WACO, Texas — A 34-29 road win over defending national champion Valdosta State bumped the University of North Carolina at Pembroke football team back into the top 10 of the American Football Coaches Association Top 25 poll.
The Braves enter the final week of the regular season ranked No. 10, up four spots from last week.
It’s the second time this season that UNCP (8-1) has appeared in the top 10 of the AFCA listing. The Braves climbed as high as No. 8 before a 24-21 loss at Newberry in Week 8.
The Braves are the highest-ranked team from NCAA Super Region 2.
Minnesota State-Mankato still holds the top spot with 21 first-place votes. No. 2 Northwest Missouri State, Colorado State- Pueblo, Henderson State (Ark.) and Minnesota-Duluth round out the top 5.
The Braves also climbed up to the second seed in the new NCAA Super Region 2 rankings.
Lenoir-Rhyne (9-1) continued its perch atop the rankings for the third-straight week, but Newberry (8-2) tumbled from the second spot all the way down to No. 5 following a loss at Carson-Newman (8-2) on Saturday. The win paid dividends for the Eagles who climbed four spots to No. 4 in this week’s listing.
Six teams from each “super region” advance to the 24-team NCAA Division II Championship playoff. The annual tournament will begin on campus sites Nov. 23. The opening round (Nov. 23) will feature the Nos. 3 and No. 4 seeds hosting games against the Nos. 5- and 6-seeded squads, respectively, while the top two teams will receive first round byes.
UNCP will wrap up its 2013 regular season schedule on Saturday when it returns to Pembroke to play host to Virginia-Lynchburg (2-7) on Senior Day at Grace P. Johnson Stadium. Kickoff is set for 2 p.m.
Stanley, Turner honored nationally
UNCP running back Rontonio Stanley and defensive end Matt Turner were named national players of the week by Beyond Sports Network on Monday.
Stanley registered 243 all-purpose yards (142 receiving, 101 rushing) and two touchdowns — the best all-purpose showing for an individual since former running back Travis Daniels set a program record with 253 yards against Fayetteville State in 2011. Stanley’s receiving performance (5 catches, 142 yards) ranks seventh all-time and he also rushed 18 times for 101 yards — his third 100-yard rushing game of the campaign. His 87-yard scoring reception in the third quarter is the longest pass reception in school history.
Turner totaled seven tackles, including four solo stops and 3-1/2 tackles for loss, while also tallying a pair of quarterback hurries. His 3 1/2 sacks matched a 6-year-old school record formerly held solely by Morris “Scooter” McLaughlin who turned in 3 1/2 sacks in a loss at Concord in 2007. His performance included a trio of solo sacks, as well as a sack assist.
UNCP women lose to Wingate
The UNCP women’s basketball team felt the effect of 26 turnovers as Wingate took advantage of the Lady Braves’ mistakes, scoring 17 points off of turnovers en route to a 61-39 victory on Monday night in Wingate.
It was the season opener for both teams.
UNCP outshot Wingate from 3-point territory as newcomers Avae’ Hardy and Katelyn Mitchell both finished the night shooting 2-for-2 from downtown. Kierra Haney scored a team-best nine points on 3-for-8 from the field, while Jazmine Kemp chipped in 10 rebounds to the losing effort.
“We didn’t play very well offensively tonight. I thought we played fairly well defensively and rebounding in the first half and that’s why we were able to keep it close,” said UNCP coach John Haskins. “Then they started making shots and we just never got any better. It was really just a disappointing game for us offensively, we just didn’t have a very good game. Wingate is a quality team, but we have a lot of work to do. I think we’ll be able to bounce back and keep getting better.”
The Lady Braves will play their first home game of the season on Thursday as they host region rival Coker (1-0) in a 6 p.m. contest inside of the English E. Jones Center. The Black and Gold will host “Gratis Thursday” for the home opener, and all fans will be admitted free.