An emotional scene set the stage before a down was played in the opening round of the FCS playoffs.
Responding to the needs of the families impacted by the Chattanooga school bus crash that killed six elementary students and injured dozens more, both Weber State and Chattanooga held fund-raising drives to assist those involved. More than $8,000 was raised. Both schools wore ribbons on their helmets to honor the victims.
When the day was done though, Chattanooga rode the emotion to a 45-14 victory and a date with the top team in FCS, No. 1 Sam Houston State next Saturday. SHSU, the fifth seed in the playoffs, had a bye.
In the same side of the bracket, New Hampshire dominated Lehigh, 64-21, setting up a showdown at James Madison Saturday. The loss ended a nine-game Mountain Hawk win streak. Lehigh started Brad Mayes at quarterback when Patriot League offensive player of the year Nick Shafnisky was sidelined with an illness. Shafnisky did see time, rushing for a second quarter touchdown.
An Antwon Wells touchdown with 1:28 to play boosted Central Arkansas past Illinois State 31-24. The Bears advance to face No. 2 seed Eastern Washington next Saturday in a 4 p.m. ET game.
UCA scored 17 points in the fourth quarter before Illinois State tied it with 6:22 left. After ensuing changes of possession, Wells caught a short pass from Hayden Hildebrand that he turned into a 39-yard gain, setting up the winning touchdown.
Richmond, a 39-10 victor over N.C. A&T, will face No. 7 seed North Dakota next weekend. QB Kevin Johnson made his season debut in the game, replacing Kyle Lauletta, who suffered a season-ending knee injury last week against William & Mary. Johnson volunteered to give up his redshirt year because he was “playing for the seniors, getting an opportunity to play in the playoffs and win and advance. I just thought that was the best thing for me to do for the team,” according to Richmond.com.
Two fourth quarter interceptions by Devin Watson helped Wofford hang on to advance with a 15-14 victory over Charleston Southern. Wofford will face sixth-seeded The Citadel.
Zach Bednarczyk threw for 254 yards and had three first half touchdowns as the Wildcats moved on to the second round and will take on South Dakota State.
And despite three touchdown passes and throwing for 372 yards, player of the year candidate Devlin Hodges and Samford fell to Youngstown State, 38-24. The Penguins’ Jody Webb rushed for 168 yards and 2 TDs as YSU advanced to face last season’s runner-up, Jacksonville State.