A pair of unbeaten teams squared off in the FCS playoff semifinals as James Madison Dukes traveled to play the Sam Houston State Bearkats. James Madison fell behind 3-0 in the first quarter, but they battled hard and got back into the game, taking a 24-3 lead into halftime. It looked like the Dukes were going to be heading to the FCS National Championship game.
Sam Houston State came out of the halftime break and dominated the third quarter. The Bearkats outscored the Dukes 28-3 in the third quarter to take the lead. After that, Sam Houston State never looked back and held off the Dukes 38-35 to head to the FCS national championship game.
Here are 5 takeaways from the nail-bitingly close semifinal:
1) James Madison QB Cole Johnson left it all on the field
Cole Johnson was responsible for all three of his team's touchdowns in the second quarter of the game. Johnson had one rushing and and two passing touchdowns during the second quarter. He threw for his third touchdown in the fourth quarter while James Madison was battling to get back into the game.
2) Sam Houston State QB Eric Schmid put on a show
Eric Schmid made two mistakes in the game when he threw two interceptions. Apart from that, Schmid had a flawless performance. Eric Schmid threw for 218 yards and one touchdown. He also added 55 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns on 11 attempts.
3) Jequez Ezzard was the difference-maker in the Bearkats win
Jequez Ezzard has put together a great 2020-2021 spring football season for the Sam Houston State Bearkats. Ezzard was the difference-maker for the Bearkats offense once again during the FCS semifinal game against the Dukes. He caught four passes for 107 yards and one touchdown.
4) Sam Houston State's defense played a big role in their comeback win
The Bearkats defense forced two turnovers and locked up the James Madison Dukes offense after halftime. Sam Houston State's defense held the Dukes offense to just 11 points in the second half of the semifinals. The Bearkats registered nine tackles for loss and five sacks against the Dukes.
5) Sam Houston State is entering a tough National Championship game against the Jackrabbits
The South Dakota State Jackrabbits have been running wild against their opponents in the FCS playoffs. Sam Houston State will most likely enter the national championship game as underdogs. If the Bearkats want to win the national championship, Eric Schmid cannot afford to turn the football over and Sam Houston State will have to make sure they cannot fall behind like they did against the Dukes.