The Week That Was: Highlights of the Five Top FCS Games, Week Ending 10/6/2019
October 8, 2019
It was a week of thrilling conference rivalries, and it’s the “Military Classic of the South” that yielded the best story of them all.
VMI snapped a 12 game losing streak to The Citadel 34-21 in the 75th meeting between the two Rivals to reclaim the Silver Shako trophy for the first time in seventeen years.
With the win, VMI (3-3, 2-1 SoCon) earned its first win over The Citadel since November 16, 2002, a 23-21 victory contested in Charlotte, North Carolina (the schools only competed sporadically from 2003-14 during VMI’s tenure in the Big South Conference). It was also the Keydets’ first win in Charleston since a 34-7 victory on November 11, 1995.
VMI junior QB Reece Udinski threw his ninth career 300-yard passing game by totaling 335 yards through the air on 25-35 passing and zero interceptions. He earned a new SoCon record for consecutive passes without an interception as he now has thrown 252 passes without a pick, surpassing Elon QB Scott Riddle‘s mark of 218 set between the 2008 and 2009 seasons.
“It’s a surreal feeling right now,” Udkinski said after the game. “I just want to embrace it all, and I can’t even describe it in words. The feeling is something I’ll never forget in my whole life.”
The Military Classic of the South was not the only rivalry game to end with a thrilling outcome.
In the 38th meeting of Rhode Island’s “Governor’s Cup” Rivalry game, the University of Rhode Island and Brown had a back-and-forth affair that ended with the Rams outlasting the Bears 31-28, giving URI their first back-to-back wins in the Rivalry since 2007-2008.
AfterBrown took the lead 28-24 with 8:20 remaining in the fourth quarter, URI redshirt junior QB Vito Priore conducted a near-perfect drive to take the lead back. He found WR Aaron Parker for a 14-yard game-winning score with 5:43 remaining. Priore went 4-for-5 for 62 yards on the drive to help the Rams secure the victory.
Up in Staten Island, New York, a little-known rivalry between Monmouth and Wagner played itself out in an unexpected defensive struggle. the Hawks escaped Hameline field with a thrilling 16-14 victory.
In the 25th meeting between the schools, Wagner pulled ahead with 10:39 to play 14-10 before Monmouth’s defense forced a punt and gave QB Kenji Bahar and the offense one last shot. With no timeouts and 1:58 to play, Bahar surgically moved the Hawks down the field, going six-for-six for 61 yards and running for an additional 24 yards as he set the Hawks up with fourth and goal from the one.
On the fateful fourth down play, Bahar faked the handoff inside, rolled to his right and got the pass to WR Lonnie Moore despite having a defender in his face. Moore got hit by the cornerback almost immediately but kept his feet and raced to the end zone for the lead in the dying moments of the game.
In Hamiton, New York, another thrilling game between two Patriot League conference rivals in Lehigh and Colgate also came down to the final play, with the Mountain Hawks prevailing 21-14. It was the 47th meeting between the two schools.
Lehigh freshman RB Zaythan Hill would punch in the game-winning score on a 9 yard touchdown run with 37 seconds left, but Colgate’s offense, led by QB Grant Breneman would lead the Raider offense nearly the length of the field, setting up a chance to tie the game at the Lehigh 8 yard line with one last play.
Breneman completed about a 5 yard pass to WR Garrett Oakey, about three yards short of the goal line. Oakey turned, and reached for the end zone, where CB Divine Buckrham tackled him from behind down around the 1 yard line. Maybe a half a yard separated Colgate from the possible game-tying touchdown and Lehigh’s on-field celebration, but it was the Mountain Hawks that would get a valuable Patriot League conference win.
Finally,Southeast Missouri State outlasted the surprise contender in the OVC, Tennessee Tech, in a wild 43-37 double-overtime thriller in Cape Girardeau, Missouri. It was the 27th meeting between the two programs.
Tied 30-30 after Tech PK Haidar Zaidan kicked a 51-yard field goal at the end of regulation, the Golden Eagles pulled ahead by seven on a 3-yard touchdown pass from QB Bailey Fisher to WR Andrew Goldsmith during TTU’s first possession of overtime.
RB Mark Robinson answered with a 16-yard touchdown run to force a second overtime period.
After TTU elected to go on defense, RB Zion Custis broke free for a 13-yard touchdown run to put SEMO ahead, 43-37. The Redhawk defense, which was remarkable all night, then came up a huge stop to win the game. SEMO dropped Fisher for a loss of three yards. After that, Fisher threw three incompletions.
SEMO WR Kristian Wilkerson caught five passes for 124 yards en route to breaking SEMO’s all-time career record in receiving yardage. Wilkerson, who recorded his eighth career 100-yard receiving game, surpassed Willie Ponder for the new mark. He now has 2,623 receiving yards.