Last Updated 7:06 PM, May 16, 2021

Sam Houston wins 2020-21 FCS championship over South Dakota State

Sam Houston defeats South Dakota State 23-21 to win first FCS title
10:11 pm, May 16, 2021

Sam Houston wins the 2020-21 FCS championship game

Sam Houston is FCS national champion for the first time.

SHSU defeated South Dakota State 23-21 on a game-winning 10-yard touchdown pass with 16 seconds left. South Dakota State ran two plays after a kickoff return and was stopped just past midfield on an attempt to keep the game alive through laterals.

See the final stats | Final bracket | Championship history

You can watch Sam Houston's full game-winning drive, ending with a touchdown pass from Eric Schmid to Ife Adeyi, below.

Schmid finished 20-of-37 with 209 yards and three passing touchdowns. His top target was Jequez Ezzard, who had 10 catches for 108 yards and two first half touchdowns. Ezzard also had a punt return touchdown brought back due to a penalty away from the play.

For South Dakota State, true freshman running back Isaiah Davis finished with a career high 178 yards and three touchdowns on just 14 carries. His 85-yard touchdown run with 5:41 left in the game gave SDSU its first lead since the first quarter.

But the Jackrabbits offense took a big hit to start the game, losing freshman quarterback Mark Gronowski to injury on the opening drive.

With the win, Sam Houston's K.C. Keeler became the first head coach to win an FCS title at multiple schools. He also led Delaware to the 2003 national championship.


10:03 pm, May 16, 2021

Sam Houston 23, South Dakota State 21 | 0:16 Q4

What a wild, incredible final quarter.

Sam Houston is back in the lead on a goal line strike from Eric Schmid to Ife Adeyi with just 16 seconds remaining. SHSU missed the ensuing PAT to keep it a two-point game.

South Dakota State takes over after the kickoff with 10 seconds left.

9:48 pm, May 16, 2021

South Dakota State 21, Sam Houston 17 | 5:41 Q4

Freshman Isaiah Davis is having himself a breakout game. The true freshman puts South Dakota State ahead with under six minutes left on an 85-yard touchdown. 

Davis has scored all three SDSU touchdowns today with 178 yards on 14 carries.

Sam Houston, who already has two second half comebacks these playoffs, caught a break on an ensuing kickoff that went out of bounds. Buckle in for the final stretch.

Click or tap here for live stats.

9:21 pm, May 16, 2021

Sam Houston 17, South Dakota State 14 | 13:12 Q4

And here comes South Dakota State. The top-seeded Jackrabbits wasted little time, starting the fourth quarter with a quick touchdown to cut the deficit to a field goal.

True freshman Isaiah Davis broke free for a 28-yard touchdown run, his second of the day and ninth on the season. That was his third run of 20+ yards today.

Click or tap here for live stats.

9:05 pm, May 16, 2021

END Q3: Sam Houston 17, South Dakota State 7

We are a quarter away from crowning a first-time FCS champion. No. 2 seed Sam Houston leads No. 1 South Dakota State 17-7.

Jequez Ezzard nearly added a tremendous one-handed catch in the end zone to his highlight reel day, but he could not maintain possession. SHSU settled for a 45-yard field goal from true freshman Seth Morgan to bookend a 10-play drive.

South Dakota State had its own long drive halted early in the quarter at SHSU's 33-yard line. Opting to go for it on fourth down, after failing on two field goal attempts in the first half, Keaton Heide missed his target for a turnover on downs.

SDSU now has the ball back at the opponent's 49-yard line to begin the final quarter.

Click or tap here for live stats.

8:28 pm, May 16, 2021

HALFTIME: Sam Houston 14, South Dakota State 7

Jequez Ezzard is once again sparking Sam Houston's offense. After an electric two-touchdown day in SHSU's semifinal comeback last weekend, he already has two touchdowns today in the first half of the national championship game.

His second score came with 1:21 left before halftime, on a pass from Eric Schmid from 15 yards out. Ezzard now has three catches for 60 yards and two touchdowns.

For South Dakota State, rainy conditions may be having an impact on special teams. SDSU has two failed field goal attempts — including one on a poor snap. With starting QB Mark Gronowski departing early due to injury, backup Keaton Heide is 3-of-7 for 16 yards and an interception.

Below are the first half team stats. Due to an extended lightning delay in the second quarter, action will resume after a condensed, three-minute halftime break.

1st half stats

Click or tap here for live stats.

8:09 pm, May 16, 2021

FCS championship play resumes after long lightning delay

After a 71-minute lightning delay, the FCS championship game has resumed. South Dakota State has the ball at Sam Houston's 41-yard line, tied 7-7, with 8:25 left in the first half.

The halftime break will now be only three minutes long and teams will remain on the field.

Click or tap here for live stats.

7:05 pm, May 16, 2021

Lightning delay stops play in second quarter

A weather delay has halted play with 8:25 remaining in the second quarter. Lightning was detected in the area, triggering a 30-minute delay. If another lightning occurrence happens during this timeframe, another 30-minute delay will be issued.

Here is the updated weather forecast in Frisco, Texas.

Fans at Toyota Stadium have been told to exit the stadium and seek shelter in their cars. They will be allowed re-entry once conditions improve.

Before play was stopped, Sam Houston tied the game at 7-7 on a 35-yard catch-and-run touchdown from Jequez Ezzard. After having a punt return touchdown erased by penalty in the first quarter, the dynamic Ezzard would not be denied this time around. Watch the play below.

6:21 pm, May 16, 2021

END Q1: South Dakota State 7, Sam Houston 0

South Dakota State's opening drive ended with an unpleasant sight — freshman QB Mark Gronowski limping toward the sideline with an apparent left leg injury. Gronowski was the Missouri Valley Football Conference player of the year.

Keaton Heide entered at QB for SDSU's next drive after a Sam Houston fumble loss at its 41-yard line. Running back Isaiah Davis would break free for a big 20-yard rush down the right side to set himself up for a 1-yard touchdown run to open the game's scoring.

An illegal block in the back negated a would-be game-tying punt return touchdown from Sam Houston's Jaquez Ezzard to close out the first quarter. South Dakota State holds the 7-0 lead.

ESPN's Kris Budden reported that Gronowski is out for the remainder of the game. His replacement, Heide, attempted just two passes this year entering Sunday, but started five games in 2019.

Expect RBs Davis (71.1 yards per game) and Pierre Strong Jr. (81.2 ypg) to get the bulk of the work for SDSU's offense with Gronowski out.

Click or tap here for live stats.

5:13 pm, May 16, 2021

2020-21 FCS championship game kicks off

NCAA Photos FCS Championship

The 2020-21 FCS championship game is officially underway at a rainy Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas. We'll have a first-time national champion at the end of the day.

Sam Houston won the coin toss and deferred to the second half. South Dakota State starts the first drive of the game at the 37-yard line.

Stay here for live updates and scores through the final whistle. You can watch the game on ABC or WatchESPN.

Click or tap here for live stats.

5:08 pm, May 16, 2021

Poll: Who will win the FCS championship?

We're about an hour away from kickoff for the 2020-21 FCS championship game between South Dakota State and Sam Houston. 

Who do you think will win? Vote below in a Twitter poll from @NCAA_FCS.

12:26 pm, May 16, 2021

Follow today's FCS national championship game

South Dakota State Athletics SDSU football

South Dakota State and Sam Houston will meet for the 2020-21 FCS national championship today. The top two seeds in this year's playoff field are both seeking their first title as FCS programs. 

No. 1 South Dakota State is playing in its first national title game after a historic year that included a Dakota Marker victory over top rival and three-time defending champion North Dakota State to close out the regular season. No. 2 Sam Houston returns to the championship game after back-to-back runner-up finishes in 2011-12. You can read our full game preview here.

Here's the schedule for Sunday's championship game from Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas.

  • No. 1 South Dakota State vs. No. 2 Sam Houston | 2 p.m. ET| Live stats | Broadcast: ABC | Stream: Watch ESPN

Click or tap here to view the interactive tournament bracket

To view a .PDF of the printable bracket, click or tap here.

5:30 pm, May 15, 2021

Southeastern Louisiana's Cole Kelley wins Walter Payton Award

Cole Kelley

Southeastern Louisiana quarterback Cole Kelley was announced the 2020-21 Stats Perform FCS Walter Payton Award winner Saturday afternoon. The senior is the 34th winner of the annual award given to the top offensive player in the FCS.

Kelley is the fifth straight quarterback to win the award. He led the FCS in passing yards (2,662), completions (210), total offensive yards (2,708) and total touchdowns (27 total; 18 passing, seven rushing and two receiving) in seven games this season. 

Kelley edged out Eastern Washington QB Eric Barriere by six points in final voting (137 to 131). He received 16 of the 40 first-place votes. Sacred Heart RB Julius Chestnut finished third with 84 total points.

Here is the complete history of the FCS Walter Payton Award.

4:43 pm, May 15, 2021

Southern’s Jordan Lewis wins Buck Buchanan Award

Jordan Lewis

Southern defensive end Jordan Lewis was named the 2020-21 Stats Perform FCS Buck Buchanan Award recipient Saturday afternoon, becoming the 26th winner in the award's history and the first in SWAC history.

The Buck Buchanan Award is given to the top defensive player in FCS football. Lewis finished with 15 tackles for loss and 10.5 sacks in only five games this spring.

Lewis placed ahead linebackers Colby Campbell (Presbyterian) and Stone Snyder (VMI) in the final tallies. A 40-member national media panel voted following the regular season, which spanned the fall and spring semesters.

The 2020-21 Walter Payton Award winner will also be named this afternoon. The three finalists are Eric Barriere (Eastern Washington), Cole Kelley (Southeastern Louisiana) and Julius Chestnut (Sacred Heart).

Here's how you can watch the national awards show.

8:27 pm, May 10, 2021

South Dakota State vs. Sam Houston: FCS championship game preview


No. 1 South Dakota State faces No. 2 Sam Houston for the 2020-21 FCS national championship this Sunday, May 16 in Frisco, Texas. Both schools eye their first FCS title.'s Anthony Chiusano previewed the game with a glimpse at key storylines for Sunday and what both teams' paths to the national championship looked like.

The national championship kicks off at 2 p.m. ET Sunday on ABC and ESPN3Click or tap here to see the updated interactive bracket. Click or tap here to listen to Westwood One's live radio coverage.

8:19 pm, May 10, 2021

2020-21 Stats Perform FCS All-America Team announced

With one more game to go this FCS spring season, the 2020-21 Stats Perform FCS All-America Teams were announced Monday. The first and second teams honor 83 players, representing 45 schools.

North Dakota State leads all schools with six All-Americans, followed by Delaware, Jacksonville State, James Madison and national finalists Sam Houston and South Dakota State with four players each. You can see the full teams here.

10:01 pm, May 8, 2021

No. 1 South Dakota State to meet No. 2 Sam Houston in the national title game

USA TODAY Sports South Dakota State football FCS playoffs

No. 2 Sam Houston rallied from a 21-point deficit to stun No. 3 James Madison 38-35 and advance to the FCS national championship game. The Bearkats will face No. 1 South Dakota State on Sunday, May 16 for the title. 

Watch a brief recap of the semifinal game here.

James Madison tried to tie the game with 2:09 remaining on a 51-yard field goal, but the attempt missed. Gage Moloney's sack set up the long field goal.

This marks South Dakota State's first national title game appearance and Sam Houston's third. Neither program has ever won the FCS national championship.

Click or tap here to see the updated interactive bracket.

8:38 pm, May 8, 2021

No. 2 Sam Houston leads No. 3 James Madison 31-27 after third quarter

No. 2 Sam Houston exploded in the third quarter with four touchdowns in 8:14 of game time to take a 31-27 lead. Quarterback Eric Schmid ran 20 yards for the Bearkats' latest touchdown.

Jequez Ezzard was the highlight of the third quarter. Schmid's 69-yard touchdown pass to Ezzard began the frenzy and cut the Dukes' lead to 10. Here's the play:

Ezzard then followed up with an 80-yard kick return touchdown, cutting the James Madison lead to three. Watch the play here:

Earlier in the third quarter, Schmid passed for 35 yards and drew a crucial roughing the passer penalty to fuel the Bearkats' first touchdown drive to cut the score to 24-10. James Madison's Ethan Ratke responded with a 48-yard field goal to extend the lead to 17. The Bearkats then began their onslaught.

Click here to view our live stats.

7:34 pm, May 8, 2021

No. 3 James Madison leads No. 2 Sam Houston State 24-3 at halftime

No. 3 James Madison has found its stride. Three touchdowns, two forced turnovers and one field goal have the Dukes on top of No. 2 Sam Houston 24-3. Quarterback Cole Johnson capitalized on the Bearkats' second interception of the day with a 4-yard touchdown pass to Clayton Cheatham at 0:10 to close out the first half. The Dukes scored eight seconds after Eric Schmid's interception.

The Dukes established success on fourth downs. After tying the game 3-3 on a 26-yard field goal, James Madison stormed into the end zone to take a 10-3 lead. Cole Johnson converted on fourth-and-1 for the touchdown. Two more touchdowns later, James Madison is up big.

The game began leaning toward the Dukes when No. 2 Sam Houston State's Eric Schmid threw an interception to end the first quarter. The turnover set up a promising drive in the second. James Madison drew the Bearkats offside on a fourth-and-2, setting up a first-and-goal at the Sam Houston State 3-yard line. All the Dukes could muster after a 6-yard sack by Trevor Williams was a 26-yard field goal to tie the game, but after a clean fourth-and-out by the Bearkats, James Madison was set to score the game's first touchdown on the next drive.

Click here to view our live stats.

7:08 pm, May 8, 2021

No. 2 Sam Houston leads No. 3 James Madison 3-0 after first quarter

Seth Morgan's 29-yard field goal gave No. 2 Sam Houston the 3-0 lead over No. 3 James Madison in the first quarter. The Bearkats have outgained JMU 68 to 33 in total yards.

Click here to view our live stats.

6:37 pm, May 8, 2021

No. 1 South Dakota State secures spot in FCS championship game

No. 1 seed South Dakota State is heading to the FCS national championship game for the first time in program history. 

The Jackrabbits offense — combined with a formidable defense, which forced seven sacks — powered South Dakota State to a 33-3 win over unseeded Delaware. The highlight of the day came on a trick play touchdown, where SDSU QB Mark Gronowski caught a pass from running back Pierre Strong Jr. in the backfield and rumbled 24 yards for a touchdown.

South Dakota State will meet the winner of No. 2 seed Sam Houston State vs. No. 3 seed James Madison on May 16 in the FCS national title game in Frisco, Texas.

Check out the latest bracket here.

6:25 pm, May 8, 2021

FCS playoffs: No. 2 Sam Houston State vs. No. 3 James Madison

Welcome to's live coverage of the FCS playoffs. No. 2 seed Sam Houston State takes on No. 3 seed James Madison at 2:30 p.m. ET in the last semifinals game. Here's what you need to know:

No. 2 seed Sam Houston State vs. No. 3 seed James Madison | 2:30 p.m.| ABC

These two teams head into Saturday with perfect records and only one spot left in the national championship game.

Sam Houston State did not allow one touchdown in its quarterfinal game versus North Dakota State. James Madison will try to reverse that streak with key senior running back Percy Agyei-Obese hoping for another 100-yard game. He has reached the 100-yard mark in consecutive playoff games, with three touchdowns.

6:07 pm, May 8, 2021

No. 1 South Dakota State leads Delaware 30-3 after third quarter

No. 1 South Dakota State's Cole Frahm's 41-yard field goal expanded the lead over Delaware, 30-3. 

The Fightin' Blue Hens converted a fourth-and-1 on the final drive of the third quarter and will try for more points when play resumes on the SDSU 9-yard line in the fourth period.

Click here to view our live stats.

5:05 pm, May 8, 2021

No. 1 South Dakota State leads Delaware 27-3 at the half

Field position was No. 1 South Dakota State's specialty in the second quarter and that edge helped SDSU open up a 27-3 lead on Delaware. The Jackrabbits defense limited the Fightin' Blue Hens to 32 yards and forced five sacks, while the special teams created incredible field position. Only seven total plays were needed for SDSU to score its first two touchdowns of the period.

The Jackrabbits first touchdown of the quarter came with some trickery. Running back Pierre Strong Jr. threw to quarterback Mark Gronowski for a 24-yard touchdown. Strong Jr. then ran for three yards to score the second touchdown of the quarter. And with 0:21 left in the first half, it was Gronowski again, this time with his arm as he threw a 14-yard touchdown pass to Blake Kunz for a 27-3 lead over Delaware.

Delaware had a chance to close the gap with a field goal attempt at 6:43 but the attempt was unsuccessful. The Fightin' Blue Hens continue to lead in time of possession with 21:26 to SDSU's 8:34 but the Jackrabbits' offensive attack is surging, leading in total yards with 210 to Delaware's 123.

Click here to view our live stats.

4:26 pm, May 8, 2021

No. 1 South Dakota State leads Delaware 7-3 after first quarter

No. 1 South Dakota State made the most of its last possession in the first quarter to take the lead over Delaware, 7-3. Quarterback Mark Gronowski led the Jackrabbits down the field with a 30-yard touchdown pass to Jaxon Janke. The momentum shifted toward the Jackrabbits once Gronowski ran for a fourth-and-1 conversion with 1:44 left in the quarter.

It was all Delaware for most of the quarter after the Fightin' Blue Hens scored the game's first points at 3:44 on Ryan Coe's 29-yard field goal. Quarterback Nolan Henderson is 8-for-8 with 56 yards passing. Delaware dominated the time of possession in the first quarter with 10:36. The Fightin' Blue Hens have 73 total yards to the Jackrabbits' 64.

Click here to view our live stats.

3:42 pm, May 8, 2021

FCS playoffs: No. 1 South Dakota State vs. Delaware

Welcome in to's live coverage of the the FCS playoffs. Top-seeded South Dakota State kicks off this year's semifinals at noon ET on ESPN against Delaware. Here's what you need to know:

No. 1 seed South Dakota State vs. Delaware | Noon | ESPN

The Jackrabbits have some serious momentum after a 1-1 start to the year. They won the Dakota Marker over NDSU before powering past Holy Cross and Southern Illinois in the first two rounds of the postseason. SDSU earned the top-seed in the playoffs, a first for the program. Now its chasing even greater history — its first-ever championship game appearance. 

On the other side of the equation is Delaware. The Blue Hens are the only unseeded team remaining in the playoffs, but don't let that fool you. The number to the far right of their name — 0, as in the number of losses they've had this season—  is far more telling. UD is 7-0 after earning the CAA's automatic bid to the playoffs and winning its first two postseason games by a combined 15 points. Win today and the Blue Hens could be knocking on the door of their first title since 2003.

1:45 pm, May 8, 2021

Schedule, scores for the FCS playoff semifinals

South Dakota State Athletics South Dakota State football

The FCS semifinals are here. After starting with 16 teams, just four remain, including three of the nationally seeded programs. Top-seed South Dakota State takes on CAA champion Delaware at noon ET before No. 2 seed Sam Houston and No. 3 seed James Madison battle in the second game of the day.

While the Jackrabbits are the top seed, they're the only team that's never played for an FCS championship. That could change after today. Delaware won it all in 2003 and has been back to the final twice since then (2007, 2010). James Madison also won a title in 2016 and were runners up in 2019 to North Dakota State. Sam Houston has played in the final game of the season before but came up short both times in 2011 and 2012 vs. NDSU. With no Bison lurking in this year's semifinals, either JMU or Sam Houston will have a chance to finish the job this time around.

Here's the schedule for today's semifinal matchups. Both kickoff times are in ET.

2:30 pm, May 5, 2021

5 essential numbers to know before the FCS semifinals

South Dakota State defeats Southern Illinois 31-26 in the FCS quarterfinals

Just four teams and three games remain in the FCS playoffs before a national champion is crowned. Here is the semifinal schedule for Saturday, May 8:'s Andy Wittry looked at the 5 essential numbers to know before these semifinal games kick off. Here's a glimpse at his preview:

  • 20 — Unanswered points by Southern Illinois in the first half of its quarterfinal matchup with No. 1 South Dakota State. The Jackrabbits responded with a trio of touchdowns in the second half to escape, 24-20.
  • 9 — The amount of plays Delaware averaged during its four scoring drives in its 20-14 quarterfinals upset vs. No. 4 Jacksonville State. UD ranks sixth nationally in average time of possession.
  • 40 — The percentage of Sam Houston's completions against North Dakota State that were caught by Noah Smith, who had 10 catches for 103 yards and a touchdown in the quarterfinals.
  • 3 — Scoring drives of 80 yards or more by James Madison's offense against North Dakota last round.


1:45 pm, May 4, 2021

Saturday's semifinals, previewed

Sam Houston defeats North Dakota State 24-20 in the FCS quarterfinals

There are four teams left in the 2020-21 FCS postseason and one thing we know for sure: there will be a new champion for the first time in three years after Sam Houston defeated North Dakota State in the quarterfinals (see the highlights above). 

No. 1 South Dakota State takes on unseeded Delaware on ESPN at noon ET on Saturday. Turn to ABC after that to watch No. 2 Sam Houston vs. No. 3 James Madison at 2:30 p.m. The winners meet in the national championship game on ABC at 2 p.m. on Sunday, May 16.'s Anthony Chiusano previews the top storylines and players here. Some of what he's watching:

  • Delaware, the last remaining unseeded team, has given up a thrifty 24 total points in two playoff games. Can the Blue Hens stop No. 1 South Dakota State and quarterback Mark Gronowski, who threw for 325 yards and three scores against SIU?
  • What will give when undefeated Sam Houston (8-0) meets undefeated James Madison (7-0)?
5:12 pm, May 3, 2021

Cameron Ward wins FCS Jerry Rice Award

Incarnate Word Athletics Incarnate Word's Cameron Ward was named the recipient of the FCS Jerry Rice Award.

On Monday, Incarnate Word quarterback Cameron Ward received the FCS Jerry Rice Award, which is given to the national freshman of the year. Ward threw an FCS-best 24 touchdown passes during the regular season, while finishing second in passing yards (2,260 yards) and total touchdowns (26).

Ward helped Incarnate Word earn a program-best No. 13 ranking. You can read the entire release here.

12:11 pm, May 3, 2021

Semifinals set for FCS playoffs

South Dakota State Athletics No. 1 seed South Dakota State survived a scare against Southern Illinois.

The semifinals for the FCS playoffs are set: No. 1 seed South Dakota State versus Delaware and No. 2 seed Sam Houston State will face No. 3 seed James Madison. Sunday's quarterfinal matchups resulted in three one-possession games with Sam Houston State defeating North Dakota State 24-20, South Dakota State knocking off Southern Illinois 31-26 and Delaware upsetting Jacksonville State 20-14.

Next up is the semifinals, which will take place on Saturday, May 8, with the winners advancing to the national championship, which will be played on Sunday, May 16.

1:15 pm, May 2, 2021

Quarterfinals results for the 2020-21 FCS playoffs

Delaware Athletics Delaware football

The wait is over. The FCS playoffs are back with the 2020-21 quarterfinals on Sunday, May 2, which brought a four-game slate with semifinal berths on the line.

Click or tap here for the full bracket.

Here is the schedule and broadcast information for this year's quarterfinals.


  • No. 2 Sam Houston 24, North Dakota State 20: North Dakota State, three-time defending national champion and winner of eight of the last nine titles, is out of the FCS playoffs. QB Eric Schmid scored the go-ahead 6-yard touchdown run for Sam Houston with 3:39 remaining, and the SHSU defense came up big with a final stop at the 21-yard line to clinch its first semifinal appearance since 2017.
  • Delaware 20, No. 4 Jacksonville State 14: Defense powered the Blue Hens to a second straight playoff win, this time in an upset over 4-seed Jacksonville State. Delaware held JSU to just 200 yards of total offense and eight first downs. Anthony Paoletti and Dejoun Lee each scored rushing touchdowns for UD.
  • No. 3 James Madison 34, North Dakota 21: The No. 3-seeded Dukes led wire-to-wire, scoring first on a field goal in the opening five minutes of the game and leading 10-0 after the first quarter. North Dakota cut the deficit to three points, 17-14, late in the second quarter but James Madison kicked a field goal as time expired in the first half to go up 20-14 at halftime and the Dukes never looked back. James Madison quarterback Cole Johnson was nearly perfect on the day, completing 14-of-17 attempts for 251 yards and two touchdowns in the win.
  • No. 1 South Dakota State 31, Southern Illinois 26: The top-seeded South Dakota State Jackrabbits defeated Southern Illinois 44-3 on the road in the regular season but the Salukis proved to be a formidable foe on Sunday, as they scored 20 unanswered points in the first half and led 20-10 at halftime. But South Dakota State rallied in the second half, holding Southern Illinois scoreless in the third quarter and the Jackrabbits scored two touchdowns in the fourth quarter to seal the comeback and a spot in the semifinals. Isaiah Davis' four-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter proved to be the game-winning score. Quarterback Mark Gronowski threw for 183 yards and two touchdowns, while rushing for 142 yards and another score.
5:15 pm, April 28, 2021

7 essential numbers to know for the FCS quarterfinals

South Dakota State Athletics South Dakota State football

The 2020-21 FCS quarterfinals kick off this Sunday at 3 p.m. ET with a pair of games — No. 2 Sam Houston vs. North Dakota State and No. 4 Jacksonville State vs. Delaware.

No. 3 James Madison vs. North Dakota follows at 6 p.m., and South Dakota State hosts Southern Illinois to close out the round at 9 p.m. 

To get you ready for the weekend,'s Andy Wittry broke down the seven essential numbers to know for the FCS quarterfinals. Here's a sneak peek:

  1. 41:26 — Southern Illinois' possession time in its biggest win of the regular season, against then-No. 1 North Dakota State.
  2. .958 — No. 1 seed South Dakota State's red zone scoring percentage. The Jackrabbits have converted on 23 of 24 trips this season.
  3. 486.4 — Average yards of total offense per game for No. 2 seed Sam Houston, which is highest among remaining teams in the FCS playoffs.
  4. 13 — Consecutive playoff games won by North Dakota State, including the last three national championships.
  5. 213.5 — Average yards allowed per game by No. 3 James Madison's defense. 
  6. +7 — North Dakota's turnover margin in six games, which ranks eighth nationally.
  7. +1.83 — Delaware's turnover margin advantage per game. The Blue Hens have a +11 turnover margin in six games, which is best in the country.


1:50 pm, April 30, 2021

Colby Campbell, Jordan Lewis, Stone Snyder are finalists for Buck Buchanan Award

The finalists for the 2020-21 Buck Buchanan Award.

Linebackers Colby Campbell of Presbyterian, Stone Snyder of VMI and defensive end Jordan Lewis of Southern were invited to the announcement of the 2020-21 Stats Perform FCS Buck Buchanan Award on May 15. 

The winner will be announced on an FCS National Awards show to air on Bally Sports Regional Networks (formerly Fox Sports Regional Networks).

The award is given to the defensive player of the year in college football’s Division I subdivision. It is named for Buchanan, the college and pro football hall-of-famer who starred at Grambling and for the Kansas City Chiefs. 

You can read the complete release here

1:51 pm, April 26, 2021

The key players and storylines to 👀 in Round 2

The 2020-21 FCS bracket, showing games through April 26.

It's a rare spring college football Sunday when the quarterfinals of the FCS playoffs begin at 3 p.m. ET on May 2 with Delaware vs. Jacksonville State and North Dakota State vs. Sam Houston.

James Madison and North Dakota play next at 6 p.m. followed by South Dakota State and Southern Illinois at 9 p.m.' s Anthony Chiusano breaks down the key storylines and players to watch in the second round here. Here are some of the themes he expects to see play out this weekend:

  • Can Sam Houston's defense (58.9 rush yards allowed per game; 3rd in FCS) slow down NDSU's ground game and force North Dakota State QB Cam Miller into pressure situations?
  • How will Delaware fare against No. 4 Jacksonville State's offense, which rolled to a 49-14 victory in round one?
  • James Madison is ranked first in the coaches' poll and has the top defense in FCS. Can North Dakota and running back Otis Weah break through?

  • Will No. 1 South Dakota State be as dominant against Southern Illinois as it was in a 44-3 win during the regular season?

You can read the whole preview and see more of the players to watch here.

1:21 pm, April 24, 2021

First round scores for the 2020-21 FCS playoffs

Sam Houston

The 2020-21 FCS playoffs started Saturday, April 24 with the first round. There were eight games, with the winners advancing to the quarterfinals.

Below is a list of all the first round scores:


  • No. 2 Sam Houston 21, Monmouth 15: The Bearkats (7-0) clinched the first quarterfinals spot, holding off a late Monmouth comeback attempt. SHSU scored the first 21 points before Monmouth scored twice in the fourth quarter, with a successful two-point conversion, to cut the deficit to six. The Hawks then drove all the way down to the opponent's 9-yard line in the final minute before Tony Muskett's pass to the end zone was intercepted by Isaiah Downes to clinch the win for Sam Houston.
  • No. 4 Jacksonville State 49, Davidson 14: Four different Gamecocks had rushing touchdowns in Jacksonville State's dominating opening round win. Uriah West led the charge with 76 rushing yards and two touchdowns. Quarterback Zion Webb had one rushing TD and two through the air, finishing 9-of-15 passing.
  • No. 3 James Madison 31, VMI 24: JMU knocked off first-time FCS playoff contender VMI to make its fourth quarterfinal in the past five seasons. VMI outscored the Dukes 21-10 in the second half but failed to recover an onside kick in the final seconds, still down a score. JMU running back Jawon Hamilton finished with 171 yards — including a 99-yard touchdown run in the first quarter. 
  • No. 1 South Dakota State 31, Holy Cross 3: Top overall seed South Dakota State stymied Holy Cross, allowing just a field goal in its first round win. SDSU outgained the Crusaders 439-198 in total offense. Freshman QB Mark Gronowski, a finalist for this year's Jerry Rice Award, was 12-of-21 with 153 passing yards and three touchdowns.
  • North Dakota State 42, Eastern Washington 20: The eight-time national champion Bison are headed to their 11th straight FCS quarterfinals. NDSU fell behind 14-0 in the first quarter before its offense, led by first-time starting QB Cam Miller (6-of-11, two TD passes), awoke for a 42-point performance. The Bison racked up 422 of their 472 yards on the ground.
  • Southern Illinois 34, Weber State 31: Stone Labanowitz's 8-yard TD pass to Branson Combs on fourth down with 51 seconds left gave Southern Illinois a dramatic win over Weber State. That marked the fourth and final lead change of the day. SIU's Avante Cox led the receiving corps with six catches for 120 yards and a touchdown.
  • North Dakota 44, Missouri State 10: UND rolled past Missouri State, holding the Bears to just 185 yards of total offense. Quarterback Tommy Schuster threw for 223 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
  • Delaware 19, Sacred Heart 10: Though Delaware picked up only 199 total yards, the defense held Sacred Heart to 236 while also intercepting two passes. The Blue Hens led 12-10 when QB Anthony Paoletti scored on a three-yard touchdown run with 6:13 to go.

Click or tap here for the full bracket.

Here is the 2020-21 FCS playoffs bracket
1:43 pm, April 19, 2021

This is the schedule for the first round of the FCS playoffs

The 2020-21 NCAA football bracket The 2020-21 FCS football championship bracket.

Spring championship football is here. Sixteen teams will compete for the 2020-21 FCS championship beginning on April 24. Here are the first-round games:

All times are Eastern. All games will stream on ESPN3 and be aired on the ESPN family of networks. The championship game is at 2 p.m on ABC, live from Frisco, Texas, on Saturday, May 16.

3:03 pm, April 20, 2021

Final rankings of the regular season

The final rankings of the regular season were released on Tuesday, April 20. James Madison finished No. 1, followed by South Dakota State and Weber State. You can see the full rankings below. And here is the final STATS Perform FCS poll

Games through APR. 20, 2020






1 James Madison (18) 5-0 545 1
2 South Dakota St. (3) 5-1 516 4
3 Weber St. 5-0 513 2
4 Sam Houston State 6-0 460 5
5 Delaware 5-0 441 7
6 North Dakota 4-1 430 6
7 North Dakota St. 6-2 408 3
8 Eastern Washington 5-1 401 8
9 Jacksonville St. 9-2 397 9
10 Monmouth (NJ) 3-0 325 13
11 VMI 6-1 317 12
12 UC Davis 3-2 287 14
13 Richmond 3-1 281 10
14 Southern Illinois 5-3 260 17
15 Kennesaw St. 4-1 243 16
16 Villanova 2-2 228 11
17 Missouri St. 5-4 201 18
18 Murray St. 5-2 154 19
19 Southern (1) 5-1 141 21
20 Nicholls 4-3 122 20
21 Southeastern Louisana 4-3 121 15
22 Alabama A&M 4-3 81 T25
23 East Tennessee St. 4-2 76 24
24 Northern Iowa 3-4 57 23
25 Arkansas-Pine Bluff 4-0 32 NR
3:46 pm, April 20, 2021

Finalists named for Walter Payton Award, other top honors

Eastern Washington Athletics Eric Barriere

Finalists were announced and voting began on Monday, April 19 for the 2020-21 Stats Perform FCS legacy awards, which honor the national players and coach of the year in college football’s Division I subdivision.

The Walter Payton Award (FCS offensive player of the year) and Eddie Robinson Award (FCS coach of the year) are being presented for the 34th time, the Buck Buchanan Award (FCS defensive player of the year) for the 26th time and the Jerry Rice Award (FCS freshman player of the year) for the 10th time. 

Below are the 16 finalists for the Walter Payton Award.

  • Percy Agyei-Obese, James Madison, RB, Sr. (CAA)
  • Eric Barriere, Eastern Washington, QB, Sr. (Big Sky)
  • Julius Chestnut, Sacred Heart, RB, Jr. (Northeast)
  • Tim DeMorat, Fordham, QB, Jr. (Patriot)
  • Juwon Farri, Monmouth, RB, Jr. (Big South)
  • Aqeel Glass, Alabama A&M, QB, Sr. (SWAC)
  • Jakob Herres, VMI, WR, Jr. (Southern)
  • Quay Holmes, ETSU, RB, Jr. (Southern)
  • Tyler Hudson, Central Arkansas, WR, So. (Southland)
  • Cole Kelley, Southeastern Louisiana, QB, Sr. (Southland)
  • Dejoun Lee, Delaware, RB, Sr. (CAA)
  • Keith Pearson, Presbyterian, WR, Sr. (Pioneer)
  • Pierre Strong Jr., South Dakota State, RB, Jr. (Missouri Valley)
  • Otis Weah, North Dakota, RB, So. (Missouri Valley)
  • Liam Welch, Samford, QB, Grad (Southern)
  • DeAngelo Wilson, Austin Peay, WR, Sr. (Ohio Valley)

Here's the list of every finalist for all four major awards. 

4:13 pm, April 18, 2021

2020 FCS playoff selections revealed

Watch the 2020-21 FCS football championship selection show

On Sunday, the 2020 FCS playoff selections were revealed and South Dakota State earned the No. 1 seed.

You can view the complete, 16-team interactive bracket here. Sam Houston State earned the No. 2 seed, James Madison is the No. 3 seed and No. 4 seed Jacksonville State rounds out the four seeded teams in the bracket.

North Dakota State, which has won eight of the last nine FCS championships, will face Eastern Washington in the first round with a potential quarterfinal matchup with No. 2 Sam Houston State.

Click or tap here to view the official selections release.

First-round action takes place on Saturday, April 24.

Here's a link to a printable version of the bracket (pictured below):

The 2020-21 NCAA football bracket.
12:31 pm, April 18, 2021

When and how to watch the FCS selection show

NCAA Photos 2021 FCS selection show is today at 11:30 a.m. ET

The 16-team FCS football bracket will be revealed at 11:30 a.m. ET on Sunday, April 18 on ESPNU and WatchESPN.

That'll set the stage for the first round to start the weekend of April 24. Preliminary rounds' dates, times and TV information are all TBD but will be available here.

Ten teams have already clinched automatic bids via conference championships. You can check out those automatic qualifiers here.

7:17 pm, April 8, 2021

Format, schedule and what to know about the 2020-21 FCS championship

The 2020-21 FCS championship will start April 24 and will run through Sunday, May 16, the date of the national championship game. Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas will play host to the title game for the 11th straight year.

This year's bracket was condensed to 16 teams — rather than the typical 24 — once the championship was moved from the fall to the spring due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Here's the interactive bracket.

Ten of the 16 teams will automatically qualify via conference championships. The remaining six will be selected at large. Here are the conferences who will receive AQs for their conference champions:

  • Big Sky
  • Big South
  • CAA
  • MVFC
  • NEC
  • OVC
  • Patriot League
  • Pioneer League
  • SoCon
  • Southland

We're tracking every conference champion and automatic qualifier here.

*The MEAC announced April 7 that it would not be able to meet the criteria to maintain its automatic qualification.

The full playoff bracket will be announced Sunday, April 18 on ESPNU at 11:30 a.m. ET. Championship play will then begin the weekend of April 24.

The championship game on May 16 will be broadcasted on ABC, starting at 2 p.m. ET.

7:05 pm, April 8, 2021

Predetermined host sites announced for FCS championship

The NCAA Division I Football Championship committee announced 14 predetermined preliminary round sites for the 2020-21 FCS championship. 

The decision was made due to health and safety protocols surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic. Eight of the 14 selected sites will host first-round games. Twelve of the 14 sites will then be in contention to host the quarterfinal and semifinals. The championship game is still set to be played at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas.

Here are the 14 predetermined sites announced for the preliminary rounds:

  • Newark, Delaware – Delaware
  • Cheney, Washington – Eastern Washington
  • Jacksonville, Alabama – Jacksonville State
  • Harrisonburg, Virginia – James Madison
  • Kennesaw, Georgia – Kennesaw State
  • Orono, Maine – Maine
  • Springfield, Missouri – Missouri State
  • Murray, Kentucky – Murray State
  • Grand Forks, North Dakota – North Dakota
  • Fargo, North Dakota – North Dakota State
  • Huntsville, Texas – Sam Houston
  • Brookings, South Dakota – South Dakota State
  • Villanova, Pennsylvania – Villanova
  • Ogden, Utah – Weber State
6:57 pm, April 8, 2021

DI Football Championship Committee reveals top 10

The Division I Football Championship Committee released a top-10 ranking on Thursday, April 1.

The committee's ranking is based on criteria used to select and seed teams for the Division I Football Championship, and reflect results through games played on Sunday, March 28. The full rankings are listed below.

1. James Madison (4-0)
2. North Dakota State (5-1)
3. South Dakota State (4-1)
4. Sam Houston (3-0)
T-5. North Dakota (4-1)
T-5. Weber State (3-0)
7. Delaware (3-0)
8. VMI (5-0)
9. UC Davis (3-1)
10. Murray State (5-0)

5:49 pm, April 8, 2021

FCS football championship history (1978-2019)

Below is the complete NCAA FCS football national championship history since 1978. North Dakota State leads all schools with eight titles, all coming in the last nine years.

The national championship game has been played at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas every year since 2010.

2019 North Dakota State Matt Entz 28-20 James Madison Frisco, Texas
2018 North Dakota State Chris Klieman 38-24 Eastern Washington Frisco, Texas
2017 North Dakota State Chris Klieman 17-13 James Madison Frisco, Texas
2016 James Madison Mike Houston 28-14 Youngstown State Frisco, Texas
2015 North Dakota State Chris Klieman 37-10 Jacksonville State Frisco, Texas
2014 North Dakota State Chris Klieman 29-27 Illinois State Frisco, Texas
2013 North Dakota State Craig Bohl 35-7 Towson Frisco, Texas
2012 North Dakota State Craig Bohl 39-13 Sam Houston State Frisco, Texas
2011 North Dakota State Craig Bohl 17-6 Sam Houston State Frisco, Texas
2010 Eastern Washington Beau Baldwin 20-19 Delaware Frisco, Texas
2009 Villanova Andy Talley 23-21 Montana Chattanooga, Tenn.
2008 Richmond Mike London 24-7 Montana Chattanooga, Tenn.
2007 Appalachian State Jerry Moore 49-21 Delaware Chattanooga, Tenn.
2006 Appalachian State Jerry Moore 28-17 Massachusetts Chattanooga, Tenn.
2005 Appalachian State Jerry Moore 21-16 UNI Chattanooga, Tenn.
2004 James Madison Mickey Matthews 31-21 Montana Chattanooga, Tenn.
2003 Delaware K.C. Keeler 40-0 Colgate Chattanooga, Tenn.
2002 Western Kentucky Jack Harbaugh 34-14 McNeese State Chattanooga, Tenn.
2001 Montana Joe Glenn 13-6 Furman Chattanooga, Tenn.
2000 Georgia Southern Paul Johnson 27-25 Montana Chattanooga, Tenn.
1999 Georgia Southern Paul Johnson 59-24 Youngstown State Chattanooga, Tenn.
1998 Massachusetts Mark Whipple 55-43 Georgia Southern Chattanooga, Tenn.
1997 Youngstown State Jim Tressel 10-9 McNeese State Chattanooga, Tenn.
1996 Marshall Bob Pruett 49-29 Montana Huntington, W.Va.
1995 Montana Don Read 22-20 Marshall Huntington, W.Va.
1994 Youngstown State Jim Tressel 28-14 Boise State Huntington, W.Va.
1993 Youngstown State Jim Tressel 17-5 Marshall Huntington, W.Va.
1992 Marshall Jim Donnan 31-28 Youngstown State Huntington, W.Va.
1991 Youngstown State Jim Tressel 25-17 Marshall Statesboro, Ga.
1990 Georgia Southern Tim Stowers 36-13 Nevada Statesboro, Ga.
1989 Georgia Southern Erk Russell 37-34 Stephen F. Austin * Statesboro, Ga.
1988 Furman Jimmy Satterfield 17-12 Georgia Southern Pocatello, Idaho
1987 Louisiana-Monroe Pat Collins 43-42 Marshall Pocatello, Idaho
1986 Georgia Southern Erk Russell 48-21 Arkansas State Tacoma, Wash.
1985 Georgia Southern Erk Russell 44-42 Furman Tacoma, Wash.
1984 Montana State Dave Arnold 19-6 Louisiana Tech Charleston, S.C.
1983 Southern Illinois Rey Dempsey 43-7 Western Carolina Charleston, S.C.
1982 Eastern Kentucky Roy Kidd 17-14 Delaware Wichita Falls, Texas
1981 Idaho State Dave Kragthorpe 34-23 Eastern Kentucky Wichita Falls, Texas
1980 Boise State Jim Criner 31-29 Eastern Kentucky Sacramento, Calif.
1979 Eastern Kentucky Roy Kidd 30-7 Lehigh Orlando, Fla.
1978 Florida A&M Ruby Hubbard 35-28 Massachusetts Wichita Falls, Texas

* -- Stephen F. Austin's participation in 1989 championship vacated.