Western Carolina at Chattanooga kicked off on Saturday as the FedEx Ground FCS Game of the Week, but it may have ended as the Game of the Year to date.

That’s saying something considering No. 1 South Dakota State beat then-No. 3 (now No. 2) Montana State 20-16 in an early season thriller.

But Western Carolina’s 52-50 win in a Top 25 matchup was pure fun with end-to-end action. It was epic even for a Southern Conference with such great tradition.

The Game of Week (Year) leads the way in our takeaways from the Week 6 action across the FCS:

Catamounts Use One of Their Extra Lives

Richard McCollum’s 32-yard field goal as time expired lifted No. 11 Western Carolina to the win at No. 24 Chattanooga. It also lifted coach Kerwin Bell’s squad (5-1, 3-0) into first place in the SoCon, where the Catamounts have never won the title.

The final minute was wild. The Mocs (4-2, 3-1) pulled within 49-48 on Chase Artopoeus’ fifth touchdown pass of the game, then running back Ailym Ford threw a jump pass to tight end Camden Overton for a go-ahead two-point conversion.

WCU. wide receiver A.J. Colombo didn’t have a reception at that point, but he caught three for 60 yards on the game’s final drive.

The Catamounts finished with under 19 minutes of possession, but were big-play machines, gaining 551 yards on just 48 offensive plays. Cole Gonzales passed for 276 yards and three TDs on just 13 completions, while Desmond Reid needed only 15 carries to rack up 211 yards and two touchdowns, although he departed the game in the third quarter with an injury.

The 102 combined points were the most in a non-overtime FCS-versus-FCS game this season, and the second-most to Towson’s 54-51 OT victory at New Hampshire on Sept. 30.

North Carolina Central Reaches the 500 Club

Everybody else has been joining CAA Football – maybe North Carolina Central should as well considering the No. 14 Eagles’ 34-23 victory at No. 25 Elon was their third over a CAA team this season and the fourth in a row since last year.

Quarterback Davius Richard, who accounted for 285 yards of total offense and four touchdowns, fueled the 2022 MEAC co-champion and Celebration Bowl champion. It was the Eagles’ 500th all-time win.

(Here’s the full Stats Perform FCS Top 25 scoreboard)

UIW to Have New Challengers in Southland

Last season, UIW shared the Southland Conference title with Southeastern Louisiana. Even with a 33-26 win over the Lions on Saturday, the No. 8 Cardinals (4-1, 1-0) had to share the spotlight.

Zach Calzada passed for 304 yards and two touchdowns, much of it to Brandon Porter (10 receptions, 182 yards, TD), as UIW guaranteed utterly disappointing Southeastern (0-6) will finish with a losing record.

But Lamar (3-3, 2-0), under first-year coach Pete Rossomando, grabbed a share of first place alongside Nicholls by defeating Northwestern State 27-13. Damashja Harris had a 95-yard kickoff return for a touchdown as the Cardinals gained their first three-game winning streak since 2018.

Nicholls has come back from a brutally tough non-conference schedule to handle McNeese and Houston Christian to open its conference schedule. In the 38-7 win over HCU, Collin Guggenheim rushed for four touchdowns.

Griz Respond With a Ranked Win

Montana has been much-maligned for a team that had a 4-1 record through September.

To open October, the No. 17 Grizzlies earned their best win to date, 31-23 at No. 20 UC Davis in a Big Sky matchup with a playoff-like feel. Quarterback Clifton McDowell had 292 yards of total offense and threw a trio of TD passes.

Stock Up, Stock Down

Stock Up: Florida A&M posted a 26-19 win at Southern to bolster its lead in the SWAC East Division and the chance to play in the conference championship game. The Rattlers (5-1) are 4-0 in the SWAC, including a win over Jackson State, the second-place team. All of the other teams in the division have two losses each.

Stock Down: ETSU has plummeted since winning the Southern Conference championship and going 11-2 in coach Randy Sanders’ final season in 2021. The Buccaneers (1-4) were held without a touchdown for the third time this season in a 24-6 loss to Mercer, and they’re 1-9 in conference games and 4-12 overall in coach George Quarles’ two seasons.

News and Notes

St. Thomas (4-2, 3-0) sits alone atop the Pioneer Football League standings after holding on to defeat Butler 17-10. The defending champion Tommies, who are still ineligible for an FCS playoff bid due to being in the third of a five-year transitional period from Division III, got two touchdown runs from Hope Adebayo before Luke Herzog broke up Butler quarterback Bret Bushka’s game-ending pass on fourth-and-goal from the 1. Incredibly, the Tommies have won 29 straight games at O’Shaughnessy Stadium, including 13 on the FCS level. … Top-ranked South Dakota State (5-0) increased its winning streak to 19 by defeating Illinois 40-21 in the MVFC. Isaiah Davis carried the ball 20 times for 197 yards and two TDs. It was his 18th career outing above 100 rushing yards – all but one in a win. … Youngstown State (3-2) handed Southern Illinois (4-1) its first loss 31-3. The Penguins defense racked up seven sacks, and Tyshon King (117 yards) and Dra Rushton both rushed for two TDs. … Howard (2-3) scored two touchdowns in the final eight minutes before falling 23-20 to Northwestern. Eden James had 21 carries for 177 yards, including a 64-yard touchdown, as well as three receptions for 36 yards. … Harvard quarterback Charles DePrima accounted for 361 yards of total offense and six touchdowns (three passing, three rushing) as the Crimson (4-0) defeated Cornell 41-23. Coach Tim Murphy tied Carm Cozza (Yale) for the most Ivy League wins (135). Murphy’s 196 overall victories with the Crimson already are the Ivy record. … Richmond true freshman quarterback Camden Coleman tied the school record with six TD passes in the Spiders’ 42-31 win over Maine. … UAlbany linebacker Dylan Kelly has been a tackle machine this season, but he outdid himself with an FCS season-high 23 stops in the Great Danes’ 24-17 win at Towson. He also forced a fumble and recovered it. … Rhode Island (4-2) retained the Governor’s Cup by defeating Brown 34-30 for the fifth straight time. In a game with eight lead changes, Kasim Hill passed for three touchdowns, and Ja’Den McKenzie broke a 27-27 tie with a 50-yard scoring run on the final play of the third quarter. … Southern Utah linebacker Josh Lopez scored on a 23-yard fumble return with 2:29 left to give the Thunderbirds their first lead at Tarleton 27-26, and they held on from there in the United Athletic Conference. … No. 23 Central Arkansas came back from a 30-6 deficit in the fourth quarter to rally past Southeast Missouri 38-33, with Kylin James’ nine-yard TD run with 19 seconds left giving the Bears (4-2) their first lead. It was the FCS’ largest fourth-quarter rally to a win since Princeton went from being down 34-10 against Harvard to a 39-34 win on Oct. 20, 2012. … In the final two minutes of Fordham’s 38-35 win over Lehigh, Brandon Peskin made a 42-yard, game-tying field goal and a 45-yard game-winner. … Central Connecticut State racked up 498 rushing yards in a 51-44 victory over Delaware State. Elijah Howard (257 yards, TD), Malik Thomas (113, TD) and Ricky Ortega (78, three TDs) led the ground attack. … No. 18 UT Martin (5-1) edged Eastern Illinois 28-27 in overtime. Jarid Johnson blocked a potential walk-off field goal to keep the game tied 21-21, then Carson Evans had a pass breakup in the extra session to deny EIU’s two-point attempt after pulling with 28-27. … Posting shutout wins: Columbia (16-0 over Marist) and Lindenwood (23-0 over Tennessee Tech). … Morgan State’s Homecoming Game against Stony Brook was canceled due to an on-campus shooting on Tuesday, leaving five people injured.