Conference schedules are heating up across FCS college football, and one aspect is certain: the 2023 season is a far cry from 2022.
On Saturday, Sacramento State and New Hampshire dropped Top 25 matchups, Southeastern Louisiana was upset by Houston Christian, and Saint Francis and Yale fell on walk-off field goals, lifting the number of defending conference champions to lose their opening league game this season to a whopping eight.
Here are some takeaways from the Week 4 action across the FCS:
Eye-Opening Results in Big Sky
Idaho kicker Ricardo Chavez’s 30-yard field goal broke a 27-27 tie with one second remaining. The visiting Hornets (3-1) fumbled away a lateral on the ensuing kickoff, and the Vandals’ Ormanie Arnold recovered it and scored on a short return as an exclamation point. Standout quarterback Gevani McCoy passed for 52- and 60-yard touchdowns in the third quarter.
Sacramento State had three impressive winning streaks come to an end: Big Sky (19 straight), road (12) and regular season (22).
The Big Sky’s other Top 10 matchup was a dud: No. 3 and defending co-champ Montana State hammered No. 10 Weber State 40-0, posting its first shutout since 2016, with quarterback Sean Chambers accounting for four touchdowns. It was Weber’s largest loss since falling to Southern Utah 44-0 on Oct. 2, 2015.
(Here’s the full Stats Perform FCS Top 25 scoreboard)
Early Statements in CAA Football
It could be a long way upward in the 15-team CAA Football standings, so a fast start is quite important. The three 2-0 teams are making statements early.
Defending co-champion William & Mary beat Maine, 28-3, marking the third straight game in which the No. 5 Tribe (4-0, best start since 2009) did not allow a touchdown.
In a Top 25 matchup, Ryan O’Connor passed for 335 yards and three touchdowns as No. 19 Delaware beat No. 11 and 2022 co-champ New Hampshire 29-25.
Additionally, Jalen Hampton rushed for 169 yards and four touchdowns as Elon topped Campbell 28-24.
SoCon is the SoCon Again
Pete Rozelle would have loved the Southern Conference. With defending champion Samford off to an 0-2 start in conference, it appears there will be a different champion for the fifth consecutive season.
In pivotal matchups, Chattanooga (3-1, 2-0) gained first place with a 47-24 win over No. 20 Samford as quarterback Chase Artopoeus passed for 323 yards and a touchdown and Alex Mitchell and Kam Brown had pick-sixes, while No. 8 Furman (3-1, 1-0) dropped No. 21 Mercer 38-14 with a 222-yard ground attack.
Also, No. 23 Western Carolina (3-1, 1-0) has never won the SoCon title, but it appears to be a serious contender. The Catamounts celebrated their first national ranking since 2017 by racking up 683 offensive yards in a 77-21 rout of Charleston Southern in their final non-conference game. Cole Gonzales passed for 299 yards and five TDs.
Dartmouth Honors Coach Teevens With Win
There were plenty of ways for Dartmouth to honor and celebrate the late Buddy Teevens. One of them was a 34-17 victory over Lehigh.
Q Jones rushed for 99 yards and a touchdown and quarterback Nick Howard added 73 yards and two scores on the ground as Dartmouth evened its record at 1-1.
Eugene F. “Buddy” Teevens passed away at age 66 last week due to complications from a serious bicycle accident in March. The Big Green’s winningest coach posted a 117-101-2 record and led five Ivy League championship seasons during two stints at his alma mater, and Teevens was renowned throughout football as an advocate for player safety and the hiring of females in the sport.
A league-wide moment of silence was held at Ivy home games. In addition, Dartmouth held a candlelight gathering of remembrance for Teevens on campus Saturday evening.
Stock Up, Stock Down
Stock Up: Place-kickers. Stone Galloway’s FCS season-high 56-yard field goal with 20 seconds left completed Eastern Illinois’ 31-28, comeback win (from 28-7 down) against McNeese (of course, redshirt freshman MJ Flowers’s 272 rushing yards also had a lot to do with the win). With walk-off field goals, Eastern Kentucky (Patrick Nations, 46 yards) beat No. 13 Southeast Missouri 41-38; Cornell (Jackson Kennedy, 37) toppled defending Ivy League champion Yale 23-21; and Sacred Heart (Sam Renzi, 40) beat defending Northeast Conference champion Saint Francis 37-34.
Stock Down: Montana. The Grizzlies were gifted an FCS at-large playoff bid last year, and that team appears even better than this year’s following a 28-14 loss at Northern Arizona to open the Big Sky schedule. Coach Bobby Hauck’s team lacked offensive consistency during a soft non-conference schedule, and it managed only 244 yards in the conference opener. After a winnable home game against Idaho State, the second half of their schedule includes road trips to UC Davis and Idaho and home games against defending co-champs Sacramento State and Montana State.
News and Notes
Texas A&M-Commerce pulled within 10-9 of Old Dominion on a touchdown with 28 seconds left, but a two-point attempt failed in the Lions’ bid to earn an FBS win. They are 0-3 in coach Clint Dolezel’s first season. … Quarterback Colby Suits (311 yards of total offense, four total TDs) powered Houston Christian’s 34-19 surprise of Southeastern Louisiana in the Southland. … UT Martin sophomore Sam Franklin carried the ball 32 times for 221 yards and two touchdowns as the Skyhawks defeated North Alabama 37-21. It was Franklin’s third straight game over 100 yards, and second over 200 in that stretch. … Central Arkansas’s ShunDerrick Powell continues his assault on defenses. He broke loose for a 95-yard touchdown as part of his career-high 256 rushing yards in the Bears’ 52-17 win over Abilene Christian in the United Athletic Conference. In addition to his second consecutive 200+ outing, the North Alabama transfer caught a 14-yard touchdown among his three receptions. … No. 22 Florida A&M (3-1, 2-0) is in control of the SWAC East Division race after adding a 23-10 win over Alabama State to its earlier victory over Jackson State. … North Carolina Central quarterback Walker Harris, starting in place of Davius Richard, passed for 263 yards and five touchdowns (the most by an Eagle in 18 years) in a 45-3 rout of Mississippi Valley State at the Circle City Classic in Indianapolis. … Harvard’s 34-31 win over Brown was coach Tim Murphy’s 134th in Ivy League games, just one shy of the league’s all-time record that’s held by Yale’s Carm Cozza. Murphy’s 194 overall wins at Harvard already are the Ivy record. … Ethan Gettman’s third field goal – a 37-yarder in overtime – lifted Bryant past Princeton 16-13 to end the Tigers’ 28-game winning streak in the months of September and October (it included 17 non-Ivy League games). … Fordham limited Stonehill to 15 of 37 passing and 3 of 16 on third-down conversion attempts in a 44-0 shutout, the Rams’ first since 2012. … Lafayette is a surprising 3-1 after a 28-20 win over Monmouth. Quarterback Dean DeNobile had two touchdowns both on the ground and through the air. … In a matchup of programs with the most all-time Pioneer Football League titles, San Diego topped Dayton 40-25 as Grant Sergent threw for three first-half touchdowns. USD’s Brandon Moore earned his first coaching win with the Toreros. … Jacob Clark (414 passing yards, five TDs) fueled Missouri State to a 59-14 victory over Utah Tech. The Bears had 672 offensive yards. … Eastern Washington (2-2) defeated No. 15 UC Davis 27-24 in the Big Sky opener for both teams, improving to 11-0 in the all-time series. The Eagles used a plus-three turnover advantage to overcome Lan Larison’s 255 rushing yards and TD. … Portland State (2-2) has scored 150 points in back-to-back wins – 91 against North American and 59 versus Cal Poly. … No. 1 South Dakota State and No. 2 North Dakota State – both 3-0 – were on bye weeks.