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FCS Playoffs 2020-21: Quarterfinals Results, Semifinals Schedule, Bracket Update

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistMay 2, 2021

North Dakota State head coach Matt Entz watches his team play against Central Arkansas at an NCAA college football game Saturday, Oct. 3, 2020, in Fargo, N.D. North Dakota State won 39-28. (AP Photo/Bruce Kluckhohn)
Bruce Kluckhohn/Associated Press

Having eliminated Eastern Washington in the first round, North Dakota State's quest for a fourth straight FCS national championship had to go through Sam Houston State on Sunday.

James Madison, runner-up to the Bison in two of the previous three seasons, remains alive as well, with a quarterfinal matchup against North Dakota on tap.

Here's an overview of how the day unfolded in the FCS playoffs.

             

Quarterfinals Results

No. 2 Sam Houston State 24, North Dakota State 20

Delaware 20, No. 4 Jacksonville State 14

No. 3 James Madison 34, North Dakota 21

No. 1 South Dakota State 31, Southern Illinois 26

            

Semifinals Schedule

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Delaware vs. No. 1 South Dakota State, May 8 at TBA

No. 2 Sam Houston State vs. No. 3 James Madison, May 8 at TBA

Updated bracket available on NCAA.com

              

Quarterfinals Recap

North Dakota State should have asked the San Francisco 49ers if it could borrow Trey Lance for the day.

Cam Miller's incompletion on fourth down inside the final minute summed up a day in which the Bison couldn't find a groove with their passing game. Miller finished 7-of-18 for 90 yards and two interceptions.

The freshman quarterback helped guide North Dakota State inside the red zone in pursuit of the go-ahead score. But he was sacked on 3rd-and-2 and overthrew Noah Gindorff on 4th-and-6 to hand Sam Houston State a 24-20 victory.

All of the Bison's points came via defense or special teams. They registered a safety in the second quarter before Christian Watson returned a kickoff 94 yards a touchdown in the third quarter and Braylon Henderson took a Sam Houston State punt 76 yards to the house less than two minutes later. Jake Reinholz capped off the scoring with a 33-yard field goal with 8:17 left in the fourth quarter.

Eric Schmid provided what proved to be the decisive touchdown with a six-yard run at the 3:39 mark.

Jacksonville State's late comeback bid also fell short. Aaron Graham hit Jared Scott for a 27-yard touchdown pass with 41 seconds on the clock. The Gamecocks were unable to recover the onside kick, though, which preserved a 20-14 win for Delaware.

The Blue Hens dominated on defense, holding Jacksonville State to 200 total yards and 1-of-12 on third downs. Graham, Chance Newman and Zion Webb were collectively 9-of-21 through the air for 93 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions.

On offense, Delaware leveled off after a 14-point first quarter. But Nolan Henderson helped move the chains and keep the Jacksonville State defense on the field. The redshirt junior threw for 239 yards and was the team's leading rusher (30 yards on eight carries).

James Madison pulled away in the second half to coast past North Dakota.

As the clock expired to end the first half, Ethan Ratke connected on a 32-yard field goal to put the Dukes ahead 20-14. Their lead swelled to 20 points by the fourth quarter thanks to a pair of touchdown passes from Cole Johnson to Antwane Wells Jr.

Johnson was a picture of efficiency under center, going 14-of-17 for 251 yards and two touchdowns. Wells was his favored target, catching seven passes for 143 yards and the two scores. Percy Agyei-Obese provided solid balance on the ground for James Madison as well. He carried the ball 27 times for 128 yards and two touchdowns.

In general, North Dakota simply had no answer for the Dukes' offensive attack.

Sunday drew to a close with more late-game drama.

Stone Labanowitz found Landon Lenoir on a 31-yard touchdown pass to bring Southern Illinois to within five points of South Dakota State. at the 5:37 mark of the fourth quarter. The Jackrabbits punted on their next possession and gave the Salukis the chance to drive 78 yards for the game-winning score.

SIU got to its opponent's 36-yard line before Labanowitz threw into double coverage and saw his pass picked off by Michael Griffin II.

Mark Gronowski did the heavy lifting for SDSU on offense. In addition to throwing for 183 yards and two touchdowns, he was the game's leading rusher (142 yards).

Southern Illinois, which led 20-7 at one point in the first half, was its own worst enemy. The Salukis' three turnovers proved costly and outweighed their 443 yards of offense.