(Editor’s note: Big Sky Conference media release)
OGDEN, Utah – The Big Sky did it. All three seeded teams registered second round FCS Playoff wins and will advance to the quarterfinals next week – an FCS best in 2018 and a league record.
The Big Sky made history Saturday, as it had four teams competing in the second round of the FCS Playoffs for the first time in league history. Montana State defeated Incarnate Word in the first round last week, while No. 2 Weber State, No. 3 Eastern Washington, and No. 6 UC Davis all earned first-round byes.
Montana State suffered a 52-10 loss at No. 1 North Dakota State in Fargo.
Weber State (10-2) became the Big Sky’s first team to punch its ticket to the quarterfinals, as it topped Southeast Missouri State, 48-23 – its second consecutive appearance to the round of eight. The Wildcats will host No. 7 Maine in the quarterfinals on Friday, Dec. 7 at 6 p.m. MT on ESPN2.
Jake Constantine completed 18 of 30 passes for 199 yards and four touchdown passes. The Wildcats exploded with 27 points in the second quarter and then added 21 points in the second half. The Redhawks (9-4) came to within 11 points with 12:41 to go in the game, but a Wildcat four-yard score and a 52-yard pick six sealed the win for No. 2 Weber State.
No. 3 Eastern Washington (10-2) had Big Sky fans slightly worried through the first two quarters. The Eagles trailed Nicholls 14-10 at the half. Coming out of the locker room, it only took Eastern Washington five minutes to get on the scoreboard and they kept the touchdowns rolling. The Eagles rattled off 32 unanswered points in the quarter and 39 overall to take a 42-14 advantage. The Colonels (9-4) scored with 1:35 left in the game, but by then it was too late as Eagle fans were already getting ready for next week.
Eric Barriere recorded 162 passing yards and threw a 34-yard touchdown pass, while Sam McPherson added 137 rushing yards and a pair of touchdowns. The Eagles blocked a field goal and returned it for a touchdown, in addition to Ketner Kupp registering a 95-yard pick six.
No. 6 UC Davis wrapped up play for the league on Saturday night as they defeated Northern Iowa, 23-16, at home in its first-ever FCS Playoff appearance. The win gave the Big Sky a league-record three teams in next week’s quarterfinals.
The Aggies (10-2) led 16-6 at the half, and then held off a late charge by the Panthers (7-6) to claim the victory. Jake Maier threw for 310 yards and a pair of touchdown passes, while Keelan Doss tallied 137 receiving yards.
UC Davis will play at Eastern Washington at 1 p.m. PT on Saturday, Dec. 8 on ESPN3.
With Eastern Washington and UC Davis set to face each other next week, the Big Sky is guaranteed to have at least one team in the semifinals. The winner of the Eastern Washington/UC Davis game will face the winner of Weber State/Maine.