The 2020-21 FCS football semifinals, previewed

The 2020-21 FCS soccer semifinals are Saturday, Might 8. We may have a brand new nationwide champion for the primary time in three years, after North Dakota State — winner of eight of the final 9 titles — went down within the quarterfinals. 

Listed here are the highest storylines and gamers to look at on this weekend’s two showdowns to determine the nationwide championship matchup.

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After a 44-3 common season win over Southern Illinois, prime seed South Dakota State noticed a a lot stronger struggle from SIU of their quarterfinals rematch. SDSU trailed 20-10 at halftime earlier than rallying for a 31-26 win, clinched by a red-zone interception on SIU’s ultimate drive.

Now the Jackrabbits tackle Delaware, the lone unseeded crew left within the semifinals. The Blue Hens upset No. 4 Jacksonville State 20-14 within the quarterfinals, holding JSU to solely 200 yards of offense and eight first downs. 

Key storyline: Whereas each quarterbacks are able to beginning huge performs, this very properly may very well be a low-scoring battle. Unseeded Delaware has allowed simply 24 whole factors via two playoff video games. It is price noting Jacksonville State QB Zion Webb’s early exit because of harm within the quarterfinals, however UD held JSU to a season-low 200 yards of whole offense and held the time of possession edge by practically 17 minutes. Prime seed SDSU is a troublesome crew to carry at bay for lengthy although, as seen in its late escape towards SIU.

South Dakota State’s gamers to look at: Freshman QB Mark Gronowski was highlighted in final week’s quarterfinals preview, and adopted with a 325-yard, three-touchdown efficiency towards SIU. His 67-yard landing run within the fourth quarter gave SDSU its first lead of the second half. His two passing touchdowns each went to Jadon Janke, who had two catches for 49 yards and two scores. Jadon and his brother Jaxon Janke every have a team-best 5 landing catches this yr.

Delaware’s gamers to look at: Junior QB Nolan Henderson acquired hit arduous early and sometimes within the quarterfinals towards Jacksonville State, however stood tall with 269 whole yards. Henderson is finishing 69 p.c of his passes with 10 touchdowns via seven video games. One of many anchors for Delaware’s stingy protection is redshirt sophomore Noah Plack, who has an interception in each playoff video games — his first two of the yr.

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Two groups will put their good information on the road in Saturday’s second semifinal recreation. No. 2 Sam Houston (8-0) despatched three-time defending champion North Dakota State dwelling in a 24-20 victory. Quarterback Eric Schmid’s 6-yard speeding landing with 3:39 left served as the game-winner, maintaining NDSU out of the semifinals for the primary time since 2010.

James Madison (7-0) is now the latest nationwide champion nonetheless taking part in, final capturing the title in 2016. The Dukes defeated North Dakota 34-21 within the quarterfinals behind standout days from QB Cole Johnson (251 yards, two touchdowns) and RB Percy Agyei-Overweight (128 yards, two touchdowns).

Key storyline: Sam Houston did not permit a single landing to North Dakota State’s offense, led by the inexperienced Cam Miller in simply his second profession begin underneath heart. Each of the Bison’s touchdowns got here on particular crew returns. Now SHSU will face redshirt senior Cole Johnson, supported by a robust floor assault placing up 243.1 speeding yards per recreation. The Bearkats counter with the fourth finest rush protection (68.9 yards per recreation). 

Sam Houston’s gamers to look at: Southland Convention participant of the yr Eric Schmid completed 25-of-37 for 227 passing yards and a landing, nevertheless it was his late speeding rating that powered SHSU into the semifinals. Junior DB Isaiah Downes has an interception in back-to-back playoff video games, together with one in the long run zone to clinch the Bearkats’ opening spherical win over Monmouth. His leaping choose towards NDSU arrange Sam Houston’s first scoring drive within the quarterfinals.

James Madison’s gamers to look at: Senior operating again Percy Agyei-Overweight has reached the 100-yard mark in consecutive playoff video games, with three touchdowns. He is discovered the top zone not less than as soon as in all six video games he is performed this season. Cole Johnson discovered receiver Antwane Wells Jr. seven occasions for 143 yards and two touchdowns towards North Dakota. It marked Wells’ first profession two-touchdown recreation and positioned him fourth all-time on JMU’s single-game playoff receiving yards checklist.

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