Louisiana-Lafayette running back Elijah Mitchell (15) is tackled by Coastal Carolina linebacker Enock Makonzo (43) and safety Cameron Mitchell (49) during the first half of an NCAA football game in Lafayette, La., Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2020. It's already been a season to remember but Canadian Enock Makonzo and the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers will chase two more firsts Saturday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Paul Kieu

Canadian Enock Makonzo, Chanticleers chase Sun Belt East regular-season crown

Canadian Enock Makonzo, Chanticleers chase Sun Belt East regular-season crown

It’s already been a season to remember, but Canadian Enock Makonzo and the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers will chase two more firsts Saturday.

The No. 16-ranked Chanticleers (8-0) visit Texas State (2-9) in NCAA football action. A victory would secure Coastal Carolina its inaugural Sun Belt East Division title and be its first win at Bobcat Stadium.

The school’s list of accomplishments this season include:

— first Sun Belt team to start a campaign at 8-0.

— first time ranked in the USA Today coaches poll (No. 17).

— first time ranked in The Associated Press top-25 (No. 16).

— first win over an FBS top-25 opponent (30-27 over No. 21 Louisiana on Oct. 14).

— first win over Arkansas State (52-23 on Oct. 3).

— first win over South Alabama (23-6 on Nov. 7).

— first win over Appalachian State (34-23 last weekend).

Including last year, Coastal Carolina is riding a nine-game win streak, which began with a 24-21 victory over Texas State on Nov. 30, 2019.

The five-foot-11, 195-pound Makonzo, a junior linebacker/defensive back, had six tackles (four solo, a half-tackle for a loss) against Appalachian State. Makonzo, of Lachine, Que., has 51 tackles (34 solo) this season, eight for a loss with two sacks, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery.

—-

TALL ORDER: Canadian twins Chase and Sydney Brown have helped the University of Illinois record two straight victories. Extending that streak, though, won’t be easy.

On Saturday, Illinois (2-3) faces No. 3 Ohio State (4-0), which has won the last nine meetings between the two schools (2008-2017).

Chase Brown, a five-foot-11, 195-pound redshirt sophomore running back from London, Ont., ran for 110 yards and two TDs in Illinois’ 41-23 win last weekend over Nebraska. It was Brown’s second straight 100-yard performance after rushing for a career-high 131 yards in a 23-20 victory over Rutgers on Nov. 14.

Brown has rushed for a team-high 357 yards on 61 carries (5.9-yard average) and two TDs while adding three receptions for 15 yards.

“We’re going to have to do exactly what we did last weekend,” Brown told Canadian reporters this week during a videoconference. “We have to pass the ball, run the ball and the defence has to get turnovers.

“And we’re going to have to play sound football.”

Sydney Brown, a six-foot, 200-pound junior starting defensive back, had five tackles (three solo, half a tackle for a loss) against Rutgers before recording six tackles (one solo) versus Nebraska. He has 33 tackles (18 solo, the half-tackle for a loss) and a forced fumble this season.

After missing the first two games of ‘19 due to injury, Sydney Brown started 10-of-11 contests, registering 88 tackles (51 solo), 2.5 for a loss along with three interceptions (one returned for a TD).

—-

NO SABAN: Canadian receiver John Metchie III and the top-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide will be without head coach Nick Saban on Saturday when they face No. 22 Auburn (5-2).

Earlier this week Saban tested positive for COVID-19, the second time this season. He previously tested positive before Alabama’s game against Georgia last month, but it was rendered a false positive and he was able to coach in the contest.

But Saban won’t be on the sidelines Saturday for Alabama (7-0).

Metchie, a six-foot, 195-pound sophomore receiver from Brampton, Ont., has 25 catches for 535 yards (21.4-yard average) with four TDs this year. He had one reception, an 18-yard touchdown, in the Tide’s 63-3 win over Kentucky last weekend.

Tide offensive co-ordinator Steve Sarkisian, a former CFL quarterback, is expected to serve as head coach Saturday. Sarkisian played three seasons with the Saskatchewan Roughriders (1997-99) before entering the coaching ranks.

—-

COVID-19 UPDATE: The West Virginia Mountaineers have another week off.

West Virginia (5-3) was slated to host No. 14 Oklahoma (6-2) on Saturday, but the game was postponed until Dec, 12 after the Sooners recorded positive COVID-19 tests. It’s the first contest to be rescheduled this year for both teams.

West Virginia’s last game was a 24-6 win over TCU on Nov. 14. Ottawa’s Akheem Mesidor, a six-foot-two, 268-pound freshman defensive lineman, had four tackles (three solo), one for a loss and a sack. This season he has 23 tackles (14 solo), 6.5 for a loss and a team-high five sacks.

Alonzo Addae, a five-foot-11, 189-pound redshirt senior cornerback from Pickering, Ont., had eight tackles (three solo) against TCU. He has 55 tackles (31 solo), 0.5 for a loss, with a forced fumble and two interceptions.

——

COWBOYS DROP: Last weekend’s 41-13 loss to Oklahoma dropped the Oklahoma State Cowboys seven spots in The Associated Press’s top-25 rankings.

The Cowboys (5-2) head into their game this weekend against Texas Tech (3-5) at No. 21 after starting last week at No. 14.

Chuba Hubbard, a six-foot, 208-pound redshirt junior running back from Sherwood Park, Alta., ran just eight times for 44 yards versus Oklahoma. On the season, Hubbard has 625 yards on 123 carries (5.08-yard average) with five TDs and eight catches for 52 yards and a TD.

Hubbard, the country’s leading rusher last season, has gone three straight games without 100 or more yards rushing.

Amen Ogbongbemiga, a six-foot-one, 235-pound redshirt senior linebacker from Calgary, had eight tackles (three solo) versus Oklahoma. He has 51 tackles (29 solo), four for a loss and 2.5 sacks this season.

POINT AFTER: Toronto’s Daniel Joseph, a six-foot-three, 265-pound defensive end, had five tackles (two solo), 1.5 for a loss and 1.5 sacks in North Carolina State’s 15-14 win last weekend over previously unbeaten Liberty (8-1). The graduate transfer from Penn State has 26 tackles (10 solo), 6.5 for a loss, 5.5 sacks this season … Theo Johnson, a six-foot-six, 251-pound freshman tight end from Windsor, Ont., registered his first catches of the season with Penn State, He had two receptions for 14 yards in last weekend’s 41-21 loss to Iowa (3-2). Jesse Luketa, a six-foot-three, 242-pound junior linebacker from Ottawa, recorded seven tackles (five solo) and has 31 tackles (13 solo) in five games this season. Safety Jonathan Sutherland, a five-foot-11, 202-pound redshirt junior from Ottawa, had three tackles (one solo), and half a tackle for a loss against Iowa. Sutherland has five tackles (three solo), and a half tackle for a loss in four games. The Nittany Lions (0-5) visit Michigan (2-3) on Saturday … No. 12 Indiana (4-1) looks to resume its winning ways when it hosts Maryland (2-1) on Saturday. Indiana is coming off a 42-35 loss to Ohio State. Canadian linebacker D.K. Bonhomme, a six-foot-three, 235-pound sophomore linebacker from Ottawa, had three assisted tackles against the Buckeyes. This season, Bonhomme has eight tackles (five solo), one for a loss, with a sack … Terrell Jana, a six-foot, 200-pound senior receiver from Vancouver, had one catch for seven yards in Virginia’s 55-15 win over Abilene Christian last week. On the season, Jana has 32 catches for 392 yards (12.3-yard average) with a TD. Virginia (4-4) has won three straight and visits Florida State (2-6) on Saturday … Toronto’s Mohamed Diallo, a six-foot-four, 305-pound defensive lineman, had six tackles (three solo) in Central Michigan’s 52-44 loss to Western Michigan. He he has 11 tackles (six solo), three for a loss, a half-sack, forced fumble and fumble recovery for Central Michigan (2-1) which faces Eastern Michigan (0-3) this weekend … Geoff Cantin-Arku, a six-foot-four, 228-pound sophomore linebacker from Levis, Que., had five solo tackles, two for a loss, and two sacks in Syracuse’s 30-0 loss last weekend to Louisville. Cantin-Arku has 55 tackles (45 solo), four for a loss, two sacks, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery this season. Ben Labrosse, a six-foot-two, 200-pound freshman defensive back from Greenfield Park, Que., had three tackles (two solo), one for a loss, against Louisville. He has 10 tackles (eight solo) and a tackle for a loss in seven games overall. And Tyrell Richards, a six-foot-four, 234-pound redshirt junior linebacker from Brampton, had a solo tackle against Louisville, giving him 24 tackles (14 solo) 3.5 for a loss, two sacks, a forced fumble and a blocked kick this year. Syracuse (1-8) faces N.C. State (6-3) on Saturday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 27, 2020.

Dan Ralph, The Canadian Press

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