The second round of the FCS playoffs are in the books and eight more teams got it done this weekend with several picking up milestone wins. Several quarterbacks, though, went down with injuries. Some teams were able to rally and win in spite of losing their signal-callers but others unraveled without them. When the dust from Saturday finally settled, the home teams all prevailed.
Holy Cross Runs by UNH 35-19
After a tight first half, the Crusaders ran away from New Hampshire in the final 30 minutes to earn a spot in the quarterfinals. Whether it was quarterback Matthew Sluka or running back Peter Oliver, Holy Cross’ rushing attack was clicking on all cylinders and the Wildcats couldn’t keep up.
After a slow start by both teams, the Crusaders got their only score of the opening half when Oliver broke free on a 39-yard touchdown run. Fumbles and missed field goals, though, were plaguing Holy Cross early and when the two teams went into the locker room it was still anyone’s game at 7-5.
Coming out of the gates in the second half, though, Holy Cross capitalized on a UNH turnover and Oliver picked up his second TD of the day. Shortly after Wildcats quarterback Max Brosmer tossed an interception and the Crusaders tacked on another touchdown when Sluka connected with receiver Jalen Coker. From there they tallied up 14 more points and won comfortably when all was said and done.
Oliver ran for 175 yards and two touchdown while Sluka piled up 103 rushing yards and two scores as well. The Crusaders defense forced five turnovers and stonewalled Dylan Laube and the UNH offense for just 22 yards on the ground. Brosmer threw for 242 yards and two touchdowns but also tossed three interceptions.
Holy Cross will take on South Dakota State next weekend.
UIW Outpaces Furman to Advance to Quarterfinals
Incarnate Word had to use every bit of its high-powered offense to outlast Furman on Saturday but Lindsey Scott Jr. and company got the job done. A late touchdown to Kole Wilson lifted the Cardinals past the feisty Paladins and now UIW is headed to the quarterfinals for the first time in program history.
Even though voting for the Walter Payton Award is now closed, Scott still is trying to make his case as was evident by the circus-like touchdown he dropped in to Darion Chaffin in the first quarter. While being taken down, Scott unloaded a 21-yard loft to the end zone that Chaffin brought in to tie the game at 7-7.
HOW IN THE WORLD DID LINDSEY SCOTT JR MAKE THIS TD THROW?!? pic.twitter.com/VANWH0e5l3— Robert Griffin III (@RGIII) December 3, 2022
For all his highlight reel plays, Scott had his fair share of struggles with interceptions early on. Furman got their first points of the game from a pick six then got their next touchdown following Scott’s second interception. Dominic Roberto pushed in for a one-yard scoring run to give Furman a 17-14 lead with 2:19 to play in the opening quarter. Scott threw two more touchdowns before halftime, however, to give UIW an 11-point lead at the break.
Brian Mayes intercepted Paladins quarterback Tyler Huff coming out of halftime and the Cardinals added three more points. From there, though, the tides of the game turned and Furman scored 21 unanswered points to regain a 38-34 lead with under seven minutes to play.
Scott’s pass to Wilson made it 41-38 but it was Zacchaeus McKinney’s interception that sealed it for Incarnate Word. Scott ended his day with 518 total yards and five passing touchdowns. Both Chafin and Taylor Grimes went over 100 yards receiving with Chafin snagging three scores. Huff led the Paladins in rushing with 64 yards and two touchdowns. He threw for 171 yards and a score but had two picks.
The Cardinals will hit the road to take on Sacramento State next Friday.
William & Mary Dominates Gardner-Webb
Garnder-Webb’s exciting first ever playoff run came to an end on Saturday as William & Mary poured it on for a lopsided 54-14 win. The Tribe dominated the Bulldogs in every facet and scored the most points of any game they’ve played in this season. Darius Wilson and Bronson Yoder were a force in the backfield and Gardner-Webb had zero answers.
The Tribe opened things up with a 10-play drive that wound up in the end zone with a three-yard TD run by Yoder. A fumble by Gardner-Webb’s Cutrell Haywood led to another W&M score when JT Mayo brought in a 34-yard pass from Wilson. Shortly after Mayo got his second long touchdown on a 43-yard throw from Wilson.
At halftime William & Mary was up 34-0 but the Bulldogs finally got on the board in the third quarter. Matthew Caldwell connected with Caleb Boarders for a 17-yard touchdown. It was about the only highlight Gardner-Webb had, though, as the Tribe rolled out to 20 more points in the final 30 minutes.
Wilson passed for 240 yards and three touchdowns and led the team in rushing with 89 yards on eight carries. Mayo led all receivers with 77 yards and two touchdowns. Bulldogs QB Bailey Fisher went down with an injury in the early going, exiting with 50 yards on 10 passing attempts. Caldwell finished his day with 103 yards and a touchdown along with two interceptions. Narii Gaither ran for 89 yards.
William & Mary will travel to Montana State next weekend.
Davis, South Dakota State Cruise by Delaware 42-6
Delaware lost a pair of quarterbacks in Nolan Henderson and Ryan O’Connor and the Blue Hens were never able to recover as South Dakota State delivered a beatdown. Isaiah Davis got it done on the ground while Mark Gronowski and the Janke brothers took care of business through the air. All in all the #1 seed did what they were supposed to do and the season goes on another week in Brookings.
The Blue Hens jumped out to a 3-0 lead but from there it was all SDSU. Davis ran in for a one-yard touchdown. After Henderson left with an injury, Zach Gwynn came in but was unable to produce anything for the UD offense.
In the second quarter Davis authored his second score with a 10-yard touchdown run and Gronowski got his own not long after. At halftime the Jackrabbits led big 21-6. Delaware kicker Brandon Ratcliffe had the only points of the day for the Blue Hens.
Amar Johnson opened the second half with a two-yard scoring run to make it 28-6 and from there South Dakota State didn’t look back. The game ended on a scary play in which backup QB Ryan O’Conner took a big hit and was carted off the field.
The vaunted Jacks run defense allowed a mere 64 yards on the ground. Davis ran for 104 yards and two touchdowns while Gronwoski threw for 131 yards and a score. Jaden and Jaxon Janke combined for seven catches that went for 86 yards and a touchdown.
The Jackrabbits now have a date with Holy Cross next Saturday.
Montana State Topples Weber State in Rematch
Act II of Weber State at Montana State turned out just like the first. After the Bobcats stormed out to a big lead, the Wildcats fought back with some late scores to keep it interesting but ultimately MSU held on to win a close one. All-American running back Isaiah Ifanse made his much-anticipated return while the duo of Sean Chambers and Tommy Mellott ran wild over the WSU defense.
The Wildcats scored an opening field goal but Montana State responded with a two-yard touchdown run from Chambers. After that, though, MSU’s offense cooled off but kicker Blake Glessner drilled three field goals through the course of the opening half.
Weber State scored its first touchdown when Bronson Barron hit receiver Ty MacPherson over the middle for a 15-yard score to make it 10-10. Glessner’s field goals of 33 and 31 yards respectively gave the Bobcats a 16-10 lead at halftime.
Glessner would hit another kick on the opening possession of the third quarter to make it a nine-point game. The MSU offense came alive again with Chambers leading the charge. He found tight end Derryk Snell for a 28-yard touchdown to extend the lead to 26-10.
After MSU executed a double-reverse touchdown throw to Willie Patterson to go up by 23 points, the Wildcats started to claw their way back in. Barron had left with an injury but backup signal-caller Kylan Weisser came in and led the comeback attempt. Weisser threaded a 31-yard pass to Jon Christensen for a touchdown and then they converted on the two-point try.
Now trailing 33-18, Weisser hit Hayden Meacham in the end zone later to make it a one-possession game. Chambers, though, grinded out a couple first downs to put the game on ice and secure the win.
Mellott and Chambers racked up 250 yards on the ground while Ifanse ran for 91 in his first game back since last year’s national championship. Weisser threw for 111 yards and two touchdowns but also had an interception. Dontae McMillan led the way for the Wildcats rushing attack with 56 yards.
The Bobcats will welcome in William & Mary next Friday night.
Samford Takes Down SLU in Overtime Despite Losing Hiers
The Bulldogs’ first ever home playoff game ended happily even though Walter Payton Award finalist Michael Hiers went down with an injury. Backup signal-caller Quincy Crittendon stepped in and stepped up, throwing four touchdowns to get Samford into OT with visiting Southeastern Louisiana. The defense forced a big turnover and Cittendon took the team home with a touchdown run to ice it.
On Samford’s opening drive Hiers appeared to re-aggravate a wrist injury he suffered earlier this season and Cittendon came in to throw a 16-yard touchdown to Judd Cockett. SLU answered with a 12-play drive that ended with a Carlos Washington eight-yard TD run. It was the start of a back-and-forth day for both offenses.
After stopping the Bulldogs on downs, the Lions got their first lead with a touchdown run from quarterback Cephus Johnson. Samford, though, leveled it when Jay Stanton rumbled in from a yard out. Shortly after, Cittendon found receiver Kendall Watson for a 10-yard scoring strike to make it 21-14.
With the score tied at 28 in the early goings of the fourth quarter, Cittendon hooked up with Jaylan Thomas from 25 yards out to give the Bulldogs the lead back. They extended that advantage with another Stanton TD run on their next drive.
SLU staged a comeback, though. Washington scampered in for another touchdown before Jessie Britt knotted things back up with his late scoring run. The two-yard touchdown came with just 37 seconds left to play and the game went to overtime.
On their first possession of OT the Lions lost the ball when Johnson coughed it up. Four plays later Cittendon sent the Bulldogs to the quarterfinals with a 10-yard touchdown run. The first ever playoff game at Seibert Stadium was a thriller.
Cittendon threw for 314 yards and was responsible for five total touchdowns. He also led Samford in rushing with 94 yards. Watson hauled in seven passes for 110 yards and a score while Cockett had two touchdowns. Johnson put up 296 all purpose yards for SLU and ran for three touchdowns. In total the Lions ran for six scores but it wasn’t enough.
Samford takes on North Dakota State next weekend in Fargo.
Explosive Plays Help NDSU Dismantle Montana 49-26
Montana showed some fight for a while but in the end North Dakota State did what they do best this time of year: smother their opponent behind a cascade of big plays in the Fargodome. Tamarik Williams and Kobe Johnson had big performances on the ground while Cam Miller did enough with both his arm and his legs to get it done.
The Bison rumbled out to a 14-0 lead on the back of two touchdown runs from Miller, the second being a long 68-yard scamper. Montana stayed in it with a 13-play drive orchestrated by Lucas Johnson. Johnson pushed in for a one-yard touchdown to make it 14-7 late in the first quarter.
North Dakota State’s defense extended the lead, though, when Cole Wisniewski recovered a fumble from Johnson in the end zone. The Grizzlies D returned the favor to open the second half with a pick six. Corbin Walker jumped the route and took an errant Miller pass back 58 yards to draw the score to within a point.
It only took Kobe Johnson one play to get the fans back into the game. He broke free on a 75-yard touchdown run. Williams put up a long TD run of his own shortly following with a 68-yard dash that made it 35-20. To make matters worse for UM, Lucas Johnson had to exit with a leg injury. One more late score from TK Marshall put an end to it.
Kobe Johnson ran for 208 yards while Miller put up 101 on the ground. The par accounted for three of the Bison’s six rushing scores. The NDSU defense forced three takeaways and held Montana to 183 passing yards. Griz backup QB Daniel Britt threw for 108 yards and a touchdown along with two interceptions
North Dakota State will host Samford on Friday.
Sacramento State Picks Up First-Ever Playoff Win over Richmond
It’s been a long time coming for head coach Troy Taylor but on Saturday evening his Sac State team picked up their first playoff win in program history by beating Richmond 38-31 in the rain down in California. The Hornets prolific aerial attack (and the rainy weather) proved to be too much for the Spiders.
Asher O’Hara opened up the scoring with a five-yard touchdown pass to tight end Marshel Martin but Richmond answered when Reece Udinski connected with Jasiah Williams for a 25-yard score. The Spiders got their first lead shortly following with a Savon Smith touchdown push.
After surrendering a 21-10 lead to the Spiders, the Hornets got the lift they needed with a one-yard touchdown run from Marcus Fulcher. Sac State got the edge back on the opening kickoff of the second half when Elijah Tua-Tolliver ran it back 95 yards to make it 24-21.
Kicker Andrew Lopez hit a 26-yard field goal to knot things back up before Udinski found Leroy Henley for a 21-yard touchdown to reclaim the lead. With the risk of losing yet another playoff game, Hornets quarterback Jake Dunniway delivered Marshel his second touchdown of the night.
It was O’Hara, however, that gave Sac State its game-winning play when he hit Pierre Williams for a big 51-yard touchdown. Late in the game the Hornets defense forced Richmond’s offense into a 4th and 20 and Udinski couldn’t convert it. Sac State held on for the 38-31 win.
Dunniway had a big day passing, completing 19 passes for 317 yards and a touchdown but he also threw three interceptions. O’Hara, while only attempting eight passes, threw two touchdowns and was turnover free. Williams and Marshel each had over 100 receiving yards and combined for three scores.
Sacramento State will now welcome in Incarnate Word.