Hosting on its Staten Island campus just weeks after the region was devastated by Hurricane Sandy, Wagner got three touchdowns from quarterback Nick Doscher — two passing, one rushing — and rolled off 245 yards on the ground. The Seahawks used a 17-point second quarter to establish a deficit Colgate could never bridge, the lead swelling to as many as 17 in the fourth quarter.
With the win, Wagner is the first Northeast Conference champion to advance since the FCS Playoffs expanded to 20 teams in 2010. Previous representatives Robert Morris and Albany were the first two NEC champions given automatic bids into the tournament.
Just two months ago, the Seahawks hardly looked equipped to end that streak. After opening the season with a 7-3 loss at FAU, things looked bleak for Wagner. The Seahawks dropped another nailbiter to Georgetown the following week, then was routed in the NEC opener vs. Monmouth.
That 38-17 defeat, which dropped the Seahawks to 0-3, marked a turning point in the season. Wagner’s defense completely reversed course in response, tightening to rank No. 6 in the FCS with just 16.3 allowed per game. Colgate was just the fourth opponent in Wagner’s current nine-game win streak to reach the 20-point barrier. The Raiders only did so after Doscher slammed the door with his second scoring pass.
The masterpiece of Wagner’s run came on Nov. 3 when, literally just days after Sandy ravaged the Northeast and hit Staten Island particularly hard, the Seahawks stomped defending league champion Albany 30-0. The Great Danes came into that contest scoring over 34 points per game.
Wagner faces its toughest challenge when it advances to the 2nd Round. The Seahawks must travel across the continent to face No. 2 overall seed Eastern Washington on the Inferno, tasked with slowing an explosive passing offense that just two seasons ago brought a national championship to Cheney.
Upsetting EWU is a monumental challenge, but Wagner has already overcome so much more on this run.