DCTF Small College Review: Some conference title hopes take a hit, regional rankings begin this week

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We were due a weekend filled with upsets. Last Saturday provided some stunning finishes for teams who were seeking to win conference titles. While losses for Incarnate Word, Howard Payne, and Trinity Valley were unexpected, none of these teams’ conference title hopes were extinguished last week.

This leaves me thinking we might be due for a weekend filled with huge upsets before the playoffs begin.

Things got spooky

Halloween became scary a week early for UIW, HPU, McMurry, and TVCC, with all four suffering upset losses.

The Cardinals struggled with McNeese in the first half spotting the Cowboys a 21-6 halftime lead. However, a furious second half rally for UIW fell short, and McNeese earned a 28-20 victory.

The good news for UIW is they can win at least a share of the Southland Conference title if the Cardinals win their remaining games. However, an outright title seems out of reach.

HPU began the first of a three week challenge against the top teams in the American Southwest Conference. Unfortunately, week one did not go according to plan, with a disappointing 24-10 road loss to Belhaven.

The Yellow Jackets can earn a share of the ASC title with wins over No. 8 Hardin-Simmons and No. 2 Mary Hardin-Baylor over the next two weeks, but defeating either of those teams seems unlikely after losing to the Blazers.

While Trinity Valley’s hopes of a Southwest Junior College Football Conference title remain alive, the Cardinals’ hopes of securing the top seed for the conference playoffs took a massive hit.

The No. 8 Cardinals dropped their second straight game with a 61-40 loss t home against Navarro. TVCC has two regular season games remaining, with both contests on the road against Kilgore and No. 5 New Mexico Military Institute.

TVCC needs quarterback Bronson McClelland’s ankle to heal quickly to secure one of four seeds in the SWJCFC playoffs.

McMurry didn’t hope to win the ASC title this year, but the War Hawks were expected to put together a winning streak to finish the season.

The War Hawks’ first attempt at starting a winning streak was dashed with a 28-21 road loss to Texas Lutheran.

McMurry is still a team headed in the right direction under coach Jordan Neal but securing four wins this season will be tough with home games against Sul Ross State and No. 2 UMHB and a road game against Belhaven remaining.

Regional rankings begin

We will get a glimpse of the playoff chances for Lone Star Conference teams this week, with the release of the first regional rankings expected today.

Current LSC leader Midwestern State is expected to be among the top few teams in Super Region 4, but the intrigue lies in where other LSC teams will slot this week.

Texas A&M-Commerce took a giant step towards a spot in the rankings with a 15-3 road win over West Texas A&M last week.

UT Permian Basin was trailing at the half against Eastern New Mexico before the offense got rolling in the second half of a 44-21 homecoming win. The Falcons are expected to be listed in the rankings.

West Texas A&M and Angelo State are hopeful to see their names listed, but the road for both teams is challenging with two conference losses for the Buffs and Rams.

The first NCAA Division III regional rankings are expected to be released on Wednesday, Nov. 3, but the exact date remains unclear, with the pre-championship manual not yet published.

For FCS fans, there will not be any rankings or possible seeding information released before the selection show this season scheduled for Sunday, Nov. 21, at 11:30 a.m. The selection show will air on ESPNU.

Helmet Stickers

Xavier Gipson, SFA

Name another receiver in any level of college football better than Xavier Gipson. You can’t! Last week, the sophomore had another incredible game, gaining 208 yards and scoring two touchdowns on only eight receptions in Stephen F. Austin’s win over Dixie State.

On top of that, he produced one of the best plays of the season to be featured in this week’s Plays of the Week.

Chris Stewart, Trinity

The junior wide receiver did a bit of everything in Trinity’s big win over Sewanee last week. The Woodlands High School product produced 117 yards and two touchdowns receiving while adding 160 yards and two touchdowns as a punt returner.

Clint Epperson, Texas Wesleyan - 159 yds rush, 6 TDs, 19 car, 8.4 yd avg

The redshirt freshman from Valley View High School had a career performance in Texas Wesleyan’s win over Louisiana College, gaining 159 yards and scoring an incredible six touchdowns rushing while averaging 8.4 yards per attempt.

Plays of the Week

Each week, we scour social media to find the top plays. However, we are sure to miss some incredible plays from the 35 small college teams in Texas, so we are seeking your assistance. 

If you find a great play worthy of a nomination, use hashtag #dctftopplays to make sure we notice.

Here are the top plays from Week 8:


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