.5 ppg).

Defensively, they rank 16th in scoring defense (20.2 ppg), and 38th in passing defense (205.3 ypg).

bensmith@jg.net

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