Winning the biggest games of the FCS college football weekend on the road was as easy as 1, 2 and, well, 4.
Top-ranked South Dakota State, No. 2 Montana State, No. 4 Furman all defeated conference opponents which also were ranked in the top 12 of the Stats Perform FCS Top 25, presented by FedEx Ground. SDSU remained the FCS’ only unbeaten team.
On another eventful weekend, here are our takeaways from the Week 8 action across the FCS:
Jackrabbits Earning Their Win Streak
To say No. 1 South Dakota State is being tested in the Missouri Valley Football Conference is an understatement. The opponents they’re not facing in the 12-member conference’s unbalanced schedule are the bottom three: Indiana State, Murray State and Western Illinois, who are a combined 1-11 in league games.
The Jackrabbits (7-0, 4-0) withstood another tough opponent in winning 17-10 at No. 12 Southern Illinois – their 21st straight win to match the eighth-longest streak in FCS history. Mark Gronowski threw a touchdown pass to Griffin Wilde, and Isaiah Davis rushed for 91 yards and a score.
Next up for coach Jimmy Rogers’ squad: a first-place showdown at No. 6 South Dakota (6-1, 4-0).
Bobcats Win Top-Three Showdown
Second-ranked Montana State (6-1, 4-0), the FCS rushing leader, has posted over 300 yards on the ground in all six wins, including 328 in its 42-30 victory at No. 3 Sacramento State in the FedEx Ground FCS Game of the Week. Last year’s Big Sky co-champions met for the first time since 2019.
Running back Julius Davis (110 yards, one touchdown) and quarterback Tommy Mellott (105, two) followed the lead of the Bobcats’ outstanding offensive line, which is anchored by veterans Omar Aigbedian and (appropriately named) Rush Reimer.
In coach Brent Vigen’s three seasons, the Bobcats are 26-0 when they gain 225+ rushing yards, and 4-6 when below that number.
Furman Runs Past Catamounts
Fourth-ranked Furman grabbed sole possession of first place in the Southern Conference with a definitive, 29-17 triumph at No. 8 Western Carolina.
Notching their 10th straight conference win, the Paladins (6-1, 4-0) had a season-high 334 rushing yards and held the Catamounts 179 yards and 24 points below their pre-game season averages. Quarterback Tyler Huff accounted for three touchdowns, and Dominic Roberto carried the ball 31 times for 154 yards and a score.
Lafayette Overcomes Sluka to End Holy Cross’ Streak
The last time Lafayette advanced to the FCS playoffs in 2013, it did so with a losing record.
If the Leopards (6-1) head back there this season, they’ll be way above .500. Not only did coach John Troxell’s squad clinch a winning regular season, but they ended Holy Cross’ 18-game Patriot League winning streak 38-35, moving into first place in the process at 2-0.
Jamar Curtis carried the ball 30 times for 229 yards and two touchdowns, while quarterback Dean DeNobile passed for two TDs and added a rushing score. They needed all of the offensive production to overcome Holy Cross’ Matthew Sluka, whose 330 rushing yards set an FCS single-game record for a quarterback. He finished with 415 yards of total offense and four total TDs.
The Crusaders, the four-time defending PL champions, had beaten 19 straight league opponents since a 2019 loss to Lafayette, but their win in the spring 2021 championship game wasn’t considered part of the official league winning streak. Their 1988-92 teams still hold the league record at 19 wins in a row.
Here Comes SEMO
Earlier this season, Southeast Missouri lost three straight games by allowing the game-winning point in the final 19 seconds, but each one was a non-conference matchup. The Redhawks (3-4, 3-0) are very much alive in the first-year Big South-OVC Football Association, remaining tied atop the standings with UT Martin following a 28-3 win at Tennessee Tech.
They’re a much different team with a healthy Ryan Flourney, as the All-America wide receiver caught six passes for 203 yards and a touchdown. The Hawks have a new injury concern, though, after starting quarterback Paxton DeLaurent left the game with a throwing shoulder injury early in the second quarter.
Impressive Numbers Grow With Ivy
Penn wide receiver Jared Richardson set the school’s single-game record with an FCS season-high 17 receptions (gaining 191 yards and one touchdown) in a 27-17 victory at Yale, and it may not have been the most impressive number following the four Ivy League games.
With Princeton handing No. 18 Harvard its first defeat of the season, it left five of the league’s eight teams in a first-place tie at 2-1: Harvard (5-1), Penn (5-1), Princeton (3-3), Cornell (3-3) and Dartmouth (3-3), which last week elevated Sammy McCorkle from interim head coach to the full-time position.
The group doesn’t include Yale (3-3, 1-2), the defending champion and prohibitive preseason favorite.
Stock Up, Stock Down
Stock Up: Stock Up: While Florida A&M (6-1, 5-0) would clinch the SWAC East Division title next Saturday with a win over Prairie View A&M and an Alabama A&M loss to Alabama State, the West Division is headed to a fantastic finish once again. Alcorn State and Southern posted wins on Saturday to forge a three-way first-place tie with Prairie View, which was idle, at 3-1 each.
Stock Down: North Carolina A&T is a program that had at least nine wins in six consecutive seasons from 2014-19 – a combined 59-13 run – but it clinched a losing season for the second time in three years with a 33-10 loss at Richmond. The Aggies at 0-4 under first-year coach Vincent Brown in their inaugural CAA Football schedule.
News and Notes
One week after North Dakota scored 49 points against North Dakota State – the most allowed by the Bison in their Division I era (since 2004) – the Fighting Hawks were shut out at Northern Iowa 27-0 in the MVFC. UNI’s Theo Day passed for two touchdowns and the Panthers (4-3, 3-1) held UND to 187 yards. … UNI’s shutout win was one of five. Also, Merrimack (39-0, LIU); UT Martin (17-0, Charleston Southern); Tennessee State (54-0, Lincoln); and Tarleton (42-0, Morehead State). … Andrew Lastovka kicked a 37-yard field goal as time expired to lift Youngstown State past Illinois State 41-38 in the MVFC. It came one week after the No. 25 Penguins (4-3, 2-2) lost to South Dakota via a walk-off field goal. … With UIW starting quarterback Zach Calzada sidelined by injury, freshman Richard Torres played the hero as the No. 5 Cardinals (6-1, 3-0 Southland) rallied from a 24-7 in the final 19 minutes, 10 seconds to beat winless McNeese 35-24. Torres, a Nebraska transfer who entered in relief of Ryan Stubblefield, had three TD passes and one scoring run. … Northeast Conference front-runner Duquesne (4-3, 3-0) withstood a fourth-quarter rally by Saint Francis in beating the defending champion 38-35. Darius Perrantes passed for three touchdowns for the second straight week and the third time in four games. … No. 16 North Carolina Central (6-1) avoided an upset in its MEAC opener, winning 16-10 at Morgan State as cornerback Jason Chambers’ two takeaways in the second half set up scores. Thursday night, the Eagles will host South Carolina State (3-4, 1-0), which handed the Eagles their only conference loss last season. SCSU coach Buddy Pough will be going for his 150th career win. … For the second consecutive week, there was a 98-yard touchdown pass, with Stony Brook wide receiver Jayce Freeman scoring on a catch-and-run from Casey Case in a 45-14 loss to New Hampshire. A week earlier, Southern’s Harold Blood connected with Darren Morris. … No. 7 Delaware (6-1, 4-0), the CAA leader, remained unbeaten against FCS opponents by hammering Hampton 47-3. Jourdan Townsend scored on an 82-yard punt return as part of his 185 all-purpose yards. … Towson (3-4, 2-2) owns wins over 2022 CAA co-champs New Hampshire and William & Mary. The Tigers trailed 17-0 at W&M before scoring 34 unanswered points in a 34-24 triumph. Nathan Kent threw a pair of fourth-quarter TDs to Carter Runyon. … Maine’s Derek Robertson passed for an FCS season-high 503 yards and four TDs, but the Black Bears fell to Campbell 34-28 in the CAA. … After posting 21 tackles against Gardner-Webb, Eastern Kentucky linebacker Logan Blake has 51 in his last three games. … Marist (4-3, 4-1) defeated Presbyterian 19-10 in the Pioneer Football League, with scoring plays that included a fumble return (Miles Kauderer), interception return (Rechee Smith) and a safety on punt coverage (Kade Werner). … Drake dazzled with the weekend’s most exciting play: Trey Radocha answered Luke Bailey’s 38-yard Hail Mary pass to end the Bulldogs’ 25-20 win at San Diego. Drake and Davidson are tied for first place in the PFL.