HAMMOND, La. -- Chason Virgil completed an 8-yard touchdown pass to CJ Turner on fourth down with 2:56 left and SE Louisiana held off Villanova for a 45-44 win in the first round of the FCS playoffs on Saturday.
Virgil finished with a career-high 474 yards passing and three TD passes for the Lions (8-4), who visit No. 6 seed Montana in the second round next Saturday.
SE Louisiana erased a 31-14 halftime deficit with 17 straight points in the third quarter. The Wildcats (9-4) answered with leads of 38-31 and 44-38 in the fourth quarter, failing to convert the PAT on the second touchdown with 4:36 left in the game.
Jaaron Hayek caught a 40-yard TD pass from Daniel Smith that would have given the lead back to Villanova with 1:31 left, but Hayek was called for pass interference. That gave Villanova a first-and-25 from the Wildcats 45. Villanova turned it over on downs and SE Louisiana ran out the clock.
Smith passed for 283 yards and four touchdowns and ran for 90 yards and a TD for Villanova.
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