FCS playoffs a high-scoring affair
By Kyle Kensing, NCAA.com football blogger
The second round of the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) playoffs were a delight for fans of high-scoring football. Six of the 16 teams in action had a three-touchdown-or-better quarter -- a postseason record.
North Dakota State's 28 fourth-quarter points against Montana State were more than seven points higher than the Bison averaged per game in the regular season.
Heading into the final 15 minutes, NDSU and fourth overall seed MSU were in a near deadlock, 14-10, before the outburst. That's when Bison running back D.J. McNorton erupted.
He scored touchdowns on three consecutive possessions, the shortest of which was 19 yards. The other two: 38 and 52 yards.
A Bison team that paved its way to the playoffs with defense has scored 43 and 42 points in a pair of postseason victories.
That's not to suggest NDSU has abandoned its signature defense for an old American Football League style -- Robert Morris and MSU each scored just 17 points against the Bison.
Another defensive-oriented squad went off offensively, but not before finding itself in a hole.
Hosting the reigning national champion and boasting the nation's third-highest scoring offense, Stephen F. Austin came out sky high against Villanova.
The Lumberjacks put up a quick 21 points in the first quarter, and the second-round tilt appeared headed to a rout. And that's where it ended up -- but with VU on the winning end.
That's because the Wildcats rallied for 27 second-quarter points, and a stretch of eight unanswered scoring possessions spanning the final 2 1/2 quarters.
Chris Whitney spread the ball among his receiving corps, connecting with Norman White for three touchdowns. Matt Szczur, who recently returned from injury, was Whitney's No. 1 target to the tune of 128 yards.
VU advances to the quarterfinals, where it faces top overall seed Appalachian State. Four of the last five FCS championships are represented in this nationally-televised rumble. ESPN will air the Noon (ET) kickoff Saturday.
Appalachian State braved snow and some early turnovers to blast Western Illinois.
Quarterback DeAndre Presley showed just what he's capable of out of the Mountaineers' shotgun offense. He rushed for two touchdowns and passed for a third, increasing his season total to 32 touchdowns overall.
Presley and Whitney had some competition for the day's top quarterback. Delaware's Pat Devlin threw four touchdown passes and the Blue Hens cruised by Lehigh thanks to 14 second-quarter and 21 third-quarter points.
New Hampshire's Kevin Decker had similar success in a 45-20 romp at Bethune-Cookman. The UNH quarterback went off for three third-quarter strikes.
UD, UNH and VU move on, but the highest overall seed from the Colonial Athletic Association was eliminated.
With its 31-15 defeat of the second seeded Tribe, Georgia Southern now stakes claim to victories over the playoffs' two highest-rated squads. GSU handed Appalachian State its lone FCS loss last month, 21-14 in Statesboro, Ga.
The Eagles could be the most dangerous team in this postseason, with Paul Johnson disciple Jeff Monken coaching the option offense to perfection. The normally stout W&M defense had no answer for it -- the Eagles broke 400 yards rushing in the win.
In its quarterfinal match-up, GSU will get a taste of its own medicine in a sense. The Eagle offense is all about the rush, and the same is true for Wofford.
Wofford advanced with a strong defensive effort at normally high scoring Jacksonville State, holding the Gamecocks to 14 points. Behind Eric Breitenstein's 178 yards, the Terrier ground game got two scores.
Taiwan Jones had an effort almost exactly mirroring that of Breitenstein. The Eastern Washington running back had a pair of touchdowns and 168 yards in the Eagles' defeat of Southeast Missouri State.