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2022 FCS Playoffs: Quarterfinals Recap

The quarterfinals of the 2022 FCS Playoffs were defined by statement games and the consensus game of the year at any level of college football. 

We recap all the quarterfinals action from the FCS Playoffs below. 

North Dakota State 27, Samford 9

North Dakota State improved their FCS Playoffs record in the Fargodome to 33-1 with an impressive win over Samford. The Bison held the Bulldogs scoreless through three quarters as Samford struggled to the move the ball against the stout North Dakota State defense. The Bison defense ended the night with five sacks; led by Javier Derritt who led the Bison with two tackles for loss and two sacks. Courtney Eubanks had a career-high 10 tackles for the Bison and Dawson Weber added a second half interception that led to the final touchdown for the Bison. 

Cam Miller had an extremely efficient night for the Bison as he completed 83.3% of his passes and had two total touchdowns. The Bison rushed for 166 yards, which was led by Kobe Johnson and TK Marshall as injuries continued to mount for the Bison on the offensive side of the ball. A major difference in the game was the time of possession as the Bison held the ball for almost 40 minutes of game of time compared to just over 20 minutes for the Bulldogs. 

Up Next: North Dakota State will host Incarnate Word (Dec. 16; 6pm/CT; ESPN2) in the semifinals of the FCS Playoffs. The Bison won a 2014 matchup against the Cardinals as College Gameday made an appearance in Fargo, ND that weekend. 

Montana State 55, William & Mary 7

Montana State had the most dominant win of the quarterfinals as the Bobcats held a 55-0 lead until William & Mary scored with less than four minutes left in the game. The Bobcats rushed for 328 yards and five touchdowns as the Tribe defense had no answers on Friday night in Bozeman. Isaiah Ifanse made his presence felt with 162 rushing yards and two touchdowns, while Tommy Mellott accounted for five touchdowns for the Bobcats. Montana State exploded for 28 points in the third quarter, which was capped with a 79-yard punt return by Taco Dowler. 

The Bobcats were dominant on the defensive side of the ball as they held William & Mary to under 200 yards of total offense and only nine first downs in the game. William & Mary entered the game with a top-5 rushing offense, but only totaled 135 rushing yards against the Bobcats. Darius Wilson was sacked three times and Simeon Woodard intercepted Wilson late in the first half to help extend the lead to 27-0 before halftime. Callahan O’Reilly had a stellar performance as he led the team in total tackles with seven along with 1.5 tackles for loss and one sack. 

Up Next: Montana State will travel to face South Dakota State (Dec. 17; 3pm/CT; ESPN2) in the semifinals of the FCS Playoffs. The Bobcats won a 31-17 semifinal matchup last season to advance to the FCS National Championship. 

Incarnate Word 66, Sacramento State 63

Incarnate Word and Sacramento State combined for 129 total points, which officially made this game the highest scoring game in FCS Playoff history. Lindsey Scott showed the world why he is the favorite to win the 2022 Walter Payton Award as he accounted for 385 yards of total offense and six total touchdowns. The Cardinals were efficient on 3rd down opportunities as they converted on 12 of their 17 attempts on Friday night. Marcus Cooper had an explosive performance as he led the Cardinals with 176 rushing yards and three total touchdowns.

The biggest difference in this matchup was the turnover differential, which Incarnate Word held the massive advantage (+4 Turnover Differential) over the Hornets. Kelechi Anyalebechi had a crucial 55-yard fumble recovery in the fourth quarter to increase the Incarnate Word lead to 14 points. The defense surrendered 738 yards of total offense, 49 first downs, and the Cardinals lost the time of possession battle by over 16 minutes. Brandon Richard had an outstanding performance for the Cardinals with nine total tackles, two tackles for loss, one sack, one forced fumble, and one interception. 

Up Next: North Dakota State will host Incarnate Word (Dec. 16; 6pm/CT; ESPN2) in the semifinals of the FCS Playoffs. The Cardinals lost 55-0 in a 2014 matchup against the Bison in the only matchup between these two programs in school history.

South Dakota State 42, Holy Cross 21

South Dakota State outscored the Crusaders 21-0 in the fourth quarter behind three Mark Gronowski touchdowns. Isaiah Davis led the Jackrabbits with 154 yards rushing and one touchdown as South Dakota State totaled 216 yards rushing, while averaging over six yards per carry. The offense went 5-for-5 in the red zone, which was crucial as Holy Cross only had one red zone opportunity throughout the game. Hunter Dustman was 2-for-3 on field goals, which were key early in the game as the Jacks struggled to find the endzone against the Crusaders defense. 

Matthew Sluka was the consensus player of the game as he accounted for 338 yards of total offense and an explosive 56-yard touchdown run in the first quarter. The South Dakota State defense bended, but did not break as they held Holy Cross scoreless over the final 23 minutes of the game. Jason Freeman had a clutch pick-six at the end of the first half that gave the Jacks their first lead of the game right before halftime. Saiveon Williamson led the defense with nine total tackles, while Dalys Beanum accounted for eight total tackles and two pass breakups. 

Up Next: South Dakota State will host Montana State (Dec. 17; 3pm/CT; ESPN2) in the semifinals of the FCS Playoffs. The Jackrabbits lost a 31-17 semifinal matchup last season in Bozeman, MT. 

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