Sam Houston returns to FCS semis with rout of Colgate

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(STATS) - Sam Houston State and Colgate entered their FCS quarterfinal matchup with contrasting styles.

One of those proved more successful by a wide margin.

Sam Houston used its dynamic offense to overwhelm the Raiders for a 48-21 victory Saturday and its fourth semifinal berth in five years.

The Bearkats (11-3) scored on seven of their first eight possessions, including five in a row, and earned another chance to upset Jacksonville State next Saturday. They'll make their third semifinal appearance as an unseeded team when they visit the No. 1 Gamecocks (12-1).

Sam Houston knocked off a third-seeded Jacksonville team 37-26 on the road in last year's second round. That playoff run ended with a 35-3 loss to North Dakota State and the four-time defending champs also beat the Bearkats in a pair of title games.

"There's only one thing missing on our resume, and we all know that. That's being national champions," said coach K.C. Keeler, who beat Colgate in 2003 for his only national title while at Delaware. "The goal of this program is to say we are the single best FCS program in the country.

"Our guys know we're not getting ahead of ourselves, but we also know the reason they came here was to win a national championship. We are excited. We are in the final four and a chance to play another day."

The Bearkats racked up 653 yards on their own field to get their shot at the Gamecocks, with Jeremiah Briscoe throwing for career highs of 358 yards and four touchdowns. The team's backup quarterback started with Jared Johnson hurt after coming in for the Southland Conference offensive player of the year in the first two playoff games.

LaDarius Brown caught two scores - one from running back Jalen Overstreet - while Yedidiah Louis had nine receptions for 119 yards and a TD. Corey Avery matched a career high with 197 yards on the ground, the Bearkats' eighth consecutive game with at least one 100-yard rusher.

Sam Houston had a school-record 37 first downs in improving to 10-0 in FCS home playoff games.

"We knew coming into this game that we were going to get great opportunities to get our guys the ball in space," Briscoe said. "As long as they were going to give it to us, we were going to take it. I think we did a great job of it. ... It really gave us the opportunity to go out and attack."

Colgate, meanwhile, finished with 19 first downs while failing to get its ball-control offense in gear. The Patriot League champions had 327 yards in the end to a seven-game win streak.

The Raiders (9-5) gained 463 in a 44-38 upset of fifth-seeded James Madison last weekend, including a season-high 343 on the ground. This weekend, they had to convert a combined three fourth-down plays, including a fake punt, just to keep their first two scoring drives going.

"We struggled getting movement, and they made plays all over the field," quarterback Jake Melville said. "It was tough. They brought us some problems, and once we figured it out, it was too late."

Melville ran for a TD and threw for another, but finished with just 73 rushing yards following a career-high 163 last weekend. James Holland had 35 yards after rushing for a personal-best 165 versus James Madison.

Sam Houston defensive end P.J. Hall partially blocked a punt to set up his team for a second-quarter touchdown drive. He also had five solo tackles, a sack and broke up two passes.

The threat of severe weather pushed up kickoff from 7 p.m. central time to 11 a.m., and the rain stayed away until the third quarter.