Easton Stick ran for three touchdowns and threw two quick scoring passes to Darrius Shepherd in a wild start to the second half Saturday, sending North Dakota State to its record seventh FCS championship with a 38-24 victory over Eastern Washington.
North Dakota State (15-0) has won all seven of its FCS titles over the past eight seasons.
Stick, who succeeded Carson Wentz as NDSU’s quarterback, threw for 198 yards and ran for 121 in his 49th victory to become the winningest FCS quarterback. Stick leaves with school records for total yards (11,216), passing yards (8,693) and 129 touchdowns (88 passing, 41 rushing).
It was also the last game for the Bison’s Chris Klieman, who now becomes Kansas State’s coach. He went 69-6 with a record-matching four FCS titles in his five seasons since being promoted from defensive coordinator to head coach at NDSU.
Eastern Washington (12-3) got within 17-10 with a 2-yard touchdown on a fake field goal in the final minute of the first half. Holder and backup quarterback Gunner Talkington took the snap and was still on his knee when he shuffled the ball to a sweeping Jayce Gilder, who dived into the end zone.
The second half began with the teams combining for three turnovers and three long touchdowns in less than 4 ½ minutes. All of the scores, including Stick’s TD passes of 22 and 78 yards to Shepherd, came in a span of four plays over 68 seconds.
There were interceptions on consecutive plays and Eastern Washington turned it over again when Talkington, with starter Eric Barriere out a series to have his throwing hand examined, fumbled when sacked by Stanley Jones.
That set up Stick’s 23-yard TD to Shepherd, who finished with five catches for 125 yards. Sam McPherson then burst free for a 75-yard TD run for the Eagles, but two plays later Stick hit Shepherd for a 78-yard score.
Eastern Washington: The Eagles won the first FCS championship game played at the pro soccer stadium north of downtown Dallas. That was eight years ago in their only other title game appearance. They beat NDSU in the quarterfinals of the playoffs that year, but are 0-3 against the Bison since.
North Dakota St.: The Bison had been tied with the six FCS (formerly Division I-AA) titles Georgia Southern won before it moved to the FBS level. … Klieman matched the four FCS titles won by Jim Tressel as coach of Youngstown State before he won a national title at Ohio State. Klieman and Stick went out with multiple championships in their final game, just like coach Craig Bohl and quarterback Brock Jensen five years ago.
Eastern Washington opens its 2019 season Aug. 31 at Pac-12 team Washington.
North Dakota State plays its first game for new coach Matt Entz, the Bison defensive coordinator the past five seasons, in its 2019 opener Aug. 31 against Butler at Target Field in Minneapolis.
Source: The Associated Press