FCS Top 25: Lehigh, Citadel clinch playoffs
(STATS) – Lehigh and The Citadel became the first FCS teams to clinch automatic bids to the FCS playoffs on Saturday.
But neither wants any part of sharing their conference title and they plan to do something about it.
First, No. 24 Lehigh beat Bucknell 20-13 to nail down at least a tie for the Patriot League title, then fifth-ranked The Citadel edged No. 20 Samford 37-34 in overtime to clinch at least a share of the Southern Conference title.
Lehigh (8-2, 5-0 Patriot) made it eight straight wins while securing its first league title since 2011. On Senior Day at Goodman Stadium, quarterback Nick Shafnisky had a touchdown pass and run, Ed Mish kicked a pair of field goals and the Mountain Hawks kept Bucknell (3-6, 2-2) scoreless in the second half after the Bison led 13-7 at halftime.
Lehigh has a bye next weekend before ending the regular season on Nov. 19 at rival Lafayette. A Lehigh win or one more loss by Fordham (6-3, 3-1) would give the Mountain Hawks an outright league title.
“Sometimes the hardest ones are the ones you enjoy the most,” Lehigh coach Andy Coen said. “When you're winning a championship, it should be hard. Bucknell made it hard but we're the ones with the trophy and I can't be more proud of a group of guys than these guys.”
Cody Clark sent The Citadel's game to overtime at 34-34 with a 34-yard field goal with three seconds remaining and then won it in the extra session with a 36-yarder at Johnson Hagood Stadium. The Bulldogs (9-0, 7-0), one of two unbeaten teams in the FCS, clinched back-to-back conference titles for the first time in their history, and they can make it an outright title with a win at VMI or a Chattanooga loss to Wofford next Saturday.
Tyler Renew led The Citadel with 45 carries for 285 yards and three touchdowns – all career highs. Cam Jackson added 100 yards and a touchdown on the ground as the Bulldogs handed Samford (6-3, 4-2) its second straight loss.
Said The Citadel first-year coach Brent Thompson: “They've done everything that we've asked them to do and they believe in the staff and they believe in each other and they come in every day ready to work.”
STATS FCS TOP 25=
Saturday, Nov. 5
No. 1 Sam Houston State 56, McNeese 43
The FCS-leading offense rolled on as Sam Houston quarterback Jeremiah Briscoe completed 29 of 44 passes for a career-high 504 yards and six touchdowns, and freshman wide receiver Nathan Stewart had 12 receptions for a Southland Conference-record 268 yards and three touchdowns.
The two teams combined for 1,204 offensive yards The Bearkats (9-0, 7-0) had 603 yards and McNeese had 574.
No. 2 Jacksonville State 17, Southeast Missouri State 10
Jacksonville State (8-1, 5-0) had to work hard for its 22nd straight win in the Ohio Valley Conference, holding on in the second half after leading 17-0 at halftime. The Gamecocks defense limited Southeast Missouri to zero rushing yards on 28 carries.
Eli Jenkins and Bryant Horn both threw a touchdown pass for the Gamecocks. Jenkins threw for 144 yards to increase to 7,147 in his career and surpass Ed Lett (7,145 from 1979-82) for the school record.
No. 3 Eastern Washington 42, No. 14 Cal Poly 21
Eastern Washington (8-1, 6-0 Big Sky) totaled six touchdown passes to outgun Cal Poly's rushing attack. Quarterback Gage Gubrud had four touchdown passes and wide receiver Cooper Kupp threw for the other two. He also caught 11 passes for 154 yards and a touchdown, and Shaq Hill had three TD receptions.
Quarterback Dano Graves led Cal Poly (6-3, 4-2) with 121 yards and two touchdowns on the ground.
No. 4 North Dakota State 24, No. 15 Youngstown State 3
The five-time defending FCS champion Bison (8-1, 5-1) held the ball for only 24 minutes, 12 seconds, but limited Youngstown State (6-3, 4-2) to a field goal in their Missouri Valley Football Conference matchup.
Chase Morlock (101 yards) and Lance Dunn (76) both rushed for a touchdown, while quarterback Easton Stick and tight end Jeff Illies connected on a 15-yard touchdown pass.
No. 7 James Madison 47, No. 6 Richmond 43
JMU quarterback Bryan Schor accounted for 376 yards of total offense and four touchdowns, including a 9-yard pass to Jonathan Kloosterman with 1:36 remaining to give the CAA Football-leading Dukes (8-1, 6-0) the lead for good at 40-37.
Khalid Abdullah (20 carries, 123 yards) followed with his second touchdown with one minute remaining to set the JMU all-time record in rushing touchdowns (33).
Richmond's Kyle Lauletta threw for 435 yards and five touchdowns and rushed for another score in the loss.
Gardner-Webb 17, No. 8 Charleston Southern 10
Tyrell Maxwell completed an 85-yard drive with a 1-yard touchdown pass to tight end Mike Estes with 27 seconds remaining as Gardner-Webb (4-6, 2-2) upset defending Big South champion Charleston Southern (5-3, 2-1).
Maxwell had 360 yards of total offense. He passed for 195 yards and rushed for 165 yards, including a 52-yard touchdown.
No. 10 Villanova 26, Maine 7
Quarterback Zach Bednarczyk completed 23 of 31 passes for a career-high 326 yards and three touchdowns. Tight end Ryan Bell caught two of the touchdowns.
The Wildcats (7-2, 5-1 CAA) intercepted Maine quarterback Dan Collins four times, with Rob Rolle recording two picks, to end the Black Bears' five-game winning streak.
No. 11 North Carolina A&T 30, South Carolina State 20
With All-America running back Tarik Cohen held to 47 rushing yards and one touchdown, A&T quarterback Lamar Raynard delivered two scoring passes and Marquis Willis clinched the win with a 29-yard interception return for a touchdown.
The Aggies are 8-1 overall and 6-0 in the MEAC, tied for first place with North Carolina Central.
Illinois State 31, No. 12 Western Illinois 26
Redshirt sophomore Jake Kolbe passed for 265 yards and a career-high four touchdowns to lift Illinois State (5-5, 3-4 Missouri Valley) back to .500. Anthony Warrum caught seven passes for 152 yards and two touchdowns.
The Redbirds overcame WIU quarterback Sean McGuire's 312 yards and two touchdowns through the air.
No. 13 South Dakota State 49, Missouri State 24
SDSU junior Brady Mengarelli had 155 yards from scrimmage and rushed for two touchdowns in the second half. Isaac Wallace added another pair of touchdowns as the Jackrabbits scored six times on the ground.
No. 16 North Dakota 23, Northern Colorado 13
John Santiago rushed for 204 yards and quarterback Ryan Bartels, subbing for Keaton Studsrud (shoulder injury), had a touchdown pass in North Dakota's eighth straight win. The Fighting Hawks (8-2, 7-0) will seek a perfect season in the Big Sky Conference against Northern Arizona next Saturday.
No. 17 Central Arkansas 34, Stephen F. Austin 14
The Bears (8-1, 7-0 Southland) overcame four turnovers while pushing their winning streak to seven. Quarterback Hayden Hildebrand was 21 of 31 for 312 yards and two touchdowns.
No. 18 Coastal Carolina 38, Monmouth 17
Kenneth Daniels (133 yards) and Ryan Lee (121 yards, two touchdowns) led Coastal Carolina's 333-yard rushing attack. The Chanticleers are 7-2.
No. 19 Montana 62, Idaho State 44
With quarterback Brady Gustafson held out because of injury, Montana senior Chad Chalich stepped in to go 21 of 27 for 388 yards and seven touchdowns with one interception. Keenan Curran caught four of the touchdowns, finishing with seven receptions for 129 yards, as the Griz (6-3, 3-3 Big Sky) rebounded from two straight losses.
No. 21 Grambling State 56, Alabama A&M 17
The Tigers (6-1, 6-0) earned their sixth straight win as Devante Kincade threw four touchdown passes and Jestin Kelly ran for 200 yards and a touchdown.
No. 23 Harvard 28, Columbia 21
Harvard (7-1, 5-0) grabbed sole possession of first place in the Ivy League as quarterback Joe Viviano III threw for three touchdowns. Adam Scott caught seven passes for 109 yards and two touchdowns.
William & Mary 14, No. 25 Stony Brook 9
William & Mary (4-5, 2-4 CAA) scored on a Kendell Anderson 1-yard run and a Steve Cluley 4-yard pass to Daniel Kuzjak in the second quarter and the Tribe defense made the lead stand up, handing Stony Brook (5-4, 4-2) its second straight defeat.
No. 9 Chattanooga (8-1, 6-1 Southern)
No. 22 New Hampshire (6-3, 5-1 CAA)