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Stan Becton | | October 28, 2021

Pioneer Football League teams Davidson and Morehead State battle for first in Week 9's FCS game of the week

See the game-winning TD drive that sealed Sam Houston's first FCS championship

For this week's FCS game of the week, head to Morehead, Kentucky where Davidson visits Morehead State in Week 9's matchup at the top of the Pioneer League.

The Wildcats and the Eagles sit at the top of the Pioneer League standings, each 4-0 in conference play. The winner of Week 9's game will gain a decisive advantage in the race for an automatic bid to the FCS Playoffs.

Week 9 FCS game of the week:

Davidson at Morehead State | 2 p.m. ET | ESPN3

Behind the sixth-best scoring offense in the FCS, Davidson enters Week 9 on a five-game win streak, with four straight wins against conference opponents. Davidson has found success using the triple-option offense; the Wildcats have the top rushing offense in the FCS while throwing for the third-fewest yards of any FCS team

Davidson's run-heavy approach uses a committee as five different players have 30 or more rushing attempts with 200-plus yards, led by senior running back Coy Williams. With the triple option continuing to create challenges for opponents, Williams and the crew have run through conference competition so far.

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When evaluating the Davidson defense, all eyes should be on defensive lineman Johnathan Hammond. Hammond leads the Wildcats in tackles for loss (9.5) and sacks (8.0) and is second on the team in tackles (35.0). As Hammond draws attention, other players on the Davidson defense are freed up to make plays like linebacker Jake Alexander and safety Dreylan Hines. The timely defensive plays are vital with the offense controlling the time of possession.

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Morehead State's offense has been one of the most explosive in the FCS this fall. The Eagles have accumulated over 400 yards of total offense in six straight games, putting them 11th in FCS total offense. Led by quarterback Mark Pappas and wide receiver BJ Byrd, Morehead State averages 35.4 points per game. This season, Pappas and Byrd have climbed up the Morehead State record book. With another big game from the duo, the Eagles can also climb to the top of the Pioneer standings.

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A pair of former high school teammates, defensive end Vaughn Taylor and defensive back Khiyree Keith, lead the Morehead State defense. Taylor has the second-most tackles for loss in the nation (16) and continues to raise the program tackle for loss record with each play made in the backfield. Keith has an interception in three consecutive games. With players that can make plays behind the line of scrimmage and when the ball is in the air, Morehead State has a defense capable of impacting any game.

MIDPOINT: Top 9 newcomers in the season's first half | Top 9 HBCU first-half performances

During last spring's shortened season, reigning conference champion Davidson earned its first-ever bid to the FCS Playoffs. Meanwhile, Morehead State has never made a playoff appearance in its history. With a win on Saturday, the Wildcats or the Eagles will increase their chance at taking the Pioneer League's playoff bid for the first time in the fall.

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