NDSU still No. 1; Appalachian State drops

By Taylor C. Snow

It was a pinball machine weekend for the Football Championship Subdivision as only three teams kept their rankings from the previous week.

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Two of the teams that retained their positions were North Dakota State and Montana State, who stay at No.1 and 2, respectively. South Dakota also stood still at No. 24.

The Bison received 143 out of the possible 161 first-place votes from The Sports Network poll on Monday, as they remained undefeated, outlasting then-No. 21 Indiana State, 27-16. The loss knocked the Sycamores out of the Top 25 altogether.

Despite trailing at the half, Montana State pulled together its ninth win of the year beating Weber State, 44-24.

After upsetting top-ranked Georgia Southern last week, Appalachian State was unable to keep its momentum going, losing to then-unranked Furman. The previous No.3 Mountaineers took a plunge from the third spot all the way to No. 10 after the loss, while the Paladins jumped into the Top 25, landing at No. 17.

Third-ranked Sam Houston State easily beat Southeastern Louisiana, despite over 200 rushing yards from Lions running back Brian Young. With the victory, the Bearkats remain one of only two remaining undefeated teams.

Hoping to rebound from last week’s loss, Georgia Southern did not show its home crowd any sense of urgency, barely topping The Citadel, 14-12. The Eagles took one step up to No. 4, thanks to their special teams efforts which collaborated to block both extra points attempted by the Bulldogs.

Northern Iowa hopped up to the No. 5 spot in a close comeback win against Youngstown. With less than two minutes left in the game, Panthers running back David Johnson pounded in a one-yard score to seal a 21-17 victory.

Lehigh leaped up two spots to No. 6 in a 14-7 win over Holy Cross. With the leadership of linebacker Mike Groome, who had 13 tackles, a sack and a timely interception, the defense of the Mountain Hawks propelled to their seventh straight victory.

Previously-ranked No.7 Maine faced off against Towson and could not control the run-heavy offense of the Tigers. Tailback Terrence West amounted for three touchdowns and 183 out of the team’s 334 total rushing yards as Towson took down the Black Bears in their home stadium, 40-30. As a result, Maine tumbled down to No. 13, while the Tigers bounded up two spots to No. 12.

Standout linebacker Matt Evans led No. 7 New Hampshire up two spots in the polls when the Wildcats defeated James Madison, 28-10, dropping the Bulldogs down seven spots to No. 20. Evans tallied 17 tackles in the victory to place the Wildcats atop the Colonial Athletic Association along with Maine and Towson.

Montana moved up two spots to No. 8 after beating Western Oregon, 32-7. The Grizzlies sat most of their starters after the first quarter and left it up to kicker Brody McKnight to boot six field goals to get the victory.

Wofford ran all over Western Carolina, amassing six rushing touchdowns along with 500 yards on the ground. With the victory, the Terriers easily jumped up two spots in the rankings to No. 9.

Old Dominion quarterback Taylor Heinicke stomped Richmond, passed for 373 yards and three touchdowns. The 42-28 win allowed the Monarchs to march up one spot to No. 11 in the national polls.

Illinois State toppled in-state rival Western Illinois, 31-7, giving it a three-spot boost to No. 14. Harvard also climbed up five spots to No. 18 as they downed winless Colombia, 35-21.

Liberty continues to rise in the Top 25 as they edged Virginia Military Institute, 37-31. Despite a late effort by the Keydets, the Flames were able to prevent a late onside kick attempt as they barreled up six spots to No. 16.

Despite a six-point deficit after one half, Central Arkansas pounded Northwestern State for 31 unanswered points and a 45-20 victory. The win propelled the Bears six spots from No. 25 to the No. 19 spot.

Casey Therriault of Jackson State threw for 400 yards, but the Tigers fell in the last two minutes to Grambling. A clutch 10-yard touchdown run by Dawrence Roberts propelled Grambling to a victory, and caused Jackson State to drop six spots to No. 21.

Jacksonville State, William & Mary and Tennessee Tech all fell out of the Top 25, while newcomers Norfolk State, Alabama State and Eastern Kentucky claimed the No. 22, 24 and 25 spots, respectively to round it out.

Taylor Snow can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @MDC_Snow.