Huntsville, TX (SportsNetwork.com) – They didn’t meet in the regular season, so
Sam Houston State might be saying it won the de facto title game between the
two Southland Conference co-champions Saturday.
Oh yes, the Bearkats are even happier to be advancing in the FCS playoffs after
they defeated Southeastern Louisiana, 21-17, in the first round.
Sam Houston (9-4) will travel to third-seeded Jacksonville State (10-1), the
Ohio Valley Conference champion, for a second-round showdown next Saturday.
Sam Houston and Southeastern (9-4) tied for the Southland title with 7-1
records, but they didn’t face each other in the 11-team conference.
The Bearkats, under first-year coach K.C. Keeler, overcame four turnovers,
playing well defensively in the second half and getting an important block of a
Southeastern field goal attempt during the fourth quarter.
The Lions were trying to extend a 17-14 lead, but Michael Wade blocked Ryan
Adams’ 46-yard attempt with 8:37 left. The Bearkats then drove 59 yards in
seven plays, going ahead 21-17 on Donovan Williams’ 5-yard run.
Southeastern had three final drives, but one started at their 6-yard line and
their final one from their 1.
Williams also ran for a 1-yard touchdown and Jalen Overstreet scored from 3
yards out for Sam Houston, which trailed 10-0 at halftime.
Southeastern quarterback Bryan Bennett, who wasn’t 100 percent healthwise, ran
for the Lions’ two touchdowns, but struggled to gain 181 yards on 17-for-48
passing, and was limited to 14 yards on 16 carries.
Fordham 44, Sacred Heart 22
New York, NY – Jack Coffey Field has been good to Fordham in recent years, but
the Road to Frisco passes through top-seeded New Hampshire, and the Rams feel
up to the task after an impressive start to the FCS playoffs Saturday..
Mike Nebrich threw for 421 yards and four touchdowns as Patriot League champion
Fordham passed by Sacred Heart in the first round for the second straight year,
this time by a 44-22 score.
Fordham (11-2) will head to Durham next Saturday to face New Hampshire (10-1),
the nation’s No. 1-ranked team, in the second round. It won’t be the same as
playing at home, where the Rams have won 10 straight games and 17 of their last
But the Rams appear ready for the challenge. Nebrich, who completed 29-of-50
pass attempts with two interceptions, threw two touchdowns each to Brian Wetzel
(eight receptions, 166 yards) and Tebucky Jones Jr. (eight receptions, 139
Fordham took command of the game by scoring on its final play of the second
quarter – Wetzel’s 14-yard reception with nine seconds left to make it 24-16 –
and its first play of the third quarter – Jones’ 97-yard reception at the 11:45
mark to make it 31-16.
The Rams outgained Sacred Heart 511 yards to 314. Chase Edmonds rushed for 91
yards, including a 26-yard touchdown.
RJ Noel threw two touchdown passes to Tyle Dube for Sacred Heart (9-3), a co-
champion out of the Northeast Conference, but was intercepted twice by All-
Patriot League cornerback Ian Williams. Sean Bell rushed for 112 yards on 15
carries and Keshaudas Spence scored on a 22-yard run in the loss.
Fordham won last year’s first-round matchup, 37-27.
Richmond 46, Morgan State 24
Richmond, VA – Richmond had won a “playoff” game already, so there was no
stopping the Spiders and quarterback Michael Strauss when the actual FCS
postseason began Saturday.
Strauss threw four touchdowns to power Richmond to a 46-24 win over Morgan
State in the first round.
The Spiders (9-4) will travel to seventh-seeded Coastal Carolina (11-1) next
Saturday for a second-round game.
Coach Danny Rocco’s team basically won a playoff game last weekend at William &
Mary. The winner of that game was going to be the fourth and final playoff team
out of CAA Football, and the Spiders won going away, 34-20.
They rolled the momentum right into their game against Morgan State (7-6),
jumping to a 22-0 lead after the first quarter. Strauss capped the game’s first
drive with a 16-yard touchdown pass to Reggie Diggs and Seth Fisher scored on
Diggs (eight receptions, 132 yards) ended the first-half scoring with another
touchdown reception – an 11-yarder with 20 seconds left in the second quarter –
giving Richmond a 29-10 halftime lead.
Strauss completed 22-of-32 pass attempts for 272 yards and one interception. He
also threw touchdowns to Rashad Ponder and Fisher.
Richmond has struggled with turnovers in its losses, but gained a 4-2 advantage
in turnover margin, intercepting Morgan State quarterback Moses Skillon three
times and forcing him into a fumble.
Skillon rushed for a touchdown and threw for 285 yards and two touchdowns. Herb
Walker Jr. carried the ball 21 times for 120 yards for the Bears, who made
their first-ever playoff appearance. They earned the Mid-Eastern Athletic
Conference’s automatic bid off a tiebreaker between five first-place teams.
MEAC teams have lost in the playoffs every year since 1999.
Indiana State 36, Eastern Kentucky 16
Richmond, KY – Indiana State played in its first FCS playoff game since 1984 on
Saturday. Maybe the Sycamores just needed some extra time to warm up.
After surrendering the first 16 points to Eastern Kentucky, Indiana State
scored the final 36 points for a 36-16 first-round victory over the Colonels.
The Sycamores (8-5), one of a record-tying five playoffs teams from the
Missouri Valley Football Conference, will visit eighth-seeded Chattanooga
(9-3), the Southern Conference champion, for a second-round game next Saturday.
Senior quarterback Mike Perish led Indiana State’s comeback win, completing a
school-record 41 passes in 57 attempts for 407 yards and three touchdowns with
two interceptions. He now has 6,545 passing yards for his career, also a school
record, and his 20 touchdown passes this season tied Ronnie Fouch’s school
record set in 2010.
Indiana State was nearly shut out in the first half, but Perish connected with
Robert Tonyan for a 4-yard touchdown pass with two seconds left, pulling the
Sycamores within 16-7 at halftime.
They then ran off 24 points in the third quarter. Eric Heidorn kicked a 47-yard
field goal, Perish fired touchdown passes to Kyani Harris (57 yards) and Gary
Owens (38), and safety Mark Sewall returned an interception of EKU’s Bennie
Conney for a 48-yard touchdown.
Dy’Shawn Mobley scored on an 18-yard run and finished with 96 yards on 22
carries, and Andrew Lloyd kicked three field goals as the Colonels (9-4) from
the Ohio Valley Conference built their 16-0 lead in the first half.
The playoff win was Indiana State’s second in three seasons of playoff
appearances. EKU fell to 16-19 all-time in 21 playoff appearances.
Saturday, Nov. 29
All Times ET
FCS Playoff First Round
San Diego at Montana, 4 p.m.
Liberty at James Madison, 4 p.m.
South Dakota State at Montana State, 4 p.m.
Stephen F. Austin at Northern Iowa, 8 p.m.