10 impressions from Week 10 of the sub-FBS season

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Where did the time go? There is only one week left in the regular season for NCAA Division II, Division III, and NAIA. The SWJCFC begins its conference playoffs next week, and the FCS has two more weeks before the playoffs start.

Speaking of playoffs, some teams kept their hopes alive while others saw their dreams of a postseason berth dashed in Week 10. 

1. Wildcats earn big road win

Abilene Christian entered Saturday night’s game against Tarleton with a 1-3 record on the road. The Wildcats improved their road record to 2-3 and kept their hopes of winning a WAC title and the ASUN-WAC challenge alive with a 28-23 victory.

Maverick McIvor had his best collegiate performance completing 24-of-34 passes for a career-high 385 yards and three touchdowns. McIvor has a plethora of talented receivers, including Tristan Golightly, Kobe Clark, Davion Johnson, and Kendall Catalon. ACU can earn its first WAC title and first title as an FCS program with a win over SFA at home in two weeks.

2. Not yet ready for Prime Time

Anywhere Jackson State plays these days draws a crowd due to a talented roster and Deion Sanders as the head coach. Texas Southern hosted the Tigers this week and announced all tickets had been sold on Thursday afternoon.

Texas Southern pulled within 21-14 with 8:30 remaining in the third quarter before Jackson State reeled off 20 consecutive points for a 41-14 victory. Clarence McKinney has done a tremendous job at Texas Southern but lacks the depth needed to compete with the top teams in the SWAC.

3. Time to regroup

Texas A&M-Commerce has held its own during its first season in FCS. However, the last two weeks have been tough on the Lions. Last week, No. 8 UIW handed the Lions a home loss. Then, this week, Northwestern State entered as the leader in the Southland Conference.

The Demons took advantage of a poor offensive performance from the Lions and a lack of discipline that resulted in 13 penalties for 140 yards. Discipline has often been an issue for the Lions and is one area that David Bailiff will address with his team this week. 

4. Don’t get complacent

Angelo State had its most formidable challenge since Week two against Colorado School of Mines. The Rams trailed Central Washington 9-0 at the half before Zach Bronkhorst, and the Angelo State passing game caught fire. Bronkhorst completed 7-of-10 passes for 157 yards and three touchdowns in the second half to lead the Rams to a 22-12 victory.

CWU is a solid team with hopes of making the NCAA Division II playoffs, but Angelo State has bigger dreams. The Rams have one more regular season game before the playoffs begin and can use the first-half performance against CWU as a reminder that they need to be prepared and focused each week.

5. Near shakeup in the ASC

Howard Payne nearly earned the signature win it needs to announce its arrival among the top teams in the country. The Yellow Jackets tied Mary Hardin-Baylor with 31 seconds left in regulation before the Cru did what the Cru does and drove down the field for a game-winning 44-yard field goal from Anthony Avila as time expired.

The Crusaders secured the ASC title and an automatic bid to the NCAA Division III playoffs and did so with multiple players reportedly suffering from an illness. Quarterback Kyle King has reportedly played ill, while Avila was reported to have not made the trip with the team and barely arrived in time for the game.

6. Field set for SWJCFC semifinals

Entering Saturday, the only team who knew its seed heading into the SWJCFC semifinals next week was Trinity Valley. The Cardinals wrapped up the top seed last week. They secured the regular season title with a 20-7 win over Northeastern Oklahoma A&M. The only other team sure to be in the playoffs was the reigning national champions, New Mexico Military Institute.

Navarro earned the second seed in the semifinals and will host NMMI next week after defeating Tyler 35-7. Kilgore defeated Blinn 51-14 and earned the fourth seed and a trip to play TVCC next Saturday.

7. Missed opportunity

Prairie View A&M had an opportunity to place a stranglehold on the SWAC West Division Friday night against Alcorn State. However, the Panthers could not overcome a slow start on offense and lost 23-16 in overtime.

Despite the loss, the Panthers remain in control of their destiny and hold a one-game lead over Texas Southern and Southern. PVAMU has two games remaining against two teams at the bottom of the SWAC (Mississippi Valley State and Arkansas-Pine Bluff). The Panthers will secure a spot in the SWAC title game with victories against those opponents.

8. Smashing dreams

Texas A&M-Kingsville has been one of the better sub-FBS stories this season, winning its first seven games and entering Saturday with a chance of making the playoffs. However, those dreams are over after Midwestern State executed a five-play, 99-yard drive in a 41-37 victory over the Javelinas. All five plays of the Mustangs game-winning drive were rushing plays against a solid defense.

MSU will try to smash more dreams next week when the current top seed in Super Region Four and the No. 2 team in the country, Angelo State, visit Wichita Falls. Meanwhile, A&M-Kingsville has lost three consecutive games and finishes its season against Western Oregon next week.

9. Party crashers

Southwestern led Texas Lutheran 17-7 with 12:46 remaining in regulation and was en route to a convincing homecoming win. That is until the Bulldogs scored the final 14 points of the contest, including a one-yard touchdown run from Jacob Forton with 14 seconds remaining to stun the Pirates 21-17.

The win was the Bulldogs fourth in their last six games, while the Pirates continue a trend of inconsistency. Southwestern has struggled to put together four solid quarters throughout the season, a tendency that Joe Austin will need to address during the offseason.

10. Points in bunches

The UIW offense is a machine, but that machine was at peak performance against Houston Christian Saturday. The Cardinals followed 21 points in the first quarter with 49 points in the second quarter to take a 70-6 lead into halftime.

Lindsey Scott Jr. continues to make his case for postseason awards completing 15-of-20 passes for 319 yards and seven touchdowns in the first half. Five different receivers caught a touchdown pass in the first half, with Brandon Porter and Darion Chafin each scoring two touchdowns.

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