10 takeaways from FCS Week 3

CRAIG HALEY (STATS FCS Senior Editor=)
The Associated Press

(STATS) - It was Statement Saturday across the FCS, and while a number of teams voiced them loud and clearly, others failed to get the right words out in pivotal games.

Some surprise performances added to the strong schedule of games, so there were plenty of eye-catching results.

Here are 10 takeaways from Week 3 of the FCS season:

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- The Citadel overcame 0-22 history against the ACC in beating Georgia Tech 27-24 in overtime for the season's third FCS win over the FBS. Jacob Godek kicked a 37-yard field goal to hand the Yellow Jackets their first loss to an FCS opponent in 36 years. Including tight losses to Towson and Elon, the Bulldogs have faced one of the tougher early season schedules in the FCS, so following their matchup against crosstown rival Charleston Southern next Saturday, coach Brent Thompson believes his team will be ready for the rugged Southern Conference.

- Perhaps more surprising than The Citadel's win was Houston Baptist slipping past South Dakota 53-52. The Huskies' sixth-year program had lost to 20 straight Division I opponents, but it pulled out the road win up in the Missouri Valley Conference on a late touchdown and two-point conversion. The game featured two 500-yard passers - Huskies junior Bailey Zappe (513) and USD's Austin Simmons (537). The visitors, who only lost to UTEP 36-34, came into the game 1-42 when they were tied or trailed after three quarters. It was 38-38 after three quarters, so make it 2-42.

- Duquesne and Eastern Kentucky were not included in the preseason Top 25, much to their dismay, but neither got the job done against its first strong FCS opponent. All-America running back A.J. Hines was held to 37 yards on 16 carries in Duquesne's 34-14 loss at Youngstown State, which posted its third straight win by at least 20 points and will challenge for a spot in the national rankings on Monday. Eastern Kentucky added Oregon State transfer quarterback Conor Blount to an experienced lineup this offseason, but he faced too much pressure (four sacks) in a 19-7 loss to Indiana State.

- No. 18 Delaware wasn't any better hosting top-ranked North Dakota State than it was in falling at Fargo last year, this time getting rolled over 47-22. The Blue Hens had under 100 yards through the first three quarters and the two-time defending FCS champion Bison totaled seven sacks. Here's a scary thought: coach Matt Entz's Bison have the most offensive freshman class in the nation, led by quarterback Trey Lance.

- Eighth-ranked Towson showed why it was picked second in the CAA above defending champ Maine, handling the No. 7 Black Bears 45-23 with a 35-3 burst after trailing 13-10 late in the second quarter. Yeedee Thaenrat maximized his nine carries with four touchdowns, and linebacker Keon Paye had a pick-six for the second consecutive game - one of Towson's four interceptions of Maine's Chris Ferguson. The Tigers had never played in a Top 10 FCS game previously during the regular season.

- The STATS FCS Game of the Week became one of the comebacks of the year as No. 17 Jacksonville State rallied past No. 4 Eastern Washington 49-45. The much-maligned Gamecocks (2-1) trailed by 21 after the first quarter, 14 at halftime and 17 after the third quarter, but they got a resume-builder with three unanswered TD runs in the fourth quarter - quarterback Zerrick Cooper with the first one and running back Michael Matthews the final two. Eastern Washington, the FCS runner-up last season, has allowed 127 points in a 1-2 start.

- VMI must like the feeling of being tied for first place in the Southern Conference because it's been a while. The Keydets won at 2018 tri-champ ETSU 31-24 in overtime to end the FCS' longest conference losing streak at 22 games. Reece Udinski's 21-yard touchdown pass to Javeon Lara put them ahead in the extra session before the defense clamped down. It surely was fifth-year coach Scott Wachenheim's biggest win with a program that has young talent.

- It was quite the day in the Big South, highlighted by Monmouth beating old Northeast Conference rival Albany 38-35 in overtime - the Hawks' first over the Great Danes after seven losses. Matt Mosquera's third field goal was the game-winner and it gave him a trio in two straight wins. Also, defending Big South champ Kennesaw State rushed for 481 yards in routing Alabama State 42-7, while Hampton beat rival Howard 41-20 before 19,425 in the Chicago Football Classic and Gardner-Webb earned its first win, topping North Carolina Central 21-12. Charleston Southern troubled No. 15 North Carolina A&T before falling 27-21.

- Big games filled the Southland schedule. The most important was the conference opener, where No. 14 Central Arkansas never led until Hayden Ray's PAT with 1:30 left (following Carlos Blackman's 3-yard TD run) provided the final point of a 31-30 victory. McNeese improved to 14-0 all-time against the SWAC, holding off Alcorn State 17-14 to complete a sweep of last year's conference finalists (it beat Southern 34-28 for its first win). Preseason favorite Nicholls had more of a struggle going into the SWAC, overcoming a 15-point halftime deficit to beat Prairie View A&M 42-35. Southeastern Louisiana troubled Ole Miss before falling 40-29. The costly loss belonged to Sam Houston State - 27-23 against North Dakota - because the Bearkats (1-2) head into conference play with zero Division I wins.

- The season's biggest crowd to date - 48,347 - turned out for Jackson State's 49-44 victory over rival Tennessee State in the Southern Heritage Classic at the Liberty Bowl in Memphis. With the game-time temperature on the field at 103, JSU's Josh Littles made it feel hotter by returning the opening kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown. Jordan Johnson led JSU's 338-yard rushing assault and Cameron Rosendahl paced TSU with 384 passing yards with Steven Newbold catching 10 passes for 196 yards and two touchdowns.

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