The Urbana University football team travels to UVa-Wise for Saturday’s gridiron action in the Mountain East Conference. Both schools enter the Week 6 matchup with identical records at 3-2, and UU is currently riding a three-game win streak. Kickoff at Carl Smith Stadium in Wise, Virginia, is slated for noon.
The Blue Knights (3-2, 2-2 MEC) have things rolling on defense where they rank among the top 25 Division II teams in 13 statistical categories. Notably, UU leads the nation in team sacks with 22 (4.4/gm) and the Blue Knights are 15th in total defense allowing 280 yards per game.
Sophomore linebacker Duray Hall leads the unit with seven sacks and ranks third in the country in tackles for loss. Senior linebacker Josh Dillard is the reigning MEC Defensive Player of the Week, and numerous others have contributed to the improved defense.
On offense, UU has latched onto the ground game to wear down opposing defenses. The Blue Knights are ranked 12th in time of possession and have rushed for over 200 yards twice this season. UU averages 154 yards on the ground after a combined rushing average of 93 yards during the past two seasons. Maurice Warren Jr. leads the backfield with 432 yards on 90 carries (4.8).
UU also features a legitimate one-two punch at the wideout position, where Trevon Saunders and Rodell Rahmaan have combined for nine receiving touchdowns. Those two are the only wide receiver teammates in the MEC to have caught a touchdown in at least four games. Saunders needs only three more TD receptions to break the UU all-time record.
Quarterback Tajuan Green will look to repeat his performance from last year’s game against the Cavaliers. In that game, Green threw for the second-highest yardage total in school history (427) while tossing a career-high five touchdowns. The senior signal caller has thrown for 938 yards on 54-percent passing this season with nine touchdowns.
The Cavs are coming off a 34-6 setback against Fairmont State, an opponent UU lost to by three points earlier this season. UVa-Wise turned the ball over five times in last week’s loss and also gave the ball away four times in its other loss at Concord.
The Cavs averaged 35 points in their three wins over Glenville State, West Virginia State and West Liberty, while scoring a combined six points in two losses. Opponents have averaged 154 rushing yards against UVa-Wise but only 153 yards through the air.
Three UVa-Wise quarterbacks have played over the past two games with freshman dual-threat Jarome Johnson taking the bulk of the snaps. Johnson took over the second half of Week 4’s win over West Liberty and totaled three scores, but struggled last week with four interceptions at Fairmont State. Johnson leads the ground game with 203 total yards.
On defense, linebacker Donavan Montague leads the way with five sacks, 20 tackles and two interceptions.
Saturday marks the fourth meeting between the two MEC schools. UVa-Wise holds a 2-1 series lead after winning the previous two matchups. UU won the first-ever meeting 24-13 in 2014, while the Cavs pulled out a 24-19 win the following year in Wise. Last season, UU’s last-second field-goal attempt came up short in a three-point home loss, 39-36.