The round of 16 in the FCS playoffs is also the final four.

Final four conferences, that is.

After the first round on Saturday, the playoffs were down to five Missouri Valley Football Conference teams, four each from the Big Sky Conference and CAA Football, and three from the Southern Conference. All of the seven conferences that had one qualifier each are out of the mix.

Following is a review of the first round:

Sacramento State (8-4) 42, North Dakota (7-5) 35

Quick Synopsis – The Hornets never trailed behind the standout play of quarterback Kaiden Bennett, solving UND’s home dominance to earn their second all-time FCS playoff win. Bennett’s four-yard scoring run with 4:45 left broke a 35-35 tie.

Game Ball – Bennett’s elusiveness kept the UND defense at bay. He completed 17 of 22 passes for 207 yards and a touchdown, also carrying the ball 13 times for a career-high 126 yards and two scores.  

Key Stats – The visitors from the Big Sky didn’t commit a penalty or turnover while improving to 8-1 following a loss since 2019. UND entered 6-0 at the Alerus Center this season and with wins in 25 of its previous 27 home games, but the road team won for the sixth straight time in the series.

Up Next – Sacramento State advanced to a second-round game at No. 3 seed South Dakota (9-2) on Dec. 2 (2 p.m. ET). It will be a first-team meeting.

Richmond (9-3) 49, North Carolina Central (9-3) 27

Quick Synopsis – The host Spiders finished the game on a 42-7 run after trailing 20-7 in the final minute of the second quarter.

Game Balls – Running back Savon Smith scored three touchdowns in the second half, including a 65-yard punt return, and quarterback Kyle Wickersham finished with 360 yards of total offense and three TD passes.

Key Stat – NCCU, making its playoff debut, managed only 11 first downs, with its offense going three-and-out on six consecutive possessions (and netting minus-one yard) after the Eagles took a 20-7 lead.

Up Next – Richmond advanced to an all-CAA matchup in the second round at No. 5 seed UAlbany (9-3) on Dec. 2 (noon ET). Richmond leads the all-time series 7-0, although they did not meet during the regular season this year.

Delaware (9-3) 36, Lafayette (9-3) 34

Quick Synopsis – After trailing 28-7 in the second quarter, Delaware scored 26 unanswered points (including three Nick Minicucci TD passes) and went ahead for good on Alex Schmoke’s 23-yard field goal with 1:37 left, erasing a 34-33 deficit.

Game Ball – In the loss, Lafayette running back Jamar Curtis had 151 yards from scrimmage and a PL playoff record-tying four touchdowns, including a one-yard run in the fourth quarter to end Delaware’s big scoring run and give the Leopards their 34-33 lead.

Key Stat – After Delaware was error-prone in the first half, Lafayette committed three turnovers and gained only 85 yards in the second half.

Up Next – Delaware advanced to a second-round game at No. 2 seed Montana (10-1) on Dec. 2 (9 p.m. ET). In the only previous meeting, the Blue Hens won 49-48 in a 1993 first-round game.

Southern Illinois (8-4) 35, Nicholls (6-5) 0

Quick Synopsis – Southern Illinois scored touchdowns on its three possessions in the first quarter and never looked back in a shutout. Nic Baker passed for two touchdowns and Ro Elliott scored two on the ground.

Game Ball – When the Salukis defense is right, it’s smothering. In its last four wins over a seven-game period, it has posted two shutouts and not allowed a touchdown to the opposing offense.

Key Stat – After adding in four sacks allowed, Nicholls finished with 75 net rushing yards on 33 carries – 2.3 yards per carry.       

Up Next – Southern Illinois advanced to a second-round game at No. 4 seed Idaho (8-3) on Dec. 2 (10 p.m. ET). It will be a first-time meeting.

Mercer (9-3) 17, Gardner-Webb (7-5) 7

Quick Synopsis – Mercer quarterback Carter Peevey scored on two- and 72-yard runs in the second quarter and the Bears won their first-ever playoff game by the same score in which they opened their program-defining season.

Game Ball – Gardner-Webb had scored 34 or more points in each game of a five-game winning streak, but the Bears defense limited the Runnin’ Bulldogs to their lowest point total against a non-FBS opponent since the spring 2021 season. The SoCon squad forced four turnovers (cornerback Myles Weston had two interceptions).

Key Stat – The Runnin’ Bulldogs were forced to the air due to averaging 1.6 yards per carry (31 attempts for 49 net yards).

Up Next – The Bears advanced to a second-round game at No. 1 seed South Dakota State (11-0) on Dec. 2 (2 p.m. ET). It will be a first-time meeting.

Chattanooga (8-4) 24, Austin Peay (9-3) 21

Quick Synopsis – Clayton Crile, who was 0-for-2 on field goals, kicked a 35-yarder as time expired, lifting Chattanooga to a road win. The Mocs overcame a big performance from Austin Peay running back Jevon Jackson (23 carries, 184 yards, two touchdowns).

Game Ball – Mocs freshman Luke Schomburg was 21 of 36 for 259 yards and a TD with one interception in his second career start. He completed 25- and seven-yard passes for first downs on the game-winning drive.

Key Stat – Austin Peay quarterback Mike DiLiello entered as one of just five 3,000-yard passers in the FCS, but was just 12 of 22 for 107 yards and a TD.

Up Next – Chattanooga advanced to an all-SoCon second-round game at No. 7 seed Furman (9-2) on Dec. 2 (1 p.m. ET). Furman won the regular-season matchup 17-14 on Nov. 4.

North Dakota State (9-3) 66, Drake (8-4) 3

Quick Synopsis – NDSU scored the final 66 points to establish its high in an FCS playoff game while tying Georgia Southern for the all-time high in playoffs wins at 45.

Game Ball – Two Bison quarterbacks were nearly flawless: starter Cam Miller was 10 of 11 for 206 yards and two touchdowns with another 62 yards on the ground, and Cole Payton rushed for a game-high 104 yards and two scores while completing his only two passes for 23 yards.

Key Stat – Drake, which was sloppy in committing five turnovers and nine penalties, finishing 8-0 in the Pioneer Football League, but 0-4 out of conference.

Up Next – NDSU advanced to a highly anticipated second-round game at No. 6 seed Montana State (8-3) on Dec. 2 (3 p.m. ET). The Bison eliminated the Bobcats in the 2018 second round, 2019 semifinals and 2021 championship game.  

Youngstown State (8-4) 40, Duquesne (7-5) 7

Quick Synopsis – The Penguins dominated game clock to overwhelm Duquesne – their sixth win over the Dukes’ since 2013 and all by more than 10 points. They had a 300-yard passer (Mitch Davidson, 316), a 100-yard rusher (Tyshon King, 101) and a 100-yard receiver (Bryce Oliver, 181)                                                                                                                                       

Game Ball – Oliver caught eight passes, including a 21-yard touchdown for a school-record 26th in his career, and a 45-yard pass.

Key Stats – While posting their 17th straight home playoff win, the Penguins’ time of possession was 42 minutes, 27 seconds, and edge in offensive yards 532-148.

Up Next – Youngstown State advanced to a second-round game at No. 8 seed Villanova (9-2) on Dec. 2, noon. It will be their first meeting since 1999.