Gardner-Webb makes 1st FCS playoffs; Elon, Davidson also in bracket

All three N.C. teams plays on the road Saturday

Running back Jalen Hampton and Elon will play its FCS playoffs at Furman on Saturday. (Mark Zaleski / AP Photo)

Big South champion Gardner‑Webb will be making its first appearance in the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs, one of three North Carolina schools to make the 24‑team bracket.

Davidson, which received the Pioneer Football League’s automatic bid, and at-large selection Elon join the Runnin’ Bulldogs in the 24-team bracket and will play road games Saturday..

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).

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.