Three in-state teams make FCS playoffs

Three college football teams from North Carolina are in the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs.

Big South Conference champion Gardner-Webb and Davidson, which received the Pioneer Football League’s automatic bid, join at-large selection Elon.

All three teams begin with road games Saturday in the 24-team field.

Gardner-Webb (6-5), which lost a non-league encounter with Elon in September at Elon’s Rhodes Stadium, goes to Eastern Kentucky (7-4). This will be the first FCS playoff game for the Runnin’ Bulldogs.

Gardner-Webb secured the bid by defeating visiting North Carolina A&T 37-18 in a winner-take-all game Saturday in the regular-season finale.

No. 5 seed William & Mary awaits the winner between Gardner-Webb and Eastern Kentucky.

Davidson (8-3) heads to Richmond (8-3). The Wildcats also needed to win Saturday to lock up a spot in the FCS playoffs, doing so by defeating visiting Dayton 24-23 on Saturday. St. Thomas won the Pioneer Football League but is ineligible for the postseason.

Davidson is in the FCS playoffs for the third year in a row. The Davidson/Richmond winner goes to No. 2 seed Sacramento State for the second round.

Elon (8-3), which hasn’t played since Nov. 12, carries a three-game winning streak into its game at Furman (9-2). It will be Elon’s first appearance in the tournament since 2018.

Furman (9-2), the runner-up in the Southern Conference, holds a six-game winning streak. The teams were once rivals when Elon was in the Southern Conference before moving to the Colonial Athletic Association.

The Elon-Furman winner will play Dec. 3 at No. 7 seed Incarnate Word (10-1) of the Southland Conference.

Elon was one of five Colonial Athletic Association teams selected for the 24-team FCS national tournament. Aside from the Phoenix, the other entrants from the CAA will have home games.

Elon went 4-1 this year against other teams in the playoffs. CAA co-champion William & Mary suffered its only defeat with a home loss to Elon.

By Randolph Record