Griz vs. EWU playoffs 41.JPG (copy)

Montana celebrates a stop on third down during the 57-41 win over Eastern Washington in the second round of the FCS playoffs on Friday at Washington-Grizzly Stadium in Missoula. The sixth-seeded Griz will play at third-seeded James Madison in the quarterfinals next week.

MISSOULA — In a battle of big-armed quarterbacks named Cole, James Madison’s Cole Johnson outdueled Southeastern Louisiana’s Cole Kelley, setting up a playoff quarterfinal game between the third-seeded Dukes and sixth-seeded Montana at 5 p.m. MT Friday in Harrisonburg, Virginia.

The other quarterfinals matchups will be eighth-seeded Montana State at top-seeded Sam Houston, seventh-seeded East Tennessee State at second-seeded North Dakota State and South Dakota State at fifth-seeded Villanova.

JMU cruised to a 59-20 home win over SLU on Saturday in its playoff opener as it put up 484 yards of offense on 53 plays, an average of 9.1 yards per play. Johnson completed 12 of 22 passes for 321 yards and five TDs, increasing his touchdown-to-interception ratio to 37-to-2.

JMU, the FCS leader in turnover margin at plus-21, converted three interceptions and two fumble recoveries into 24 points. Diamonte Tucker-Dorsey forced a fumble and picked off two passes, returning one for a TD. Kelley was 36-of-50 passing for 397 yards and two TDs.

No. 1 seed Sam Houston avoided an upset by scoring a TD with 2:07 left and making a fourth-down stop at the 1-yard line with 0:08 remaining to beat Incarnate Word, 49-42, after trailing 35-34 early in the fourth quarter of a game that had 1,156 total yards of offense. The Bearkats improved to 17-0 all-time at home in the playoffs and won their 22nd straight game overall.

No. 7 seed East Tennessee State scored 15 points in the final 88 seconds to rally for a 32-31 win over Kennesaw State. Tyler Riddell tossed two of his three touchdowns and a 2-point pass in the 15-0 close to the game, which included ETSU recovering an onside kick.

No. 2 seed North Dakota State ran away with a 38-7 win over Southern Illinois as it pounded out 389 rushing yards and five touchdowns on 62 carries. Four NDSU players ran for 60-plus yards, led by TaMerik Williams’ 112 yards, as the Bison outgained the Salukis 477 yards to 281.

No. 8 seed Montana State rushed for 387 yards and three touchdowns on 60 carries to romp to a 26-7 win over UT Martin. Quarterback Tommy Mellott ran for 180 yards and two touchdowns, while running back Isaiah Ifanse tallied 176 yards and one touchdown on the ground.

South Dakota State became the first team to knock off a seeded team, beating No. 4 seed Sacramento State on the road, 24-19. The Jackrabbits built a 24-0 lead before the Hornets scored 19 unanswered points. SDSU will travel to No. 5 Villanova for the #FCS playoff quarterfinals.

On Friday, Holy Cross tried to pull off a second-half rally but lost to No. 5 seed Villanova, 21-16, despite outgaining the Wildcats, 347-281. Former Griz quarterback Justin Roper (2009-10) is in his second season as the offensive coordinator for Holy Cross, which won its first-ever playoff game last week.

Record book

Senior wide receiver Sammy Akem moved into a tie with Marc Mariani for the most career touchdown catches as he caught two to give him 29. Akem also moved into third place with 190 catches and fourth place with 2,676 receiving yards.

“I’m just kind of speechless right now because it’s just like I tell you guys all the time, like, I had no idea that I was going to do things like this when I came to Montana,” he said. “I just came to play football. It’s awesome to look up and see my name next to somebody so great.”

Akem is the only player in UM history to be ranked in the top four of all three major receiving categories, and his total ranking of eight is the lowest in school history, while Mariani is second with a 13. Griz coach Bobby Hauck coached both Akem, a rangy 6-foot-4 outside receiver, and Mariani, a 6-foot-1 speedy slot receiver.

“It’s a real pleasure, first of all, to be able to coach both those guys,” Hauck said. “Both quality dudes and guys that I’ve enjoyed. Marc’s still around whenever he gets the chance. I hope Sammy’s the same once we kiss him goodbye. I hope he comes back whenever he gets the chance, just like Marc does. It’s fun to see those records fall. That’s why they’re there.”

Senior linebacker Jace Lewis had nine tackle to move into 10th place in UM history with 312. He added one tackles for loss and remained in ninth with 36.5. He’s tied for 22nd with 12 sacks.

Junior linebacker Pat O’Connell moved to 14th in tackles for loss as he had one to up his total to 30. He stayed in 10th with 19.5 sacks.

Junior safety Robby Hauck moved into fourth place with 354 career tackles as he had 11 Friday. He passes his uncle Tim Hauck’s unofficial total of 346 — the NCAA didn’t count postseason stats until 2002 — after he had passed Tim’s official tally of 305 in October.

Junior cornerback Justin Ford had his ninth interception of the season, which is the most by a Big Sky player since Weber State's Scott Shields had 10 in 1996. He had his third defensive touchdown, two on interceptions and one on a fumble recovery.

Senior kicker Kevin Macias went 3 for 3 on field goals to improve 21 for 25 on the season. His 21 makes are tied for the most by a Grizzly since Dan Carpenter made 24 in 2006. He's made 17 consecutive field goals and is 42 for 42 on extra points.

Bobby Hauck moved into third place on the Big Sky's all-time wins list with his 108th win on Friday, breaking a tie with former Cal Poly and Portland State coach Tim Walsh (107). He trails former Nevada coach Chris Ault (111) and former Northern Arizona coach Jerome Souers (123).

End of an era

Bobby Hauck and Eastern Washington quarterback Eric Barriere took some time to talk to each other on the field after the Grizzlies’ victory.

It was a show of mutual respect between Hauck, whose 108 all-time wins are the third most among Big Sky coaches, and Barriere, who finished his career third in FCS history in total offense (15,394), third in passing yards (13,809) and tied for fourth in passing touchdowns (121). Barriere finished his career 1-2 against the Griz, losing twice on the road and winning once at home.

“He’s a good kid and a good player,” Hauck said. “I had a chance to meet him last summer as well. He beat us in October. A lot of it was due to some really good plays by him maybe more than anything, and we had to make sure he couldn’t do it. We’ve seen him three times. He’s a high-caliber player. He’s a playmaker. It was good to make enough tonight to get the W.”

Barriere set a Big Sky record by attempting 80 passes, breaking the mark of 76 set by EWU's Matt Nichols in 2009 against Stephen F. Austin. He completed 47 passes, tying a Big Sky record, for 530 yards, five touchdowns and one interception with former UM national champion quarterback Dave Dickenson in attendance.

"Me, personally, I feel like some of the stuff that he did is unmatched," EWU wide receiver Talolo Limu-Jones said. "I feel like there will never be another Eric Barriere to come through the Big Sky. As for Eastern, I feel like he left a great legacy for the next generation ahead."

Frank Gogola covers Griz football and prep sports for the Missoulian. Follow him on Twitter @FrankGogola or email him at

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