The FCS football season is in full swing as Week 3 comes to a close. The weekend was headlined by the fourth FBS upset of the season and a thrilling ending in the only ranked matchup of the weekend between No. 13 Southeast Missouri State and No. 15 Southern Illinois.
Below are some major takeaways from all the Week 3 FCS football action.
Sacramento State Upsets Stanford, Former Head Coach
No other game had a bigger storyline than Sacramento State traveling to face Stanford and former head coach Troy Taylor. Quarterback Kaiden Bennett found running back Marcus Fulcher for the 49-yard game-winning touchdown with less than two minutes remaining. The Hornets have now won 22 straight regular season games and 12 straight games on the road.
Bennett led the Hornets with 279 passing yards, one passing touchdown, 100 rushing yards and one rushing touchdown. Sacramento State was efficient on third downs as the Hornets converted on 11 of their 16 attempts. Defensive lineman Jett Stanley exploded for the defense with three tackles for loss and three sacks. Linebacker Armon Bailey led the Hornets with 11 tackles, one tackle for loss, and one sack.
Sacramento State entered the season with question marks as new head coach Andy Thompson replaced Troy Taylor. The Hornets have answered any doubts with one of the biggest wins of the FCS season as the focus shifts to conference play next weekend.
Western Carolina Continues To Build Momentum
Western Carolina shocked the FCS world with a dominant win over Samford last weekend and continued to make waves with an impressive win over Eastern Kentucky. Eastern Kentucky missed a 40-yard field goal attempt as time expired to give the Catamounts back-to-back wins.
Quarterback Cole Gonzales hit wide receiver Branson Adams to cap an eight-play, 87-yard game-winning touchdown drive. Gonzales finished the game with 340 passing yards and three passing touchdowns, while wide receiver Censere Lee caught two touchdown passes.
Running back Desmond Reid continues to shine for the Catamounts, totaling 177 rushing yards (6.1 YPC), 63 receiving yards and one touchdown. The Western Carolina offensive attack continues to be one of the most efficient, as the unit racked up over 550 total yards with an average of eight yards per play. Defensive back CJ Williams had an impressive performance with six total tackles, one interception and three pass breakups.
Southern Illinois Shocks SEMO With Last-Second Win
The Salukis stormed back from a 15-0 first-half deficit to stun Southeast Missouri State in the final seconds to win the War of the Wheel. Southern Illinois scored 13 points in the final eight minutes of the game, including a game-winning touchdown pass from Nic Baker to Izaiah Hartrup with 11 seconds remaining.
Baker had a career game with 458 passing yards and three passing touchdowns while completing 72.5% of his passes. Wide receiver Vinson Davis has emerged as the No. 1 target for this offense with eight receptions for 126 receiving yards and one touchdown. The offensive attack was dominant, as the Salukis totaled 543 total yards and converted on 4-of-6 fourth-down attempts.
The Southern Illinois defense made clutch plays in the second half to spark the comeback win. The play of the game came as safety Desman Hearns stripped running back Geno Hess with less than two minutes remaining in the game. Defensive back PJ Jules had another impressive performance with 15 tackles and three pass breakups.
Matthew Sluka Continues To Build Walter Payton Campaign
Holy Cross defeated Yale, 49-24, on Saturday behind another impressive performance from quarterback Matthew Sluka. The senior quarterback completed 23-of-30 pass attempts for 275 passing yards and four passing touchdowns. On the ground, he led the Crusaders with 98 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns.
Sluka entered the season as one of the favorites for the Walter Payton Award and has lived up to the preseason hype through three games. The Crusaders have played three tough out-of-conference games, including a Power-Five matchup against Boston College. Over the first three games, Sluka has completed 71.2% of his passes for 595 passing yards and six passing touchdowns. He has also totaled 324 rushing yards and four rushing touchdowns.
Sluka continues to show he is one of the best players in the country, regardless of subdivision. He should be the favorite to take home the Walter Payton Award after the first three games. This weekend is just another example of his potential, which could make Holy Cross a dangerous team in the FCS Playoffs this season.
Incarnate Word, Eastern Washington Win Major Out Of Conference Matchups
The Incarnate Word offense is finally beginning to click behind new quarterback Zach Calzada. The Cardinals rolled up over 517 total yards and averaged 7.7 yards per play against a tough Abilene Christian defense. Calzada led the offense with 373 passing yards, one passing touchdown, 66 rushing yards, and two rushing touchdowns. Wide receiver Brandon Porter is a mismatch on the outside as he totaled 10 receptions for 201 receiving yards and one touchdown. The secondary played extremely well against the Wildcats, only allowing 189 passing yards.
Eastern Washington scored 20 points in the fourth quarter to secure a massive win over No. 19 Southeastern Louisiana. Quarterback Kekoa Visperas continues to be impressive, leading the Eagles with 349 passing yards and two passing touchdowns. The defense might be the biggest surprise for the Eagles as the unit held Southeastern Louisiana to only 293 total yards and 3-for-11 on third down attempts. Eastern Washington will be an interesting team to watch in conference play this season and could make a run for an at-large bid in the FCS Playoffs.
Other Notable Scores:
No. 1 South Dakota State 70, Drake 7
No. 3 Montana State 57, Stetson 20
No. 4 William & Mary 15, Charleston Southern 7
No. 7 Furman 31, Kennesaw State 28
No. 11 New Hampshire 24, Dartmouth 7
No. 12 Montana 17, Ferris State 10
No. 21 Rhode Island 34, Maine 17
Tennessee State 27, Gardner-Webb 25
Towson 20, Morgan State 10
Campbell 45, Monmouth 31
Hampton 35, Howard 34
Elon 27, North Carolina A&T 3
Austin Peay 63, East Tennessee State 3
Lindenwood 43, Western Illinois 40