The FCS playoffs plugged on this weekend and eight more exciting games are now in the rear view mirror. From blowouts to overtime duels, the second round had it all. Several of the expected names are moving on in the bracket but a few surprises are still in the fold too.
Here’s how it all went down.
Albany Blows by Richmond 41-13
For the first time in program history, Albany will be playing in the quarterfinals. The fifth seed Great Danes hosted and defeated CAA rival Richmond on Saturday. Reese Poffenbarger threw for 170 yards and two touchdowns while Griffin Woodell ran for 96 more yards and another score. Albany withstood 10 penalties and forced three turnovers to beat the Spiders.
Richmond missed a field goal early and the Great Danes capitalized by scoring a touchdown on the ensuing possession. Leading 14-0 late in the first half, Bill Hackett made a big play for the Albany defense when he picked off Kyle Wickersham and returned it 71 yards for a score. The Great Danes never relinquished their big lead. The Spiders’ only touchdown came when Nick DeGennaro hauled in an 11-yard scoring pass from Camden Coleman.
Albany will face Idaho next weekend on the road as they look for their seventh consecutive victory. Richmond’s 2023 season comes to an end at the 9-4 mark.
‘Nova Topples YSU
Many thought that Youngstown State would have a good chance at pulling a road upset over 8-seed Villanova. It was the Wildcats, though, that ran out to a comfortable 45-28 victory. Connor Watkins completed 12 passes for 275 yards and a touchdown while Jalen Jackson ran for two more scores. The Villanova offense gained 466 yards while their defense held the Penguins to just 82 rushing yards.
Villanova made it clear early they had their minds set on running the ball. Runs of 18 and 35 yards by Watkins and DeeWil Barlee respectively set the Wildcats up for a touchdown on their opening possession. YSU would take a 10-7 lead later in the half thanks to a Mitch Davidson touchdown throw to Joey Farthing. Davidson would throw three TDs but also had two interceptions.
The Wildcats have now won seven straight contests and will travel to face top-seed South Dakota State next weekend. Youngstown State’s first playoff campaign since 2016 ends in the second round. The Penguins finish the year at 8-5.
Furman Takes Down Chattanooga 26-7 in SoCon Rematch
The Mocs and Paladins already squared off once this season but the two SoCon foes met again on Saturday afternoon. The result, however, was the same. Furman had starting quarterback Tyler Huff back from injury and it helped them get by Chattanooga with relative ease. Huff completed 18 passes for 192 yards while Dominic Roberto (also back from injury) ran for two touchdowns.
It was the Mocs who would score first. Chattanooga’s lone touchdown was delivered by Reggie Davis who ran in from 11 yards out. Davis’ TD came after Clay Fields III picked off Huff on the opening series. After that, though, Furman scored 26 unanswered and allowed just nine first downs to the Mocs. The Paladins held Chattanooga to under 100 passing yards.
Furman will hit the road next weekend to face Montana. The Paladins are now at 10 wins on the season and will be playing in the quarterfinals for the first time since 2005. Chattanooga ends it season at 8-5 overall.
South Dakota Defeats Sac State
The Coyotes are on their way to the quarterfinals for the first time in program history after a 34-24 win over Sacramento State at home. USD quarterback Aidan Bouman only had five incompletions and threw two touchdowns. Charles Pierre Jr. carried the ball 13 times for 123 yards to lead the rushers while both JJ Galbreath and Javion Phekps hauled in TDs.
South Dakota opened a 17-0 lead in the first half thanks to a big 56-yard fumble return touchdown from Mi’Quise Grace. Sac State, though, rallied back behind two touchdown runs from running back Marcus Fulcher. Hornets quarterback Kaiden Bennett would leave the game with an injury and it proved to be too much for Sacramento State to overcome.
USD will move on to host North Dakota State next weekend. The Coyotes are one of the three teams to have beaten NDSU this year (also in Vermillion). Sacramento State sees its season end with an 8-5 record. The Hornets still have only ever played in the quarterfinals once.
SDSU Blanks Mercer 41-0
South Dakota State has now won 26 straight games dating back to last September after blowing out Mercer at home. The Jacks put up 346 rushing yards and Isaiah Davis ran for three touchdowns in the lopsided win. Both Davis and Amar Johnson eclipsed 100 yards rushing while Mark Gronowski threw for 158 yards and a score as well. Jaxon Janke led the receivers with seven catches for 107 yards.
The Jackrabbits scored points on each of their four first half drives and led Mercer 24-0 at the break. Bears quarterback Carter Peevy tossed two interceptions while the team was only able to muster up 151 offensive yards on the afternoon.
Villanova will pay a visit to Brookings next week for the quarterfinals. South Dakota State will meet the Wildcats for the third time in their playoff history. Head coach Jimmy Rogers now has his first career postseason win with the Jacks under his belt and SDSU moves to 12-0 on the season. Mercer ends its year with a 9-4 overall record.
NDSU Edges Montana State in OT Thriller
The game of the weekend went down in Bozeman with North Dakota State battling 6-seed Montana State. The Bison and Bobcats traded blows all afternoon but it was NDSU that prevailed in the end. It took overtime and a blocked extra point to send Matt Entz’s squad to the next round. In a rare road playoff game, North Dakota State got outgained my MSU and picked up fewer first downs but still won in heart-stopping fashion.
Special teams issues plagued Montana State early with kicker Casey Kautzman missing two field goals from 33 and 49 yards respectively on the team’s opening two possessions. The Bobcats, though, would still score first when quarterback Tommy Mellott hit receiver Ty McCullouch for a 34-yard touchdowns. Mellott, who threw for 204 yards on the day, would have three total scores.
NDSU’s Cam Miller only threw for 66 yards but did have a TD and no picks. TaMerik Williams ran for 162 yards and a pair of touchdowns. TK Marshal scored the game-tying TD with 2:33 remaining to force overtime. In the extra frame it was Cole Payton who ran in to give the Bison the lead. MSU’s Scottre Humphrey scampered in from 25 yards out for the would be tie but Kautzman’s PAT was blocked and NDSU won 35-34. North Dakota State snaps Montana State’s 26-game winning streak at home and has set a new FCS record with 46 playoff wins as a program. They will play South Dakota in the quarterfinals.
Montana Dominates Delaware in the Snow
Weather can always be interesting this time of year for the northern teams hosting and such was the case on Saturday night in Missoula. The snow fell hard and heavy while 2-seed Montana trounced visiting Delaware 49-19. Clifton McDowell was productive, throwing for 186 yards and two touchdowns while running for another. The Griz defense forced two turnovers and stopped the Blue Hens 11 times on third down.
Montana withstood an early interception and eventually opened a 10-0 advantage behind a 27-yard touchdown run from Xavier Harris. On the first play of the second quarter, Nick Ostmo would extend that lead to 17 with a TD run of his own. It piled up for Delaware in a hurry especially when the UM defense started scoring. Jaxon Lee recovered a fumble from Jourdan Townsend and ran it back eight yard for a touchdown. The Grizzlies also posted a safety on the night.
Montana will be back home next weekend to welcome in Furman. The Griz have now picked up 11 wins on the season and are still unbeaten in their building this year. Delaware has played in its final playoff game after announcing it will be moving up to the FBS in two years. The Hens will be ineligible to compete in the postseason next year.
Idaho Outlasts Southern Illinois 20-17 in Overtime
The final game of the second round slate gave the weekend’s second overtime contest. It appeared as though Southern Illinois was positioned to pull off the upset as time expired but kicker Jake Baumgarte missed from 41 yards out, ensuring the game would go on beyond regulation. In OT Idaho got it done thanks to an interception and a subsequent field goal from Ricardo Chavez.
For much of the evening, the Vandals offense was sluggish but Gevani McCoy and company came alive late. McCoy threw for 182 yards while Anthony Woods rushed for a touchdown. Star receiver Hayden Hatten had six catches for 111 yards but did not find the end zone. The Vandals got a big play on special teams as well when return man Jermaine Jackson ran a punt back 83 yards for a TD. Idaho, after allowing a long scoring drive in the third quarter, drew things even late with Woods’ lone scoring run and also the team's only offensive touchdown. Nic Baker and the SIU offense responded by getting into scoring position but Baumgarte’s missed kick allowed Idaho to complete the comeback in OT.
It marked the Vandals first playoff win since 1993 and will send Idaho to the quarterfinals where it will host Albany next Saturday night. Jason Eck picks up his first playoff win as a head coach. Southern Illinois wraps up its year at 8-5.