FCS Playoff Review: Southeastern Louisiana 45, Villanova 44

CRAIG HALEY (STATS FCS Senior Editor=)
The Associated Press
Southeastern defenders swarm Villanova running back DeeWil Barlee in the first half Saturday in the first round of playoffs at Strawberry Stadium in Hammond. (Photo by Randy Bergeron/SLU Sports Info)
Southeastern defenders swarm Villanova running back DeeWil Barlee in the first half Saturday in the first round of playoffs at Strawberry Stadium in Hammond. (Photo by Randy Bergeron/SLU Sports Info)

The Score - Southeastern Louisiana (8-4) beat Villanova (9-4) 45-44 in the first round of the FCS playoffs.

Story Line - In a shootout, Southeastern's Chason Virgil connected with C.J. Turner for an 8-yard touchdown pass with 2:56 left and Bryce Broussard kicked the extra point for a 45-44 lead. Less than two minutes earlier, Villanova had gone ahead 44-38, but missed the PAT attempt.

Game Balls - Both quarterbacks were up to the task. Virgil completed 36 of 49 passes for a career-high 474 yards and three touchdowns with one interception. Villanova's Daniel Smith passed for 283 yards and four touchdowns and rushed for 90 yards and another score.

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Key Stats - Villanova committed 11 penalties for 108 yards, including Jaaron Hayek getting called for offensive interference to negate his 40-yard touchdown catch with 1:31 left. After leading 31-14 at halftime, the Wildcats allowed 31 points in the second half, which means the CAA Football squad was outscored 99-34 after halftime in its four losses.

The Takeaway - Villanova ended the regular season with a No. 8 ranking, so it marked Southeastern's third victory over a Top 8 opponent this season. The Southland squad willed itself to the win, having never led until 45-44. It was the highest-scoring playoff game since Sam Houston State defeated South Dakota 54-42 in the 2017 second round.

Up Next - Southeastern next plays at No. 6 seed Montana (9-3) in the second round Dec. 7 (3 p.m. ET). The Griz are in the playoffs for the first time since 2015, but it's their 24th overall appearance - the FCS record.

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