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Leathernecks travel to Coastal Carolina for their first-round FCS playoff game
There was little suspense for the Western Illinois team.
The Leathernecks’ playoff game was the first announced Sunday as the bracket revealed they will play Coastal Carolina in the first round of the Football Championship Subdivision Playoffs at noon Saturday in Conway, S.C.
“It kind of wasn’t how I imagined it would be,” senior quarterback Matt Barr said by phone shortly after the pairings were announced. “I thought it would be more suspenseful, but I was glad for that to see us up there.”
But there still was plenty of nail-biting in the 16 hours between the end of Western’s 30-14 win over Northern Iowa on Saturday, to get to a playoff eligible 7-4, and the 9 a.m. announcement of the brackets.
“It was a little nerve-wracking,” senior linebacker Kyle Glazier said. We were happy with the win over Northern Iowa, but at the same time there was a lot of speculation of who we were going to play,”
Coastal Carolina, located in Conway, S.C., went 6-5 overall but shared the Big South championship with Stony Brook and Liberty. The Chanticleers won the league’s automatic berth on the fourth tie-breaker, points allowed, after beating Charleston Southern 70-3 to end the regular season.
“I know very little about them,” Western coach Mark Hendrickson said. “Our hopes are that by late (Sunday) afternoon we’ll have our game tapes exchanged.”
Still after the performance on Saturday, the Leathernecks are confident about their chances despite having to go on the road.
“We like to think that when we play our best game, we can play with anybody,” Glazier said.
The winner of the first-round game will face top-seeded Appalachian State in the second round. The Mountaineers were one of 12 teams to get a first-round bye.
Three Missouri Valley Football Conference teams made the 20-team field. All three will have to play in a first round game — North Dakota State will play host to Robert Morris and Northern Iowa is host to Lehigh.
“I have to believe all three of us deserve to be in,” Hendrickson said. “Northern Iowa had the automatic bid and North Dakota State defeated a Big 12 school for a huge feather in their cap. I felt very strongly that we all were going to get in.”
LONG SNAPS: Western Illinois was ranked 21st in the final Sports Network poll of the regular season. The rankings were released on Sunday since they are used as a component of the selection process. There will be one more poll released after the FCS National Championship Game on Jan. 7.
By Kevin Capie, Journal Star