Numbers Never Lie: Offense, special teams can't be overlooked

The second round of the FCS playoffs Saturday provided plenty of offensive fireworks and record-setting performances.

Old Dominion quarterback Taylor Heinicke set a new FCS playoff record with 542 yards of total offense and tied a playoff record with six touchdown passes.

Georgia Southern quarterback Jerick McKinnon rushed for 316 yards, second in FCS playoff history behind former school legend Adrian Peterson and his 333- yard performance in 1999.

Wofford fullback Eric Breitenstein, who holds the Southern Conference regular- season single-game rushing record with 321 yards on Sept. 29, rushed for 247 yards and three touchdowns, carrying his team to victory in the second round.

Illinois State quarterback Matt Brown threw for five touchdowns in his team's one-point overtime victory at "The Rock" versus Appalachian State.

Perhaps the most overlooked aspect in the second round, however, was the role of special teams.

Montana State used three Rory Perez field goals to beat Stony Brook, 16-10. Wagner stayed alive in its 29-19 loss versus Eastern Washington with four David Lopez field goals.

And then there was Sam Houston State and Appalachian State. SHSU needed a critical blocked punt, which rolled out of the end zone for a safety, and three Miguel Antonio field goals to survive Cal Poly, 18-16, while Appalachian State realized just how vital special teams are as Illinois State's Shelby Harris blocked an extra point in overtime to give his team a 38-37 victory.

For all the promise in its teams, some things can never be ignored.

Whether it be scores, statistics or standout performances, the numbers never lie.

Here are some important figures from Week 14 of the 2012 FCS season - the second round of the playoffs - that should not be overlooked:

McKinnon rushed for 316 yards on 34 carries and totaled three touchdowns - two rushing and one passing - in the Eagles' 24-16 second-round victory over Central Arkansas. It was the second-highest total in school history, just 17 yards behind Peterson's 333 rushing yards against Massachusetts (1999), also in the FCS playoffs. It was the third-highest single-game rushing total in the 2012 season. He averaged 9.3 yards per carry.

Breitenstein rushed for 247 yards on 22 carries and scored three touchdowns in a 23-7 victory over New Hampshire. The senior now has 5,595 career rushing yards and 65 career rushing touchdowns, which leads the FCS for active career marks. In 12 games, he's rushed for 1,900 yards and 19 touchdowns and leads the FCS in rushing with 158 yards per game.

Stony Brook entered Saturday's second-round playoff matchup, averaging 288 yards per game on the ground, good for No. 5 in the FCS. However, the Seawolves were held to just 123 rushing yards on 37 carries, in the team's 16-10 defeat.

Montana State held SBU to just 4-of-13 on third down conversions and now rank fourth in the FCS in that category, holding teams to 29 percent on third downs this season.

Eastern Washington totaled 411 yards of offense in its 29-19 victory over Wagner. The team passed for 327 yards and rushed for just 84 yards, but running back Demitrius Bronson scored two key rushing touchdowns on 76 yards in the win. Receiver Brandon Kaufman caught 10 passes for 174 yards and averaged 17.4 yards per reception.

Wagner finished its season with just one turnover in its last 10 games. The Seahawks rank first in the FCS with just six turnovers lost in 13 games.

Quarterback Nick Doscher threw just one interception this season - in the opener versus Florida Atlantic - and threw 231 straight passes without an interception.

North Dakota State has now held 11 of its last 13 opponents to under 250 yards of total offense, dating back to the 2011 FCS championship game victory over Sam Houston State. The Bison limited South Dakota State to just 217 total yards in their 28-3 second-round victory Saturday.

In two contests versus NDSU this season, SDSU running back Zach Zenner, who ranks second in the FCS with 157 rushing yards per game, managed only 43 and 46 rushing yards, respectively.

Sam Houston State scored one offensive touchdown in its 18-16 victory over Cal Poly. Antonio nailed three field goals and the Bearkats forced a team safety to account for 11 of their 18 points. Quarterback Brian Bell threw for 88 yards and one touchdown, an 18-yard pass to Keshawn Hill in the third quarter, which provided SHSU with its only offensive touchdown of the game.

Sam Houston State gave up 224 rushing yards in its victory, allowing an FCS team to cross the 100-yard rushing mark for just the second time this season. The only other times a team has rushed for more than 100 yards came against FBS foes Baylor (232 yards) and Texas A&M (157 yards), and Southland Conference member Southeastern Louisiana (105 yards).

Old Dominion's Heinicke added to his historic season by setting an FCS playoff record with 542 yards of offense in his team's 63-35 victory over Coastal Carolina. He threw for 497 yards and tied an FCS playoff record with six passing touchdowns and rushed for 45 yards in the win. He has now thrown for 4,655 yards in 12 games this season and is just 208 yards behind Steve McNair (1994) for the FCS single-season passing record.

Illinois State's Brown threw for 322 yards and five touchdowns in the Redbirds' 38-37 overtime victory versus Appalachian State. Receivers Tyrone Walker and James O'Shaughnessy both caught two touchdown passes and finished with 176 and 78 receiving yards, respectively.