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FCS Top 25 November 21-23

Thursday, November 21
Nicholls 28, Southeast Louisiana 27
Chase Fourcade threw a 57-yard touchdown pass to Dai'Jean Dixon with 1:30 left and Nicholls survived a wild finish to beat Southeastern Louisiana 28-27, clinching a share of the Southland Conference title and a bid to the FCS playoffs. Nicholls (8-4, 7-2) got a break when Bryce Broussard missed a PAT attempt after SE Louisiana (7-4, 6-3) took a 27-21 lead with 2:21 left in the game. The Lions' Dominic Lamm intercepted Fourcade's pass with a leaping one-handed grab that set up Southeastern Louisiana at the Nicholls 29 with 3:07 left. Three plays later, Chason Virgil completed a 17-yard TD pass to Austin Mitchell that gave the Lions the lead. After Nicholls answered with a three-play, 75-yard drive that took only 45 seconds, Alec Bland tried a squib quick that bounced off a Lions player and was recovered in a scrum by the Lions at the SLU 44. With the benefit of roughing the passer and pass interference penalties, the Lions drove 55 yards to the Nicholls 2. On a second-and-goal Cole Kelley fumbled and Nicholls' Sully Laiche recovered with 21 seconds left. Nicholls ran the clock out on four plays to secure the win. Fourcade finished with 288 yards passing, three touchdowns and an interception. Dixon caught nine passes for 190 yards and three touchdowns, and Julien Gums ran 18 times for 133 yards and a score. Virgil passed for 321 yards, a touchdown and an interception for the Lions.

Friday, November 22
Central Arkansas 52, Incarnate Word 35
Breylin Smith passed for 296 yards, five touchdowns and no interceptions, and Central Arkansas earned a share of the Southland Conference title with a 52-35 win over Incarnate Word. Central Arkansas (9-3, 7-2) shares the title with Nicholls, which beat SE Louisiana on Thursday night. Nicholls earned the automatic bid to the FCS playoffs due to beating Central Arkansas 34-14 on Oct. 5. The Bears, ranked 11th in the FCS Coaches Poll, are in line for an at-large berth. The Bears never trailed, but the Cardinals (5-7, 4-5) closed a 17-point deficit to 31-28 on Jon Copeland's 8-yard TD keeper with 3:52 left in the third quarter. Central Arkansas scored two touchdowns to extend the lead to 45-28 and the teams traded touchdowns in the final three minutes. Tyler Hudson had nine catches for 161 yards and three touchdowns for the Bears. Copeland threw for 338 yards and two touchdowns for the Cardinals.

Saturday, November 23
Austin Peay 35, Eastern Illinois 7
JaVaughn Craig threw three touchdowns and ran for two more and Austin Peay beat Eastern Illinois 35-7 for the Ohio Valley Conference championship. Austin Peay (9-3, 7-1) owns the tiebreaker over Southeast Missouri State (9-3, 7-1) by virtue of its 28-24 win over the Redhawks on Oct. 12. Its only their second conference title, the last coming in 1977. The Governors - ranked No. 19 in FCS - set a single-season record for wins. Craig threw a 13-yard touchdown pass to Baniko Harley with 4:51 left in the first quarter for the game's first score. Darshon McCullough's 47-yard TD run eight seconds into the second tied it up. Craig followed up with a 5-yard scoring run after a 5-play, 76-yard drive less than two minutes later. Then, his 19-yard touchdown run 68 seconds before halftime made it 21-7. McCullough ran for 110 yards on 20 carries for the Panthers' (1-11, 1-7) lone score.

Bethune-Cookman 31, Florida A&M 27
Isaac Washington ran for a touchdown late in the game that gave Bethune-Cookman a 31-27 win over Florida A&M. The Wildcats (7-4, 4-3, Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference) trailed 27-24 late in the fourth quarter when Akevious Williams engineered a nine-play, 69-yard drive and Washington capped it with a 15-yard scoring run to give Bethune-Cookman a 31-27 edge with 2:14 left. After the kickoff, Devin James intercepted FAMU's Ryan Stanley to seal the win for the Wildcats who snap a three-game skid. The win ended Florida A&M's nine-game winning streak. The Rattlers (9-2, 6-1) finished atop the MEAC standings but are ineligible for the conference championship because of NCAA violations. Williams had 269 yards and a score passing for the Wildcats. Washington ran for 104 yards and Trevor Merritt had a 23-yard interception return for a touchdown. Bethune-Cookman led 21-13 at halftime but the Rattlers scored two touchdowns in the second half to take a 27-24 lead early in the fourth quarter. Stanley threw for 213 yards and three touchdowns for FAMU. He was intercepted twice.

Dartmouth 29, Brown 23
Derek Kyler and Drew Estrada teamed for two late touchdowns as Dartmouth scored 15 points in the fourth quarter to rally past upset-minded Brown 29-23, clinching a tie for the Ivy League title. The Big Green (9-1, 8-1) entered the final period trailing 23-14 before Kyler found Estrada with a TD pass from the 9 and later a 39-yarder. Kicker Connor Davis passed to Hunter Hagdorn for a two-point conversion for the final score. Dartmouth tied for the Ivy League title - a record 19th - after Yale rallied to defeat Harvard in overtime. Kyler was 19 of 23 passing for 303 yards and four touchdowns. Estrada had 14 catches for 193 yards and two scores. Hagdorn had 12 catches for 153 yards and a TD. Brown's fourth quarter featured three punts and a game-ending interception. The Bears drove to the Dartmouth 14 before EJ Perry was sacked for a loss of 15 yards on the game's penultimate play, then picked off with 27 seconds left when Dartmouth's Isiah Swan intercepted a tipped pass in the end zone. Perry was 31 of 45 passing for 412 yards and a TD and finished with an Ivy League-record 3,678 yards of total offense. Perry surpassed the 3,553 yards set by Princeton's Chad Kanoff in 2017.

Sacramento State 27, Cal Davis 17
Kevin Thomson passed for 300 yards and ran for 116 yards to help Sacramento State clinch a share of the Big Sky Conference title with a 27-17 win over UC Davis. The Hornets (9-3, 7-1), ranked fourth in the FCS Coaches Poll, scored the last 24 points of the game after falling behind 17-3 in the second quarter. Sacramento State shares the title with Weber State, which beat the Hornets 36-17 on Nov. 2. With the head-to-head tiebreaker, Weber State automatically qualified for the FCS playoffs while Sacramento State is in line for an at-large berth. Thomson threw a TD pass and ran for two more scores. His 3-yard TD run with 2:46 left in the second quarter cut the deficit to 17-10. His 51-yard TD pass to Marshel Martin gave the Hornets a 20-17 lead with 11:51 left in the fourth and his 33-yard keeper capped the scoring with 3:04 left. Jake Maier passed for 227 yards, one touchdown and one interception for the Aggies (5-7, 3-5). Khris Vaughn caught six passes for 135 yards, including a 76-yard TD catch on UC Davis' second possession of the game. Da'Von Frazier intercepted Thomson's pass and returned it for a touchdown to make it 17-3 with 6:47 left in the second.

Central Connecticut State 43, Duquesne 10
Aaron Winchester threw two touchdown passes, brothers D.J. and Danley Exilhomme accounted for three scores, and Central Connecticut State wrapped up an undefeated league season with a 43-10 win over Duquesne. The 18th-ranked Blue Devils (11-1, 7-0 NEC), who clinched their sixth Northeast Conference title last week, won their eighth straight game and their 11 wins extends the school record for victories in a season. CCSU led 19-10 at halftime then put the game away with two long touchdowns in the third quarter. Winchester hit Tyshaun James on a 73-yard touchdown pass and D.J. Exilhomme returned an interception for an 87-yard score. Danley Exhilhomme's 25-yard run closed out the scoring in the fourth quarter. He also had a 4-yard run for the game's first score. Winchester completed 9 of 20 passes for 188 yards with the two touchdowns and an interception. For the Dukes (6-5, 4-3), Brett Brumbaugh was 11 of 30 for 111 yards with two interceptions. He threw an 11-yard pass to Kellon Taylor for Duquesne's lone touchdown late in the second quarter.

Wofford 31, Citadel 11
Nathan Walker scored two first-quarter touchdowns and Wofford beat The Citadel 31-11. The win secured a third straight Southern Conference championship and a berth in the FCS playoffs. The Terriers (8-3, 7-1), ranked No. 17 in the FCS Coaches poll, forced The Citadel (6-6, 4-4) to punt on the game-opening possession, then drove 44 yards in six plays to grab a 7-0 lead on Walker's run from the 2. Wofford forced another punt - holding The Citadel to 21 yards in its first two possessions - and Walker struck again, rushing eight yards to cap a 72-yard drive. Walker finished with 10 carries for 94 yards. Jacquez Allen and Blake Morgan also scored rushing TDs for the Terriers. Trailing 31-3, the Bulldogs scored a touchdown with 4:45 left in the game when Brandon Rainey and Dante Smith teamed for a 31-yard pass play. Rainey tossed a two-point conversion pass to Raleigh Webb. Wofford reached the second round of the FCS playoffs last season.

Villanova 55, Delaware 33
Daniel Smith threw four of his five touchdown passes to Changa Hodge and ran for a sixth score as Villanova crushed Delaware 55-33 in the annual rivalry game. Smith completed 17 of 24 passes for 378 yards. Hodge had eight catches for 236 yards to become the first Villanova player with more than 200 receiving yards since Brian Finneran in 1996 against Rhode Island. Smith guided a seven-play, 67-yard opening drive that he capped with a 3-yard run and followed it up by hitting Zac Kerxton from 33-yards out. Will Knight ran 68 yards for a touchdown to get the Blue Hens on the board, but Smith came right back, hitting Hodge from 16-yards out to make it 20-7 after one. Smith found Hodge with an 82-yard touchdown in the second quarter and added touchdowns of 43 and 37 yards in the third. Pat Kehoe was 29 of 49 for 336 yards and two touchdowns for Delaware. Delaware coach Danny Rocco now is 0-3 against Villanova.

Elon 25, Towson 23
Skyler Davis kicked field goals from 29- and 35-yards out in the fourth quarter, the second with 41 seconds remaining, to lift Elon to a 25-23 come-from-behind win over Towson in the season-finale. The loss snapped Towson's three-game win streak and may have dashed the Tigers' hopes of an at-large bid into the FCS playoffs. Tom Flacco threw two touchdown passes to put the Tigers (7-5, 4-4 Colonial Athletic Association) up, 14-0 after one, and after the teams traded second-quarter field goals the lead stood at 17-3 at intermission. Flacco was sacked in the end zone for a safety on the Tigers' first possession of the second half. Davis Cheek and Joey Baughman each threw third-quarter touchdown passes as Elon (5-6, 4-4) cut its deficit to just a point, 20-19 heading into the fourth quarter. Aidan O'Neill kicked his third field goal of the game, this one from 44-yards out, to push Towson's lead to four, 23-19. Davis cut the lead to one with his 29-yard field goal with 7:09 left. The Phoenix drove 56 yards in nine plays to set up his game-winner.

Furman 64, Point 7
Darrien Grainger threw a touchdown pass and ran for a score, Travis Blackshear had a 49-yard pick-6 and Furman held NAIA-member Point University to 91 total yards in a 64-7 win. The Paladins (8-4, 5-1 Southern Conference) will learn their FCS playoff postseason fate on Sunday. The Skyhawks gained 1 rushing yard in 35 attempts against a defense that forced three turnovers. Grainger's 9-yard TD run capped the opening drive and he hit Ryan DeLuca on a 19-yard TD pass on Furman's next possession. After Blackshear's interception return, two field goals by Grayson Atkins and two rushing TDS, the Paladins led 43-7 at halftime. Devin Wynn, Wayne Anderson, Hamp Sission, Dominic Roberto and Jack Hardin each ran for TDs for Furman, whose ground game accounted for 317 of 435 yards offense.

Kennesaw State 42, Gardner-Webb 14
Kennesaw State quarterback Tommy Bryant ran for career highs of 154 yards and four touchdowns and the Owls breezed to a 42-14 victory over Gardner-Webb. Bryant, who was just 3-of-6 passing for 28 yards, had TD runs of 15, 1, 1 and 3 yards for the Owls (10-2, 5-1 Big South Conference), who clinched second place in the conference behind Monmouth. Kennesaw State grabbed a 7-0 lead on Bryant's first TD run after the Owls took over at the Gardner-Webb 31-yard line following a Cincere Mason interception on the Bulldogs' first play from scrimmage. The Bulldogs (3-9, 1-5) pulled even at 7 when Kalen Whitlow connected with Izaiah Gathings for a 15-yard score with 5:14 left in the first quarter, but Bryant's second TD run was the only score of the second period and gave the Owls a 14-7 halftime lead. Kennesaw State took control in the third quarter, using Bryant's third scoring run and Jalen Jackson's 15-yard TD return after Adesola Abisoye blocked Jack Pawloski's punt, for a 28-7 advantage. Bryant's final TD run and Bronson Rechsteiner's 65-yard scoring run stretched the Owls' lead to 42-7 before Whitlow capped the scoring with a 28-yard strike to Devron Harper. Rechsteiner finished with 128 yards on just 10 carries for Kennesaw State. The Owls outgained Gardner-Webb 321 to 39 on the ground. Whitlow completed 21 of 36 passes for 193 yards and two TDs with one pick. Gathings hauled in 11 passes for 117 yards and a score.

Monmouth 48, Hampton 13
Kenji Bahar passed for 364 yards and four touchdowns, Pete Guerriero added 240 yards and two touchdowns on the ground, and Monmouth completed an undefeated league season with a 48-13 victory over Hampton. Guerriero, the current STATS FCS National Offensive Player of the Week, increased his career high by three yards. He scored on runs of 81 and 38 yards and added a third touchdown on a 7-yard pass from Bahar. The Hawks (10-2, 6-0 Big South) rolled up 696 yards on offense. Bahar's four TD passes went to four teammates. Deondre Francois threw two touchdown passes for the Pirates (5-7, 1-5) but completed only three other passes in 17 total attempts.

Yale 50, Harvard 43
Kurt Rawlings threw two touchdown passes in the final 88 seconds of regulation as Yale rallied from a 17-point fourth-quarter deficit to beat Harvard 50-43 in two overtimes and clinch an Ivy League title. The game finished in darkness 15 minutes after sunset in the unlit, 105-year-old Yale Bowl, when Harvard was stopped on fourth down in the second OT. Yale (9-1, 6-1 Ivy) players ran onto the field from their sideline, and those remaining in the stands streamed onto the field - the second time in the afternoon that fans took over the field. Aidan Borguet ran for 269 and four touchdowns, breaking free for scores of 47, 59, 60 and 67 yards for Harvard (4-6, 2-5).

Weber State 38, Idaho State 10
Jake Constantine threw four touchdown passes and Weber State clinched a share of the Big Sky Conference title with a 38-10 victory over Idaho State. The Wildcats (9-3, 7-1) entered the game tied atop the conference standings with Montana and Sacramento State, which beat UC Davis while the Grizzlies lost to Montana State on Saturday. Weber State finished the regular season undefeated at home for the second straight year, and has beaten Idaho State (3-9, 2-6) in 16 of the last 17 meetings. Constantine was 16 of 23 for 289 yards passing, David Ames caught four passes for 140 yards and a touchdown. Devon Cooley had two TD catches and Ty MacPherson had one. Josh Davis added 88 yards rushing on 12 carries that included a 24-yard run. David Allish kicked a 45-yard field goal in the third quarter for Idaho State (3-9, 2-6). Sagan Gronauer threw a 49-yard touchdown pass to Michael Dean with about two minutes left.

Youngstown State 21, Illinois State 3
Joe Alessi ran for 103 yards and the Youngstown State defense shut down Illinois State for a 21-3 upset over the FCS seventh-ranked Redbirds. Penguins coach Bo Pelini earned his 100th career win, including 67 at Nebraska. Braxton Chapman and Joe Craycraft completed 12-play drives with short touchdown runs and Zaire Jones returned an interception for 30 yards and a score for the Penguins (6-6, 2-6), who snapped a three-game losing streak in their season finale and perhaps ensured that the Redbirds (8-4, 5-3) will not receive a first-round bye for the playoffs. Both teams committed three turnovers, but Illinois State managed only 142 yards total offense and were 0 for 12 on third-down conversions. Two Redbirds quarterbacks were 3-of-16 passing for 30 yards. The Penguins had only 83 yards passing but 187 on the ground. On the final play of the game, Youngstown senior quarterback Nate Mays, who was knocked out for the season against North Dakota State on Nov. 2 with a leg injury, was helped out onto the field to take the snap and take a knee.

James Madison 55, Rhode Island 21
Ben DiNucci threw two touchdown passes, Jawon Hamilton and Percy Agyei-Obese combined to rush for 248 yards and three TDs and James Madison closed out the regular season with a 55-21 victory over Rhode Island. DiNucci completed 8 of 9 passes for 129 yards with scoring strikes of 1 yard to Riley Stapleton and 39 yards to Brandon Polk. Hamilton ran for 143 yards and a score on just nine carries, while Agyei-Obese added 105 yards and two scores on 22 carries. The Dukes (11-1, 8-0 Colonial Athletic Association), ranked No. 2 in the STATS FCS Top 25, had already wrapped up their fourth CAA championship in the past five seasons. James Madison beat the Rams (2-10, 0-8) for a 10th straight time, including seven in a row by 17 points or more. The Dukes held Rhode Island to minus-6 yards rushing, marking the sixth straight time they have held an opponent under 100 yards. The Dukes piled up 390 yards on the ground, outrushing an opponent for the 16th straight time. James Madison has a rushing TD in 17 straight games. Ethan Ratke's 42-yard field goal and DiNucci's TD toss to Stapleton staked JMU to a 10-0 first-quarter lead. D'Angelo Amos returned a punt 85 yards for a score, Agyei-Obese had a 4-yard TD run and Hamilton ran 44 yards for a score to put the Dukes up 31-0 at halftime. Vito Priore completed 23 of 42 passes for 208 yards and two second-half TDs, but he threw three interceptions. Aaron Parker had five catches for 66 yards and a score.

Montana State 48, Montana 14
Isaiah Ifanse ran for 171 yards and three touchdowns to lead Montana State to a resounding 48-14 win over Montana in the 119th Cat-Griz game. Montana fumbled on its first play and never recovered as MSU scored on its first five possession to jump out to a 31-7 lead midway through the second quarter. The win was the biggest margin in the rivalry game for the Bobcats (9-3, 6-2 Big Sky Conference) since 1966 when they won 38-0. The Grizzlies (9-3, 6-2) scored on consecutive possessions in the first half but that was all they could muster in the game between Top 10 FCS teams. The Bobcats ran for 382 yards and had 488 total yards. Logan Jones has 19 carries for 121 yards and one touchdown. Flanker Tyrone Marshall ran for another 81 yards on eight carries and one touchdown. Marcus Knight ran for both touchdowns for Montana and has 21 total touchdowns, which is third in school history. Bryce Sterk had four tackles for loss, including 2.5 sacks, for Montana State.

Murray State 31, Southeast Missouri State 24
Daniel Santacaterina threw a pair of touchdown passes to Zack Smith late in the game that made the difference as Southeast Missouri State rallied to beat Murray State 31-24 in a regular-season finale. The Redhawks (9-3, 7-1) trailed 24-17 at the start of the fourth quarter when Santacaterina capped a 12-play, 68-yard drive with a 17-yard touchdown throw to Smith to tie it 24-all. They took over on downs after a failed Murray State drive and Santacaterina once again went to Smith, this time from 6 yards, for another score and a 31-24 lead with 8:57 to go. Santacaterina finished with 215 yards and three touchdowns passing for the Redhawks. Zion Curtis carried 15 times for 86 yards and Kristian Wilkerson had 11 receptions for 95 yards and a score. Zach Hall had a 61-yard interception return for a touchdown. Preston Rice threw for 284 yards and two touchdowns for the Racers (4-8, 2-6).

North Carolina A&T 54, North Carolina Central 0
Kylil Carter threw two touchdown passes and Kashon Baker and Jah-Maine Martin each ran for a pair of scores and North Carolina A&T beat North Carolina Central 54-0. It was the Aggies' second shutout of the season. They beat Delaware State 37-0 on Sept. 27. They now have won four of their last five contests. North Carolina A&T (8-3, 6-2) shared the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference title with South Carolina State and clinched a berth to the Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl on Dec. 21. The Aggies will play the SWAC champion. Carter completed a 68-yard touchdown pass to Elijah Bell for a 6-0 lead on the Aggies' opening drive. Jah-Maine Martin followed that with 20-yard touchdown run for a 13-0 advantage. North Carolina A&T went on to pile up 520 yards on offense. North Carolina Central (4-8, 3-5) managed just nine yards in total offense while fumbling five times, giving it away twice. The Eagles had just four first downs.

North Dakota State 21, Southern Illinois 7
Kobe Johnson, Adam Cofield and Trey Lance all ran for touchdowns and FCS top-ranked North Dakota State completed a perfect regular season with a 21-7 victory over Southern Illinois. The Bison (12-0, 8-0 Missouri Valley Football Conference) won their 33rd consecutive game, tying their own record (2012-14) for the longest win streak in FCS history and eighth-longest all-time in Division I. Johnson ran 44 yards for a first-quarter touchdown but Javon Williams Jr. went 28 yards in the second quarter for Southern Illinois. Cofield ran 8 yards for the go-ahead score in the third quarter and Lance added a 34-yarder in the fourth. The three NDSU scoring drives went for 74 yards or longer. The Bison ran for 246 yards with Lance throwing for 146 more. The Salukis (7-5, 5-3) got 117 yards rushing on 23 carries from Williams, but had just 70 yards passing.

Northern Iowa 38, Western Illinois 7
Will McElvain passed for two touchdowns, Trevor Allen ran for a pair and Northern Iowa defeated Western Illinois 38-7 in a regular-season finale. McElvain, 10-of-18 passing for 154 yards, threw 61 yards to Logan Wolf and 36 to Jaylin James for touchdowns. Allen, who finished with 94 yards on 24 carries, had short touchdown runs to complete 15- and 16-play drives for the Panthers (8-4, 6-2 Missouri Valley Football Conference), who have won all six of their home games in the regular season. Chris Kolarevic added a 28-yard interception return for a score for Northern Iowa, which is ranked 10th in the FCS coaches poll and will learn its postseason fate on Sunday. Connor Sampson was 26-of-32 passing with a touchdown and interception for the Leathernecks (1-11, 1-7), who lost their third straight.

South Dakota 24, South Dakota State 21
Austin Simmons passed for two touchdowns, ran for another and South Dakota upset rival South Dakota State 24-21. It is the seventh straight season the Coyotes knocked off a ranked team, having entered the game 0-3 against Top 25 FCS teams this season. Simmons was 20 for 32 for 252 yards, moving him past Wesley Beschorner for second on the all-time South Dakota list. Adding in 47 yards rushing on the game, he surpassed 1,000 for his career. Jack Cochrane led the defense with 11 tackles, giving him 105 for the season. The fifth-ranked Jackrabbits led 7-0 in the first quarter and 14-10 early in the third but couldn't hold on. Simmons' 2-yard run put South Dakota (5-7, 4-4 Missouri Valley Conference) up 17-14 and followed that up with a 21-yard touchdown pass for a 24-14 lead entering the fourth quarter. Keaton Heide's second touchdown pass pulled the Jackrabbits within a field goal early in the fourth quarter but their last three drives ended with a fumble, a fourth-down failure and a fumble on a trick play in the final minute. South Dakota State (8-4, 5-3) entered the game in a four-way tie for second place behind North Dakota State but only Northern Iowa won its finale. Illinois State and Southern Illinois also lost.


November 23, 2019