McNeese up to No. 22 in FCS Coaches Top 25

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LAKE CHARLES – Following its 35-0 Southland Conference shutout win over Stephen F. Austin this past Saturday, the McNeese Cowboys moved up three spots to No. 22 in this week’s FCS Coaches Top 25 poll while ranking as the first spot just outside of the STATS FCS Media Top 25.

The Cowboys (4-1, 2-1 SLC) won their fourth-straight game on Saturday while using a dominating running game and a stout defensive attack.

It’s the first time since blanking Mississippi College 37-0 in 2015 that McNeese has pitched a shutout, and the first blanking over a conference opponent since beating Lamar 35-0 in 2012.

In the game, McNeese rolled up 342 rushing yards, its first time to clip the 300-yard mark since running for 406 yards at Lamar on Nov. 21, 2015.

Defensively, the Cowboys’ DWA (Defense With Attitude) held the Lumberjacks to just 114 offensive yards through the first three quarters before SFA was able to tack on 110 fourth quarter yards against McNeese backups, and end the game with 224 total yards, 64 of those on the ground.

That dominance has lifted McNeese to No. 3 in the FCS in rushing defense with a 55.8 ypg average and 14th in total defense (292.8).

The Cowboys are also ninth in the nation in red-zone defense as opponents are scoring just 60-percent of the time inside the 20-yard line, and 12th on third-down conversion defense at 29-percent.

SFA was 0-for-3 in the red-zone on Saturday while converting just 4 of 17 of its third downs.

Offensively, the Cowboys are 21st nationally in scoring with a 34.6 average, 16th in first downs with 106, and fourth in time of possession (35:09/per game).

Individually, quarterback James Tabary is ranked second in the country with 14 touchdown passes thrown. He’s also 22nd with 20.2 completions per game, 24th with 1,173 passing yards, and 29th with a 62.4 completion percentage.

Running back David Hamm is 19th in the FCS with a 6.2 yards per carry average while Justin Pratt is 25th with 386 rushing yards.

James Madison tops both polls for the sixth straight week and is followed by North Dakota State. A shuffling took place after the top two spots as Sam Houston State and South Dakota State, ranked 3-4 last week, each lost.

Central Arkansas, McNeese’s Oct. 28 opponent, knocked off SHSU on Saturday and jumped to No. 8 in the coaches poll and sixth in the STATS poll while the Bearkats dropped to ninth (STATS) and 11th (Coaches) in dropping their first game of the season.

McNeese moved up three spots to No. 22 in the coaches poll while Nicholls jumped back into the poll after blowing out Lamar, giving the Southland Conference four teams in the coaches top 25.

The Cowboys are the first team listed in the “others” section in the STATS poll with Nicholls also receiving votes.

FCS Coaches Top 25
1. James Madison
2. North Dakota State
3. Youngstown State
4. Jacksonville State
5. Wofford
6. South Dakota
7. Illinois State
8. Central Arkansas
9. South Dakota State
10. Eastern Washington
11. Sam Houston State
12. North Carolina A&T
13. New Hampshire
14. Richmond
15. Villanova
16. Weber State
17. The Citadel
18. Western Illinois
19. Grambling
20. Samford
21. Northern Iowa
22. McNeese
23. Elon
24. Stony Brook
25. Nicholls

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