FCS quarterfinals begin Friday night

Blake Nash, Assistant Sports Editor

Some familiar Eastern opponents remain in the FCS playoffs two weeks after the Panthers were eliminated. Eastern’s first round opponent Northern Iowa advanced to the quarterfinals after a road victory over Portland State.

Northern Iowa will face an opponent on Saturday, Missouri Valley Conference foe North Dakota State, which is familiar with postseason success. The Bisons have won four consecutive National Championships, and will host Saturday’s 12 p.m. contest at the FargoDome.

The game between Northern Iowa and North Dakota State can be seen on ESPN.

In their regular season matchup, both teams were involved in a high-scoring game that went down to the final possession. There were five total lead changes in the fourth quarter, but the Bisons were able to secure the 31-28 victory with 30 seconds to play on homecoming.

However Northern Iowa said earlier on Monday that revenge is far from its mind. But a rematch with the defending champions was something they yearned for.

“We wanted to play them. We knew along the road we were going to play some good teams, and we wanted NDSU to be one of them,” linebacker Brett McMakin said.

North Dakota State defeated Montana 37-6 in the second round, avenging a season-opening loss to the Grizzlies.

One team that knows what it feels like to win a postseason rematch is No. 1 Jacksonville State. The Gamecocks defeated Tennessee-Chattanooga 41-35 in overtime last week in a rematch of their season opener.

The Gamecocks won the season opener 23-20 at Chattanooga. They will now face eight-seeded Charleston Southern, which defeated the Citadel 14-6 in the second round, on Friday at 7 p.m. on ESPN2. Jacksonville State’s lone loss came in an overtime loss to Auburn, while Charleston Southern is 11-2 this season having had to play in the first two rounds of the playoffs.

The Gamecocks are the only team from the Ohio Valley Conference team that remains in the playoffs.

Another team that Eastern is familiar with, Illinois State, will host a playoff game this weekend. The Redbirds will host Richmond at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, after defeating fellow Missouri Valley opponent Western Illinois 36-19 last week.

No. 7 seed Richmond defeated William and Mary in the second round 48-13. If the Redbirds are victorious on Friday they’ll have home-field advantage in the semifinals against the Northern Iowa and North Dakota State winner.

The Redbirds are currently 10-2, seeded second in the playoffs, while Richmond is 9-3.

The last quarterfinal matchup is between Colgate and Sam Houston State, two teams that have competed in two playoff games already. Colgate defeated New Hampshire in the first round 23-20 and upset James Madison on the road 44-38 in the second round.

They’ll face a Sam Houston State team that has had a similar postseason journey. The Bearkats defeated Southern Utah 42-39 and McNeese State 34-29, on the road, in the first two rounds. They’ll be on the road once again this week when they face Colgate.

That matchup can be seen on ESPN3 at 7 p.m. on Saturday.


Blake Nash can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]