FCS Semis Art

Sam Houston State running back Noah Smith (6) battles with North Dakota State safety Dom Jones (10) during the Bearkats' win on Sunday in Huntsville, Texas.

They knew it’d be a quick turnaround if they won on Sunday.

Third-seeded James Madison will travel to Huntsville, Texas, to meet second-seeded Sam Houston State this Saturday at 2:30 p.m. in an FCS national semifinal contest, which will be televised on ABC.

“The pressure is going to be on in terms of our preparation,” Dukes coach Curt Cignetti said.

Following JMU’s 34-21 win over North Dakota in the quarterfinals on Sunday evening, Cignetti noted he and his team would likely fly to Texas on Thursday evening in order to go through the NCAA’s mandatory coronavirus testing on Friday.

He said his coaches would begin planning for the Bearkats early Monday morning.

“We probably won’t watch this [North Dakota] game very much,” Cignetti said. “We’ll get right on Sam Houston, another team we don’t know anything about, because the team that’s got to travel in a situation like this is at a real disadvantage.

“Like [on Sunday], I was in the office at 7 a.m. and I probably watched film for six hours because we have all of our technology here and I picked up a few things I think that may have helped us during the [win over North Dakota]. But when you go on the road, you don’t have those advantages. So, we’ve got to have our game plan set and ready to go before we leave.”

Sam Houston State (8-0) advanced to the semifinals with a 24-20 win over North Dakota State at Bowers Stadium in Texas on Sunday. Bearkats quarterback Eric Schmid scored the go-ahead touchdown on a 6-yard run with 3:39 to play.

They beat Monmouth in the opening round of the tournament, and have cruised to an unblemished record with a 27.3-point average margin of victory this spring.

Sam Houston State coach K.C. Keeler is tied for the second-most playoff wins (22) in FCS postseason history, and this year he has upgraded the Bearkats’ defense to improve his program.

JMU and Sam Houston State have met once before, a 65-7 win for the Dukes in the 2016 FCS national quarterfinals en route to their second-ever FCS championship.

Contact Greg Madia at 574-6296 or gmadia@dnronline.com

Follow Greg on Twitter: @Madia_DNRSports

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