ADRIAN, Mich. -- The 19th-ranked Siena Heights football team will hit the road this weekend to face the fifth-ranked Concordia (Mich.) Cardinals. This game marks the first league competition for both teams this season.
The Saints enter the game with a 4-0 start to the 2019 campaign. They opened the season with close wins at home over Olivet Nazarene (20-18) and Robert Morris (Ill.) (6-0). SHU's first road game came in week three of the season in Iowa against Saint Ambrose where the Saints came back from a 10-0 deficit to score 20-unanswered points for the win. Last week's game was a 63-2 blowout of Trinity International in which Siena Heights set multiple new school records in both team and individual categories. The team records were most rushing yards (437), most rushing touchdowns (6), most touchdowns scored (9), highest average yards-per-play (9.9), and most points scored (63). The team also tied the record for most interceptions in a game with three. For the individual records Kaleb Jefferson had the longest run from scrimmage with a 95-yard touchdown in the first quarter. He also accumulated the most rushing yards in a game with 200 and he tied for most rushing touchdowns in a game with three. Ethan LoPresto set the school record for the highest average yards-per-carry with 13.9.
The Cardinals are also 4-0 so far this year. They began the season with back-to-back road games where they won 17-14 over Kentucky Wesleyan and then 22-14 over Olivet Nazarene. CUAA then defeated Saint Francis (Ill.) 30-7 in the home opener on week 3 before hitting the road again last week to face No. 9 Saint Xavier. In that game, the Cardinals rallied from a 21-0 deficit in the first quarter and tied things up before halftime. Concordia (Mich.) then scored 14 points in the third quarter and another seven in the fourth to take the game 42-35.
The Cardinals currently lead the overall series 4-3 including a 21-10 CUAA victory in last year's contest. The Saints won the first three matchups between these two teams from 2012-14. In the 2015 game, the Cardinals pulled out a 28-27 win before shutting Siena out the next two years in Ann Arbor and winning last season. This is the first time these two teams will meet without a loss on either side and the second consecutive season in which both teams are ranked in the top 25. Only one game since these two teams have played (2015) has ended with a scoring margin lower than one score. Siena Heights is 1-2 at home and 2-2 on the road in this series.
The Saints are led on offense by a stacked backfield with four running backs having more than 10 carries so far this season. The reigning MSFA Mideast offensive player of the week, Kaleb Jefferson leads SHU with 374 yards on 63 carries and four touchdowns. LoPresto is second in yards with 186 on 14 carries and two touchdowns, all registered last week. Jared Jordan has 37 carries for 159 yards and two TDs while Andre Chenault has 26 for 136 yards and one touchdown. The Saints running game has accounted for 10 of the offense's 13 touchdowns this season. In the passing game, Tyler Knecht leads with 323 yards on 29-43. He has thrown all three of the passing touchdowns this year.
Siena Heights brings a stout defense into this weekend's game. The unit is tied at the top of the league in scoring defense allowing only seven points per contest on average currently. They rank second in the Mideast in total points allowed with 28, second in yards allowed per game (257.8), second in rushing yards allowed per game (78.8), and they are tied for third in sacks per game (4.0). Nick Stalworth is the team's leading tackler with 32. He has forced one fumble and tallied one tackle for loss this year. Kole Murlin has 30 tackles, 1.5 for loss, a fumble recovery, and an interception that he returned for a 25-yard touchdown last week. Gabe Callery and Griffin Sobol each have 24 tackles. Callery has registered two tackles for loss, one interception, and two pass breakups. Sobol has half a sack and half a tackle for loss as well as a fumble recovery and two pass breakups. Trenton Morrow leads the team with three interceptions while also recording 19 tackles, three for loss, a sack, a forced fumble, and one pass breakup.
Special Teams is led by punter Caleb Meister who has booted 22 punts for 982 yards with a long of 67. He has pinned opponents inside the 20-yard line 15 times this season while averaging 44.6 yards-per-punt. Freshman ShaMarr Simmons was a star of the kickoff team last week as he accumulated five tackles and earned the MSFA Mideast special teams player of the week honor for his performance.
The Cardinal offense is led by running back Keirell Jackson with 275 yards on 54 carries. Omar Sinclair (254 yds., 44 carries) and Parker Graham (124 yds., 24 carries) each have three rushing touchdowns this season. Peter Morrison leads the passing attack for CUAA throwing 51-76 through the air for 584 yards and six touchdowns. Roderick Dailey has made 23 catches for 316 yards and two touchdowns. Donovan Johnson also has two touchdown receptions.
On defense, Reggie Thompson leads the team with 31 tackles, 2.5 for loss, 1.5 sacks, and two fumble recoveries. Alex Hinojosa has 29 tackles, 7.5 for loss, and 5.5 sacks. Ryan Fish leads the team with four interceptions. He has also tallied 26 tackles. Trevon Freeman and Hunter Maynard each have 24 tackles, three for loss. Maynard also has a fumble recovery.
Kicker Wyatt Mast is 2-3 in field goals while punter Kenneth Webb has totaled 25 punts for 917 yards and a long of 66. Omar Sinclair has returned three kicks for an average of 42 yards and has brought kick back for a touchdown.
The game is scheduled to kickoff at 1:00 p.m., EST. Fans can follow the action via live stats and the live stream. The game will also broadcast on WLEN online or by tuning into 96.5 FM The Cave on Saturday afternoon.