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FCS Playoffs First Round Review

Six of the eight home teams advance to the Round of 16

NCAA Football: Southeastern Louisiana at Mississippi Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

While Rivalry Week was going on in the FBS, the first round of the FCS Playoffs got started yesterday. For the most part, the week played out as expected with six of eight home teams winning, but there were a few unexpected results, and an absolutely bonkers finish. Let’s get you up to speed.

Monmouth 44, Holy Cross 27

The Monmouth Hawks took care of business against the Patriot League champions on Saturday, jumping out to a 23-0 lead on the Crusaders. Holy Cross allowed Monmouth’s high-powered offense to rack up over 500 total yards of offense in the victory, as the Crusaders were one and done in the playoffs for the third time in their history.

Pete Guerriero has been a monster for the Hawks the last few weeks. He is closing in on 2,000 rushing yards for the season after his third straight game with 200 yards on the ground and multiple touchdowns. Guerriero has run the ball 77 times for 697 yards and eight touchdowns in those three tilts, but he’ll have a hard time having similar success against James Madison next week. The Dukes are expected to be favored by at least 20 points at on Saturday.

Albany 42, Central Connecticut State 14

The Great Danes used a 28-point third quarter to blow open a relatively even game with the Blue Devils. Jeff Undercuffler made the most of his opportunities, completing 19 of 30 passes for 304 yards with six touchdowns and an interception in the victory, but Albany will have a tough test next week. The Great Danes will travel to Bozeman to face Montana State where there is always a chance for snow in December.

Austin Peay 42, Furman 6

The oddsmakers didn’t think the Governors would pick up a single win in their first ever playoff appearance, installing Austin Peay as a short home underdog. This program is used to proving naysayers wrong at this point though, and the Governors completely shut down Furman’s offense to record their first ever playoff win.

Six of the Paladins’ 17 first downs came off penalties, and this offense could only muster 227 total yards against the Governors’ defense. Furman turned the ball over three times, and Austin Peay made the most of its opportunities. Austin Peay fans can celebrate now, but the Governors face a tough matchup next week when they travel to face Sacramento State. The Governors will be a live underdog in this game though thanks to a stingy run defense.

Illinois State 24, Southeastern Missouri State 6

The Redbirds ran all over SEMO yesterday. Illinois State gashed the Redhawks defense for 340 rushing yards to cruise to a comfortable victory. James Robinson was an absolute workhorse, running 41 times for 297 yards in the win, and his play is one of the reasons why Illinois State figures to have a very good chance to beat Central Arkansas in Conway on Saturday.

Northern Iowa 17, San Diego 3

San Diego has won the Pioneer League four years in a row, but the Toreros continue to disappoint in the playoffs. For the third time in the last four years, a team from the MVFC completely snuffed out their offense, sending them home for the holidays. The Toreros have only managed to score 13 points in those three losses to MVFC teams, and this was their closest loss to date.

Northern Iowa’s defense held San Diego to 26 rushing yards on 28 carries and picked off Reid Sinnett three times in the victory. The Panthers didn’t do much on offense, taking a 7-3 lead into the fourth quarter, and they will need to do more against conference rival South Dakota State this weekend.

Nicholls State 24, North Dakota 6

The Colonels ran at will against the Fighting Hawks yesterday, racking up 316 rushing yards against this defense in an easy win. North Dakota could only muster 44 yards on the ground in the loss, as UND’s road woes continued to haunt them. Nicholls State isn’t celebrating too much though as the Colonels now have to travel to Fargo to face No. 1 North Dakota State.

Kennesaw State 28, Wofford 21

For the second straight season, the Owls eliminated the Terriers from the playoffs, proving that their brand of triple option football is superior. Kennesaw State ran for 309 yards while Wofford ran for 111 yards yesterday, but the Owls didn’t put the game away until late. Quarterback Jonathan Murphy set a Big South record for rushing yards in a playoff game in the win, running 23 times for 206 yards and three touchdowns, but Weber State will be a much more difficult opponent as the Wildcats have had two weeks to prepare for the triple option.

Southeastern Louisiana 45, Villanova 44

This was the most wild game of the day. Villanova took a 31-14 lead into halftime on Southeastern Louisiana, but the Lions roared back in the second half. They scored 17 straight points in the third quarter to tie it up and rallied to win as Fresno State transfer Chason Virgil torched the Wildcats for 474 yards and three touchdowns. Going on the road to face Montana in Missoula next week won’t be fun, but the Lions can enjoy their second playoff win in school history.