Six of the eight home teams posted wins to open the FCS Playoffs on Saturday, including a 17-3 victory for Northern Iowa over San Diego.
The Panthers (9-4) play at seventh-seeded South Dakota State (8-4) in the second round Saturday at 1 p.m. The Jackrabbits won the previous matchup 38-7 on Nov. 16 in Brookings.
Fellow Missouri Valley Football Conference member Illinois State won 24-6 at Southeast Missouri State. The Redbirds (9-4) now travel to No. 8 Central Arkansas (9-3).
Kennesaw State was the other road team to prevail, pulling out a 28-21 defeat of Wofford.
North Dakota, which is set to join the Valley in 2020, dropped a 24-6 road game versus Nicholls State. The Colonels now play at No. 1 North Dakota State (12-0), winners of 33 consecutive games and seven of the past eight national titles, including two consecutively.
A complete tourney schedule is in the Scoreboard on Page 13.
• Northern Iowa 17, San Diego 3
CEDAR FALLS, Iowa – Brawntae Wells opened the scoring with a pick-six and the Panthers pulled away late to halt the Toreros’ nine-game winning streak and advance to face the Jackrabbits.
Wells’ 34-yard return came 1:58 into the game.
Brandon Eickert booted a 33-yard field goal 10 seconds before halftime for the Toreros (9-3).
That’s where the score stood until the 8:25 mark of the fourth period when Matthew Cook connected on a 39-yard kick.
Christian Jegen picked off a pass and returned it 52 yards to set up Trevor Allen’s 7-yard TD run, which sealed the deal with 2:54 to play.
Allen ran for 46 yards on 17 attempts for UNI (9-4). Will McElvain was 13-of-27 for 186 yards through the air with 34 rushing yards. Cook was 1-for-3 on FGs, missing from 53 and 32.
Omar Brown added an INT. Bryce Flater recorded 10 tackles.
Total offense: UNI 61-268 (34-82 rushing/13-27-186 passing), USD 65-213 (28-26 rushing/22-37-187 passing). Turnovers: UNI 1 (1 fumble), USD 4 (3 INT/1 fumble). Possession time: UNI 28:52, USD 31:08. A: 3,743.
• Illinois State 24, Southeast Missouri State 6
CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. – The Redbirds (9-4) racked up 340 rushing yards and possessed the ball for more than 36 minutes in the defeat of the Redhawks (9-4).
James Robinson ran for 297 yards on 41 carries. He opened the scoring with an 11-yard rush 3 1/2 minutes into the contest.
SEMO’s Kendrick Tiller kicked a 45-yard field goal later in the first.
In the second, ISU’s Bryce Jefferson had a 16-yard TD run and Andrew Edgar caught a 33-yard touchdown toss from Bryce Jefferson to make it 21-3 at halftime. The backup quarterback finished 4-of-7 for 52 yards.
Tiller added a 34-yard FG 44 seconds into the fourth. The Redbirds’ Sam Fenlason connected from 46 yards out with 3:53 to play to provide for the final margin.
Charles Woods and Devin Taylor intercepted passes for ISU.
Total offense: ISU 66-392 (59-340 rushing/4-7-52 passing), SEMO 55-314 (25-109 rushing/17-30-205 passing). Turnovers: ISU 0, SEMO 2 (2 INT). Possession time: ISU 36:18, SEMO 23:42. A: 3,274.
• Nicholls State 24, North Dakota 6
THIBODAUX, La. – The Colonels (9-4) racked up 481 yards of offense in the victory.
Julien Gums ran for 172 yards on 16 carries.
Chase Fourcade was 14-of-16 for 165 yards with a TD through the air while rushing for 46 yards and a score. Dai’Jean Dixon totaled 122 yards and a TD on eight receptions.
Dontrell Taylor picked up 95 yards on 17 rushes, finding the end zone once.
Gavin Lasseigne kicked a 27-yard field goal midway through the first. Fourcade plunged to paydirt late in the second to make it 10-0.
The Fighting Hawks (7-5) answered with field goals of 34 and 42 yards by Brady Leach to cut the deficit to 10-6 at the 6:50 mark of the third.
Fourcade and Dixon connected for a 45-yard TD with 4:22 left in the third and Taylor sealed the deal with a 2-yard scamper with 2:28 to play in the game.
NSU’s Kevin Moore had an INT, Darren Evans broke up five passes and Jaruis Monroe broke up a pair of passes. Each player also recorded seven tackles.
UND’s Nate Ketteringham ended up 27-of-47 for 269 yards with an INT.
Total offense: NSU 66-481 (50-316 rushing/14-16-165 passing), UND 62-316 (14-44 rushing/28-48-272 passing). Turnovers: NSU 1 (1 fumble), UND 2 (1 INT/1 fumble). Possession time: NSU 34:07, UND 25:02. A: 7,569.
• Kennesaw State 28, Wofford 21
SPARTANBURG, S.C. – Jonathan Murphy ran for 206 yards and three touchdowns, helping the Owls (11-2) take control in the second half during the defeat of the Terriers (8-4) at Gibbs Stadium.
The sophomore from Los Angeles had 1-yard TD rushes with 1:24 left in the third and 10:15 remaining in the fourth to make it 21-14. His 61-yard dash to the end zone with 4:02 showing on the clock pushed the advantage to 28-14.
Wofford’s TJ Luther caught a 22-yard TD toss from Jimmy Weirick with 1:18 to play.
KSU recovered the ensuing onside kick to seal the deal.
The Terriers’ Blake Morgan had a 5-yard touchdown rush in the first quarter and the Owls’ Tommy Bryant scored from 2 yards out in the second, leaving the score at 7-7. Morgan added a 1-yard TD plunge with 9:15 left in the third.
KSU’s Bryson Armstrong had 10 tackles and Troy Henderson 10.
Morgan finished with 65 yards on 13 attempts. Luther had five receptions for 120 yards.
Kennesaw State improved to 48-14, including 4-2 in the postseason, since its program debuted for the 2015 season. The Owls are seeking their third consecutive quarterfinal appearance.
Total offense: KSU 57-340 (51-309 rushing/3-6-41 passing), WC 56-282 (36-111 rushing/11-20-171 passing). Turnovers: KSU 1 (1 fumble), WC 2 (2 fumbles). Possession time: KSU 31:42, WC 28:18. A: 1,992.
• Albany 42, Central Connecticut State 14
ALBANY, N.Y. – Jeff Undercuffler finished 19-of-30 for 304 yards with a school-record six touchdown tosses as the Great Danes (9-4) beat the Blue Devils (11-2) for the first-ever FCS Playoffs victory.
CCSU’s Aaron Winchester hit Theo Zidor for a 31-yard TD at the 3:49 mark of the first quarter to open the scoring.
It was all Albany after that.
Undercuffler and Juwan Green hooked up for a 12-yard score 17 seconds before the half and a 40-yarder 24 seconds into the third period.
Jerah Reeves (33 yards), LJ Wesneski (11) and Tyler Oedekoven (9) also logged third-quarter TD receptions. Karl Mofor’s 10-yard catch from Undercuffler 28 seconds into the fourth made it 42-7.
Winchester added a 4-yard run with 11 minutes to play.
Reeves had six catches for 134 yards and Green seven for 105. Alex James rushed for 70 yards on 13 attempts, Danny Damico tallied 12 tackles and Eli Mencer intercepted a pass.
Total offense: UA 57-404 (27-100 rushing/19-30-304 passing), CCSU 68-347 (42-199 rushing/15-26-148 passing). Turnovers: UA 1 (1 INT), CCSU 1 (1 INT). Possession time: UA 25:19, CCSU 34:22. A: 1,660.
• Austin Peay 42, Furman 6
CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. – The Governors (10-3) dominated the Paladins (8-5) after halftime to record the first postseason victory in program history.
Austin Peay pulled away from a 7-3 advantage with 28 points in the third quarter.
JaVaughn Craig went 18-of-23 for 264 yards with three touchdowns.
DeAngelo Wilson (seven receptions-68 yards), Kentel Williams (4-103) and Elijah Brown (1-1) each had a TD catch.
Williams, who ran for 57 yards on 11 attempts, Baniko Harley and Prince Momodu added scoring rushes.
Total offense: AP 61-434 (38-170 rushing/18-23-264 passing), FU 53-227 (38-145 rushing/8-15-82 passing). Turnovers: AP 0, FU 3 (2 fumbles/1 INT). Possession time: AP 28:57, FU 31:03. A: 3,559.
• Southeastern Louisiana 45, Villanova 44
HAMMOND, La. – Chason Virgil hit CJ Turner for an 8-yard touchdown with 2:56 remaining and Bryce Broussard kicked the PAT to give the Lions (8-4) their first lead, as the home team edged the Wildcats (9-4) in a game that saw the squads combine for 1,103 total yards of offense.
Villanova scored a TD with 4:36 left but a missed PAT left the score at 44-38.
Vigil finished 36-of-49 for 474 yards with three TDs and an INT.
Devonte Williams ran for 78 yards and a score. Cole Kelley found the end zone twice on the ground.
Turner racked up 173 yards on 11 receptions, scoring twice. Bransen Schwebel added 119 yards on six grabs and Javon Conner (TD) 102 on nine.
For Villanova, Daniel Smith ended up 19-of-30 for 283 yards with four scores through the air while rushing for 90 yards and a touchdown.
Jaaron Hayek (six receptions-105 yards) and Changa Hodge (6-98) both had a TD catch and Todd Summers (4-59) tallied two.
Elijah Glover returned an interception 78 yards to the house.
Total offense: SLU 80-602 (26-94 rushing/38-54-508 passing), VU 67-501 (37-218 rushing/19-30-283 passing). Turnovers: SLU 3 (2 INTs/1 fumble), VU 0. Possession time: SLU 27:16, VU 32:44. A: 4,173.
• Monmouth 44, Holy Cross 27
WEST LONG BRANCH, N.J. – The Hawks (11-2) totaled 502 yards of offense – 253 rushing and 249 passing – in the win over the Crusaders (7-6).
Pete Guerriero ran 31 times for 220 yards and three touchdowns.
Kenji Bahar was 19-of-32 for 249 yards with a TD toss.
Evan Powell picked off a pair of passes.
Total offense: MU 75-502 (43-253 rushing/19-32-249 passing), HC 68-327 (23-120 rushing/22-45-207 passing). Turnovers: MU 0, HC 3 (3 INT). Possession time: MU 33:32, HC 26:28. A: 2,817.