Getty Images

North Dakota State tops defending champ James Madison to claim sixth FCS crown in seven years

Leave a comment

Once again, North Dakota State is the champion of the Football Championship Subdivision. And this time, the Bison had to beat the defending champions to do it. After their 5-year run of FCS national championships was ended by James Madison in a stunning 27-17 FCS semifinals defeat in the Fargodome last year, North Dakota State took its revenge with a 17-13 win over the Dukes on Saturday in Frisco, Texas.

North Dakota State (14-1) led this one throughout. After forcing a three-and-out to open the game, the Bison migrated down the field, moving 66 yards in 11 plays and six and a half minutes before scoring on a 3-yard Bruce Anderson run, grabbing a lead North Dakota State would not relinquish.

Trailing 7-3, James Madison had a golden chance to take a first quarter lead after recovering a fumble by NDSU quarterback Eason Stick at the Bison 28, but JMU quarterback Bryan Schor gave the ball right back with an interception. North Dakota State took a 14-3 lead on a 50-yard strike from Stick to Darrius Shepherd with 4:14 left in the second quarter, then carried a 17-6 lead into halftime.

The Dukes pulled within 17-13 thanks to a 33-yard punt return by D’Angelo Amos and then a 33-yard touchdown drive, culminating in a 1-yard Marcus Marshall run that cut the deficit to four with 9:26 to play in the third.

James Madison would climb no closer, though it wasn’t for a lack of chances. The Dukes committed a season-high three turnovers, failed to protect Schor (he was sacked four times) despite facing 4-man rushes, gagged away numerous drops (including one that would have given JMU a 1st-and-10 at the NDSU 30 with under 10 minutes to play) and also missed a field goal.

Even still, James Madison (14-1) had a chance to win at the end. Facing a 4th-and-9 at his own 47 with 3:06 to play and all three timeouts in his pocket, Dukes head coach Mike Houston appeared to elect to punt and trust his defense rather than go for it; instead, he chose neither, as punter Harry O’Kelly scampered down the left side for a 24-yard gain to the NDSU 29. James Madison would eventually reached the North Dakota State 18 but only went backward from there. Schor threw for a loss of two yards on 2nd-and-9, he was harassed into a hurried incompletion on 3rd-and-11 and, after a false start, could not complete a blind Hail Mary heave on 4th-and-16 with 1:10 to play.

North Dakota State took over on downs and expired the final 58 seconds to complete its march to a sixth national championship.

The win pulls North Dakota State into a tie with Georgia Southern — now a member of the FBS Sun Belt Conference — for the most FCS titles; however, the Eagles won their six in eight tries, while the Bison are a perfect 6-for-6. Georgia Southern also racked up its six titles in a 16-season stretch, while North Dakota State has done so in just seven.

And in only one of those six trips to Frisco has North Dakota State surrendered more than 13 points.

For James Madison, the loss denies the Dukes a chance to tie Appalachian State for fourth all-time with three FCS titles.

For a game that pitted two of the top three defenses nationally, this one was played as expected. Both teams combined to gain 31 first downs, the defenses won 20 of the 31 third down attempts, and neither hit 270 yards of total offense. North Dakota State won the ground game, 134-93, and Stick completed 13-of-22 passes for 130 yards with a touchdown while Schor hit just 14-of-32 for 148 yards with two interceptions. Despite snapping the ball just eight more times, North Dakota State managed a 15-minute advantage in time of possession, chewing up 37:41 in its 70 snaps compared to just 22:19 in 62 plays for James Madison.

In statement, K-State ‘deeply saddened’ over death of Bill Snyder’s grandson

Getty Images
Leave a comment

In a statement, Kansas State has confirmed the passing of head coach Bill Snyder‘s grandson and assistant coach Sean Snyder‘s son.

Emergency personnel were called to the home of Matthew Snyder Wednesday afternoon for what was described as a medical emergency.  Other than the 22-year-old was deceased, no further details of the events surrounding his death have been released.

While neither of the long-time Wildcats coaches have, understandably, addressed the tragedy, K-State athletic director Gene Taylor did in a statement.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the Snyder family during this very difficult time. We are deeply saddened to learn of this news and ask that the family’s privacy continue to be respected. Sean, Wanda, and the entire Snyder family are greatly appreciative of the outpouring of support displayed by the K-State Family as they cope with this tragedy.

FAU QB Jason Driskel announces he is retiring from football

FAU athletics
Leave a comment

This one seemingly comes from out of nowhere.

The starting quarterback for Lane Kiffin‘s resurgent FAU program for most of 2017, Jason Driskel was hoping again to trigger one of the most potent offenses in the country in 2018.  Instead, Driskel announced on his personal Twitter account that he is retiring from the sport.

“After a lot of thinking, talking with friends and family, and prayer, I have made the decision to end my college football career,” Driskel, who has one year of eligibility remaining, wrote in the social media missive. “I undoubtedly will miss my teammates and the game with all of its trials and tribulations; but I will not regret the decision to move into the next chapter of my life.”

After going 1-2 the first three games of the 2017 season, Lane Kiffin benched starter Daniel Parr and inserted Driskel.  After losing his first start at Buffalo, Driskel proceeded to help lead the Owls to 10 straight wins to close out the regular season with a school-record 11 wins.  FAU won the Conference USA championship and also claimed the program’s first bowl win since 2008 for good measure.

Driskel passed for 2,247 yards, five touchdowns and just four interceptions in what turned out to be his last season at the school.  He was also third on the Owls with 427 yards rushing, while his eight rushing touchdowns were second on the team.

With Driskel out, a pair of transfers, Florida State’s De'Andre Johnson and Oklahoma’s Chris Robinson, will likely battle for the starting job beginning in the spring.  Even if he hadn’t retired, Driskel would’ve had to beat out that duo for the starting job, his head coach confirmed after the Boca Raton Bowl rout of Akron.

Bill Snyder’s grandson, Sean Snyder’s son dies at age 22

Getty Images
1 Comment

Tragedy has struck at the heart of the Kansas State football program.

According to the Manhattan Mercury, 22-year-old Matthew Snyder died Wednesday in Manhattan.  Snyder is the grandson of legendary K-State head coach Bill Snyder and the son of longtime Wildcats assistant Sean Snyder.

Scant details surrounding the younger Snyder’s death have been released.  From the Mercury‘s report:

Emergency personnel responded to a medical call Wednesday afternoon in the 3300 block of Claflin Avenue in Manhattan. Riley County police confirmed that there had been a death but declined to give any further information.

The house at 3309 Claflin Ave. belongs to KTMW LLC, which is owned by Sean and Wanda Snyder, according to county records.

The football program is expected to release a statement or statements on Matthew Snyder’s passing later on Thursday.

Our thoughts, prayers and condolences go out to those affected by the young man’s death.

In the retiring Chayce Crouch, Illinois loses second QB in one day

Getty Images
1 Comment

Wednesday evening, Jeff George Jr. announced that he was leaving the Illinois football program as a graduate transfer.  A short time later, another of his fellow Fighting Illini quarterbacks confirmed his exit as well — albeit with a twist.

On his personal Twitter account, Chayce Crouch announced that not only is he leaving the Illini but he’s leaving the sport, period. “I don’t think there’s anything left to give,” the redshirt junior wrote. “I have decided to hang up the cleats and end my career as a Fighting Illini.

“At this point in my life, this is what is best for me.”

Crouch started the first four games of the 2017 season before being benched in favor of George Jr. in early October; he started another game later on in the year.  The Ohio native finishes his collegiate career completing 78 of his 157 passes for 852 yards, four touchdowns and six interceptions.  He also ran for 360 yards and another four touchdowns on 108 carries.

With the departures of Crouch and George, rising sophomore Cam Thomas is the only scholarship quarterback currently on the Illini’s roster.  A three-star recruit signed last December, MJ Rivers, won’t enroll until the summer.  There’s also the possibility of adding another recruit during the “usual” February signing period, and there’s also the possibility (probability?) that a graduate transfer at the position will be added as well.