It had been a September to remember across FCS college football already, but the month ended in a particularly noteworthy way on Saturday.
Losses abounded in the Stats Perform FCS Top 25 Poll, presented by FedEx Ground: North Dakota State, William & Mary and Holy Cross – three of the top six – were among the eight ranked teams that suffered losses.
Of course, that’s the wild FCS so many have come to know each season.
Here are some takeaways from the Week 5 action across the FCS:
Coyotes Topple NDSU in Fargodome
South Dakota has beaten a ranked team in every season since 2013, but it had only one win over North Dakota State in 11 previous meetings on the FCS level, and the Coyotes (3-1, 1-0) nearly matched the same score with a 24-19 upset of the No. 2 Bison, spoiling Homecoming Day at the Fargodome. They also won 24-21 in 2015.
Aidan Bouman connected with wide receiver Carter Bell for a 50-yard touchdown pass to cap the game’s opening drive, and they combined on a 52-yard score in the second as USD built a 21-3 halftime advantage.
Linebacker Brock Mogensen had a game-high 13 tackles and safety Dennis Shorter added 11 stops with both a midfield interception and one to deny a two-point conversion.
(Here’s the full Stats Perform FCS Top 25 scoreboard)
Phoenix Rise in CAA
Elon transfer quarterback Matthew Downing threw a pair of touchdowns in the fourth quarter to spark the Phoenix’s 14-6 win over No. 5 William & Mary in the FedEx Ground FCS Game of the Week.
The Phoenix (3-2, 3-0) grabbed sole possession of first place in CAA Football, beating the Tribe (4-1, 2-1) for the second consecutive season and ending their nine-game conference winning streak. Until the fourth, the Tribe had gone 15 straight quarters without allowing a touchdown to an opposing offense.
William & Mary played without leading rusher Bronson Yoder (upper-body injury), but still managed 307 rushing yards.
Color Polar Park in Crimson
Holy Cross had been on a 19-game regular-season winning streak against FCS opponents since a 2021 loss to Harvard, but the sixth-ranked Crusaders fell to the Crimson once again, 38-28 in a game played at Polar Park, the home of the Boston Red Sox’s Triple-A team Worcester (Massachusetts) WooSox.
Harvard (3-0) forced Holy Cross All-America quarterback Matthew Sluka into five turnovers – three interceptions and two fumbles. Meanwhile, Crimson signal caller Charles DePrima accounted for 240 yards of total offense and two TD passes.
G-Men Impress in State Fair Classic
There was reason to get your popcorn (ready) at the State Fair Classic – Grambling State continued to surge with a 35-20 win over Prairie View A&M, ending a five-game losing streak to its rival before a big crowd at the Cotton Bowl Stadium in Dallas.
The G-Men dominated game clock (a 14-minute, 44-second edge) and Myles Crawley threw a pair of touchdowns to Lyndon Rash. They’ve averaged 42.7 points in a three-game winning streak, including a 2-0 start to the SWAC schedule, and have matched their win total (3-8, 2-6 SWAC) in coach Hue Jackson’s first season last year.
Stock Up, Stock Down
Stock Up: Davidson opened the season with two straight losses, including to Division II Barton, but it’s bounced back with three consecutive wins, including 55-33 over San Diego, which improved the Wildcats to 2-0 in the Pioneer Football League as they seek a fourth straight automatic FCS playoff bid. Against USD, running backs Mari Adams and Mason Sheron and quarterback Coulter Cleland needed only 30 combined carries to gain 413 yards and six touchdowns.
Stock Down: Kennesaw State’s transition toward the FBS isn’t going well as its 13-10 loss at Charleston Southern was its fourth straight against FCS competition since a season-opening win over Division II Tusculum. It’s the first time the ninth-season Owls, who are 69-28 all-time, have lost four straight games in the same season.
News and Notes
All four games within the Ivy League schedule have been decided by three or fewer points. Harvard edged Brown 34-31 and Cornell had a 23-21 walk-off at Yale last week. This weekend, Princeton beat Columbia 10-7 on John Volker’s one-yard touchdown run with 2:07 left to cap a 20-play drive, and Dartmouth topped Penn 23-20 on Owen Zalc’s 37-yard field goal in overtime. … Top-ranked South Dakota State (4-0) beat No. 12 North Dakota 42-21 in an MVFC opener to push its winning streak to 18 games, the active FCS high. Isaiah Davis had 16 carries for 132 yards and three TDs. … MVFC newcomer Murray State held off Indiana State 30-28 to win its first conference game. The Racers defense scored on a safety and linebacker Chris Hill Jr.’s 32-yard interception return. … Third-ranked Montana State beat Portland State 38-22 to raise its home winning streak to 23. Sean Chambers threw for three touchdowns and ran for an 88-yard score. … Idaho’s Anthony Woods rushed for 183 yards and five touchdowns as the No. 4 Vandals won on the red turf at No. 19 Eastern Washington 44-36. … No. 8 Sacramento State (4-1) sidestepped Northern Arizona’s upset bid 31-30 as safety Kameron Rocha intercepted a pass in the Hornets end zone with 1:36 left. … Quarterback Clifton McDowell (226 yards of total offense, two total TDs) got his first start in No. 18 Montana’s 28-20 win over Idaho State. … Western Carolina’s Desmond Reid needed only one half to rush for 167 yards and five touchdowns as the No. 17 Catamounts handled The Citadel 49-14 in the Southern Conference. … Tarleton coach Todd Whiten earned his 100th career win, 14-13 at Southeastern Louisiana. The Texans improved to 4-1. … Many teams would like to total four touchdowns and three interceptions in a game, but Austin Peay had that in the first 11 minutes of a 52-10 win at Lindenwood. Quarterback Mike DiLiello accounted for four touchdowns, and the Governors (3-2, three straight wins) had five scores of at least 40 yards. … No game was as high-scoring as Towson’s 54-51 win at No. 14 New Hampshire in the CAA. Nathan Kent had five TD passes and Devin Matthews scored from two yards out in the extra session after UNH had kicked a field goal. In addition, D’Ago Hunter had 324 all-purpose yards to outperform the Wildcats’ national leader Dylan Laube, who had 251. … Presbyterian wide receiver Dominic Kibby scored on 93- and 75-yard receptions as part of his five catches for 199 yards in a 27-17 loss to Butler. His 39.8 yards per reception were in the ballpark of the FCS single-game record of five-plus catches: Delaware State’s John Taylor was five for 223 (44.6-yard average) vs. St. Paul’s in 1985. … Amin Woods tied Marist’s single-game record with 38 carries while racking up 232 yards and a touchdown – a 67-yarder on the team’s first play from scrimmage – as the Red Foxes beat Stetson 34-24. … Lafayette cruised to a 56-22 win over Bucknell in its Patriot League opener, improving to 4-1 for the first time since 2009. Dean DeNobile threw touchdowns to four different receivers in the second quarter, while Billy Shaeffer racked up 5.5 tackles for loss. … No. 15 North Carolina Central (4-1) outlasted Campbell 49-48 in a four-plus-hour overtime thriller. Karfa Kaba blocked the extra point attempt after Campbell scored in OT, then Latrell Collier scored from 25 yards out on the Eagles’ first play of their possession and Adrian Olivo kicked the PAT. Quarterbacks Davius Richard (NCCU) and Hajj-Malik Williams (Campbell) accounted for five TDs each. … The NCAA playoff selection committee plans to bring back an in-season Top 10 playoff ranking in either late October or early November. Beginning in 2016, the rankings lasted for five seasons, but they were absent during the last two fall seasons.