FCS First Round Wrap Up

What a wild weekend of FCS playoff football! There were two undefeated teams that went down, two games that came down to the wire and some unexpected blowouts. Hopefully, the rest of the way will be just as exciting.

My two cents on the JMU game:

Before I go into all the games, let me just say that I have been a huge supporter of Mickey Matthews and all that he has done for my alma mater. That being said, the last five minutes of the game on Saturday were inexcusable. I don’t like saying “We should be there and not them” but that is definitely the case this time. The game was essentially over. Twice. Mickey should have known better than to go for it on 4th and 1 with the lead and 5 minutes to go in a hostile stadium. He also should’ve known to either down the ball or just kick a field goal at the end instead of running the ball constantly and risk fumbling it away. I won’t blame the JMU athletic department if they fire Matthews after this because it was unfathomable. I appreciate everything that he has done for us including the national championship in 2004 but I don’t see him surviving the costly mistakes from Saturday.

Delaware 44, Delaware State 7 – This was a bit anti-climatic. The Hens jumped all over the Hornets’ mistakes from the beginnning and the rout was on. Omar Cuff had a school record 288 rushing yards, most of which he picked up in the first half and scored four times to put his singles season TD total at 37. It was the first meeting between the two schools who are just 45 miles apart but unfortunately it did not live up to the hype. The win means the Hens (9-3) will now face top seeded Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls on December 1 at 2 pm.

Appalachian State 28, James Madison 27 – Armanti Edwards’ TD run with 1:10 left put the Mountaineers ahead and Pierre Banks recovered a Jamal Sullivan fumble at the ASU 5 to seal the game. Despite being outgained in almost every offensive category, ASU took advantage of three costly JMU turnovers and putting points on the board after each one. Payton award finalist RB Kevin Richardson was injured in the third quarter and his status will be updated later in the week. The Mountaineers will be at home again this weekend to face the Eagles of Eastern Washington on December 1 at Noon.

UMass 49, Fordham 35  – This game was very dicey for the Minutemen as they had to withstand a very game Rams team that for awhile looked like the better squad out there. Liam Coen picked a great day to have his best single game performance with 419 yards passing and four TD passes. Fordham however played tough, tying the game twice including 35-35 a few minutes into the 4th quarter. But UMass’ running game became the difference as Matt Lawrence scampered for two scores to put the game away. UMass next travels to Carbondale for a date with Southern Illinois at 3:30 on December 1.

Wofford 23, Montana 22 – Anyone but a few diehard Terrier fans see this one coming? Michael Hobbs ran in for at TD from six yards out with 32 seconds remaining to beat the previously undefeated Grizzlies. The story was Wofford’s defense as they sacked Cole Bergquist five times and constantly kept Montana’s offense off balance. The Terriers also survived three turnovers and the 13 degree weather at kickoff. Their reward is a home game against Richmond on December 1 at 7 pm.

Southern Illinois 30, Eastern Illinois 11 –  The story going into the game was the efficient play of Saluki QB Nick Hill. He didn’t disappoint. Hill had 264 total yards and a TD to lead Southern Illinois to business-like win over what seemed to be an overmatched Panther team. Eastern Illinois doomed itself with two turnovers and neither Cody Reeder or Ademola Adeniji could get it going until it was too late. The Salukis now get a home game against the Minutemen of UMass at 3:30 as part of ESPN’s package.

Richmond 31, Eastern Kentucky 14 – Another business-like win for a Spider team that looks like it could be a real contender for the title this year. Tim Hightower set a school record for postseason yards in a game with 180 and also scored a TD as Richmond dismantled a Colonel team that many were expecting more out of.  But EKU came out flat and promptly turned the ball over four times while not forcing any of their own to ensure they would not be a factor in this game.  The Spiders next travel to Wofford for a 7 pm game on December 1.

Northern Iowa 38, New Hampshire 35 – The Wildcats join JMU in the group of teams that probably should be practicing for their quarterfinal game this week but won’t. UNH led 35-31 with seven seconds remaining but Panther QB Eric Sanders hit Montari Leonard for the game winning 15 yard TD. It capped a drive that went 71 yards in just 1:11 and saved the day for UNI. The game did prove however that UNH belonged in the playoffs despite a 4-4 conference record. It was all that anyone could have hoped for in a game that matched two of the nation’s best QBs in Sanders and UNH QB Ricky Santos. The Panthers next host the Fightin Blue Hens of Delaware at 2 pm on December 1.

Eastern Washington 44, McNeese State 15 – So much for the Bayou effect on visiting teams. Matt Nicholls had 459 total yards and Dale Morris ran for 130 as the Eagles pounded the previously undefeated Cowboys into submission. Eastern Washington outgained McNeese 434 yards to 185 and also recovered three turnovers in the rout. Things however won’t get any easier as they next have to go cross country to face the Mountaineers of Appalachian State at noon on December 1.

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