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Lackawanna, Monroe in NJCAA postseason

Nov. 13, 2019 - No. 2 Lackawanna (10-0) becomes the first Northeast Football Conference member to play for the NJCAA national title when the Falcons take on No. 1 Mississippi Gulf Coast (11-0) at 6 p.m. Dec. 5 at Carnie Smith Stadium in Pittsburg, Kansas. The national championship game will be televised on the CBS Sports Network.

For the second time in as many seasons, the NEFC will have two teams in the NJCAA postseason. No. 18 Monroe will make its second-straight postseason appearance. The Mustangs will meet No. 3 Hutchinson in the Salt City Bowl 2 p.m. Dec. 7 at Gowans Stadium in Hutchinson, Kansas.

The NEFC had three teams play in bowl games in 2012 and had two teams appear in bowls in 2008 and 2011.

Win streak: NJCAA Championship notes: Mississippi Gulf Coast has won 15-straight games dating to last season, The Bulldogs earned national championships in 1971 and 1984 and were declared co-champions in 2007. MGC won the Junior College Championship in 1948, eight years before the first official NJCAA Championship game.

Mississippi Gulf Coast head coach Jack Wright, who claimed a national championship as the head coach at Northwest Mississippi in 2015, looks to become the first NJCAA coach to win a national championship with two different programs.

Mississippi Gulf Coast powered through the always-competitive Mississippi Association of Community and Junior Colleges and capped its run with a conference title over No. 4 Northwest Mississippi, 22-19, Nov. 9. The state championship was the 16th in program history.

Lackawanna win streak: Owners of the NJCAA's longest active win streak at 22 games, the Falcons' current win streak is also the longest in NEFC history. Nassau held the previous mark, winning 18 consecutive games in 2009-10. NCC won five-straight games to close the 2009 season before posting an 11-0 record in 2010 on its way to the NJCAA nonscholarship national title. Nassau then won its first two games in 2011.

The Falcons' win streak started with a 41-34 win over No. 11 Georgia Military College, Nov. 12, 2017, at Marshall University.

According to the NJCAA, DuPage won 36-straight games from 1993-96. Blinn won 26 consecutive contests in 1995-97 and East Mississippi won 25-straight games from 2013-15.

NEFC bowl history: As a conference, the NEFC is 7-15 in bowl games, with three of those losses coming in overtime. Throughout its 23-year history, eight schools have participated in bowl games. The NEFC has had at least one team qualify for the postseason in 11 of the last 12 seasons and 17 times in the past 20 seasons.

Lackawanna played in bowl games in 1997, 2000, 2001, 2006, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2016 and 2018, posting a 3-6 record..

Monroe suffered a 34-20 loss in its first NJCAA postseason appearance at the Graphic Edge Bowl. Lackawanna appeared in the 2011 Salt City Bowl, losing to Hutchinson, 70-20..

Bowl history: Here are the NEFC's bowl appearances:

Rankings notes: For the fifth-straight week, Lackawanna, ASA and Monroe can be found in the NJCAA poll. The five consecutive weeks featuring three teams in the NJCAA poll is the second-longest streak in the NEFC. In 2012, at least three conference teams were ranked for nine-straight weeks.

The NEFC has now had at least one team ranked in the last 214 NJCAA polls. The streak dates to Oct. 21, 2003. A NEFC team has been ranked 419 times since the 2002 season started.

Lackawanna has been ranked 101 times in the NJCAA poll starting with the final 2001 poll.

Lackawanna remained No. 5 while ASA was listed "on the bubble" in this week's Dirty 30 rankings.

The NEFC is 26-4 this season and each loss has come to a ranked opponent as both Monroe and ASA have lost to Lackawanna, ASA defeated Monroe and the Avengers suffered a one-point loss to then-No. 19 Georgia Military College.

Duda now No. 6: The Falcons' 37-30 win Nov. 9 over No 9 Georgia Military gave Lackawanna head coach Mark Duda his 187th win in 26 seasons. Duda, who leads active NJCAA coaches in wins, is tied with Jones County's Sim Cooney for sixth on the all-time NJCAA win rankings.

Duda moved into the NJCAA's all-time top 10 list for coaching victories after Lackawanna's Sept. 14 win over then-No. 7 Snow.

At the start of the season, Duda's 69.4% winning percentage ranked sixth among active coaches and Monroe's Terry Karg ranks ninth at 61.3%.

NEFC stat leaderboard: Monroe quarterback Dominique Shoffner can be found on several NEFC single-season rankings. He leads by averaging 269.3 yards in total offense per game; is second in total offense yards, 2,693; third with 2,035 passing yards and 26 passing touchdowns; fourth with 14 rushing touchdowns, 331 total offense plays and 152 completions; fifth in pass efficiency rating, 172.8, and pass attempts, 245; sixth with a 62.0% completion rate and with 14 touchdowns; and seventh with 84 points.

ASA receiver Kaedin Robinson is third at 23.8 yards per reception and is sixth with 879 receiving yards. Monroe receiver Jevin Frett is 10th at 21.8 yards per catch.

Lackawanna quarterback Matt Cavallaro has thrown 22 touchdown passes to rank fifth on the NEFC single-season rankings. Monroe running back Clayton Scott is fifth with 13 rushing touchdowns and 10th with 13 touchdowns scored.

In kicking scoring, Lackawanna's Cameron Ceccotti's 84 points set the single-season mark. Monroe's Idrissa Nikiema is tied for second with 80 points and ASA's Andres Espinoza is fourth with 78 points

In made extra-point kicks, Nikiema's 59 makes rank second while Espinoza's 57 makes rank third. Ceccotti is fifth with 51 makes and his 11 field goals rank tied for second.

With two interceptions against Lackawanna Oct. 12, Monroe's Emmanuel Appiah-Tahkyi is tied for third on the NEFC single-season list with eight. Louisburg's Kewitt Koonce intercepted 11 passes in 2011 to lead the list. Appiah-Tahkyi's eight interceptions also leads the NJCAA.

NOTE: The NEFC started in 1997 but single-season statistics are only available through 2001.

NEFC and the NFL: Former Lackawanna tight end Trevon Wesco was drafted by the New York Jets in the fourth round of the 2019 NFL Draft. He was the fifth Lackawanna product and eighth member from an NEFC institution selected in the past six NFL Drafts. The NEFC has had an individual selected in the fourth round in three-straight and five of the last six NFL Drafts. Wesco has appeared in nine games with the Jets this season.

Also in the NFL this season are:

NEFC and the XFL: In the inaugural XFL Draft, four former NEFC players were among the 52 former NJCAA players chosen in the five-phase draft. They were:

Scoring Outburst: After scoring 98 points in the win over the New Jersey Warriors, ASA now holds the record for most points scored in a NEFC game, dating to the 2001 season. Lackawanna defeated Alfred State 84-20, Oct. 27, 2007, to set the mark for the most points scored in a conference contest.

Already this season, the NEFC has had five games featuring 70 or more points and three with 80 or more points.

Games featuring 70 or more points by the winning team are:

NOTE: The NEFC started in 1997 but scores are only available through 2001.

Players of the Week: The Northeast Football Conference selected Lackawanna's Calvin Bell and DeJahn Warren and ASA's Andres Espinoza as the conference's players of the week.

NJCAA honors: ASA kicker/punter Andres Espinoza became the fourth NEFC student-athlete named an NJCAA Player of the Week. He was the Special Teams Player of the Week Oct. 30. He joined Lackawanna's Ji'Ayir Brown, Matt Cavallaro and Cameron Ceccotti honored this season.

Espinoza was the 23rd NEFC student-athlete selected to the weekly honor since the start of the 2011 season.

Espinoza, a 5-foot-10, 170-pound freshman kicker from Columbus, Georgia, made the game-winning 21-yard field goal with five seconds left to lift ASA past Monroe. He also made a 22-yard field goal in the contest and four extra-point kicks. He also had four punts for a 32.5-yard average, placing two punts inside the 20-yard line.

Top players: The Northeast Football Conference had individuals listed in's Nov. 12 report of the nation's top 50 junior college recruits. They are:

NJCAA statistics: Monroe's Emmanuel Appiah-Tahkyi leads the nation with eight interceptions and teammate Idrissa Nikiema leads with 59 made extra-point kicks.

The NEFC also has several individuals ranked second: ASA's Kaedin Robinson is second with an average of 23.8 yards per reception and ASA's Andres Espinoza is second with 57 made extra-point kicks.

Lackawanna kicker Cameron Ceccotti is third with 84 kicking points. He is fourth with 51 made extra-point kicks. Also fourth is ASA's Durrell Johnson with 20 tackles for loss. Monroe quarterback Dominique Shoffner is fourth with 26 touchdown passes and tied for fourth with 14 rushing touchdowns. Robinson is fourth with nine receiving touchdowns.

Shoffner is fifth with a passing efficiency rating of 172.8 and Robinson is fifth with 879 receiving yards. Lackawanna's DeJahn Warren is fifth with five interceptions and Monroe's Jevin Frett is fifth by averaging 21.8 yards per reception.

Nikiema is sixth with 80 kicking points and sixth with 86 points overall. Teammate Clayton Scott is sixth with 13 rushing touchdowns. Ceccotti is sixth with 11 field goals.

ASA's Quentin Woodall is seventh with 11 pass breakups and Robinson is seventh with an average of 87.9 receiving yards per game.

Lackawanna quarterback Matt Cavallaro is seventh with 22 touchdown passes and eighth in passing efficiency rating. Shoffner is eighth with 2,305 passing yards. Monroe receivers Frett and Lucas Nunez are tied for eighth with eight touchdown receptions. Nunez is eighth at 20.1 yards per reception. Shoffner and Ceccotti are among those tied for eighth with 84 points scored.

Lackawanna's Greg Rose is tied for ninth with 10 quarterback sacks.

In the team statistics, Monroe leads the nation in scoring offense at 52.5 points per game. ASA is second at 46.7 and Lackawanna is third at 45.5 ppg.

ASA is second in rushing offense, 254.6, and fourth in total offense, 463.4. Monroe is 10th in total offense, 419.7.

Lackawanna and Monroe are tied for first in scoring defense, 11.2, and points allowed, 112.

The Falcons' 28 interceptions lead the nation while Monroe is third with 20 and ASA is seventh with 16. Lackawanna is also third with 49 quarterback sacks.

Monroe leads the nation in rushing yards allowed (30.2 ypg), ASA is second (41.7) and Lackawanna is seventh (74.2). Monroe is first in total defense, 173.1. ASA is fourth, 216.4, and Lackawanna is sixth, 217.8. Monroe is ninth in passing yards allowed per game, 142.9, and Lackawanna is 10th, 143.6.

Last Week: The NEFC improved to a combined 26-4 overall record.

Misc.: Since 2010, a Northeast Football Conference member has led the NJCAA in total defense six times -- ASA (2010, 2012, 2013 and 2018), Nassau (2011) and Monroe (2017). ASA (2018) and Monroe (2017) also led the nation in rushing defense, marking the third and fourth NEFC teams to have led that category since 2012. Lackawanna led in 2016 while ASA was the leader in 2012.

For the 2010 decade, Lackawanna and ASA both rank among the NJCAA's best in terms of final ranking points. The Falcons are tied for 13th with 48 points while the Avengers are 16th at 41 points.