The second full week of the FCS college football season basically made up for the lackluster opening weekend of action.
And then some.
Eye-catching results abounded across FCS nation, including two of the top three teams squaring off in the best non-conference matchup of the season, a top 10 stunner and three wins over FBS opponents.
Here are some takeaways from the Week 2 action across the FCS:
No. 1 Jackrabbits Inch Past No. 3 Bobcats
In a third matchup in 21 months between two powers that had met in the semifinal round of the last two playoffs, top-ranked South Dakota State rallied to beat No. 3 Montana State 20-16, but only those with elite vision could say for sure.
Montana State wide receiver Clevan Thomas Jr. caught a pass from Sean Chambers along the back end line of the SDSU end zone, and the nearest official signaled it to be a go-ahead touchdown with no time remaining.
It was so close that the play necessitated a lengthy review before the TD was overturned, with Thomas ruled to have come down out of bounds. One second was put back on the clock, but the Bobcats came up short again, pushing the defending national champion Jackrabbits’ winning streak to 16.
SDSU quarterback Mark Gronowski accounted for three second-half touchdowns to spark the Jackrabbits back from a 10-0 halftime deficit.
(Here’s the full Stats Perform FCS Top 25 Poll scoreboard)
Western Carolina Handles Samford
One game into the Southern Conference schedule and the title race has been turned upside down.
Western Carolina handled last year’s unbeaten champion Samford 30-7 in a game the was delayed by inclement weather and lighting in the second quarter for five and a half hours. The Catamounts (1-1) led 14-7 at the time, and ultimately shut out the Bulldogs over the final 52:03 of the game.
Cole Gonzales completed 29 of 35 passes for 262 yards and two touchdowns, while Desmond Reid carried the ball 27 times for 170 yards and a TD. Coach Kerwin Bell’s team had a 22-minute, 18-second advantage in time of possession.
Salukis Post Season’s First FBS Win
Seven of the eight FCS teams that posted an FBS win last season went on to make the playoffs. The exception was Southern Illinois, which defeated Northwestern.
The Salukis appear on track for the playoffs this season, building on an opening rout of Austin Peay with a 14-11 upset at Northern Illinois – the season’s first FCS victory over a program from the upper tier of Division I.
Quarterback Nic Baker and running back Ro Elliott rushed for touchdowns, safety P.J. Jules posted a game-high 11 tackles and added three pass breakups, and the defense picked off three passes, including two in the fourth quarter.
An Missouri Valley Football Conference team has posted an FBS win in every full season (not the 2020 pandemic-delayed campaign) since 2010.
Fordham, Idaho Make it a Trio of FBS Wins
There were two other FCS-over-FBS wins, and one of wasn’t even an upset.
Idaho (2-0) was considered the betting favorite before it hammered Nevada 33-6 for its first win over an FBS opponent since returning to the FCS in 2018. Quarterback Gevani McCoy, the 2022 Jerry Rice Award recipient, showed his added polish as a sophomore in completing 15 of 21 passes for 313 yards and two touchdowns.
Fordham (2-1) downed Buffalo 40-37 as CJ Montes passed for 309 yards as well as five TDs for the second straight game. It included a 15-yard game-winner to MJ Wright with 2:37 left.
Stock Up, Stock Down
Stock Up: Hoya paranoia? Joshua Stakely and Naieem Kearney combined for 227 rushing yards and scored a touchdown each as Georgetown beat Sacred Heart 27-10 to improve to 2-0 for the first time since it won three games to open the 2016 season. Since joining the Patriot League in 2001, the Hoyas have finished with only one winning season, going 8-3 in 2011.
Stock Down: North Carolina A&T and Alcorn State met in the 2019 Celebration Bowl for the second straight season, but after sitting out the 2020 pandemic-impacted season, neither HBCU power has been the same. N.C. A&T is 12-12 and Alcorn State just 11-13 since the start of the 2021 campaign, with both off to 0-2 starts this season.
UNH’s Laube Sets FCS Record
New Hampshire fell 45-42 at Central Michigan on a walk-off field goal, becoming the fourth CAA Football team to lose by seven or fewer points to an FBS opponent. However, in the defeat, Dylan Laube gained 371 all-purpose yards and three touchdowns, including 295 receiving yards – the most ever in a game by an FCS running back. It included 80- and 71-yard scoring catches.
Last week’s FedEx Ground FCS National Special Teams Player of the Week has 600 all-purpose yards through two games. He led the subdivision in per-game average (194) last year.
News and Notes
Second-ranked North Dakota State has been effective with utilizing two quarterbacks in wins over Eastern Washington (35-10) and Maine (44-7). National championship-winning starter Cam Miller has accounted for 477 yards of total offense and five touchdowns, while Cole Payton has come off the bench to lead the Bison in rushing in back-to-back games, gaining 206 yards overall on just 14 carries. … Four first-year coaches earned their first wins: Bethune-Cookman’s Raymond Woodie Jr. (31-6, Savannah State); Dayton’s Trevor Andrews (62-24, Central State); Lehigh’s Kevin Cahill (14-12, Merrimack); and UIW’s Clint Killough (42-7, Northern Colorado). … The kickoff time of Montana State at South Dakota State led to No. 12 Weber State’s 34-17 win over No. 21 Northern Iowa being the season’s first ranked-vs.-ranked matchup (Damon Bankston rushed for 144 yards and three TDs) and Gardner-Webb’s 34-27 victory over Elon being the first between two 2022 playoff qualifiers (Matthew Caldwell’s 11-yard scoring pass to Ephraim Floyd with 14 seconds left broke a 27-27 tie). … Eastern Washington nearly stunned Fresno State, falling 34-31 in two overtimes. Four different Eagles scored TDs in the loss. … In opening the NEC schedule, Stonehill won 33-30 at Central Connecticut State on Perry Shelbred’s 52-yard, game-ending field goal. It was the longest in the conference in nearly seven years. … All eight Southland teams played on the road, including six at FBS opponents. Transfer quarterback Zach Calzada was 29 of 40 for 383 yards and three touchdowns, with one rushing score, as No. 10 UIW evened its record at 1-1 by routing Northern Colorado 42-7. … Southeast Missouri topped Lindenwood 45-7 in the first Big Sky-OVC Football Association game. Paxton DeLaurent threw two of his three TD passes to Damoriea Vick. … UT Martin running back Sam Frankin’s 20-yard touchdown run with 1:45 left capped a huge performance (20 carries, 259 yards, three TDs) in 38-31 win over Missouri State. … Mercer’ Devron Harper collected 322 all-purpose yards (100 rushing, 76 punt return, 74 kickoff return and 72 rushing) in a 48-22 win over Morehead State. … Jackson State won 27-14 at Southern in a rematch of last year’s SWAC championship game, although the matchup did not count toward conference standings. … Quarterback Davius Richard and running back Latrell Collier both rushed for two touchdowns in North Carolina Central’s 30-16 win at rival North Carolina A&T. … Tarleton (2-0) has opened the season by scoring 52 points against both McNeese and North Alabama, the latter being the season’s first United Athletic Conference matchup. … Abilene Christian quarterback Maverick McIvor averaged 26.2 yards per completion – going 12 of 19 for 314 yards and four TDs – in a 45-16 victory at Prairie View A&M. … Villanova’s Rayjuon Pringle had three receptions that went for 51, 67 (TD) and 43 yards – 168 in total – in a 42-19 win against Colgate. That helped QB Connor Watkins rack up 310 passing yards on only eight completions (38.8 per completion). … South Dakota shut out St. Thomas 24-0 as defensive tackle Nick Gaes totaled five tackles for 25 yards in losses, including three sacks, and forced a fumble. St. Thomas, the reigning Pioneer Football League champion, is 0-3 against Division I non-conference opponents since its move from D-III, and been outscored 112-16 in the losses. … West Georgia will move from D-II to I on July 1, 2024, joining the ASUN as well as the UAC in football.