sheila sobchik

For only the second time in the two-year history of the Great West Football Conference, one school has swept player of the week honors on offense, defense and special teams.

For their performances in Saturday’s 40-35 victory over Eastern Washington, Cal Poly redshirt freshman running back James Noble was named offensive player of the week while Mustang senior defensive end Chris Gocong earned defensive player of the week honors. Cal Poly sophomore punter Tim Chicoine was named special teams player of the week.

In Great West Football Conference games Saturday, South Dakota State defeated Southern Utah 55-7 in Brookings, S.D., while North Dakota State was a 44-0 winner over Northern Colorado in Fargo, N.D. UC Davis fell 27-17 to Stephen F. Austin in a non-conference game at Nacogdoches, Tex.

This Saturday’s schedule includes another pair of Great West Football Conference games, Southern Utah (1-7, 1-3) at Cal Poly (6-3, 3-1) and South Dakota State (5-4, 2-1) at North Dakota State (6-3, 2-2). Northern Colorado (3-5, 0-3) hosts Sam Houston State for a non-conference game while UC Davis (5-4, 3-1) has a bye.

Noble became the first Cal Poly running back in seven years to crack the 200-yard mark in rushing, accumulating 221 yards on just 19 carries in Cal Poly’s upset of Eastern Washington. Noble, averaging 11.6 yards per carry, scored on a 74-yard run early in the fourth quarter for a 40-21 Mustang lead. The redshirt freshman has started seven games and has surpassed the century mark in rushing five times. Noble is fourth in Division I-AA in rushing with a 134.14 average per game and is the 15th Mustang to surpass the 200-yard mark in one game.

Gocong, a Buck Buchanan Award candidate for the second year in a row, recorded two sacks and four tackles for lost yardage among his nine total tackles in Cal Poly’s 40-35 win over No. 10 Eastern Washington. Gocong also was credited with one quarterback hurry. He now has 13.5 sacks and 19 tackles for lost yardage on the year, No. 2 in the nation in both categories.

Chicoine punted four times, averaging 48.2 yards per kick, in Cal Poly’s 40-35 homecoming victory over Eastern Washington. Included in his punts was a 57-yarder and one of the punts ended up inside the Eagle 20-yard line. Chicoine now leads the nation in punting with a 45.76 average.

Cal Poly moves up in polls

The Mustangs, who dropped from No. 3 to No. 18/19 following losses to Montana and UC Davis, rebounded to No. 15 in both national Division I-AA football polls Monday.

The Mustangs fell to No. 10 in both polls after the loss to Montana and were No. 18 in The Sports Network poll and No. 19 in the ESPN/USA Today poll after the loss at UC Davis. But Saturday’s 40-35 Homecoming victory over then-No. 10/11 Eastern Washington in Mustang Stadium ended the slide.

Cal Poly, whose No. 3 ranking on Oct. 17 was its highest ever, has two more home games remaining on its 2005 regular-season schedule, hosting Southern Utah on Saturday and Idaho State on Nov. 19, both kickoffs scheduled for 6 p.m.

The top five teams this week are New Hampshire (8-1), Hampton (9-0), Montana (7-2), Southern Illinois (7-2) and Massachusetts (7-2). Furman, last week’s top-ranked team, lost to lost to then-No. 14 Georgia Southern 27-24 on Saturday and fell to No. 6.

New Hampshire, which had the No. 1 ranking for two weeks earlier this season, regained the top spot after defeating Hofstra 29-26. James Madison (5-4), the 2004 NCAA Division I-AA national champion, fell out of the Top 25 last week, is back in the poll this week at No. 25 after defeating then-No. 16 William & Mary 30-29.

Besides No. 3 Montana and No. 21 Eastern Washington, other Cal Poly opponents in the rankings this week include No. 11 Montana State and No. 22 North Dakota State. Cal Poly defeated Montana State on Sept. 17 and North Dakota State on Oct. 8. UC Davis fell out of the Top 25 after dropping a 27-17 decision at unranked Stephen F. Austin on Saturday.

Hampton is the lone undefeated team in Division I-AA and just five other teams in the division have one loss, New Hampshire, Coastal Carolina, Grambling State, Brown and San Diego.

Cal Poly also is ranked No. 12 in the Any Given Saturday poll, climbing five positions.

In last week’s Gridiron Power Index (GPI) rating released by I-AA.org, Cal Poly was No. 9. The top three teams were New Hampshire, Montana and Appalachian State.

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