Tag Archives: Liberty Flames

FBS And FCS Changes For The 2018 Season

The Idaho Vandals will drop down from the FBS level to the FCS starting with 2018. ( Ed Zurga/Getty Images North America)

FBS And FCS Changes For The 2018 Season

August is here, which means college football is right around the corner. Below we detail the conference changes in Division 1 football (FBS and FCS) from last season.

FBS Changes

Idaho will move from the Sun Belt Conference to the much more suitable geographical conference of the Big Sky. This also means going from the FBS to the FCS, which makes them the first team to make that move. The Vandals are familiar with the Big Sky as they were part of that conference from 1965 to 1995.

New Mexico State is another team that is leaving the Sun Belt Conference, but they will remain in the FBS as an independent team. They have a scheduling quirk this year as they face Liberty twice in 2018. The first game will be October 6 at home and the matchup will be November 24 at Liberty.

Speaking of Liberty, they made the jump from the FCS’ Big South Conference to be an independent in FBS. The Flames will be a full FBS member in 2019, which will allow them to become bowl eligible. Liberty is an interesting team because they had to petition the NCAA to have the move approved.

One final note about the FBS and the Sun Belt Conference is they split the remaining 10 teams into two divisions. The East Division has Appalachian State, Coastal Carolina, Georgia Southern, Georgia State, and Troy. The West Division has Arkansas State, Louisiana, Louisiana-Monroe, South Alabama, and Texas State. 

The Sun Belt will also hold a championship game for the first time in 2018 with the winners of the East and West Divisions meeting at the home of the higher-ranked team to decide the Sun Belt Champion.

FCS Changes

Liberty was already mentioned above going from the Big South to being a FBS Independent.

Idaho was discussed earlier under the FBS changes going to the Big Sky Conference. There is another change involving the Big Sky, which is North Dakota becoming an FCS Independent for 2018 and 2019. North Dakota will ultimately become a member of the Missouri Valley Conference in 2020. North Dakota’s games will still count in the Big Sky standings for UND’s opponents.

Campbell has moved from the Pioneer Football League to the Big South Conference. Campbell was part of the Pioneer Football League from 2008 through 2017 after they had no team from 1951 to 2007.

Hampton is moving from the Mid-Eastern Atlantic Conference to become a FCS Independent. They will end up in the Big South Conference starting in 2019. North Alabama is moving up from Division 2  and they will also end up as a member of the Big South Conference in 2019 . They will compete as a FCS Independent member this season.

Ivy League Basketball Roundup: 12/22/2014

Ivy League Basketball Roundup: 12/22/2014

Below is the Ivy League Basketball Roundup for Monday, December 22, 2014. Five teams – Brown, Dartmouth, Princeton, Columbia, and Penn were in action with only Princeton playing at home.

 

Brown Defeats Central Connecticut State On The Road

Brown had an excellent first half on both ends of the court to propel them to a 67-55 win over Central Connecticut State. Steven Spieth had 19 points and 10 rebounds while Tavon Blackmon finished with 16 points.

It took the Bears a while to put their stamp on the first half, as the game was 14-12 in favor of Brown midway through the first half. The Bears got going in the final 10 minutes with 8 points from Cedric Kuakumensah to close the half on a 22-7 run to lead 36-21 at the break.

Kuakumensah led Brown with 13 points in the first half on 6 of 8 shooting. The Bears shot 50% from the field and hit 4 of 10 three pointers (40%). They also committed 7 turnovers in the first half. Matt Mobley scored 11 points for the Blue Devils, but it was tough going for them as a team. They shot 29.6% from the field, made 2 of 5 three pointers (40%), and committed 9 turnovers.

CCSU came out in the second half with a 13-6 run to cut the deficit to 8 points at 42-34. The lead was cut to as low as 6 points at 52-46, but Brown went on a 13-2 run to effectively put the game away. CCSU did out-score Brown 34-31 in the second half.

Steven Spieth led Brown in the second half with 13 points and 7 rebounds. The Bears shot 41.7% from the field and hit 5 of 10 three pointers (50%). They out-rebounded CCSU 23-15, but committed 14 turnovers in the final 20 minutes. Matt Mobley had 11 points for CCSU while Faronte Drakeford scored 10 points. They shot 34.3% from the field while hitting only 2 of 8 three pointers (25%). They had only 1 turnover in the second half.

For the entire game, Steven Spieth had 19 points on 7 of 14 shooting (3 of 5 from deep) and collected 10 rebounds. Tavon Blackmon scored 16 points on 4 of 6 shooting and 7 of 8 from the free throw line. Cedric Kuakumensah finished with 13 points and 9 rebounds with Rafael Maia scoring 6 points and grabbing 10 boards. The Bears went 23 of 50 from the field (46%) and hit 9 of 20 three pointers (45%). They went 12 of 16 from the free throw line (75%), out-rebounded CCSU 43-31, blocked 7 shots, and committed 21 turnovers.

Matt Mobley finished with 22 points on 7 of 19 shooting for Central Connecticut State. Faronte Drakeford was the second leading scorer on the team with 13 points and grabbed 6 rebounds. The Blue Devils shot 20 of 62 from the field (32.3%) and hit 4 of 13 three pointers (30.8%). They went 11 of 15 from the free throw line (73.3%), had 9 steals, blocked 7 shots, and committed only 10 turnovers.

Brown (6-6) has a break of 6 days before facing Sacred Heart (6-4) at home on December 28. Central Connecticut State (2-9) face in-state Connecticut (5-4) December 28 on the road.

 

Dartmouth Held To 16 First Half Points In 20 Point Loss

Stellar shooting by Penn State and a poor shooting performance in the first half by Dartmouth allowed the Nittany Lions to win 69-49. Penn State led by 25 points at the break.

The game was tied at 7 with 15:24 remaining in the first half before a 20-4 run by Penn State gave them a 27-11 lead. It did not get any better for Dartmouth as they managed to only score 5 points in the final 6:18 of the first half. Penn State led 41-16 at the break.

Connor Boehm led the Big Green with 6 points in the first half. The team shot 29.2% from the field and missed all 9 three point attempts. They were out-rebounded 17-7 and committed 8 turnovers. D.J. Newbill led Penn State with 11 points in the first half on 5 of 7 shooting. The Nittany Lions shot 57.7% in the first half and hit 4 of 10 three pointers (40%). They committed 6 turnovers in first half.

The second half was better for Dartmouth, but the 25 point deficit was far too much to overcome as was Penn State’s quality. The Big Green were unable to chip into the lead with the team still trailing by 20 points or more for nearly all of the second half. The Big Green out-scored Penn State 33-28 in the final 20 minutes.

Alex Mitola led Dartmouth in the second half with 9 points on 3 of 5 shooting. They shot 40% from the field and hit only 2 of 11 three pointers (18.2%). They out-rebounded Penn State 20-17 and committed only 2 turnovers. Brandon Taylor had 8 points in the second half to lead Penn State. The team shot 34.8% and hit 3 of 9 three pointers (33.3%). They committed only 5 turnovers.

For the game Alex Mitola had 13 points to lead Dartmouth. Gabas Maldunas finished with 9 points and 4 rebounds. The Big Green shot 19 of 54 from the field (35.2%) and hit only 2 of 20 three pointers (10%). They hit 9 of 16 free throws (56.2%), had 6 steals, and committed 11 turnovers.

D.J. Newbill led Penn State with 17 points on 7 of 12 shooting. Geno Thorpe scored 12 points, John Johnson scored 10 points, and Brandon Taylor finished with 10 points and 8 rebounds. The Nittany Lions finished hitting 23 of 49 shots from the field (46.9%) and made 7 of 19 from beyond the arc (36.8%). They made 16 of 24 free throws (66.7%), out-rebounded Dartmouth 38-30, had 15 assists, and committed only 11 turnovers.

Dartmouth (5-6) has a bit of break with their next game at Bryant (3-5) on December 31. Penn State (12-1) has won 10 games in a row and their next game is a tough one. They travel to Madison, Wisconsin to face the Badgers (11-1) on New Year’s Eve.

 

Princeton Pulls Away In Second Half To Beat Liberty

A close game at the halftime interval gave way to an 18 point win for Princeton. The Tigers outscored Liberty by 14 points in the second half to win 65-47 on Monday night.

The game was even until a 9-2 run, courtesy of 3 three pointers, put the Tigers up 17-9. Liberty chipped away at the deficit and eventually tied the game at 23 with four and a half minutes to play. Princeton closed on an 8-4 run to lead 31-27 at the break.

David Andoh led Liberty in the first half with 8 points on 4 of 8 shooting. The Flames shot 47.6% in the first half and missed their only three point attempt. They out-rebounded Princeton 15-11 while committing 8 turnovers. Steven Cook, Amir Bell, and Spencer Weisz led Princeton with 6 points each. The Tigers shot 44% from the field while hitting 7 of 20 three pointers (35%). They had 8 assists and committed 4 turnovers in the first half.

For the fist 10 minutes of the second half, Princeton was unable to shake Liberty. The Flames kept the game between four and nine points. The final 8:34 of the second half was Princeton’s, as they went on a 16-7 run to win the game by 18 points.

James Johnson was the top scorer for Liberty in the second half with 6 points. The Flames shot 26.3% from the field and hit only 1 of 5 three pointers (20%). They also committed 12 turnovers in the second half. Steven Cook finished with 10 points on 2 of 4 shooting and 6 of 6 from the free throw line. The Tigers shot 39.1% and hit only 3 of 12 three pointers (25%). The Tigers were better on the glass with a 16-9 advantage and committed 9 turnovers.

Theo Johnson and David Andoh were joint-top scorers for Liberty with 10 points. The Flames went 15 of 40 from the field (37.5%) and hit 1 of 6 three pointers (16.7%). They made 16 of 21 free throws (76.2%), had 6 steals, and committed 21 turnovers. The Flames did out-rebounded Princeton 30-27.

The Tigers were led by Steven Cook’s 16 points on 4 of 7 shooting and 6 of 6 from the free throw line. Spencer Weisz finished with 13 points while Hans Brase scored 7 points and collected 9 rebounds. Princeton went 20 of 48 from the field (41.7%) and hit 10 of 32 three pointers (31.2%). They went 15 of 19 from the charity stripe (78.9%), had 12 assists, 10 steals, blocked 7 shots, and committed 14 turnovers.

Liberty (5-7) takes on Cincinnati Christian Sunday afternoon at home. Princeton (5-8) has won back-to-back games and faces Wake Forest (6-6) on New Year’s Eve on the road.

 

UConn’s Late Surge Sends Columbia To 15 Point Defeat

Columbia played a solid game against Connecticut, but a late run by the Huskies made the score line look better than it indicated. 20 point efforts from Ryan Boatright and Rodney Purvis led UConn to the 80-65 victory.

Connecticut sprinted out to a 9-0 lead before the Lions clawed their way back into the game with a 17-6 run to lead 17-15. They held that slim advantage until late in the half when Boatright drained a three pointer to give UConn the lead at 34-31. Jeff Coby responded with a three for Columbia, but Boatright scored the final 8 points for the Huskies to give them a 39-36 lead at the break.

Jeff Coby and Maodo Lo both had 9 points for Columbia while Steve Frankoski scored 8 points. The Lions shot 57.1% from the field and hit 4 of 11 three pointers (36.4%). They had 8 assists and committed 5 turnovers. Ryan Boatright scored 14 points while Rodney Purvis had 11 points. The Huskies shot 57.1% as well and also hit 4 three pointers out of 8 (50%). Neither team had the advantage on the glass (1o rebounds apiece) while UConn committed 4 turnovers.

The second half began with both teams trading buckets and the lead. The Huskies claimed the lead for good at 47-46 with 16:18 left to play. Even with 6:26 remaining it was 58-55 in favor of UConn, but the Huskies ended the game on a 22-10 with Columbia going cold from the field. The Huskies outscored Columbia 41-29 in the second half.

Maodo Lo had 15 second half points for Columbia. They shot 33.3% in the second half and hit only 4 of 14 three pointers (28.6%). They committed only 4 turnovers in the final 20 minutes. The Huskies were led by Purvis’ 10 points. Amida Brimah scored 8 points as well. The Huskies shot 57.1% and made 5 of 8 three pointers (62.5%). The Huskies made all 12 of their free throws, had 10 assists, and committed only 6 turnovers.

Maodo Lo led Columbia with 24 points for the game on 10 of 15 shooting and 4 of 9 from deep. Luke Petrasek scored 10 points off the bench. They went 26 of 58 from the field (44.8%) and made 8 of 25 three pointers (32%). They attempted only 7 free throws, making 5 of those (71.4%). They had 13 assists, 6 steals, and committed 10 turnovers.

Rodney Purvis finished with 21 points on 7 of 8 shooting and 4 of 5 from beyond the arc. Ryan Boatright had an excellent all-around game with 20 points, 5 rebounds, and 8 assists. The Huskies shot 28 of 49 from the field (57.1%) and made 9 of 16 three pointers (56.2%). They went 15 of 17 from the free throw line (88.2%), out-rebounded Columbia slightly (28-26), had 18 assists, and committed 10 turnovers.

Columbia (6-4) has lost two of their last 3 games. They face Colgate (3-9) on Sunday afternoon at home. Connecticut (5-4) faces in-state foe Central Connecticut State (2-9) on Sunday afternoon as well.

 

Penn Crushed On The Road By Vanderbilt

Vanderbilt had three players score at least 15 points on their way to a 29 point victory. The Commodores beat Penn 79-50.

The final score does not tell the tale of how the first half went. The Quakers led 15-10 following Tony Hicks‘ three pointer. Vanderbilt ripped off a 15-5 run to reclaim the lead at 25-20. The Quakers closed within four at 32-28, but an 8-1 run to end the half made it 40-29 at the break.

Tony Hicks led Penn with 14 first half points (48.2% of the Quakers’ total points in the first half). Penn shot 39.3% from the field and hit 4 of 10 three pointers. They had 5 steals, but committed 7 turnovers. Vandy was led by 13 points from Damian Jones and 11 points from James Siakam. The Commodores shot 56.5% from the field and hit 2 of 6 three pointers (33.3%). They made 12 of 15 free throws (80%), out-rebounded Penn 21-9, had 9 assists, and committed 10 turnovers.

The second half began with the game getting out of hand quickly. Vanderbilt went on a 13-3 run to build their lead to 21 points at 53-32. From that point it was just a matter of how much. Vandy led by as much as 33 before winning 79-50. They out-scored Penn 39-21 in the second half.

Darien Nelson-Henry had 6 second half points to lead Penn. The Quakers shot 29.6% from the field in the second half while making only 1 of 9 three pointers (11.1%). They committed 10 turnovers in the second half as well. Vandy was led by 10 points from Wade Baldwin IV. They shot 57.7% and hit 3 of 6 three pointers (50%). They had 7 steals while committing 6 turnovers.

For the game, Penn was led by Tony Hicks’ 16 points on 6 of 13 shooting. Matt Howard scored 11 points while Darien Nelson-Henry finished with 9 points. The Quakers went 19 of 55 from the field (34.5%) and hit 5 of 19 three pointers (26.3%). They made 7 of 13 free throws (53.8%), had 7 steals, and committed 17 turnovers.

Vanderbilt got 17 points and 8 rebounds from James Siakim on 7 of 8 shooting. Wade Baldwin IV scored 16 points and Damian Jones finished with 15 points and 6 rebounds. Shelton Mitchell scored 5 points, grabbed 6 rebounds, and dished out 7 assists. The Commodores went 28 of 49 from the field (57.1%) and made 5 of 12 three pointers (41.7%). They hit 18 of 25 free throws (72%), out-rebounded Penn 39-24, had 17 assists, had 9 steals, and committed 16 turnovers.

Penn (3-6) saw their three game win streak broken with the loss and face La Salle (6-5) on December 30. Vanderbilt (8-3) has won three of four and faces St. Louis (8-4) on New Year’s Eve.

2014 FCS Playoffs Second Round Wrap Up

North Dakota State Celebrates Their Win Over South Dakota State (Joe Ahlquist / Argus Leader)
North Dakota State Celebrates Their Win Over South Dakota State (Joe Ahlquist / Argus Leader)

2014 FCS Playoffs Second Round Wrap Up

Eight games were played in second round to determine the Quarterfinal matchups next weekend. As usual, there were surprises, close games, and expected results. Let’s take a look at each game from the second round and be sure to check the results compared to the predictions made last week, which can be found here.

 

Fordham Rams (11-2) at #1 New Hampshire Wildcats (10-1)

New Hampshire had a strong performance against Fordham holding the Rams to just 161 yards passing. The Wildcats won 44-19.

New Hampshire scored on their first play from scrimmage with a 51 yard run by Jimmy Owens. The missed extra point kept the score at 6-0. Their second possession resulted in another touchdown as quarterback Sean Goldrich ran in for an 8 yard touchdown on fourth and two. The Wildcats were successful on the two point attempt to make it a 14-0 lead. New Hampshire was on their way to another score until a lost fumble by Goldrich gave the ball to Fordham.

The Rams turned that fumble into a field goal and would have more good fortune on New Hampshire’s next drive. The Wildcats were on their way to another score until a lost fumble by Jared Allison was recovered at the 3 yard line. Two plays later, Chase Edmonds ripped of a 91 yard dash to the end zone and the Rams missed the two-point conversion. The Rams closed the deficit to 14-12 after a 26 field goal on their next drive from Michael Marando.

Following the field goal, New Hampshire made it a two-score game with Nico Steriti’s 11 yard touchdown run. The Wildcats hit a 30 yard field goal as time expired in the first half to take a 24-12 lead at the break.

The Wildcats opened the second half with an excellent kickoff return and parlayed that into a touchdown with Steriti punching the ball in from a yard out to make it 31-12. Fordham responded in kind with an excellent return of their own in addition to a penalty that put them at New Hampshire’s 12 yard line. Three plays later, Mike Nebrich hit Brian Wetzel for a 5 yard touchdown and trailed 31-19 early in the third quarter. Late in the third quarter, the Wildcats extend the lead to 37-19 on Steriti’s 7 yard touchdown run. Once again, the extra point attempt was no good.

The fourth quarter saw New Hampshire’s punt blocked early on, but Fordham was unable to cash in. The Wildcats capped the scoring later in the quarter with Steriti’s 24 yard touchdown run. They did make the extra point for a 44-19 lead.

Mike Nebrich had a tough game passing for Fordham. He went 12 of 30 for 161 yards with a touchdown and a pick. Chase Edmonds ran for 208 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries. Tebucky Jones Jr. led the Rams with 3 catches for 64 yards. Brian Wetzel had 3 catches for 34 yards and a touchdown.

New Hampshire was led by Sean Goldrich, who went 22 of 37 for 240 yards with no touchdowns or no picks. He also ran for 48 yards and a touchdown. Nico Steriti ran 14 times for 110 yards and 4 touchdowns while Jimmy Owens had 3 carries for 71 yards and a touchdown. R.J Harris was the top receiver with 8 catches for 91 yards. Harold Spears caught 4 passes for 71 yards.

 

Indiana State Sycamores (8-5) at #8 Chattanooga Mocs (9-3)

Chattanooga’s balanced attack proved to be too much for Indiana State in their 35-14 win. The Mocs threw for 241 yards and ran for 262.

Indiana State started with an early interception that put the Mocs at the three yard line. Keon Williams punched the ball in from 3 yards out to make it 7-0 Chattanooga. A punt on the next drive for Indiana State resulted in a long drive by the Mocs. They went 90 yards in 14 plays while burning 6:10 off the clock. Jacob Huesman ran for a one yard touchdown to make it 14-0 Chattanooga. After both teams traded punts, Indiana State got the ball and quickly cut the deficit in half. Mike Perish connected with A.J. Johnson for a 75 yard touchdown. The first quarter ended with Chattanooga holding a 14-7 lead.

Chattanooga attempted a 25 yard field goal early in the second quarter, but it was blocked by the Sycamores. The Mocs had yet another chance to extend the lead on the next drive, but Huesman was stuffed on fourth and goal from the one to keep the game at 14-7 still. After a poor Indiana State punt and a penalty, but the Mocs finally put points back on the board with Huesman completing a 29 yard touchdown pass to Tommy Hudson. The Mocs had one final chance to go up even more but missed a 21 yard field goal. Chattanooga led 21-7 at halftime.

The Mocs’ first drive put them ahead comfortably after Huesman pounded the ball in from a yard out to give them a 28-7 lead. Indiana State was able to get on the board immediately with Jordan Wallace returning the kickoff 64 yards for the touchdown. Both defenses stepped up for the remainder of the quarter with Chattanooga leading 28-14 after 45 minutes.

The Mocs first drive of the fourth quarter was impressive, yet yielded no points once again. The Mocs went 83 yards in 16 plays while taking 9:27 off the clock. However, their 23 yard field goal attempt was blocked and another red zone opportunity went begging. Indiana State would give the Mocs another great opportunity, as Mike Perish lost a fumble at his own 28 yard line. Derrick Caine punched the ball in for a one yard touchdown. Another Perish turnover, this time an interception at the Chattanooga 13 yard line, allowed the Mocs to win 35-14.

Perish went 12 of 27 for 151 yards with a touchdown and 2 picks. He also lost a fumble. The Sycamores were not effective on offense, but were awful at running the ball. Their top rusher was LeMonte Booker with 3 carries for 26 yards. The Sycamores had 18 carries for 27 yards for the entire game. A.J. Johnson had 4 catches for 94 yards and a touchdown.

Jacob Huesman had a solid game for the Mocs. He went 15 of 24 for 241 yards with a touchdown through the air. He was also the top rusher with 153 yards and 2 touchdowns on 31 carries. Keon Williams added in 70 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries. C.J. Board caught 2 passes for 65 yards while Xavier Borishade had 2 catches for 43 yards.

 

Northern Iowa Panthers (9-4) at #5 Illinois State Redbirds (10-1)

Illinois State took a 24-0 lead at halftime and were able to hold on from there to reach the quarterfinals. They got revenge on Northern Iowa with a 41-21 win on Saturday. Former Indiana quarterback Tre Roberson threw 4 touchdown passes.

Illinois State began with Roberson’s first touchdown pass to Cameron Meredith from 6 yards out. After a Northern Iowa punt, Illinois State went up 14-0 after Marshaun Copich ran in from a yard out. The first quarter ended with the Redbirds right on the door step of UNI’s end zone as they faced a second and goal from the four yard line.

The Redbirds would get into the end zone with Roberson and Meredith connecting once more, this one from 2 yards out. The Panthers next drive got to the ISU 30 yard line, but their pass was incomplete on fourth and 5 to give the ball back to Illinois State. The Redbirds tried a 51 yard field goal, but it was blocked by Xavier Williams. On the final play, ISU hit a 45 yard field goal to take a 24-0 lead at halftime.

The Panthers got the ball to start the second half and did well on their first drive. Sawyer Kollmorgen was hit at the ISU three yard line, fumbled the ball, and then managed to get back on it in the end zone for a Northern Iowa touchdown. The Redbirds responded with a 39 yard field goal to lead 27-7. After a UNI punt, Tre Roberson hit James O’Shaughnessy for a 26 yard touchdown. The third quarter ended with Illinois State leading 34-7 and at the UNI 7 yard line.

The Redbirds would end up not getting points after Lechein Neblett lost a fumble at the UNI 6 yard line. The Panthers would score following the fumble with David Johnson scoring from 2 yards out to make it a 34-14 game. The Panthers continued to gain momentum following ISU’s lost fumble on the kickoff. UNI recovered and scored three plays later when Kollmorgen hit Brett LeMaster for a 20 yard touchdown. That made it 34-21 and there was still plenty of anxious moments to come.

The Redbirds went all the way down to the UNI 22 yard line before a lost fumble by Roberson gave the ball back to the Panthers. They managed to get down to the ISU 30 yard line, but the fourth and 10 pass was incomplete to stop that potential scoring drive. UNI’s next drive ended in disaster on a trick play. Wide receiver Brett LeMaster threw a pass back to the quarterback, but was picked off by Teddy Corwin. Three plays later, Roberson hit O’Shaughnessy for a 36 yard touchdown and the clinching touchdown at 41-21.

Sawyer Kollmorgen went 18 of 31 for 234 yards with one touchdown while also running for another touchdown. The Panthers were held in check on the ground gaining only 33 yards on 25 carries as a team. David Johnson led the team with 16 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries. Charles Brown had 2 catches for 77 yards while Brett LeMaster had 4 catches for 55 yards and a touchdown.

Tre Roberson went 22 of 33 for 382 yards and 4 touchdowns through the air. He also ran 10 times for a total of 37 yards. Marshaun Copich led the way with 148 yards and a touchdown on 30 carries. Cameron Meredith finished with 7 catches for 115 yards and 2 touchdowns while James O’Shaughnessy had 4 catches for 105 yards and 2 touchdowns as well.

 

Montana Grizzlies (9-4) at #4 Eastern Washington Eagles (10-2)

It was more of a defensive battle than expected, but that did not stop Eastern Washington from coming out on top. The Eagles beat Montana 37-20 on Saturday to advance to the quarterfinals.

Montana’s second drive resulted in a punt, but that was blocked by EWU. Two plays later, Vernon Adams hit Terry Jackson II for a 2 yard touchdown pass and a 7-0 lead. The Grizzlies responded with a long drive that resulted in a 28 yard field goal from Daniel Sullivan. Eastern Washington led 7-3 at the end of the first quarter.

The second quarter failed to produce much in the way of offense until the final minute. Vernon Adams ran for a 3 yard touchdown to take a 13-3 lead. The extra point was missed and that lead would hold until halftime for the Eagles.

The Eagles began the second half with the ball and made the most of it. Adams connected with Cory Mitchell for a 23 yard touchdown to go up 20-3. The Grizzlies first drive ended with an interception by Jordan Johnson, but the Eagles were not able to make them pay for the turnover. Montana finally scored their first touchdown when Jordan Canada broke loose for a 38 yard score. The Eagles did not let Montana get any momentum, as they scored a touchdown in response courtesy of a 27 yard run by Quincy Forte. The Grizzlies came right back down the field at the end of the third quarter thanks to Johnson’s 50 yard pass Travon Van to the 10 yard line. The third quarter ended with EWU leading 27-10 and Montana threatening to close the gap.

The Grizzlies were unable to punch it in and had to settle for a 27 yard field goal to trail 27-13. The Grizzlies next possession started at their own 3 yard line and ended with a lost fumble from Travon Van. The Eagles were only able to get a field goal, but that made it a three possession game at 30-13. Van redeemed himself on the next drive by taking a 30 yard touchdown pass from Johnson to cut the deficit to 30-20.

The Eagles moved the ball back down the field to the Montana 13 yard line. On fourth and 4, Adams was picked off in the end zone. That would not prove to hurt them, as Johnson was picked off by Todd Raynes and returned for a 40 yard touchdown. That made it 37-20 and clinched the victory for Eastern Washington.

Jordan Johnson went 18 of 33 through the air for 223 yards with a touchdown and 2 picks. Johnson also ran for 48 yards on 16 carries. Jordan Canada ran 11 times for 79 yards and a touchdown. Travon Van had an excellent game receiving with 9 catches for 161 yards and a touchdown. He did, however, also lose a fumble. Sean Haynes had 6 catches for 48 yards.

Vernon Adams did not put up eye popping numbers going 24 of 35 for 182 yards with 2 touchdowns and a pick. He also ran for 37 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries. Quincy Forte had 128 yards and a touchdown on 21 carries. Cooper Kupp led the Eagles in receiving with 12 catches for 86 yards.

 

Sam Houston State Bearkats (9-4) at #3 Jacksonville State Gamecocks (10-1)

Sam Houston State gave up a lot of yards (over 500) but won the battle that counts the most on the scoreboard. The Bearkats scored 13 second half points to beat Jacksonville State on the road 37-26.

Jacksonville State started very well on the opening drive. Quarterback Eli Jenkins went 2 for 2 for 69 yards. DaMarcus James capped the drive off with a 1 yard touchdown run and a 7-0 lead. After a punt from each team, SHSU tied the game when Jared Johnson completed a 10 yard touchdown pass to Keshawn Hill. Jenkins responded right away with a 73 yard touchdown pass to Spencer Goffigan on the second play of the drive. The penultimate play of the first quarter was Jenkins being picked off by Tristan Eche and taking it back to the Jacksonville State 22 yard line.

The Bearkats would tie the game at 14 when Johnson ran for a 10 yard touchdown on the third play of the second quarter. The Gamecocks responded on the next series with Jenkins scrambling for a 14 yard touchdown. The extra point was blocked and JSU led 20-14. That lead did not last long with Jared Johnson hitting LaDarius Brown for a 19 yard touchdown and a 21-20 lead.

The final half of the second quarter saw three field goals between the two teams. JSU started first with a 37 yard field goal followed by the Bearkats drilling a 29 yarder of their own. The first half ended with Jacksonville State hitting a 42 yard field goal courtesy of Connor Rouleau. Jacksonville State held a slim 26-24 lead at the halftime intermission.

Both teams had to punt in their first series of the third quarter. On SHSU’s second series, they started at their own 9 yard line and scored the go-ahead touchdown when Johnson connected with Brown for the second time. This touchdown went for 49 yards, but the Bearkats missed the two point conversion and led 30-26. On the following possession, JSU went for it on fourth and 2 from the Sam Houston State 42 yard line. They were stuffed for a one yard loss and the Bearkats would score on a 33 yard touchdown run by Jalen Overstreet. That made it 37-26, which is how the the third quarter ended.

The fourth quarter did not produce any points though JSU had a great chance to score a touchdown late in the game. On first and goal at the 9 yard line, Eli Jenkins was picked off in the end zone by Mikell Everette to end any hopes of a Gamecocks comeback. The Bearkats ended up being able to run the clock out thanks to getting three first downs.

Jared Johnson went 13 of 19 for 161 yards with 3 touchdowns. He was also the top rusher with 85 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries. Jalen Overstreet was not far behind with 10 carries for 83 yards and a touchdown. LaDarius Brown had 4 catches for 88 yards and 2 touchdowns.

Eli Jenkins went 12 of 24 for 253 yards with a touchdown and 2 picks. He also ran for 84 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries. The top rusher was DeMarcus James with 19 carries for 128 yards and a touchdown. Anthony Johnson caught 4 passes for 74 yards. Spencer Goffigan had just the one catch for 73 yards and a touchdown.

 

Liberty Flames (9-4) at #6 Villanova Wildcats (10-2)

The Liberty Flames put a serious scare into Villanova and had their chances to pull another upset in the FCS Playoffs. However, Villanova overcame 4 lost fumbles to win 29-22 on Saturday.

Liberty started the game with a 72 yard kickoff return to get their first drive started at the Villanova 27 yard line. 5 plays later, Josh Woodrum punched the ball in from a yard out to give them a 7-0 lead. After forcing a Villanova punt, the Flames went up by 10 points thanks to a 50 yard field goal from Josh Lunsford. Villanova was unable to move the ball effectively on Liberty and trailed by that 10-0 score at the end of the first quarter.

Early in the second quarter, Josh Woodrum was picked off by Villanova, but the Wildcats were unable to take advantage of the turnover, as they lost a fumble at the Liberty 44 yard line. That lost fumble was turned into a 23 yard field goal from Lunsford and a 13-0 lead for the Flames. Villanova finally got something going on the next drive when John Robertson connected with Kevin Gulyas for an 87 yard gain to the Liberty 5 yard line. Two plays after that, Robertson ran in for a 3 yard touchdown to make it 13-7.

The Wildcats’ fortunes continued to be positive when Liberty lost the kickoff at their own 16 yard line. The Wildcats made the most of that with a 1 yard touchdown run from Austin Medley made it 14-13 in favor of Villanova. Liberty’s fortunes in the turnover department swung back in their favor when Villanova’s Robertson was sacked by Toby Onyechi and Nick Newman picked the ball up and ran it back for a 58 yard touchdown return. The two point conversion failed, but Liberty held a 19-14 lead at halftime.

Villanova’s turnover troubles continued in the third quarter. After forcing a punt by Liberty, Jason Ceneus fumbled the kick and Liberty recovered at the Villanova 45 yard line. The Flames were able to get deep into Villanova territory, but the Wildcats defense forced a field goal, which was good and gave Liberty a 22-14 lead at the end of three quarters.

Villanova got another big play on their first drive of the fourth quarter. Robertson and Gulyas connected on a 70 yard touchdown with the two-point conversion also being good to make it a tie game at 22. The Wildcats’ next drive ended with yet another lost fumble when Robertson turned it over at the Liberty 27. They forced a Liberty punt and then went on a long time consuming drive. The Wildcats went 84 yards in 18 plays and took 7:11 off the clock. Robertson ran in from a yard out to make it 29-22 and just over a minute remaining. The Flames had one last drive, but their desperation heave at the end of the game was broken up.

Josh Woodrum went 16 of 33 for 182 yards with no touchdowns and a pick for the Flames. D.J. Abnar had 21 carries for 54 yards while Darrin Peterson caught 5 passes for 103 yards. The Flames finished with only 246 yards of total offense against Villanova.

John Robertson went 8 of 19 for 217 yards with a touchdown and no picks. He also ran 18 times for 100 yards and a touchdown, but also lost 2 fumbles that led to 10 Liberty points. Kevin Monangal had 102 yards rushing on 20 carries. Kevin Gulyas caught 2 passes for 157 yards and a touchdown.

 

Richmond Spiders (9-4) at #7 Coastal Carolina Chanticleers (11-1)

Coastal Carolina ran past Richmond in a mistake filled game from both teams. Coastal Carolina won 36-15 to reach the Quarterfinals for the second straight season.

The first drive for both teams saw them get inside the opponent’s 40 yard line, but they opted to punt to try and pin the other team deep. That worked for Coastal Carolina when they picked off Richmond’s Michael Strauss, however, they missed a 33 yard field goal to keep it scoreless. Richmond had the same result on their ensuing drive with the field goal being no good from 48 yards. The Chanticleers finally got on the board late in the first quarter with Alex Catron connecting on a 32 yard field goal. The first quarter ended 3-0 in favor of Coastal Carolina.

Coastal Carolina’s first drive of the second quarter appeared to be heading for a score until De’Angelo Henderson’s fumble at the three yard line gave the ball to the Spiders. Richmond would end up punting, but it was a bad punt that went only 13 yards and out at their own 26. The defense stood tall and forced another field goal that was good from 27 yards. Coastal Carolina held a 6-0 lead midway through the second quarter. Coastal Carolina made it 14-0 after Alex Ross completed a 13 yard touchdown pass to Craig Weick and they converted the two-point attempt.

The third quarter saw a huge uptick in points scored. First, Coastal Carolina scored on Andre Johnson’s 9 yard touchdown run. The Spiders responded on their second play of the half when Strauss and Brian Brown connected for a 76 yard touchdown pass. Those two also hooked up for the two-point attempt and Richmond trailed 21-8. The Chanticleers built the lead back up to 21 points on Henderson’s 50 yard touchdown run. The Chanticleers also went for two and got it to make it a 29-8 game just six minutes into the second half. Two drives later, Coastal Carolina was up when Alex Ross ran in for a one yard touchdown and they went up 36-8 at the end of three quarters.

Richmond had a lot of chances inside of Coastal Carolina territory in the final 15 minutes. The first drive ended in a lost fumble by Strauss. The second drive was a punt before the third drive ended at the Costal Carolina on a fourth and one play. The fourth drive for Richmond was a 15 yard touchdown pass from Strauss to Brown to make it 36-15. Their final drive was an interception in the Coastal Carolina end zone.

Michael Strauss went 27 of 54 for 402 yards with 2 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. The Spiders ran 19 times for 54 yards as a team. Jacobi Green was the top rusher with 7 carries for 31 yards. Brian Brown caught 8 passes for 181 yards and 2 scores. Reggie Diggs caught 8 passes for 140 yards while Rashad Ponder had 9 catches for 82 yards.

Alex Ross went 22 of 41 for 171 yards with one touchdown. Ross also ran for 52 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries. De’Angelo Henderson had 19 carries for 134 yards and a touchdown while Andre Johnson ran for 58 yards and a score on 13 carries. The Chanticleers had 54 carries for 316 yards and 3 touchdowns as a team. Bruce Mapp was the top receiver with 7 catches for 59 yards.

 

South Dakota State Jackrabbits (9-4) at #2 North Dakota State Bison (11-1)

For the second straight week South Dakota State was involved in the game of the day. Unfortunately, the Jackrabbits were on the short end this week as they fell to the three-time defending FCS Champions North Dakota State, 27-24.

The Bison’s first drive ended in a touchdown with Carson Wentz throwing a 27 yard touchdown pass to RJ Urzendowski. That would be the only scoring for the first quarter as both teams struggled to move the ball close enough to even get field goal opportunities.

The Bison made it 14-0 early in the second quarter when Wentz ran for a 27 yard touchdown. The Jackrabbits needing a response got one from their go to guy. Zach Zenner ran for a 17 yard touchdown to make it 14-7 in favor of North Dakota State. The Jackrabbits forced a punt from the Bison and Je Ryan Butler returned that punt 80 yards to the NDSU 11 yard line. Three plays later, Zenner ran in from 4 yards out to tie the game at 14. That would be the score at the halftime break.

The Jackrabbits took their first lead of the game on their first possession of the second half. Justin Syrovatka hit a 33 yard field goal to make it 17-14. The Bison responded with a 42 yard field goal of their own to knot the game at 17. That is how the third quarter would end and set the game up for a wild finish.

The Bison took a 20-17 lead on their first fourth quarter possession with Adam Keller hitting a 29 yard field goal. The Jackrabbits responded with a touchdown when Austin Sumner hit Jake Wieneke for a 3 yard score. That made it 24-20 SDSU, but there was plenty of time left for the Bison to rally. The Bison marched down the field and took the lead back with a 12 yard touchdown pass from Wentz to Urzendowski. On the ensuing drive, Sumner was picked by Tre Dempsey to seal the victory for the Bison.

Austin Sumner went 13 of 22 for 132 yards with a touchdown and a pick. Zach Zenner had 32 carries for 133 yards and 2 touchdowns. Jason Schneider had 3 catches for 59 yards. The Jackrabbits totaled 275 yards of offense against the Bison.

Carson Wentz went 14 of 25 for 235 yards with 2 touchdowns. He also had 13 carries for 70 yards and a touchdown. John Crockett carried the ball 23 times for 102 yards. RJ Urzendowski led the Bison with 4 catches for 109 yards and 2 touchdowns.

 

Quarterfinal Matchups

#8 Chattanooga Mocs (10-3) at #1 New Hampshire Wildcats (11-1) – 8 PM ET on ESPN2

#5 Illinois State Redbirds (11-1) at #4 Eastern Washington Eagles (11-2) – 4:00 PM ET on ESPN3

Sam Houston State Bearkats (10-4) at #6 Villanova Wildcats (12-2) – 1 PM ET on ESPN3

#7 Coastal Carolina Chanticleers (12-1) at #2 North Dakota State (12-1) – 12 PM ET on ESPN.

 

Chattanooga at New Hampshire will be played on Friday evening. The remaining three games will be on Saturday.

 

Be sure to check out the predictions for the quarterfinal games later this week.

2014 FCS Playoffs Round 2 Predictions

Vernon Adams leads Eastern Washington against fellow Big Sky member Montana on Saturday (AP Photo)
Vernon Adams leads Eastern Washington against fellow Big Sky member Montana on Saturday (AP Photo)

2014 FCS Playoffs Round 2 Predictions

Eight games were played last week in the first round of the 2014 FCS Playoffs and eight more will be played in the second round this Saturday. Last week produced a 5-3 record based on the predictions of round one by missing Sam Houston State, Liberty, and South Dakota State. Here are the 2014 FCS Playoffs Round 2 Predictions.

 

Fordham Rams (11-2) at #1 New Hampshire (10-1) – 1 PM ET

As expected, Fordham took care of Sacred Heart in the first round and get the top seeded New Hampshire Wildcats in the second round. The Wildcats only loss was to Toledo 54-20, a MAC team that will go bowling at season’s end. The defense has been very good for New Hampshire and they will be tested by Mike Nebrich’s passing attack. Fordham faced another Colonial football team in Villanova during week two and got pasted 50-6. New Hampshire shuts down Fordham to win 27-10 and moves on to the quarterfinals. 

 

Indiana State Sycamores (8-5) at #8 Chattanooga Mocs (9-3) – 1 PM ET

Indiana State was impressive in their comeback win in round one at Eastern Kentucky. They were 16 points down and scored the final 36 points to win 36-16. Now they face the high-powered Chattanooga team that had losses to Central Michigan (20-16), Jacksonville State (26-23 in OT), and Tennessee (45-10). In the 9 wins for the Mocs, they have scored at least 31 points. That streak continues, but Indiana State certainly can make it close. Chattanooga wins 35-27 and moves on to play in the quarterfinals.

 

Northern Iowa Panthers (9-4) at #5 Illinois State Redbirds (10-1) – 2 PM ET

This game is a rematch of November 1’s game that saw Northern Iowa win 42-28 at home over Illinois State. Now the Redbirds are at home where they went 7-0 including a win over South Dakota State. In the November 1 game, Northern Iowa scored two special teams touchdowns and had a pick six with 50 seconds left to seal the win. It is hard to imagine the Redbirds imploding like that again this weekend. Illinois State wins 41-31.

 

Montana Grizzlies (9-4) at #4 Eastern Washington Eagles (10-2) – 4:30 PM ET

This game is yet another rematch of a regular season game. Eastern Washington, at home, beat Montana 36-26 in an air raid between the two teams. This Saturday has a chance for snow in the morning, but the weather is expected to be fine by game time. This should be another shootout between quarterbacks with Vernon Adams and Jordan Johnson slinging the ball around as they please. Eastern Washington’s losses were to Washington (59-52) and Northern Arizona (28-27). Eastern Washington wins a thriller 52-48.

 

Sam Houston State Bearkats (9-4) at #3 Jacksonville State Gamecocks (10-1) – 2 PM ET

This is a tough game to pick. Both teams are on impressive win streaks with Sam Houston State at 6 wins and Jacksonville State at 10. Jacksonville State has been seeded at three for a reason – they are very good. However, their fellow conference member Eastern Kentucky did not look great last week blowing a 16 point lead and losing. The Bearkats defense will keep this close and pull the upset. Sam Houston State wins 27-24 in overtime over Jacksonville State.

 

Liberty Flames (9-4) at #6 Villanova Wildcats (10-2) – 4:30 PM ET

Liberty shocked James Madison last week in the opening round. They face Villanova in the second round and this is where their season ends. Villanova has two losses this year, both by a single point. They lost a hear-breaker to Syracuse in double overtime 27-26 and 10-9 to Richmond, a fellow FCS playoff team. Villanova will be too much on offense and defense on their way to a 41-3 victory.

 

Richmond Spiders (9-4) at #7 Coastal Carolina Chanticleers (11-1) – 1 PM ET

Richmond dispatched Morgan State with ease in the opening round while Coastal Carolina’s resume was boosted by the fact that Liberty, who beat them in the regular season finale, came back to beat James Madison in the first round. It is worth noting that Richmond beat Liberty earlier the season 46-39 in double overtime. Both teams can score or play defense, though the former seems more likely in round two. In a close game, Coastal Carolina pulls out the 45-42 win.

 

South Dakota State Jackrabbits (9-4) at #2 North Dakota State Bison (11-1) – 3:30 PM ET

These two teams played on November 1 will North Dakota State using a big second half to win 37-17 over South Dakota State. The Bison trailed 10-6 at the halftime, but their rushing attack came alive and they were able to move the ball with ease in the final 30 minutes. Also in that game, Zach Zenner had 96 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries for the Jackrabbits. This should be a very good game, but the Bison hang on for the 28-21 win and move on to the quarterfinals to continue their defense of three straight FCS Championships.

 

Quarterfinals Matchup Predictions

Based on the predictions above, the quarterfinals would look as follows:

#8 Chattanooga Mocs at #1 New Hampshire Wildcats

#5 Illinois State Redbirds at #4 Eastern Washington Eagles

Sam Houston State Bearkats at #6 Villanova Wildcats

#7 Coastal Carolina Chanticleers at #2 North Dakota State Bison

2014 FCS Playoffs First Round Wrap Up

Zach Zenner ran for 252 yards to help South Dakota State to the second round of the FCS Playoffs (Kelly Gorham / AP Photo)
Zach Zenner ran for 252 yards to help South Dakota State to the second round of the FCS Playoffs (Kelly Gorham / AP Photo)

 

The 2014 FCS Playoffs First Round featured 8 exciting games. There were surprises, some blowouts, and some expected results. Below is a look at what happened in all 8 games. The second round matchups for the 2014 FCS Playoffs can be found at the bottom of the page.

 

Sacred Heart Pioneers (9-2) at Fordham Rams (10-2)

 As expected, Fordham took care of Sacred Heart in the first round matchup. Fordham won 44-22 by putting up 20 second half points.

Fordham took advantage of an early turnover by Sacred Heart by throwing a 1 yard touchdown pass from Mike Nebrich to Tebucky Jones Jr. They doubled their advantage with a 50 yard connection from Nebrich to Brian Wetzel. Sacred Heart cut into the lead with a field goal followed by a 10 yard touchdown pass from RJ Noel to Tyler Dube. The extra point was missed an Fordham held a 14-9 lead at the end of the first quarter.

The second quarter had a series of miscues featuring both teams. First, Sacred Heart had a 23 yard field goal blocked, then Fordham fumbled on their own 42 yard line. RJ Noel then threw an interception in the end zone before Nebrich responded with a pick of his own. Sacred Heart ended the series of follies with a bobbled snap on a punt that set up a 25 yard field goal for Fordham. Sacred Heart responded with a 2 yard touchdown pass from Noel to Dube. With less than 10 seconds left Fordham went up 24-16 with a 14 yard touchdown pass from Nebrich to Wetzel.

Fordham’s first offensive play of the third quarter resulted in Nebrich hitting Jones Jr. for a 97 yard touchdown. Fordham added a 23 yard field goal after another bobbled snap on a punt by the Pioneers. Sacred Heart scored their final points on the following drive with a 22 yard touchdown run from Keshaudas Spence. Both quarterbacks traded interceptions in the opponent’s territory to end the third quarter. Fordham led 34-22 with 15 minutes to play.

Fordham added another field goal and a 26 yard touchdown run from Chase Edmonds in the fourth quarter to win 44-22.

RJ Noel went 19 of 40 for 206 yards with 2 touchdowns and an interception for Sacred Heart. Sean Bell had 15 carries for 112 yards while Keshaudas Spence had 10 carries for 54 yards and a touchdown. Tyler Dube led the Pioneers with 7 catches for 98 yards and 2 touchdowns.

Mike Nebrich had a stellar day through the air with 423 yards, 4 touchdowns, and 2 interceptions on 29 of 50 passing. Chase Edmonds had 91 yards and a touchdown on 24 rushing attempts. Brian Wetzel caught 8 passes for 166 yards and 2 touchdowns and Tebucky Jones Jr. caught 8 passes for 139 yards and 2 touchdowns.

 

Indiana State Sycamores (7-5) at Eastern Kentucky Colonels (9-3)

Indiana State trailed 16-0 early in the second quarter, but rallied to score the final 36 points in a 36-16 win over Eastern Kentucky. Indiana State quarterback Mike Perish threw for 407 yards to spark the Sycamores to the second round.

The game started poorly for the Sycamores. They went for it on fourth and one from their own 44, but came up short on their rushing attempt. Eastern Kentucky turned that into a field goal for a 3-0 lead. Another field goal by Eastern Kentucky was followed up by a 17 yard touchdown run from Dy’Shawn Mobley. The Colonels led 13-0 at the end of the first quarter.

Mike Perish threw an interception early in the second quarter, which was turned into a third field goal from Andrew Lloyd. That made it 16-0 and it would be the final points scored by Eastern Kentucky. The Sycamores got on the board with 2 seconds left with Perish hitting Robert Tonyan Jr. for a 4 yard touchdown pass. That made it 16-7 at halftime.

Indiana State’s first possession of the second half yielded a 48 yard field goal from Eric Heidorn, but the second possession yield the lead. Perish connected with Kyani Harris for a 57 yard touchdown and a 17-16 lead. Another punt by the Colonels turned into a touchdown for the Sycamores offense. Perish hit Gary Owens for a 38 yard touchdown and a 24-16 lead. However, the big blow came on the next drive for Eastern Kentucky’s offense. Mark Sewall intercepted Bennie Coney’s pass and returned it 48 yards for a touchdown to make it 31-16 at the end of three quarters.

The fourth quarter opened up with both teams squandering chances. First, Eastern Kentucky failed to convert a fourth and 7 on the Indiana State 33 yard line. Next, Perish threw his second pick of the day in the Colonels’ end zone to take points off the board. The Colonels turned around and threw a pick of their own on the next drive before Indiana State failed to punch the ball in on fourth and goal from the one. The Sycamores defense would force a safety after failed fourth and goal attempt at the one. ISU added a 30 yard field goal to cap the scoring at 36-16.

Mike Perish went 41 of 57 for 407 yards with 3 touchdowns and 2 picks. Buck Logan led the Sycamores with 10 carries for 33 yards. The receiving yards were well distributed with Kyani Harris leading the receivers with 5 catches for 91 yards and a score. A.J. Johnson had 7 catches for 71 yards and Jamar Brown had 6 catches for 63 yards.

Bennie Conley went 15 of 34 for 200 yards with no touchdowns and 2 picks for Eastern Kentucky. Dy’Shawn Mobley had 22 carries for 96 yards and a touchdown. Jeff Glover was the top receiver with 74 yards on 4 catches.

 

Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks (8-4) at Northern Iowa Panthers (8-4)

Northern Iowa scored 23 first quarter points and cruised home from there to defeat Stephen F. Austin 44-10 in the first round of the 2014 FCS Playoffs.

Northern Iowa’s first play from scrimmage was a 73 yard touchdown run by David Johnson and the defense would give the offense another boost on SF Austin’s first drive. On third and 11, Deiondre’ Hall picked off a pass and brought it back to SFA’s 9 yard line. That would result in a 10-0 lead after a 30 yard field goal from Michael Schmadeke. Another turnover by the Lumberjacks resulted in a 36 yard field goal. After a punt by SFA, Northern Iowa had to settle for a third field goal of the first quarter to take a 16-0 lead. The Panthers finally got a second touchdown late in the first quarter with Johnson punching in his second from a yard out and give Northern Iowa a 23-0 lead.

It took until midway through the second quarter for SFA to score, but they got a 32 yard touchdown run from Gus Johnson after a lost fumble from UNI’s David Johnson. The following drive resulted in redemption for David Johnson – he took a pass from Brion Carnes 70 yards to the house and a 30-7 lead. That score would hold up until halftime.

In the third quarter, David Johnson scored his fourth touchdown of the day with a 6 yard touchdown run. The defense continued to suffocate the Lumberjacks, as the score after three quarters was 37-7.

Brion Carnes ran for a 22 yard touchdown for the Panthers before SFA hit a 31 yard field goal to cap the scoring.

It was not a good day for the Stephen F. Austin quarterbacks. Zach Conque went 15 of 26 for 83 yards and an interception with Hunter Taylor going 7 of 13 for 50 yards. Gus Johnson was the majority of the offense with 20 carries for 82 yards and a touchdown. Johnson also was the leading receiver with 37 yards and 4 catches.

Brion Carnes completed only 5 of 18 passes, but that was for 208 yards and a touchdown. He also ran 6 times for 46 yards and touchdown. David Johnson had 23 carries for 152 yards and 3 touchdowns while also catching 2 passes for 84 yards and another score.

 

San Diego Toreros (9-2) at Montana Grizzlies (8-4)

Montana dominated San Diego in every facet of the game on their way to a 52-14 destruction of the Toreros.

The Grizzlies did not score until their second possession of the game when Jordan Johnson connected with Jamaal Jones for a 22 yard touchdown pass. Johnson connected with Jordan Canada on the next drive for a 3 yard touchdown and a 14-0 lead for Montana.

After a three and out for San Diego, their punt was returned 60 yards for a touchdown by John Nguyen to make it 21-0. A fumble by San Diego on their next possession was turned into a 41 yard field goal and a 24-0 lead. It would be 38-0 at halftime after Johnson to Jones for the second time from 30 yards out and Canada’s 17 yard touchdown run.

Montana’s first drive of the second half resulted in an 18 yard touchdown pass from Shay Smithwick-Hann to Joshua Janssen. San Diego went for it on fourth down on their next two drives despite being inside their own 40 yard line. Neither time did they convert and the latter set up a touchdown for Montana.

That touchdown came early in the fourth quarter with Smithwick-Hann hitting Kevin Berland for a 12 yard score. San Diego would score their first points two drives later when Dallas Kessman connected with Justin Priest for a 27 yard touchdown. The ensuing kickoff was fumbled by the Grizzlies and San Diego turned that into another touchdown. Trey Wheeler hit Justin Priest for an 11 yard touchdown.

The Toreros struggled to move the ball all game long. They managed to gain only 158 yards of total offense and converted 2 of 13 third down. Trey Wheeler was their best passer going 4 of 4 for 41 yards with a touchdown. Keith Williams went 6 of 18 for 34 yards as the starter. Dallas Kessman was the top rusher with 30 yards on 10 carries. Justin Priest had 2 catches for 38 yards and 2 touchdowns.

Jordan Johnson went 13 of 20 for 153 yards and 3 touchdowns. Jordan Canada ran 17 times for 105 yards and a touchdown while Lorenzo Logwood had 17 carries for 59 yards. Jamaal Jones caught 6 passes for 93 yards and 2 touchdowns.

 

Southeastern Louisiana Lions (9-3) at Sam Houston State Bearkats (8-4)

A de facto Southland Championship game turned out to a thriller, as Sam Houston State rallied for the 21-17 win over Southeastern Louisiana.

Southeastern Louisiana got on the board right away with a 25 yard field goal. That was set up by a lost fumble on the opening kickoff by the Bearkats’ Ridgeway Frank. The Bearkats struggled to move the ball in the first quarter getting only as far as their 47 yard line. Outside of the early field goal, Southeastern Louisiana did not threaten until late in the first quarter.

That drive to end the first quarter spilled over to the second quarter where Bryan Bennett ran 9 yards for a touchdown and gave the Lions a 10-0 lead. The Bearkats had an excellent drive in response, but their fourth and goal play ended in disaster, as they lost 5 yards. The last two minutes ended with multiple turnovers. First, Jared Johnson threw a pick to the Lions’ Micah Eugene. The Lions turned around and lost a fumble on the next series. However, Johnson’s desperation heave into the end zone was picked and the score remained 10-0 at halftime.

It took until midway through the third quarter, but Sam Houston State got on the board with a 3 yard run from former Texas Longhorn Jalen Overstreet. Later in the third quarter, a poor punt put Sam Houston State at the Southeastern Louisiana 32 yard line. On the next play, a trick play by the Bearkats led to an interception and possible points being kept off the board. The Bearkats caught a break late in the third quarter when the Lions fumbled the punt return at their own 4 yard line. The third quarter ended with Southeastern Louisiana holding a 10-7 lead.

The first play of the final quarter was a 1 yard touchdown from Donavan Williams. That gave the Bearkats a 14-10 lead, but it would not last for long. The Lions marched right down the field and took the lead back at 17-14 with Bryan Bennett’s 2 yard touchdown run. The Lions looked to extend their lead on the following drive, but Michael Wade blocked the field goal to spark the offense. That led to Williams punching the ball in from 5 yards out for a 21-17 lead. The Lions were unable to get the ball into Sam Houston State territory for the remainder of the game and fell by that 21-17 score.

Bryan Bennett went 17 of 48 for 181 yards and also had two rushing touchdowns. Kody Sutton had 42 yards on 13 carries. Devante Scott had 5 catches for 53 yards. Southeastern Louisiana had 305 yards of total offense, but went 7 of 24 on third down.

Jared Johnson went 12 of 32 for 119 yards with 2 interceptions. He managed to lead the team in rushing with 63 yards on 17 carries. Jalen Overstreet had 50 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries. LaDarius Brown caught 3 passes for 51 yards.

 

Liberty Flames (8-4) at James Madison Dukes (9-3)

Perhaps the upset of the day lies in this game where Liberty beat James Madison 26-21. The Flames trailed 21-10 at halftime, but scored the last 16 points to pull the upset.

Liberty started the game with the ball and managed to get down the JMU 22 yard line. A lost fumble cost them a chance at points, but the Dukes could not make them pay. Liberty would take the lead on the next drive with a 26 yard field goal from John Lunsford. James Madison responded with a solid drive, but their fourth and three attempt at the Liberty 15 yard line came up short. Liberty led 3-0 at the end of the first quarter.

The first play of the second quarter was a 19 yard touchdown run for Liberty’s D.J. Abnar to make it 10-0. James Madison answered right away on their first play from scrimmage in the second quarter with Jauan Latney rumbling for a 73 yard touchdown run. Liberty had a solid drive halted on an interception and that was turned into a touchdown by James Madison. Vad Lee scrambled for a 9 yard touchdown run to give the Dukes a 14-10 lead. The next Liberty drive ended in the same fashion – with an interception. That too turned into a touchdown when Lee hit DeAndre’ Smith for a 16 yard touchdown pass. The Dukes led 21-10 at the break and appeared to be in control of the game.

Liberty’s first drive of the third quarter was what they need to stay in the game. Abnar ran for his second touchdown to make it 21-17. The next Liberty drive resulted in a great 56 yard field goal from Lunsford and the Flames trailed just 21-20 at the end of three quarters.

The fourth quarter was dominated by Liberty’s offense. They embarked on an 85 yard, 17 play drive that burned 11:01 off the clock and left only 2:53 for James Madison to score. Nicky Fualaau pounded the ball in from a yard out to give them a 26-21 lead. The two point conversion was no good and the Dukes faced a daunting task. James Madison managed to get Liberty 27 yard line, but Vad Lee’s fourth and 13 pass fell incomplete and Liberty held on for the win.

Josh Woodrum went 18 of 27 for 244 yards with no interceptions and 2 picks for Liberty. D.J. Abnar had 69 yards and 2 touchdowns on 17 carries. Gabe Henderson caught 7 passes for 92 yards while Dexter Herman grabbed 4 passes for 73 yards. The Flames had 397 yards of total offense and converted 10 of 17 third downs while holding a time of possession edge of nearly 2 to 1 (39:01 to 20:59)

Vad Lee went 18 of 35 for 139 yards with a touchdown and a pick. Lee also ran 15 times for 57 yards and a touchdown. Jauan Latney had 15 carries for 119 yards and a touchdown. Brandon Ravenel caught 7 passes for 54 yards.

 

Morgan State Bears (7-5) at Richmond Spiders (8-4)

In one of the more formful games of the day, Richmond dispatched Morgan State with a 46-26 win. Richmond’s Michael Strauss threw 4 touchdown passes in the victory.

Richmond wasted little time taking the lead with Strauss hitting Reggie Diggs for a 16 yard touchdown pass. An interception by Morgan State on their first drive was turned into a 1 yard touchdown run for Seth Fisher and a 15-0 lead for Richmond after converting a two-point conversion. Fisher added another one yard touchdown run on the next drive to make it 22-0 at the end of the first quarter.

Morgan State hit a 29 yard field goal to get on the board in the second quarter and actually made it 22-10 after a 3 yard touchdown run by Moses Skillon. That touchdown was set up by Strauss’ interception. Late in the quarter, Strauss hit Diggs for a second time, this one from 11 yards out to make it 29-10 at the break.

Morgan State turned the ball over on their first second half possession and the Spiders made them pay with Strauss hitting Fisher for a 22 yard touchdown pass. The Bears responded two drives later with a 46 yard touchdown pass from Skillon to Andrew King to make it 36-17 in favor of Richmond. Skillon would throw a pick on the next drive, which led to a 42 yard field goal for Richmond and a 39-17 lead at the end of three quarters.

Skillon threw his third interception early in the fourth quarter and Strauss threw his fourth touchdown pass as a result. He connected from 38 yards out with Rashad Ponder. Skillon came back and threw an 8 yard touchdown to Ladarius Spearman to make it 46-24.

Moses Skillon went 23 of 45 for 285 yards with 2 touchdowns and 3 interceptions. He also had 36 yards and a touchdown on 10 carries. Herb Walker Jr. ran 21 times for 120 yards to lead the Bears in rushing. The top receiver was Andrew King with 80 yards and a touchdown on 5 catches.

Michael Strauss went 22 of 32 for 272 yards with 4 touchdowns and an interception. Jeremiah Hamlin had 51 yards on 10 carries while Seth Fisher had 14 carries for 47 yards and 2 touchdowns. Reggie Diggs caught 8 passes for 132 yards and 2 touchdowns.

 

South Dakota State Jackrabbits (8-4) at Montana State Bobcats (8-4)

The game of the day was played in the worst conditions of the day. A snowstorm blanketed the field between South Dakota State and Montana State, but that did not stop the Jackrabbits from winning 47-40. Zach Zenner had 324 yards and 5 touchdowns on offense to lead South Dakota State into the second round.

It did not take long for Zenner to get going. On the second play from scrimmage, he ran 45 yards for a touchdown and a 7-0 South Dakota State lead. The Bobcats answered back with a 3 yard run from Chad Newell, but a botched extra point made it 7-6. On the next drive, Zenner would take a little swing pass 69 yards to the house and a 14-6 lead.

The Jackrabbits would settle for a 21 yard field goal early in the second quarter to take a 17-6 lead. After back-to-back punts, Montana State got back on the board with a one yard touchdown run from Newell. The Bobcats converted the two-point conversion to make it 17-14. However, the Jackrabbits responded immediately with Zenner running for a 7 yard touchdown. Montana State got a late touchdown with Dakota Prukop finding Mitchell Herbert for a one yard touchdown pass. However, in a recurring theme, the extra point was blocked and South Dakota State held a 24-20 lead at halftime.

The second half began with Montana State taking the lead on Newell’s third touchdown run from 12 yards out. Once again, the extra point snap was botched and the Bobcats only held a 26-24 lead. It took three plays for the Jackrabbits to respond and it was Zenner again. He ran 60 yards down the sideline and made a defender miss on his way to the end zone and a 31-26 lead for South Dakota State. The Bobcats had a chance to regain the lead, but a personal foul penalty put them in fourth and 20, which was not converted. The third quarter ended with South Dakota State hanging on to a 31-26 lead.

South Dakota State extended their lead to 37-26 on Austin Sumner’s 10 yard touchdown pass to Connor Landberg in the corner of the end zone. It almost did not happen when Sumner nearly threw a pick six, but the defender dropped the interception. A fumble by Montana State on their ensuing drive resulted in a 30 yard field goal for the Jackrabbits and a 40-26 lead. Chad Newell ran for another touchdown from 6 yards out to close it to 40-32 with two-point conversion failing.

Then came Zenner’s fifth touchdown. He broke a tackle 5 yard beyond the line of scrimmage and then outran the defense to end zone for a 69 yard touchdown. That made it 47-32. The Bobcats got a late touchdown from Newell from 5 yards out, which was his fifth of the game. Two point conversion was good and made it 47-40. The ensuing onside kick was originally recovered by the Jackrabbits’ Dallas Goedert, but he fumbled when he was hit going to the ground. Luckily for South Dakota State, Connor Landberg recovered the ball that was kicked up to him. That recovery allowed South Dakota State to run the clock out.

Austin Sumner went 19 of 28 for 249 yards with 2 touchdown passes. Zach Zenner ran wild with 252 yards rushing and 4 touchdowns on 23 carries. He also was the leading receiver with 2 catches for 72 yards and a score. Jake Wieneke had 4 catches for 57 yards while Jason Schneider caught 4 passes for 53 yards. The Jackrabbits put up 526 yards of total offense.

Montana State’s Dakota Prukop went 19 of 36 for 280 yards and a touchdown. Chad Newell had himself a game with 24 carries for 101 yards and 5 rushing touchdowns. Shawn Johnson had 8 carries for 37 yards, but did more damage in the passing game with 4 catches for 59 yards. Mitch Grabiel had 4 catches for 51 yards and the Bobcats rang up 462 yards of total offense.

 

Second Round Matchups and Schedule (All games on Saturday, December 6)

Fordham (11-2) at #1 New Hampshire (10-1) – 1 PM ET

Indiana State (8-5) at #8 Chattanooga (9-3) – 1 PM ET

Northern Iowa (9-4) at #5 Illinois State (10-1) – 2 PM ET

Montana (9-4) at #4 Eastern Washington (10-2) – 4:30 PM ET

Sam Houston State (9-4) at #3 Jacksonville State (10-1) – 2 PM ET

Liberty (9-4) at #6 Villanova (10-2) – 4:30 PM ET

Richmond (9-4) at #7 Coastal Carolina – 1:00 PM ET

South Dakota State (9-4) at #2 North Dakota State (11-1) – 3:30 PM ET

 

All eight of the games on Saturday, December 6 can be seen on ESPN3.

2014 FCS Playoffs: Round 1 Predictions

Zach Zenner will need to have a massive game for South Dakota State to advance to round two (gojacks.com)
Zach Zenner will need to have a massive game for South Dakota State to advance to round two (gojacks.com)

 

The 2014 FCS Playoffs begin this weekend with 8 games. The winner of these 8 games will face one of the top 8 seeds as ranked by the NCAA. Below is a look at each game for this weekend with a prediction for each contest. All first round games will be played on Saturday and all games can be seen on ESPN3.

Sacred Heart (9-2) at Fordham (10-2) – 12 PM ET

This is a tough draw for Sacred Heart. Fordham’s two losses were to Villanova, the #6 seed in the playoffs, and FBS Army. Sacred Heart’s two losses were to Bucknell and St. Francis (PA), two teams that Fordham beat. Sacred Heart has a solid defense, but Fordham’s offense will be too much in the end. Fordham wins 43-24 and will face the top seeded New Hampshire Wildcats next weekend.

Indiana State (7-5) at Eastern Kentucky (9-3) – 1 PM ET

Some were probably surprised by Indiana State’s inclusion in the field after their loss to Western Illinois in the regular season finale. However, the other 4 losses for the Sycamores were to Indiana (FBS), Illinois State (#5 Seed), North Dakota State (#2 Seed), and South Dakota State (Playoff team). Eastern Kentucky has a potent offense, however, in several of their games including two losses, they were held to less than 30 points. That bodes well for Indiana State if they can limit the amount of points for Eastern Kentucky. Let’s go with Indiana State in a 27-24 win to face #8 Chattanooga in the second round.

Stephen F. Austin (8-4) at Northern Iowa (8-4) – 8 PM ET

This game appears to favor Northern Iowa, but only by a slight margin. Their two losses to FCS opponents (Indiana State and South Dakota State) were by a combined four points and their two losses to FBS opponents (Iowa and Hawaii) were by a combined 11 points. Stephen F. Austin can score or win a more modest scoring game so this game should be close. The Panthers win 24-20 to advance to the second round and take on #5 Illinois State.

San Diego (9-2) at Montana (8-4) – 4 PM ET

San Diego is in the tournament as a result of an investigation into Jacksonville’s financial aid rules. Their reward is a trip to Missoula to face the always dangerous Montana Grizzlies. This game has the feel of a defensive battle, which would favor the Grizzlies. San Diego had a great season, but it ends on Saturday in a 20-13 loss to Montana. Montana will have a rematch against Eastern Washington in the second round.

Southeastern Louisiana (9-3) at Sam Houston State (8-4) – 2 PM ET

This is a matchup of two teams from the Southland Conference, however, these teams did not face each other during the season, which makes this the de facto Southland Championship – in the First Round of the playoffs. Sam Houston State did not start the season well opening 1-3, including a loss to a good Division 2 Colorado State-Pueblo team, before winning 7 of their last 8. In their 8 wins they have scored at least 38 points. Southeastern Louisiana can score as well so expect some fireworks. In a close battle, Southeastern Louisiana comes out on top 45-41 and will face Jacksonville State in the second round.

Liberty (8-4) at James Madison (9-3) – 4 PM ET

This is a tough game to call. On one hand, James Madison plays in arguably the toughest conference in FCS, but the Big South managed to get two teams into the FCS playoffs with Liberty and Coastal Carolina. In addition, the fourth place team was Charleston Southern at 8-4. Liberty’s losses were to North Carolina (FBS), Indiana State (Playoff team), Richmond (Playoff team), and Charleston Southern. James Madison lost to Maryland (FBS), Villanova (#6 Seed), and Delaware. This will be a close game with James Madison scratching out a 27-24 win on a late field goal and taking on #6 Villanova in the second round.

Morgan State (7-5) at Richmond (8-4) – 1 PM ET

Morgan State came out of a 5-way tie in the MEAC to claim the automatic bid. They seem to be up against it here facing Richmond. Morgan State will keep it close for a while, but Richmond’s offense will be too much in the end. The Spiders take this game 42-17 and will face #7 Coastal Carolina next Saturday.

South Dakota State (8-4) at Montana State (8-4) – 4 PM ET

South Dakota State will feature a heavy dose of running back Zach Zenner, who should be good for at least 100 yards in this game. However, he will need help if the Jackrabbits are to come out of this game with the win. Montana State has shown the ability to win both high scoring and low scoring games, which will serve them well in the playoffs if they make a deep run. The Jackrabbits keep it close and shorten the game, but Montana State pulls out the 27-17 win. In that case, Montana State will face three-time defending FCS Champions North Dakota State in the second round.

Be sure to check back on Saturday night for the 2014 FCS Playoffs Round 1 recap for all 8 games.