Why support rare now?


Nearly 30 million Americans are living with a rare disease and  COVID-19 continues to present a myriad of challenges that is not only impacting the patients but their families and caregivers as well.

At the top of the list is reduced access to vital medical care which, in turn, has exacerbated already existing challenges. Among those already existing challenges include an accurate diagnosis of a complex disease, limited treatment protocol options, financial struggles, absence of hope and mental fatigue for patients, families and caregivers. 

“I don’t think you need to have a rare disease to have had all of this impact you mentally,” said Dr. Justin Hopkin, the father of a son with a rare disease and a rare disease advocate. “Managing the mental aspect of all this has been difficult for everybody. Finances, jobs, social issues … all those things have weighed heavily on most of us, but we know it’s been especially hard on those living with a rare disease.”

The isolation some Americans are feeling as we navigate the obstacle course of this pandemic is how some rare disease patients feel everyday. 

Since March, medical research on diseases other than COVID-19 has taken a huge hit. There have been countless research studies abandoned, suspended or postponed. 

Much is still unanswered about the ultimate impact the pandemic will have on clinical trials, too. That’s because it is unclear how many of these studies will eventually restart and how long it will be before they begin again.

Clinical trials play a critical role physically and mentally for rare disease patients. They show researchers and doctors what does and doesn’t work, and are a critical vehicle for rare disease patients to receive or obtain life altering therapy.

A clinical trial being delayed, interrupted or canceled can be a tipping point for a rare disease patient . They don’t have the luxury in most cases of multiple clinical trials. And the delay, interruption or cancelation of that trial jeopardizes any hope they might have had and could even be life threatening.

All this is going to lead to a healthcare system already pushed to its extreme limits by this pandemic becoming backed up and slowed even more. And it will directly and adversely impact a Rare Disease Community that faces an uphill climb under optimal conditions.

“Like everyone else, what we are hearing from the patients in our community has been tough,” said Kathi Luis, a rare disease advocate. “There was a lot of hopelessness, without their rehab, medication, treatments, clinical trials delayed or canceled … they didn’t have any hope. They are really defeated.”

In April, the National Organization For Rare Diseases (NORD) reached out to patients to gauge the best way to guide support and help for the Rare Disease Community.

Nearly 800 people responded to the survey from NORD’s research team and the results were made public last month.

95 percent of the respondents said they have been impacted at a cost to both their immediate and long-term health and well-being. Nearly three-quarters have had a medical appointment canceled and, of those, 65 percent were offered an alternative appointment via phone or video. 69 percent of the respondents have concerns about medication and medical supply shortages.

“Treating rare and medically complex cases like mine takes multimodal approaches. Remove one piece of the puzzle and the care patients receive results in sub-optimal outcomes. COVID-19 further exposed a glaring problem in the healthcare system by asking us what defines essential medical treatments,” said Marni Cartelli, a rare disease patient. “What if a treatment on its face doesn’t keep someone alive but is supplemental to one that does? Also, we must ask ourselves, is keeping someone alive the only essential medical service? What about keeping someone’s ability to feed themselves? These are all questions I ask myself every single day but society only had to ask itself in this pandemic.”

The time for action to support the Rare Disease Community is now. As we all adjust to what is the most recent new normal, the mental fatigue associated with the unknown for rare disease patients continues.

Uplifting Athletes is uniquely positioned to inspire hope in the Rare Disease Community. The 7,000 Mile Challenge is a way for YOU to get active and rally support for the rare diseases this summer.

Inaugural 7,000 Mile Challenge to support the Rare Disease Community set for July 17-26


Uplifting Athletes is proud to announce the inaugural 7,000 Mile Challenge – a 10-day event starting July 17th that will bring focus and attention to the more than 7,000 known rare diseases.

People affected by a rare disease are fighting against a finite clock that didn’t stop because of COVID-19. We’re letting the Rare Disease Community know that we won’t stop fighting for them!

“We are rallying our extensive network behind one initiative this summer so that we can continue to support our friends and partners in the Rare Disease Community,” Uplifting Athletes Executive Director Rob Long said. “Our team has worked hard to find a way to afford everyone the opportunity to take action and help the Rare Disease Community.”

It does not matter whether you are a casual walker, an avid runner, swimmer or roll on wheels of any kind, you can help make a difference for the Rare Disease Community. To participate in the 7,000-Mile challenge join an existing team, create a new team for you and others, or participate as an individual.  

Track and add your mileage to the collective Uplifting Athletes total using any single day or combination of days throughout the 10-day challenge. You can collect pledges for every mile you contribute to the challenge to support the mission of Uplifting Athletes. 

Join Uplifting Athletes wherever you are July 17th to 26th and rally your support for the Rare Disease Community through activity, donation or both!

To pre-register and start helping Uplifting Athletes Tackle Rare Diseases, visit upliftingathletes.org. Now is a time for action so no one in the Rare Disease Community lives without hope.

Proceeds from the 7,000 Mile Challenge support the mission of Uplifting Athletes and its charitable programs: Rare Disease Awareness, Rare Disease Research, Uplifting Leaders and Uplifting Experiences.

Any questions about the 7,000 Mile Challenge, please send an email to info@uplitingathletes.org.

Uplifting Athletes cancels all annual Lift For Life events for 2020


COVID-19 has led to many adjustments of the college athletic schedule. The football student-athletes and programs Uplifting Athletes work with face a condensed time frame to prepare for the upcoming season under heightened safety precautions.

In order to avoid any additional pressure, Uplifting Athletes made the decision to cancel all our annual Lift For Life events this summer.

On behalf of the Rare Disease Community Uplifting Athletes serves, thank you to everyone who has supported Lift For Life in the past. We look forward to a full Lift For Life schedule in 2021.

Lift For Life is the signature event for universities across the country that are part of the Uplifting Athletes nationwide network of chapters.

It is more important than ever for Uplifting Athletes to be there for our friends and family affected by Rare Diseases. Please stay tuned for a big announcement on Monday June 22 on how you can help rally support for the Rare Disease Community this summer.

21 NFL Prospects join 2020 Reps For Rare Diseases campaign during NFL Combine


For the sixth consecutive year, Uplifting Athletes is empowering NFL prospects with the opportunity to use the NFL Combine as a platform to give back by raising funds and awareness in support of the Rare Disease Community.

Reps For Rare Diseases has been used as a way for athletes to give back at a pivotal point in their quest to play at the highest level as they put their skills on display for NFL teams.

Since its inception in 2015, more than 100 players have participated in this campaign through either the NFL Combine or NFL Pro Day workouts.

This year Uplifting Athletes currently has 21 players who chose to participate in Reps For Rare Diseases 2020 at the NFL Combine including: Grayland Arnold, JaMycal Hasty, Denzel Mims, Clay Johnston, James Lynch and Chris Miller from Baylor, Davion Taylor from Colorado, Jalen Elliott, Alohi Gilman, Tony Jones Jr., Cole Kmet, Chris Finke and Julian Okwara from Notre Dame, Juwan Johnson from Oregon, Rob Windsor from Penn State, Kevin Davidson from Princeton, Sterling Hofrichter and Kendall Coleman from Syracuse, Reggie Robinson and Trevis Gipson from Tulsa and Shaun Bradley from Temple.

“During Combine and Pro Day training, so much time and energy is focused by these young men on achieving their dreams of playing in the NFL,” former NFL player and Uplifting Athletes’ Chapter Success Manager Levi Norwood said. “It is amazing to see so many NFL hopefuls realize, especially during this tiring and grueling process, how impactful their platform can be. We are honored they chose to stand alongside Uplifting Athletes and the Rare Disease Community.” 

Fans and supporters can pledge towards the performance of any one of our NFL Combine participants this year and help Uplifting Athletes tackle rare diseases.

Visit the Uplifting Athletes Reps For Rare Diseases 2020 team landing page, choose your favorite player and make your pledge today.

Horizon Therapeutics plc and Uplifting Athletes announced a new partnership for the 2020 Reps for Rare Diseases campaign. Horizon will match donations up to $35,000 through its #RAREis program, which is dedicated to providing individuals living with rare disease and families access to resources that connect, inform and educate as they navigate their daily lives.

“Thank you to all the athletes participating in Reps For Rare Diseases and good luck as you continue your football journey,” Uplifting Athletes Director of Sports Impact and NFL veteran Brett Brackett said. “This group of athletes displays the empathy and character that helps them stand out amongst their peers. Any NFL team would be lucky to have one of these men representing their organization.”

The proceeds from the 2020 Reps For Rare Diseases campaign support the mission of Uplifting Athletes and its charitable programs: Rare Disease Awareness, Rare Disease Research, Uplifting Experiences and Uplifting Leaders.

39 Uplifting Athletes Chapter Leaders put through paces in Atlanta during 11th annual Leadership Development Conference


The cornerstone of the Uplifting Leaders program is our network of Chapters on campuses across the country led by college football student-athletes.

This past weekend, 39 leaders from 20 schools gathered in Atlanta for a high impact and fast paced weekend of learning and development during our 11th annual Uplifting Athletes Leadership Development Conference.

The 2020 conference provided an opportunity for our Chapter leadership to develop relationships that stretch beyond the football field, to absorb enhanced mission and vision insight based on Uplifting Athletes’ four programs – Rare Disease Awareness, Rare Disease Research, Uplifting Experiences and Uplifting Leaders – and to plot a chapter strategy for 2020.

“The difference for me this year was it’s a new group of guys mostly, but you establish similar quality of relationships,” said Clemson Chapter leader and Tigers’ long snapper Jack Maddox, who was attending his second conference. “I have a year of experience now, so I know more about what’s going on. I’m not overwhelmed as much and I know what we can and can’t do at our chapter. It’s such a valuable weekend.”

Following a meet-and-greet dinner Friday night, the conference kicked off Saturday with a full day of programming. Four breakout sessions led by Uplifting Athletes staff were followed by an “entering the real world” question-and-answer session with former college athletes.

The highlight of Saturday was the Uplifting Experience at the College Football Hall of Fame where 24 rare disease patients, caregivers and families were connected with the Chapter leaders to spend a couple hours experiencing the Hall of Fame together.

“I loved that the athletes had an opportunity to meet individuals with rare diseases outside of a hospital setting,” said Carol Unger, whose 32-year-old son Matthew is diagnosed with the ultra rare disease WAGR Syndrome. “I feel it is important to note that our children grow up, although some may still be at the maturity level of a 7 or 8 year old, and cherish those opportunities to meet with folks from the outside world.”

The first day of the conference closed out with a work session on three of Uplifting Athletes’ main events – Lift For Life, Reps For Rare Diseases and Touchdown Pledge Drive.

“Since Penn State is such an established chapter, my journey here is to learn what else can we do next to help support the Rare Disease Community,” said Penn State Chapter leader and long snapper Chris Stoll, who is in line to be the next PSU Chapter President taking over for quarterback Sean Clifford.

“I’m very excited to be more involved at another level. Sean did a great job and put a lot into it. But he’s our starting quarterback now and that’s a big job. I’m pumped to be here again and to meet so many guys who have passion for the rare disease cause and for using their platform to make a difference. And I’m very excited to get more involved at the next level.”

Sunday started with Dr. David Fajgenbaum, a former Uplifting Athletes Young Investigator Draft grant recipient, founder of the Castleman Disease Collaborative Network and rare disease research pioneer, sharing his story via a live video conference.

The conference wrapped up with some additional highlights of Uplifting Athletes’ programming that is available to support the rare disease cause and a work session to kick off 2020 at the chapter level.

A special thank you to all our sponsors and supporters who made this conference possible, Deloitte, Sanofi Genzyme, Jean Campbell and JFC Consulting and the College Football Hall of Fame. With your help, these young men are making a difference in the Rare Disease Community.

Chapter Update: Princeton finishes strong and six teams post Week 13 victories


Princeton needed a lot of help to get a share of the 2019 Ivy League crown. All the Tigers could control in the scenario was get a victory over Penn at historic Franklin Field in Philadelphia.

Led by 172 rushing yards from RB Collin Eaddy and a defense that blanked the Quakers over the final 52 minutes, Princeton overwhelmed Penn to post a three-touchdown victory.

However, Princeton did not earn a share of the Ancient Eight crown this season after winning the title outright in 2018. Dartmouth and Yale ended up sharing the 2019 Ivy League title. But the Tigers did finish 8-2 overall and put together the best two-season run for the program in nearly 70 years.

For the ninth time since the Ivy League went to a 10-game schedule in 1980, Princeton won at least eight games. When you factor in a 10-0 season a year ago, the Tigers reached 18 wins over a two-year span for the first time since 1950-51.

Penn senior running back Karekin Brooks finished off his career with 95 yards against the Tigers to end the season with 1,003 yards. Brooks becomes only the 12th player in the Quakers’ 144-year history to eclipse 1,000 yards and the first since 2006.

The Penn and Princeton programs joined forces for the second consecutive year to make this game an Uplifting Athletes Rare Disease Awareness Game by wearing helmet stickers with the Uplifting Athletes logo and #WeTackleRare wristbands to signify their unified commitment to one cause.

They also hosted two exceptional rare disease families who are having an impact on the Rare Disease Community. Dr. David Fajgenbaum and his family and the Combs family were recognized as part of the Rare Disease Awareness Game celebration.

Baylor: Two years ago the Bears were 1-11 and lost all six of their home games. Today, Baylor is headed to the Big 12 Championship game after posting its first win over Texas in their last five meetings. Sparked by a defense that limited a Texas offense that had scored at least 21 points in 28 straight games to only 10 points, Baylor posted its sixth 10-win season in program history. The Bears’ defense had five sacks and now has 38 for the season led by defensive end James Lynch. The junior had 2.0 sacks against the Longhorns to move into the No. 1 spot in program history for career sacks with 19. The previous mark was 17.5 held by Shawn Oakman. Lynch has 10.5 sacks this season and is one sack away from establishing a new school mark for sacks in a single season.

Northwestern: Playing his final game at Ryan Field, Wildcats senior defensive end Joe Gaziano recorded two sacks – the first one for a safety – to become the all-time sack leader at Northwestern with 29. The previous mark of 27 career sacks had stood for 21 years. Gaziano earned the Uplifting Athletes Rare Performance of the Week.

Kent State: The Golden Flashes kept their bid for a bowl game alive courtesy of kicker Matthew Trickett’s third game winning field goal this season, and second in as many games. This one came from 22 yards out with 19 seconds remaining. Kent State quarterback Dustin Crum had a monster game. The junior became the first Golden Flashes QB to throw for more than 300 yards and eclipse 100 yards rushing since 2004. His 470 yards of total offense was the most for Kent State since Jose Davis posted 474 against Akron in 1997 and his 369 yards through the air was the first time since 2014 a Kent State signal caller eclipsed 350 yards. Kent State is 5-6 and plays at Eastern Michigan on Black Friday.

Learn more about Stony Brook Chapter President and tight end Zach Lucas in our Beyond The Trophy series

Notre Dame: Sparked by three touchdown passes from quarterback Ian Book, the Fighting Irish exploded for 24 unanswered points in the second half to subdue Boston College on Senior Day in South Bend. Notre Dame’s defense limited the Eagles to fewer than 200 total yards. Junior tight end Cole Kmet tied the Notre Dame record for touchdown receptions in a season (six) by a tight end with his 11-yard scoring catch in the third quarter. The only other tight end to catch six touchdown passes in a season was Ken McAfee in 1977.

Marist: In his final game, redshirt senior Andrew McElroy secured a victory for the Red Foxes with a 90-yard interception return in the final minute to give Marist a 12-point lead. He jumped an out route and raced down the sideline for his first career interception. 

Fordham: The Rams ended a four-game slide – three of those losses were by single digits – behind a defense that did not allow any points in a convincing victory over Bucknell. All the Bison’s points came on defensive touchdowns. Trey Sneed had a pair of second-half touchdown runs as Fordham posted the only 21 points after intermission. Freshman wide receiver DeQuence Carter had a season-high 10 catches. His 10 grabs gave Carter 53 for the season to establish a new single-season catch record for a freshman at Fordham. The previous mark of 48 catches was established in 2000.

Chapter Update: Last-second field goal propels Penn to come-from-behind victory and nine teams notch Week 10 wins


On a milestone day, where Penn played the 1,400th game in program history, the Quakers first Ivy League victory of the season came in dramatic fashion at Franklin Field.

Sophomore kicker Daniel Karrash made his first collegiate field goal attempt a memorable one, as the Philadelphia native drilled a 22-yard kick with two seconds remaining to vault the Quakers past Brown.

Junior linebacker Brian O’Neill gave Penn a 35-19 lead early in the third quarter with a 21-yard scoop and score on a fumble. After that, the Quakers’ offense sputtered and Brown scored 17 unanswered points to surge in front 36-35 with 4:10 to play.

Penn went on a 16-play, 74-yard victory march, including a fourth-and-7 conversion, to set up Karrash’s dramatic winning kick.

Notre Dame: Staring down the barrel of an upset by Virginia Tech at Notre Dame Stadium, the Fighting Irish’s struggling offense climbed off the deck in the dying minutes to rally for a one-point victory over the Hokies. Notre Dame, held scoreless in the second half up to this point, manufactured an 18-play, 87-yard drive in the final 3:22 to win it. Quarterback Ian Book capped the march with a seven-yard touchdown run with 29 seconds to play. Notre Dame Chapter President and linebacker Drew White led the Irish defense with eight tackles.

Marist: Running back Hunter Cobb had another big outing, as the Red Foxes won for the second consecutive week. The redshirt freshman accounted for 148 of Marist’s 166 yards on the ground and scored three touchdowns. In leading the Red Foxes to back-to-back victories, Cobb has rushed for 324 yards and scored five times.

Clemson: Running back Travis Etienne rushed for a career 212 yards and the Tigers extended their nation best win streak to 24 games. Clemson scored 59 points in the victory to mark the fourth game in a row the Tigers have scored 45 or more points – the first time in program history that has happened. They also tied the school record for consecutive home victories with 21. Etienne’s 212 yards came on the fewest carries in school history (9), he reached 1,000 yards in the fewest number of games (9) to tie the school record and the senior also broke the school record for career rushing touchdowns with an 86-yard gallop to earn the Uplifting Athletes Rare Performance of the Week.

Baylor: Backstopped by a defense that surrendered the fewest rushing yards allowed by a Bears team in more than four years, Baylor edged West Virginia at home to stay undefeated. The 8-0 Bears moved up in the polls to No. 11. Baylor’s defense gave up only 14 rushing yards and fewer than 225 total yards to win its first game when scoring fewer than 20 points since 2006. 

Davidson: The Wildcats never trailed, but it was a grind for the home squad against a pesky one-win Valparaiso outfit. Wesley Dugger’s 1-yard touchdown run with two minutes to play snapped a 21-all deadlock. And Davidson Chapter co-founder and President George Hatalowich iced the six-point victory with an interception inside the final minute. The victory guarantees Davidson back-to-back seasons with at least six victories for the first time since 2006 and 2007. Hatalowich finished with a team-high nine tackles.

Princeton: The Tigers ran their winning streak to 17 straight, cracking the Top Five for winning streaks during the program’s 150-year history. Princeton’s defense limited Cornell to seven points, forced three turnovers and surrendered only one third-down conversion in 11 attempts.

Learn more about Penn State Chapter Vice President and long snapper Chris Stoll in our Beyond The Trophy series

Illinois: For the first time since 2011 when they started 6-0, the Fighting Illini are on a three-game winning streak. Senior linebacker Dele Harding became the second player in the nation in the last 20 years to have 12-plus tackles, 2.0-plus tackles for a loss, 1-plus interception and 1-plus touchdown in a single game in the victory over Rutgers. Tied 10-10 at intermission, Illinois scored all 28 points in the second half to pull away.

Colgate: Two big punt returns by Abu Daramy-Swaray covering 78 total yards and the Raiders’ defense forced a pair of key second-half fumbles that led to points for victory No. 16 in 17 games against Georgetown.

Chapter Update: Stony Brook springs upset on final play and nine teams record Week 9 wins


Stony Brook roared back from an 18-point halftime deficit capped by kicker Nick Courtney’s 22-yard field goal as time expired to upset FCS No. 5 ranked Villanova.

The road victory marks the second time in program history the Seawolves beat a team ranked in the Top 5. Stony Brook defeated No. 2 Richmond in 2016.

Stony Brook scored 10 points in the final 92 seconds after trailing 35-20 midway through the fourth quarter. The Seawolves scored the final 16 points.

Quarterback Tyquell Fields was instrumental in the rally, throwing for a career-best 321 yards with one passing TD and a pair of rushing touchdowns. His 1-yard plunge with 1:32 to play pulled the Seawolves to within 35-33 after a failed two-point conversion.

Stony Brook then used all its timeouts and forced the Wildcats to punt with 21 seconds to play. The Seawolves connected on  a 40-yard completion from Fields to Nick Anderson in the dying seconds to set up the game winning field goal by Courtney.

Lehigh: For the third straight game the Mountain Hawks’ fate came down to the final play of the game. And for the third straight time Lehigh walked away with a victory. Austin Henning’s 27-yard field goal as time expired lifted Leigh to 3-0 in the Patriot League with a home victory over Georgetown. The Hoyas rallied with a 72-yard touchdown bomb on fourth-and-4 and added a two-point conversion to tie it up at 24 with 1:23 to play. Lehigh answered by calmly traveling 59 yards in eight plays to set up the winning kick. Lehigh Chapter President and wide receiver Jorge Portorreal posted a team-high eight catches for 103 yards to help the Mountain Hawks win their fourth in a row.

Penn State: Nittany Lions quarterback and Penn State Chapter President Sean Clifford threw four touchdown passes, three of them to tight end Pat Freiermuth, as the undefeated Nittany Lions posted a 21-point soggy and rain swept victory at Michigan State. Penn State is 8-0 for the first time since 2008, is 5-0 in the Big Ten for the first time since 2011 and moved up to No. 5 in the rankings. The Nittany Lions defense produced three turnovers, limited the Spartans to seven points and broke up eight passes.

Marist: Redshirt freshman running back Hunter Cobb ran for 178 yards and a pair of touchdowns on 17 carries and the Red Foxes defense forced a pair of turnovers to upset Davidson on the road in North Carolina. The Red Foxes defense limited the No. 3 FCS rushing offense in the country to 202 yards on 46 carries. Cobb’s 89-yard touchdown run in the third quarter is the fourth-longest touchdown run by a Red Fox in the program’s 27-year FCS history and the longest in the last seven years and earned him the Uplifting Athletes Rare Performance of the Week.

Western Michigan: Senior running back LeVante Bellamy posted a career-high four touchdowns and rushed for 178 yards to lead a Broncos ground game that rolled up nearly 400 yards and six touchdowns in their victory over Bowling Green. Junior linebacker Treshaun Hayward led a WMU defense that limited the Falcons to only 266 total yards with 13 tackles (10 solo), two sacks and three tackles for a loss. 

Learn more about Kent State Chapter President and wide receiver Antwan Dixon in our Beyond The Trophy series

Illinois: The Illini rushed for a season-high 242 yards and its defense forced a pair of turnovers in the rain-soaked victory at Purdue. Senior RB Dre Brown had a career-high 131 yards on the ground to help Illinois win its second in a row and get to 4-4 overall. Junior cornerback Tony Adams became the first Illini with interceptions in back-to-back Big Ten games since Vontae Davis and Kevin Mitchell both did it against Penn State and Wisconsin in 2007.

Clemson: Running back Travis Etienne and wide receiver Diondre Overton each scored three touchdowns as the undefeated Tigers extended their winning streak to 23 games with a 52-point victory over Boston College on homecoming at Memorial Stadium. Clemson’s defense held the No. 6 ranked rushing offense in the country to only 96 yards on the ground, scored a touchdown on a fumble return and had eight tackles for a loss.

Princeton: Led by a defense that produced three interceptions that led to 17 points, the Tigers rallied in the second half to overtake Harvard for win No. 16 in a row. Tigers quarterback Kevin Davidson threw for 312 yards and three touchdowns and linebacker Jeremiah Taylor had one of those interceptions and a team-high 13 tackles.

Florida State: Seminoles running back Cam Akers rushed for 144 yards, completed a couples pass for 26 yards out of the “wildcat” formation and tied a school record for rushing touchdowns in a game with four to lead FSU to a homecoming victory over Syracuse.

Chapter Update: Illinois springs the biggest upset of the college football season and nine teams post wins in Week 8


In the past 44 years, Illinois has played 20-plus point favorites 15 times at Memorial Stadium with zero upset victories.

That streak ended on Saturday against Wisconsin. The 31-point underdog Fighting Illini pulled off the biggest upset in college football this season by knocking No. 6 Wisconsin from the ranks of the unbeaten.

Junior kicker James McCourt drilled a 39-yard field goal as time expired to lift the Illini to its first win over a ranked opponent since 2011 and made the Badgers the highest ranked opponent to fall to Illinois since 2007.

McCourt’s kick capped a 10-point rally by the Fighting Illini after they fell behind 23-14 with just under 10 minutes to play in the fourth quarter.

Turnovers played a key role. The Illini converted three takeaways, two fumble recoveries and an interception, into 17 points. McCourt’s game winner came nine plays after Tony Adams’ interception with 2:32 to play.

Josh Imatorbhebhe, a transfer wide receiver from USC who entered the game with a Big Ten-leading five touchdown catches, hauled in a 29-yard TD toss from Brandon Peters with 5:53 remaining to start the comeback.

The Illini put up 24 points against a Wisconsin defense that had allowed only 29 points all season and was coming off back-to-back shutouts. A first-half 48-yard touchdown catch by Donny Navarro snapped a scoreless streak of 148 minutes of game time by the Badgers defense, dating back to September 28.

Lehigh: For the second straight game the Mountain Hawks won in dramatic fashion on the road, pushing their winning streak to three straight and improving to 2-0 in the Patriot League. Devon Bibbens’ four-yard touchdown from Addison Shoup lifted Lehigh past Fordham in overtime. The team appeared headed for a second overtime with an exchange of field goals, but a roughing the kicker call against the Rams gave Lehigh a second chance in the first OT and the Mountain Hawks took full advantage. Shoup’s touchdown pass was his only attempt of the game. He took over for Tyler Monaco after the senior was forced out with an injury in overtime. Zach Davis powered the Rams with 191 rushing yards on 34 carries and forced OT with a 40-yard scamper with 7:25 to play in regulation.

Learn more about Lehigh Chapter Vice President and Defensive Back Divine Buckrham in our Beyond The Trophy series

Baylor: The Bears trailed by 10 early in the third quarter and were still down three early in the fourth quarter before ripping off 21 unanswered points in a 4-minute span to bury Oklahoma State in Stillwater. The victory was only the second for Baylor at Boone Pickens Stadium and moved No. 14 ranked Baylor to 7-0. This was the third time Baylor rallied from a fourth-quarter deficit in the last four weeks. QB Charlie Brewer threw for 312 yards, JaMycal Hasty had 205 total yards rushing and receiving and the defense kicked in a fumble return for a touchdown by LB Terrel Bernard.

Davidson: Junior running back Wesley Dugger had a career day in Jacksonville, Florida that included setting a Wildcats program record. Dugger had a career-best five touchdown as part of a 193-yard outing in the victory over Jacksonville. Those five rushing scores moved Dugger into the No. 1 spot for Davidson career rushing touchdowns with 37. For becoming the Wildcats’ all-time leader in rushing touchdowns, Dugger earned the Uplifting Athletes Rare Performance of the Week. Dugger also moved into third on the all-time school rushing list with 2,940 yards and counting. Davidson Chapter President George Hatalowich finished with five tackles including one tackle for a loss as part of a defense that limited the Dolphins to only 81 rushing yards.

Penn State: Quarterback Sean Clifford, the Penn State Chapter President, was responsible for all four Nittany Lions touchdowns in a tight victory over No. 16 Michigan in front of the fourth-largest crowd in Beaver Stadium history. Penn State remains unbeaten at 7-0, moved up to No. 6 in the latest rankings and beat back-to-back ranked opponents for the first time since 2005. Clifford had a rushing touchdown and three TD passes, including a pair to wideout K.J. Hamler, who finished with 108 receiving yards on six catches.

Saint Francis: The Red Flash defense posted the first shutout for Saint Francis since 2015 and limited Long Island to only 157 total yards. Redshirt sophomore QB Jason Brown tossed three TD passes and finished with 247 yards through the air. Saint Francis’ defense limited LIU to minus-1 yard rushing, racked up 14 tackles for a loss and recorded four sacks. SFU Chapter President Nick Rinella chipped in with four tackles and was in on a tackle for a loss.

Princeton: The Tigers scored seven touchdowns and posted 51 points in a near-perfect first half to stay undefeated and run its winning streak to 15 games. At the center of the Princeton storm was QB Kevin Davidson. The senior from California, who leads the FCS in completion percentage at nearly 73 percent, threw for 379 yards and five touchdowns by completing 27 of his 35 attempts. Wideout Jacob Birmelin was the other half of the Tigers’ explosion, registering 11 catches for 176 yards and two touchdowns in the first half alone.

Clemson: Led by a defense forced three turnovers, registered six sacks and limited Louisville to only 263 total yards, the defending National Champion Tigers stayed unbeaten and ran their winning streak to a record 22 in a row. RB Travis Etienne had another monster game with 192 yards on only 14 carries and one touchdown. Etienne averaged 13.7 yards per carry as part of an offense that piled up 551 yards on the road.

Colgate: After seven consecutive setbacks the defending Patriot League champions picked up victory No. 1 of the 2019 season on the road at Cornell. But it wasn’t easy. The Raiders defense had to make a late stand to preserve the one-point win. Defensive lineman Jacob Esarco had a sack, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. The Raiders turned Esarco’s fumble recovery into seven critical points. Colgate’s last victory was in the second round of the NCAA FCS Playoffs – a span of 322 days.

Chapter Update: Touchdown with 16 seconds left propels Fordham and 10 team post Week 7 victories


Down to its last gasp, Fordham quarterback Tim DeMorant hit Fotis Kokosioulis on a fourth-down touchdown pass from 17 yards out with 16 seconds remaining to cap a thrilling come-from-behind Patriot League victory at Georgetown.

Fordham was on the cusp of losing its second game this season by a single score when DeMorant was picked off at the Rams 34 with 2:57 remaining.

The defense set the table for victory by holding serve against the Hoyas offense, coming up with a fourth-down stop. Fordham took over 73 yards from the end zone with 81 seconds remaining and no timeouts.

Three completions covering 55 yards moved the ball to the Georgetown 17 before three straight incompletions set up the final-play drama.

Rams RB Zach Davis notched his fourth straight 100-yard game and the 30 points by Fordham was the most surrendered by the Hoyas defense this year who came into the game ranked No. 2 in FCS scoring defense.

Penn State: Head coach James Franklin recorded his first career road victory in 12 attempts against a ranked opponent by edging Iowa to remain unbeaten. Penn State’s defense produced the only turnovers of the game in the second half and freshman RB Noah Cain had his second consecutive 100-yard effort to power the Nittany Lions.

NC State: For the second consecutive game the Wolfpack defense recorded eight sacks to subdue Syracuse in a low-scoring affair.  The Pack’s 16 total sacks in back-to-back games are the most in consecutive games in school history. The previous high was 14 (vs. UVA and UNC) in 1982.

Learn more about Syracuse Chapter Vice President and Punter/Kicker/Holder Nolan Cooney in our Beyond The Trophy series

Penn: The Quakers finished the non-conference portion of their schedule 2-2 thanks to four touchdowns and 178 rushing yards from Karekin Brooks.  The senior had three rushing touchdowns, caught a TD pass and averaged 6.4 yards per carry.

Kent State: Behind a defense that limited rival Akron to fewer than 300 yards, the Golden Flashes soared to the top of the MAC standings and claimed the Wagon Wheel game by rolling the Zips. Kent State Chapter President Antwan Dixon had five catches for Kent State.

Princeton: The Tigers improved to 4-0 and have now won 14 straight after overwhelming winless Lafayette. Collin Eaddy had three touchdown runs to power the Princeton offense and the defense limited the visitors to seven first downs and 162 yards of total offense on 57 plays.

Colgate: Defensive tackle Nick Wheeler registered two sacks against Bucknell to break a 38-year-old Colgate career sack record. Wheeler bumped his sack total to six for the season and 29½ for his career, passing Kelly Robinson, who tallied 28½ from 1979-81. Wheeler earned the Week 7 Uplifting Athletes Rare Performance of the Week.

Baylor: The upstart Bears moved to 6-0 with a double OT victory over Texas Tech in a wild back-and-forth contest that saw the lead changed hands six times. Baylor QB Charlie Brewer struggled at times, but came through with three rushing touchdowns and an 81 yard march down the field late in the fourth quarter for a field goal to force overtime. In the second OT, Baylor won it with a 5-yard touchdown run by JaMycal Hasty.

Western Michigan: A 21-point second quarter explosion powered the Broncos to a homecoming victory over Miami (Ohio). Western Michigan is 4-0 at Waldo Stadium this season. Grad transfer Keith Mixon Jr. sparked the offense with touchdown catches covering 46 and 37 yards. WMU Chapter President Justin Tranquill tied for the team high in tackles with nine and also had a pass break-up. 

Notre Dame: Powered by running back Tony Jones’ career 176 rushing yards, the Fighting Irish jumped to a 17-3 halftime lead and held off a late charge from USC. Jones had 120 of those yards in the first half. 

Clemson: Behind a defense that produced four takeaways and limited Florida State to only 253 total yards, the defending National Champion Tigers became just the 15th FBS program to reach 750 all-time wins, and the first ACC program to reach that mark. Clemson RB Travis Etienne finished with 127 yards, three touchdowns and became the seventh player in school history to rush for more than 3,000 yards.