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Lackawanna, ASA open NEFC play

Oct. 3, 2019 - With two teams ranked in the NJCAA's top 10 for the second-straight week, the Northeast Football Conference has an impressive 12-1 record thus far.

The last time the NEFC had two teams ranked in the NJCAA top 10 for back-to-back weeks was in the 2012 season, when the conference had two teams ranked in the top 10 for eight-straight weeks. The conference had three teams ranked for nine weeks and four teams ranked in three of those editions that season.

Lackawanna (4-0) and Monroe (4-0) moved to No. 5 and No. 8, respectively in this week's NJCAA poll. The conference now has had a ranked team in the last 209 NJCAA polls, dating to the Oct. 21, 2003, poll. Since the start of the 2002 rankings, a NEFC team has appeared 402 times.

In addition to Lackawanna and Monroe appearing in the top 10, ASA (4-1) was among seven programs to receive votes.

Rankings notes: Monroe's appearance at No. 8 in the NJCAA poll is the Mustangs' best-ever ranking in the NJCAA poll. The Mustangs were No. 9 last week. Lackawanna's appearance at No. 5 is just shy of that program's best-ever ranking. The Falcons were No. 4 in the polls released Sept. 20 and 27, 2016.

Lackawanna remained at No. 6 while ASA and Monroe were listed "on the bubble" in this week's jcgridiron.com Dirty 30.

This Week: The 2019 NEFC season opens Saturday with Lackawanna, owners of the NJCAA's longest active win streak at 16 games, traveling to New York to play ASA at 6 p.m. Lackawanna has won three of the last five meetings between the programs. Monroe plays the Valley Forge Military College at home at 2 p.m.

Something has to give in the ASA-Lackawanna contest as the nation's top-scoring team, ASA, meets the Falcons, the NJCAA's stingiest team. The Avengers average 55.2 points per game and Lackawanna allows only 7.8 points per game. The Avengers lead the nation in rushing offense (317.4 yards per game) and are fifth in total offense (519.2 ypg).

Lackawanna is third in the nation in scoring, 48.8 points per game, while ASA is fifth in points allowed at 11 ppg.

ASA is second in both total defense (160 yards allowed per game) in rushing yards allowed (32.3 ypg). Lackawanna is fifth in total defense (186.3) and third in rushing yards allowed (53.8).

If the game comes down to turnovers, Lackawanna has recovered nine fumbles and intercepted nine passes, ranking in the NJCAA's top 10 in both categories.

Last week: Lackawanna extended its win streak with an 83-0 win over Erie. The Falcons' win streak started with a 41-34 win over No. 11 Georgia Military College, Nov. 12, 2017, at Marshall University.

Monroe recorded a 44-7 win at Louisburg while ASA defeated the New Jersey Warriors, 98-9.

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 and scores are only available through 2001.

Other win streaks: Lackawanna's 16-game win streak is one of the longest in NEFC history. Nassau won 18 consecutive games in 2009-10. The Lions won five-straight games to close the 2009 season before posting an 11-0 record in 2010 on their way to the NJCAA nonscholarship national title. Nassau then won its first two games in 2011. The Lions also won 14-straight games in 2014-15 but later forfeited three wins in 2015 on a NJCAA ruling.

Lackawanna won 13-straight games in 2006-07. The Falcons went 10-0 in 2006 and won the first three games in 2007.

Players of the Week: The Northeast Football Conference selected Lackawanna's Marques DeShields and Robert Kennedy and ASA's Andres Espinoza as the conference's players of the week.

NJCAA coach notes: After Lackawanna's Sept. 14 win over then-No. 7 Snow, Mark Duda--the Falcons' head coach--moved into the NJCAA's all-time top 10 list for coaching victories. Now in his 26th season, D, Duda leads active NJCAA coaches with 181 victories, tying him with Ferrum's Hank Norton for ninth all-time. Waldorf's Dave Blostorff is eighth at 182. 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%.

Top players: The Northeast Football Conference had five individuals listed in 247sports.com's Oct. 2 report of the nation's top 50 junior college recruits. They are:

NJCAA Statistics:Monroe's Dominique Shoffner leads the nation in passing efficiency at 217.4, fifth with 13 touchdown passes and 10th at 237.8 passing yards per game. Teammate Emmanuel Appiah-Tahkyi is tied for second with four interceptions. ASA's Tyrell Jackson is sixth in passing efficiency, 168.6.

ASA's Andres Espinoza has made 36 extra-point kicks and leads the nation. Monroe's Idrissa Nikiema has made 27 to rank third and Lackawanna's Cameron Ceccotti is 10th with 19.

Monroe's Jevin Frett is tied for fourth with six receiving touchdowns.

In the team statistics, Monroe leads a 1-2-3 finish in the nation in scoring offense. The Mustangs average 59.3 points per game while ASA is second at 55.2 ppg and Lackawanna third at 48.8 ppg. The Avengers lead the nation in rushing offense (317.4 ypg) and Monroe is 10th (207.3). ASA is fifth in total offense (519.2 ypg) and Monroe is eighth in passing offense (270.8 ypg).

Monroe leads the nation in total defense (129.8 ypg), ASA is second (160.0) and Lackawanna is fifth (186.3). Lackawanna leads the NJCAA in points allowed per game at 7.8. Monroe is second (8.5) and ASA is fifth (11.0). The Mustangs lead the nation in rushing yards allowed (2.5 ypg), ASA is second (32.3) and Lackawanna is third (53.8).

Monroe is tied for second with 11 interceptions and Lackawanna is tied for seventh with nine.

Last Week: No. 6 Lackawanna and No. 9 Monroe recorded convincing wins to stay unbeaten while ASA handily defeated the New Jersey Warriors. Here is a quick look at the results:

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.

Lackawanna and Monroe both played in bowl games following the 2018 regular season. The NEFC had three teams play in bowl games in 2012. It also had two teams appear in 2008 and 2011 bowl games.

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.

Next week: The NEFC season continues with Lackawanna at Monroe, Oct. 12. In nonconference action, ASA plays Army Prep Oct. 11.