While we understand the opening weekend of the 2012 college football season isn’t quite over yet – Georgia Tech takes on Virginia Tech tomorrow night in a match up of ACC foes that seem destined to be natural rivals – there still have been plenty of noteworthy individual player performances by which the rest of the year will be compared.
Clemson’s Andre Ellington, for instance, ran for 231 yards in a win over Auburn in Saturday’s edition of the Chick-Fil-A Kickoff Game, while Air Force tailback Cody Getz turned 17 carries into 218 yards and three scores in a 49-21 win over Idaho State.
Meanwhile, New Mexico State University wide receiver Austin Franklin grabbed eight receptions for a total of 236 yards and a pair of touchdowns – that’s 29.5 yards per catch, for those caring to do the mathematics of Franklin’s performance – as the Aggies spanked Sacramento State 49-19.
And then there was Ryan Nassib, quarterback for Syracuse University, who somehow completed 44-of-65 attempts on his way to 470 yards passing, four touchdowns and one interception in a loss – yes, a loss - to Northwestern University – so far, the best performance by a Division I passer to this point in the Labor Day weekend.
Still, impressive as all three of these individual performances are, none matches the exploits of Division III quarterback for Eureka College in Illinois, Sam Durley, who set an NCAA record in a single game Saturday by passing for – wait for it – 736 yards in a 62-55 come-from-behind win over Knox College.
Durley, a senior for Eureka, completed 34-of-52 passes in Saturday’s win, topping the previous record for total yards thrown in a single contest held by Zamir Amin of Menlo College, set on Oct. 7, 2000 in a game against Cal Lutheran.
Eureka’s starter under center broke Amin’s mark wth just 20 seconds remaining, hitting wide receiver Jake Bane on a 13-yard touchdown pass – one of five such scores Durley compiled in Saturday night’s victory.
Hard as it might be to believe, Durley’s performance didn’t stop at just the NCAA single game passing record, however.
Instead, the senior also set school records for all-time passing yardage (6,095), attempts (792) and touchdowns (48), all previously held by former quarterback and teammate Nick Lindsey.
In doing so, Durley became the first Red Devil in program history to throw for more than 6,000 yards in a career.
In all, Eureka College racked up some 821 yards of total offense in the contest with Knox, also breaking the previous school record of 744 set against Crown on Nov. 7, 2009.
Commented Durley regarding his yardage total after the game, “I thought maybe high 300s,” Pantagraph.com reports. “We were so focused on driving down the field and getting the win. They told me afterward and I was pretty speechless. It’s definitely something that’s pretty cool.”
Beneficiaries of Durley’s record-breaking game against Know were wideouts Jordan Kindred, who finished with 13 passes for 238 yards, and teammate Bane, who ended Saturday’s game with seven receptions for 207 yards, including the game winning touchdown with 20 seconds remaining.
Making Durley’s outing in Saturday’s victory all the more impressive is the fact Eureka head coach Keith Barth claims to have turned over his entire offense to his quarterback during the latter stages of Saturday’s contest.
“[Durley] was calling everything on his own,” states Barth. “He did a fantastic job of seeing the field and reading the defense. I’ve been with Sam for eight years and it was by far the best game he’s played.
Barth continued: ”[Durley] was just crystal clear on his reads and he stayed within himself. I’ve talked to him about taking advantage of stuff underneath and just moving the ball around to our receivers and letting them do a little bit of the work.”
For those wondering, Houston’s David Klinger still holds the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision single-game record with 716 yards thrown against Arizona State in 1990.