FCS playoff review

Nov 29, 2015 - 2:58 AM (STATS) - Familiar matchups are usually part of the FCS playoffs, and the first round helped breed plenty of contempt for the second.

Included in next weekend's games are a Missouri Valley Conference matchup (Western Illinois-Illinois State), a CAA Football rematch (William & Mary-Richmond), a Southland Conference rematch (Sam Houston State-McNeese State) a rivalry matchup (Chattanooga-Jacksonville State) and a civil war rematch in South Carolina (The Citadel-Charleston Southern).

And, oh yes, get ready for a rematch between North Dakota State and Montana. The Grizzlies opened the season by knocking off the four-time defending FCS champion Bison.

The Citadel helped highlight the start of the 24-team playoffs Saturday, winning at Coastal Carolina 41-38 on Eric Goins' game-ending 43-yard field goal. Sam Houston State and William & Mary also won games by three points.





Western Illinois (7-5) 24, Dayton (10-2) 7

Game Balls: WIU running back Nikko Watson was a 6-foot, 240-pound freight train, rushing 34 times for 152 yards, including a 7-yard touchdown. Redshirt freshman Pete Swenson, converted from tight end to defensive end this season, had four sacks for the Leathernecks.

Key Stat: Trailing 10-7 at halftime, Dayton managed only 25 yards on 29 plays in the second half.

STATS Takeaway: Dayton committed only one turnover in the red zone during the regular season, but quarterback Alex Jeske had three red-zone miscues against WIU, including an interception in the end zone and a bobbled snap on fourth-and-goal from the Leathernecks' 1. After having two big opportunities to go up by two scores in the second quarter, the Flyers wound up trailing 10-7 by halftime as the Leathernecks were on their way to scoring 24 unanswered points, including a pair of second-half touchdown passes by Sean McGuire.

Up Next: The Leathernecks fell 48-24 at No. 2 Illinois State (9-2) in the MVC regular season and get another chance in the second round next Saturday (2 p.m. ET).


Chattanooga (9-3) 50, Fordham (9-3) 20

Game Ball: Three-time Southern Conference offensive player of the year Jacob Huesman had his usual big game, completing 17 of 25 passes for 211 yards and three touchdowns with another 129 rushing yards on 15 carries.

Key Stat: Fordham All-America running back Chase Edmonds suffered an ankle injury and was knocked from the game after rushing only three times for five yards.

STATS Takeaway: Not having Edmonds effectively ended Fordham's chance of an upset as the Mocs built a 38-0 lead. They knew the Rams had to go to the air and sacked quarterback Kevin Anderson five times. Free safety Lucas Webb earned some bragging rights with Mocs coach Russ Huesman, scoring a second-quarter touchdown on a 71-yard interception return - his ninth career pick to tie Huesman, who played for the Mocs from 1978-81.

Up Next: Chattanooga was held to 196 yards in a 23-20 loss to Jacksonville State on Sept. 5, but gets a second chance versus the top-seeded and top-ranked Gamecocks (10-1) in the second round next Saturday (2 p.m. ET).


The Citadel (9-3) 41, Coastal Carolina (9-3) 38

Game Ball: Quarterback Dominique Allen kept the The Citadel's triple option offense moving with 174 yards and two touchdowns on 33 carries.

Key Stat: The Citadel finished with an astounding 524 rushing yards. Like Allen, Tyler Renew (129 yards, touchdown) and Cam Jackson (113 yards, touchdown) went over 100 yards.

STATS Takeaway: Coastal Carolina knew what The Citadel wanted to do offensively and couldn't stop the Bulldogs, who held the ball for 37 minutes, 36 seconds. During the regular season, the Chanticleers tied for fifth in the FCS in fewest turnovers with 11, but they committed four against The Citadel. Mitchell Jeter's fumble recovery in Coastal territory in the final minute set up Goins' winning field goal.

Up Next: The Citadel keeps it in South Carolina with a visit to No. 8 seed Charleston Southern (9-2) in the second round next Saturday (1 p.m. ET). CSU earned a 33-20 road win over the Bulldogs on Sept. 26.


Montana (8-4) 24, South Dakota State (8-4) 17

Game Ball: Montana's fierce defensive line was led by Tyrone Holmes (three sacks) and Caleb Kidder (three tackles for loss), who dropped Jackrabbits a combined six times for negative-34 yards.

Key Stat: With a redshirt freshman Taryn Christion at quarterback, South Dakota State would have preferred to establish a strong run game, but the Jackrabbits fell behind 24-0 and Montana held them to 2.9 yards per carry (41 carries for only 117 yards).

STATS Takeaway: In a game in which both teams had nine punts, Montana won behind its strengths: a physical defense and quarterback Brady Gustafson (24 of 39 for 295 yards and two touchdowns) finding his excellent receivers at the right time. The Grizzlies scored on four straight first-half possessions while building their decisive lead and kept SDSU wide receiver Jake Wieneke out of the end zone, although he had 128 receiving yards.

Up Next: Having beaten North Dakota State 38-35 at home on Aug. 29. Montana will try to end the third-seeded Bison's four-year national title reign at the Fargodome in the second round next Saturday (3:30 p.m. ET).


Colgate (8-4) 27, New Hampshire (7-5) 20

Game Ball: Colgate's James Holland came in fourth on the team in rushing, but the Raiders wanted the ball in the sophomore's hands in short-yardage situations, and the 5-9, 205-pound running back scored on four touchdown runs of 1 to 6 yards while finishing with 95 yards on 23 carries.

Key Stat: New Hampshire quarterback Sean Goldrich had 41 completions and 56 attempts, but Colgate's bend-but-don't-break defense surrendered only one touchdown pass.

STATS Takeaway: A 26-8 home loss to New Hampshire on Sept. 12 didn't deter the Patriot League champion Raiders. They played with poise and confidence and never trailed against the host Wildcats, who played their final game at Cowell Stadium. After UNH's poor performance, it became easier to question the Wildcats' inclusion in the playoffs for the 12th straight season.

Up Next: Colgate spoiled a potential CAA matchup, instead earning the trip to No. 5 seed James Madison (9-2) for a second-round matchup next Saturday (1 p.m. ET).


Southern Utah (8-3) at Sam Houston State (8-3)

Game Ball: Two of the better defensive ends in the FCS were on display, and Sam Houston sophomore P.J. Hall got the win over Southern Utah senior James Cowser with four tackles for loss, a sack, an interception, two pass breakups and two blocked kicks.

Key Stat: Sam Houston ran 116 offensive plays - yes, 116 - for 579 yards.

STATS Takeaway: Southern Utah had to be surprised by Sam Houston's offensive production off the bench: Quarterback

Jeremiah Briscoe came in for Jared Johnson, throwing for 211 yards and the winning touchdown, while sixth-year senior Ridgeway Frank (29 carries for 137 yards and two touchdowns) and Remus Bulmer (16 carries for 111 yards) were the Bearkats' leading rushers. The Bearkats won despite allowing 27 straight points, including three TD passes from Ammon Olsen to Mike Sharp, in a 10-minute span of the second and third quarters.

Up Next: In a Southland Conference rematch, Sam Houston will try to hand No. 4 seed McNeese State (10-0) its first loss in the second round next Saturday (7 p.m. ET). McNeese won 27-10 on Nov. 7.


William & Mary (9-3) 52, Duquesne (8-4) 49

Game Ball: Duquesne quarterback Dillon Buechel threw for a career-high six touchdowns and was 33 of 53 for 423 yards with two interceptions in the loss.

Key Stat: William & Mary sophomore wide receiver DeVonte Dedmon caught just three passes, but each went for long touchdowns of 38, 24 and 37 yards.

STATS Takeaway: While Northeast Conference teams have played valiantly in their short playoff history, the Dukes never led in the highest-scoring first-round game. DeAndre Houston-Carson, the CAA's co-defensive player of the year, was at it again with big plays. He scooped up a blocked field goal and raced 65 yards for a score in the third quarter, and recovered the Dukes' onside kick after they closed within 52-39 with 1:11 left.

Up Next: William & Mary lost at Richmond 20-9 on Nov. 14 and is headed back for a CAA rematch with the No. 7-seeded Spiders in the second round next Saturday (noon ET).


Northern Iowa (8-4) 53, Eastern Illinois (7-5) 17

Game Ball: There are more well-known players in the UNI secondary, but senior cornerback Makinton Dorleant tied for the team high with six tackles - all solos - and had two tackles for loss, an interception, three pass breakups and a forced fumble. He totaled 94 yards in returns (kickoff, punt and interception).

Key Stat: UNI consistently picked up first downs with its ground attack, gaining 323 yards on 58 carries. Tyvis Smith led the way with a game-high 147 yards.

STATS Takeaway: Missouri Valley teams continue to do well in the playoffs while Ohio Valley teams don't. UNI used excellent field position to score on five straight possessions in the first half (three Michael Schmadeke field goals, two touchdowns) to take a 23-7 halftime lead. Once in control, the Panthers cruised to a sixth straight win.

Up Next: Northern Iowa will trek out to No. 6 seed Portland State (9-2) for a first-ever meeting in the second round next Saturday (10 p.m. ET). Both teams have five wins against FCS Top 25 teams.

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