(STATS) - It wasn't so much the Mike Houston coaching rumors proved to be too big of a distraction when James Madison was eliminated from the FCS playoffs on Saturday.
It was more Colgate being slightly better in tightly contested matchup.
Junior Chris Puzzi's 38-yard field goal as time expired lifted the eighth-seeded Raiders past James Madison 23-20 and into the national quarterfinals.
Colgate (10-1), whose only loss was to FBS Army, will play at No. 1 seed and defending FCS champion North Dakota State (12-0) in the quarterfinals next Saturday. James Madison (9-4) was the 2016 FCS champion.
Puzzi also kicked 37- and 23-yard field goals, and his final one just inside the right upright was his 15th of the season, a Colgate record. Quarterback Grant Breneman had a touchdown pass and run in the third quarter, while the Raiders defense, top-ranked in the FCS, intercepted James Madison's Ben DiNucci five times, including safety Tyler Castillo with two.
"We knew the game was going to be exactly the way it was," Houston said. "It was exactly the game we planned for all week. It was going to be a field position, take advantage of mistakes, momentum and just kind a gut-check kind of ball game."
Houston, who last December signed a 10-year contract extension with James Madison through the 2027 season, said his focus was on Colgate this past week even after Charlotte made an offer to him to become the school's new coach. Although the offer was later rescinded, East Carolina also is believed to be heavily interested in Houston, who is 38-6 through three seasons, including the 2016 FCS title, with the Dukes.
"I don't know what my future holds," Houston said after the loss.
In contrast this past week, there was stability at Colgate, where coach Dan Hunt received a five-year contract extension. His team then proceeded to eliminate James Madison in the second round for the second time in four seasons.
The game was tied 20-20 when Colgate stopped punter Harry O'Kelly on a fake at the Raiders' 39 with 2:46 remaining. On the Patriot League champ's winning drive, Breneman's 26-yard pass to Owen Rockett was the key play.
DiNucci was taken out for a fourth-quarter series after throwing his fifth interception, but he came back to score on a 7-yard run to tie the game at 20 with 8:22 left. The Dukes rushed for 200 yards, led by DiNucci (76) and Cardon Johnson (66 yards, one touchdown).
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