The Clarion University football team is 5-0 for the first time since 1983.
The reason behind the undefeated start is obvious.
Look no further than quarterback Connor Simmons and the Golden Eagle passing game, which ranks No. 10 in Division II in passing yards per game.
Specifically, it comes down to the connection between Simmons and junior wide receiver Matt Lehman.
Both Golden Eagles have individual statistics that rank in the upper echelon of Division II football.
Simmons is the top quarterback in the nation as far as passing efficiency goes.
He also ranks in the top 10 in passing yards, completion percentage and passing touchdowns.
Simmons has thrown 17 touchdowns this season throughout five games.
Lehman’s 10 receiving touchdowns ranks No. 2 in Division II.
Many of those 10 touchdowns have come in the red zone off what seems to be Simmons’ and Lehman’s go to, the fade route.
“Coach Correll always says just throw it in a spot where only they can make a play on it. Matt does a great job of creating separation and going up at the highest point to get the ball,” Simmons said.
Simmons also credited Lehman’s 6-foot 3-inch frame with a hefty wingspan to their success.
Lehman has proven to be one of the most physical receivers on the field; however, that was not always the case.
In Lehman’s senior year at Burrell High School, he stood just over six feet tall and weighed 160 pounds.
Lehman has grown three inches and added 40 pounds to get where he is.
“Hitting a late growth spurt definitely has some advantages especially for college. In high school I did what I could with my size but it was a lot harder being the smaller guy,” Lehman said.
The chemistry that Simmons and Lehman have created in the two years that they have been on the same field has been remarkable.
“This is only [Simmons’] second year on the team, and he has done a great job for us. Ever since he got here we became friends and just kept working with one another whenever we could. Even if it was too cold in the winter we would still get some throws in the gym,” Lehman said
The praise does not stop there.
Simmons has a lot to say about Lehman’s play as well.
“To this point of the season, in my opinion, he’s one of the top receivers in the PSAC and in all of DII. He’s consistent with catching passes and making plays after the catch. Talking to him over the summer, he always told me he was working out constantly to be better this season, whether it was catching footballs or lifting weights or working on speed. He’s one of the hardest working guys in the weight room and on the field and all of that carries over to how he plays in the games,” Simmons said.
Simmons is on pace for 37 touchdowns through the 11 game regular season, while Lehman is on pace for 22 touchdowns.
The national record for touchdown passes in a season stands at 54, while the national record for receiving touchdowns in a season stands at 35.
If the Golden Eagles can make a deep run into the Division II playoffs, those records may be in play.