Davidson’s football team just did something it hasn’t been able to do since 1969

Scott Fowler
·2 min read

Davidson’s football team has earned a postseason berth for the first time in 52 years.

On Thursday night, the Wildcats were declared the Pioneer Football League’s automatic qualifier for the 16-team FCS playoffs in 2021. Davidson was already leading the conference but originally needed to win a home game against Stetson on Saturday to assure its playoff bid.

But Stetson had to cancel Saturday’s game due to COVID-19 issues within its Tier 1 personnel, which consists of players, coaches, managers and staff.

That abrupt cancellation meant that Davidson would win the PFL for the first time ever, clinching the playoff tiebreaker over San Diego by virtue of its 31-25 upset win over the Toreros on April 3.

That game constituted San Diego’s first loss in the conference since 2015. The Toreros had won 39 straight PFL games but were undone by Davidson quarterback Tyler Phelps’ three touchdown passes.

Davidson finishes the 2021 spring regular season with a 4-1 conference record (4-2 overall), including an earlier road win this season over Stetson. The last time Davidson played in the postseason was 1969, when the Wildcats won the Southern Conference and went on to play in the Tangerine Bowl, losing 56-33 to Toledo.

Davidson has clinched a spot in the FCS playoffs for the first time ever this season by winning the spring 2021 Pioneer Football League championship.
Davidson has clinched a spot in the FCS playoffs for the first time ever this season by winning the spring 2021 Pioneer Football League championship.

“Though I’m disappointed in not playing our season finale, I’m incredibly proud of our team and program,” Davidson head coach Scott Abell said in a statement released by the school. “Winning the first PFL championship and earning our first automatic bid to the FCS playoffs is an awesome accomplishment for this team and program.”

Davidson, which doesn’t give football scholarships, will participate in an FCS playoff that will be full of “scholarship” schools like James Madison and North Dakota State.

The bracket for the 16-team playoffs will be released during the FCS Selection Show on ESPNU at 11:30 a.m. Sunday. Davidson’s first FCS playoff game ever will likely be on the road April 24.