The 2018 FCS Playoffs are here and we've got game-by-game wrap ups.
[divider]COMPARE: Any Two FCS Players | Any Two FCS Teams[divider]
Jacksonville St. 34
Next up: Jacksonville St. (9-3) at Maine (8-3)
Time/Date: Sat., Dec. 1 – 12 p.m. (ET) | TV: ESPN3
COMPARE: Jacksonville St. at Maine
PLAYER OF THE GAME: Shaq Davidson, WR, Jacksonville State — The South Carolina transfer caught three touchdowns in the tight affair, finishing with five receptions for 69 yards.
OTHER STAT STANDOUTS:
Jaelen Green, RB, Jacksonville State — 117 yards rushing
Marlon Bridges, DB, Jacksonville State — 8 tackles, 1 INT for touchdown
Tre Threat, DL, Jacksonville State — 5 tackles, 2 TFLs, 1 fumble recovery
Tyree Robinson, DB, ETSU — 7 tackles, 1 INT
J.D. Griffin, LB, ETSU — 9 tackles
Quay Holmes, RB, ETSU — 114 yards of total offense
THE TURNING POINT
Unfortunately for a young (and talented) freshman at ETSU, this is easy. The Bucs were driving with about 2 minutes left in the game to potentially throw the game to overtime, and ETSU's talented RB Quay Holmes — who seemed to be one of the answers/reasons for ETSU's resurgence this year — fumbled at the goal line just short of scoring, and JSU recovered. Up to that point, ETSU had all the momentum. It didn't signal the end of the game, but it squashed a rally.
This really is a story about two completely different programs. ETSU was the plucky four-year old program that awoke after what seemed like a long slumber away from football (12 years to be precise) and won a share of the SoCon title in the first year it had a full senior class. The "Granite Boyz" — as we like to call that original core of 18 players — had been around for the most part since that fall of 2014 when they practiced with no games. That's sort of like going through life without a sunrise for awhile (people way up north can relate). It's tough, and takes intestinal fortitude. Those guys' reward was this season and tonight — an FCS Playoff game.
That's ETSU, the team that edged so many teams this year, it almost looked like it enjoyed the drama of close games. So tonight seemed to make that point.
On the flip side, we have a Jacksonville State team that has won the Ohio Valley Conference every year since 2013, but had fallen in its first playoff game the past two years and really haven't had a whole lot to crow about (bad choice of words, sorry) since their incredible run to Frisco in 2015, a la Eli Jenkins. The Gamecocks just won a game they should be more proud of than maybe they realize, because they faced a well-coached, overachieving program that is slowly growing into a monster.
Mark this down, you'll see more JSU-ETSU playoff games in the future since they're in separate conferences, based on the proximity. That should be fun to watch. There were incredible plays in this one, massive momentum shifts like JSU's 24-point unanswered streak and ETSU's rally to make it crazy at the end.
Quite an entertaining game, and the first of many.
PREVIEW OF NEXT WEEK
This makes all the sense in the world, right? A team from Jacksonville, Ala. catching a flight up to … well … Orono, Maine of course. You have to love FCS football to give us these kinds of matchups. This is what the postseason is all about, the gift of pitting two teams like these against one another. How DO they matchup? Now we don't have to yap about it, we get to see it a week from today. Maine plays a black and blue style of ball, and it grinds on defense — a style of play well-known to CAA teams in the Northeast. Jacksonville State is more high-flying, utilizing the incredible players on the roster — and it can quick-strike you to death if you snooze for one second. This should be an awesome matchup.