The 2017 FCS Playoffs are here and we've got game-by-game wrap ups.
[divider]COMPARE: Any Two FCS Players | Any Two FCS Teams[divider]
Weber State 30
Southern Utah 13
Next up: Weber State (11-2)
Time: 7 p.m. (Friday), ESPN 2
COMPARE: James Madison vs. Weber State
PLAYER OF THE GAME: Stefan Cantwell, 21-for-33 for 299 passing yards and 2 passing TDs; 18 carries for 105 rushing yards and 1 rushing TD
THE TURNING POINT
Cantwell spun a pass out to Tui Satuala on the second play of the second half. It was a 44-yarder that took Weber down to the SUU 36-yard line, and it reversed any negative momentum the Wildcats might have picked up at the end of the first half, when Cantwell threw a bad pick in the final minute that turned into three free points for Southern Utah.
Five plays after Satuala's big catch, Smith punched it in from five yards out. Weber went on to outscore SUU 17-0 in the second half.
Weber sure didn't look like it showed up to play, as Patrick Tyler and and the Thunderbirds owned the first quarter. In fact, Tyler looked so dominant through the first 15 minutes of the game, it looked like Southern Utah might quarterback draw its way all the way to Frisco.
Instead, Weber's defense kicked it into high gear as the second quarter started, allowing only three points (on a short field, mind you) in the second quarter. The Wildcats didn't allow any points at all after halftime. Their defensive line completely disrupted the SUU offensive rhythm.
Meanwhile, Cantwell and tailback Kevin Smith (16 carries, 6 catches; 143 total yards from scrimmage) sliced and diced their way through the SUU defense, scoring more than enough points to put the game away. For Cantwell, the big game was little surprise, as he was knocked out of the first Weber-SUU game early in the first half. A full, four-quarter performance was on his mind.
Despite the domination over the final three quarters of the game, Weber still looked pretty sloppy at times. Muffed punts and questionable red-zone offense will need to get cleaned up if the Wildcats want to win at JMU next week.
PREVIEW OF NEXT WEEK
A game in Harrisonburg is a miserable matchup for anybody, but it's got to be a struggle for a Weber team who could be running out of gas. The Big Sky co-champions edged Western Illinois in a tight 21-19 affair last week; they expended a huge amount of emotional energy winning at rival Southern Utah tonight. Now, they'll have to fly 2,000 miles east for a game that will be played on a Friday night where it's expected to snow in the Shenandoah Valley.
However, if Weber can keep their momentum going in the right direction, the Wildcats offer an intriguing challenge for the defending champs. Weber's balanced offense and powerful defense could challenge JMU with a mirror version of what makes the Dukes so lethal. Weber will likely need to avoid a slow start, though, as Madison isn't the kind of team that lets you out of a hole.
JMU 26, Weber 14