Dec 20, 2013, 2:37 PM EDT
At the start of the 2013 football season, there were roughly 120-plus schools competing at the NCAA FCS level. Now in late December, CAA Football is lucky enough to have two of just four teams remaining in the nation. Both Towson and New Hampshire are set to make their first-ever appearances in this weekend’s national semifinals after earning victories over Eastern Illinois and Southeastern Louisiana, respectively, in the quarterfinals.
The Tigers wore down the Panthers on ESPN2 last Friday night, as stud RB Terrance West shined in the spotlight. The junior set a new league and FCS Playoff record with 354 rushing yards on top of scoring five rushing TDs to lead Towson to a 49-39 win on the road. West is currently just 31 yards shy of the all-time FCS single-season rushing record.
UNH, on the other hand, battled in the Bayou State to dramatically defeat the Southland champion Lions, 20-17. UNH QB Sean Goldrich capped off an impressive 80-yard drive that spanned four-plus minutes, as the Wildcats scored the go-ahead touchdown with just 47 seconds left to play. Goldrich rushed for a career-high 99 yards and added another career-high with three TDs.
The Wildcats square off against postseason No. 1 seed North Dakota State on Friday at 8 p.m. (ET) on ESPN2. The Bison have won back-to-back national championships and are currently riding a 22-game winning streak. Friday’s contest will be played at the Fargodome in Fargo, N.D. Towson heads across the country to Cheney, Wash., to face No. 3 seed Eastern Washington. The Tigers have won 11 straight road contests (8-0 this season), while the Eagles have won 10 straight games overall. Both Towson and EWU have wins this season over FBS foes — Towson beat UConn, Eastern defeated Oregon State.
Reaching the “Final Four” of the FCS Playoffs is nothing new for CAA Football, as 2013 marks the sixth time in the last 10 years that the league has been represented by two teams in the semis. Impressively, eight different teams have competed in the semifinals during that stretch.
If you would like to read up on news and notes around CAA Football and the FCS Playoffs, check out our weekly release on CAAFootball.com. We also bring you all the latest from around the league on Twitter @CAAFootball as well as on Facebook and Instagram.
Now for the numbers…
- Terrance West has now rushed for 2,295 yards this season and is just 31 yards shy of tying the all-time FCS Football single-season mark set by former Colgate RB Jamal Branch.
- Branch rushed for 2,326 yards in 2003 over a span of 16 games, while West will play in his 15th game of the year on Saturday against EWU.
- West’s performance against Eastern Illinois was one of the best in program and FCS history. The junior set a new career high and playoff record with 354 yards on the ground to go along with five TDs. Former Georgia Southern great Adrian Peterson held the previous record of 333 yards, accomplishing the feat versus UMass in 1999.
- West, a Baltimore native, has scored an impressive 39 total TDs in 2013, including 38 that have come on the ground.
- He easily broke former UD standout Omarr Cuff’s FCS single-season rushing TD record of 35 and is tied with Cuff for the all-time FCS record for TDs in a single-season.
- Towson stifled EIU just enough last week in part thanks to three key defensive outings from Telvion Clark, Monte Gaddis and Alexander DiSanzo. All three finished the game with double-digit tackles — Clark had 15, Gaddis had 14 and a sack, while DiSanzo had 10 stops in the win.
- Did you know that Towson has won 11 straight road games dating back to 2012? This year’s Tigers squad – which is 8-0 away from home — is the first team in school history to win a playoff game, while its current win total (12) also marks a new program record.
- New Hampshire QB Sean Goldrich set a new career-high with three rushing TDs in the win over Southeastern Louisiana last weekend. The sophomore secured 99 yards on the ground that also established a new career-best.
- RB Nico Steriti tallied 75 rushing yards against the Lions, upping his season total to 1,021 yards. Amazingly, it’s the first time in more than a decade that a UNH player eclipsed the 1,000-yard rushing mark. Former All-American Stephan Lewis was the last Wildcat to accomplish the feat in 2002.
- UNH WRs Justin Mello and R.J. Harris have been the top targets for the Wildcats’ signal callers this season. Mello leads the team with 1,020 receiving yards and Harris sits at 971. Both players have hauled in 71 catches this season.
- If Harris can reach 1,000 yards, it will be the first time in program history that the team has had two 1,000-yard receivers.
- UNH has won six straight games and nine of its last 10 overall.
- Over three postseason playoff contests, the Wildcats have converted exactly 50 percent of their third downs on offense (21-of-42), while holding opponents to just 35.4 percent in that same category.
Eye-Opening Semifinal Stats…
- Over two playoff games, Towson is averaging 48.5 points, 538.5 yards and an incredible 8.5 yards per play.
- Towson ranks third in the FCS in third-down conversion percentage at .500, while NDSU ranks first with a .560 mark.
- New Hampshire ranks eighth in the FCS in offensive first downs with 315 this season.
- EWU has averaged 40.1 points per game and 530.1 yards per game. Eagles QB Vernon Adams has thrown for 53 TDs this season, while the team also features two 1,000-yard receivers in Cooper Kupp and Ashton Clark.
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