Colgate – 0
North Dakota State – 35
South Dakota State – 27
Kennesaw State – 17
#8 Colgate at #1 North Dakota State
Colgate’s struggles in this game started early, with the Bison taking their first possession 96 yards in 4 plays with RB Ty Brooks running it into the end zone from 26 yards out for an early NDSU lead. The solid Colgate defense did step things up after that drive, holding NDSU to a total of 33 yards and 1 first down in the remainder of the first quarter. It wouldn’t be until the latter half of the 2nd quarter when the Bison would reach the end zone again, putting together a more “typical” NDSU drive, covering 65 yards in 10 plays and ending with a 2-yard play-action pass to the wide open TE Ben Ellefson. The rest of the half saw little offensive production and North Dakota State would take the 14-0 lead into halftime.
In the second half, the Bison started with the ball and drove down the field, using a 24-yard pass to WR Dallas Freeman to get a good ways into Colgate territory before picking up their third TD on a 10-yard “frozen rope” to WR Darrius Shepherd. The NDSU defense held the Raiders to a 3-and-out and took only 4 plays on their next drive to go ahead by 28 points when RB Bruce Anderson took a handoff straight through the line and 42 yards into the end zone. Colgate’s best chance at points came and went on their next drive, putting together a couple of first downs and getting just outside the NDSU red zone before QB Grant Breneman’s pass was intercepted by FS James Hendricks late in the 3rd quarter. Midway through the 4th, NDSU WR Phoenix Sproles redeemed himself (after dropping what would have been a long TD pass in the 3rd) with a 6-yard TD catch to put the Bison up 35-0 with less than 5 minutes left. The Raiders missed a few passes and NDSU was able to run out the clock to take the 35-0 victory.
Colgate QB Grant Breneman finished with 68 passing yards and 1 interception. TB James Holland Jr. led the Raiders in ground yards with 65. They had a couple of receivers pick up 20-21 yard catches (WRs Owen Rockett and Thomas Ives). LB T.J. Holl finished with 16 tackles (8 solo) with 3 for loss and DB Alec Wisniewski had 12 (7 solo). DT Nick Wheeler picked up 3 tackles including a sack. Punter Josh Cerra kicked 8 punts for an average of 42.6 yards per kick with a long of 57.
NDSU QB Easton Stick had 205 yards and 3 TDs through the air. No receivers got over 50 yards, but RB Bruce Anderson and WR Dallas Freeman came close with 49 yards each. WRs Darrius Shepherd and Phoenix Sproles, and TE Ben Ellefson each had TD receptions. RB Anderson also led the Bison in rushing with 124 yards and 1 TD and RB Ty Brooks also picked up a rushing TD along with his 65 yards. LB Jabril Cox had 6 tackles (4 solo) with 1 for loss. FS James Hendricks had 4 tackles, and interception and 2 pass breakups, and DE Derrek Tuszka led the team with 2.5 sacks out of his 4 tackles.
Colgate finishes their season at 10-2 overall. North Dakota State is now 13-0 and advances to the semifinals round next weekend where they will take on longtime conference rival South Dakota State.
— NDSU Football (@NDSUfootball) December 8, 2018
#5 South Dakota State at #4 Kennesaw State
By now, the Jackrabbits are getting pretty used to playing in adverse conditions…taking out Duquesne in a snowstorm in the previous round and this last weekend, heading down to Kennesaw, GA to play the Owls in the rain. SDSU started with the ball, but after a couple of solid runs, QB Taryn Christion threw an interception to a wide-open KSU DB Cincere Mason. The Owls would get down to the SDSU 35, but only got 3 yards on a 4th and 5 to turn the ball over on downs. A few drives later, with KSU QB Chandler Burks running the ball, SDSU forced the ball out and it was recovered by LB Eric Kleinschmit. The Jackrabbits were able to move the ball down to the KSU 7 yard line before settling for a 24-yard FG by PK Chase Vinatieri. On KSU’s next drive, they were able to move pretty effectively with a couple of good runs and helped by a couple of SDSU penalties and get down to SDSU’s 2, but like the Jackrabbits, would come away with only 3 on a 20-yard FG from PK Justin Thompson to tie things up at 3. The ensuing kickoff was returned 48 yards by WR Cade Johnson, giving the Jackrabbits great field position with which to start their drive. That drive progressed into the 2nd quarter and finished with a 5-yard TD pass to WR Adam Anderson, giving SDSU a 10-3 lead. A couple of plays into KSU’s next drive, QB Chandler Burks, who had been the key to the Owls’ offense for much of the season, went out with a wrist injury that appeared to have occurred a play or two earlier. With backup QB David Daniel taking the reins, KSU was able to get just into SDSU’s red zone, but turned it over on downs with an incomplete pass on 4th and 14. Taking over at their own 32, South Dakota State put together a solid drive of 9 plays getting them into the end zone on a 9-yard run by RB Pierre Strong Jr. A total of 8 yards of offense in the final 3 drives of the half enabled SDSU to take their 17-3 lead into the locker room for halftime.
Most of the 3rd quarter would go past without points on either side, but eventually a pass to TE Kallen Hart for 40 yards got SDSU in the red zone and the kicker Vinatieri was able to kick a 23-yard FG to go up 20-3. Early in the 4th, however, KSU started to make things a game, with QB David Daniel completing some solid passes including a 19-yard under-pressure TD lob to RB Jake McKenzie, to pull within 10. SDSU got nowhere with their next drive, and KSU was able to drive 91 yards in 9 plays, finishing with a 1-yard TD run by QB Daniel, making it a 3-point game. The Jackrabbits were able to respond, however, picking up a huge 33-yard gain on a pass on 3rd and 12, continuing to move the ball and then QB Taryn Christion finding a 15-yard path through the middle of the line to the end zone and going back up by 10, 27-17. With time running out, Kennesaw State was able to pick up a couple of first downs, but a pass tipped up by SDSU DB Jordan Brown was caught by a diving Logan Backhaus (SDSU LB) for an interception that would essentially seal the victory. The Jackrabbits were able to kneel the ball and run out the remaining 89 seconds for the 27-17 win.
SDSU QB Taryn Christion finished the game with 147 yards and 1 TD through the air with 1 interception, and picked up 37 yards and 1 TD on the ground. RB Pierre Strong Jr. had a solid game, rushing for 112 yards and 1 TD. WR Cade Johnson led the team with 4 catches for 72 yards, and WR Adam Anderson had 1 catch that was a 5-yard TD. LB Christian Rozeboom topped the tackles list with 14 (10 solo) including 3 tackles for loss and 1 forced fumble. LB Logan Backhaus had 6 tackles and the game-clinching interception. LB Eric Kleinschmit had 4 tackles to go along with a forced fumble and recovery, and DT Xavier Ward was also credited with a forced fumble. Punter Brady Hale averaged 43.2 yards on 4 punts with 2 inside the 20. WR Johnson also had 3 kickoff returns for 103 yards and PK Chase Vinatieri hit FGs from 24 and 23 yards out.
KSU QB Chandler Burks had 12 yards on 1 pass and 34 rushing yards before going out with his injury. Backup QB David Daniel finished the game with 94 yards, 1 TD, and 1 INT through the air, and 65 yards and 1 TD on the ground. RB Darnell Holland led the team in rushing yards with 92, and RB Jake McKenzie had 73 yards rushing and 31 yards and 1 TD on 2 catches receiving. LB Anthony Gore Jr. led the Owls with 7 solo tackles including 2 for loss. LB Bryson Armstrong had 5 tackles including a sack, and DB Cincere Mason picked up 3 and an interception.
Kennesaw State ends their 2018 season at 11-2, which is very impressive considering this was only their 4th season of football. South Dakota State moves up to 10-2 overall and will head back up to Fargo for yet another game against the Bison…their 11th meeting over 7 seasons and 109th all-time.
— SDSU Football (@GoJacksFB) December 8, 2018
How’d I Do?
Colgate @ North Dakota State – I predicted a 31-12 NDSU win. It was 35-0 NDSU. Colgate’s defense did fairly well against a very good offense, but their offense just wasn’t able to make anything happen.
South Dakota State @ Kennesaw State – My prediction was 38-32 for SDSU. It was 27-17 SDSU. Rain hindered things somewhat on both sides of the ball, but the margin wasn’t far off from what I figured it’d be.
On to the Semifinals round, where there’s only two games going on, with the winners facing off a few weeks further down the road in Frisco, TX for the FCS championship. Because one side of the bracket is now the last two MVFC teams facing each other, I’ll only have one game to preview and review in the final two rounds. Regardless of how the games play out, there will be a MVFC team in the championship game for the 8th year in a row.
Coming up this next weekend is:
#5 South Dakota State at #1 North Dakota State at 7 PM on ESPN2
#7 Maine (CAA) at #3 Eastern Washington (Big Sky) at 1 PM on ESPN2
One other interesting point is that of the final four teams still playing, the team that is located the furthest south is South Dakota State in Brookings, SD. No matter who makes it through, it’ll be a long road down to Frisco, TX (although NDSU fans should be pretty familiar with the trip by now).