Darrius Shepherd

Photo credit: North Dakota State Athletics

North Dakota State wins back-to-back FCS national titles, now with seven titles in eight years

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North Dakota State (15-0) is polished off an undefeated season by claiming a second-straight national championship. The Bison topped Eastern Washington (12-3) in the FCS National Championship Game by a score of 38-24 in Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas on Saturday afternoon to clinch back-to-back national championship seasons. It is the seventh FCS national title won by the program in the past eight seasons.

The second half of the game got off to a wild start with both teams combining for three turnovers and three touchdowns in the first five minutes of the half. North Dakota State quarterback Easton Stick tossed touchdown passes of 23 yards and 78 yards to Darrius Shepherd. Eastern Washington running back Sam McPherson took off for a 75-yard run up the middle for a touchdown as part of the flurry to the start of the second half.

But from that point on, North Dakota State managed to calm things down and keep things mostly under control the rest of the afternoon.

Taking over the football at their six-yard line early in the fourth quarter with a 31-17 lead, North Dakota State methodically marched their way down the field on a 19-play drive that traveled 88 yards and took 10:10 off the clock. Unfortunately, the drive ended with a missed field goal, but that was precious minutes that melted off the clock with a 14-point lead. But Eastern Washington took just four plays to move right down the field and score a touchdown with quarterback Eric Barriere capping the quick-moving drive with a five-yard touchdown run. North Dakota State recovered an onside kick, and Easton Stick put the game out of reach with a 46-yard touchdown run on 3rd and 7 with just over a minute to play.

North Dakota State head coach Chris Klieman, who was recently hired to be the new head coach at Kansas State, will go out a winner. Klieman tied former Youngstown State head coach Jim Tressel with his fourth FCS national championship. No other FCS coach has as many national titles as Klieman or Tressel.

Stick completed 13 of 19 passes for 198 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for a team-high 121 yards and three touchdowns in the game. Stick closed out his collegiate career as the winningest quarterback in FCS history with a record of 49-3.

Former North Dakota State quarterback Carson Wentz was happy to see his Bison win, of course.

North Dakota State’s 21-game winning streak is the longest active winning streak among all Division 1 programs, regardless of what Alabama or Clemson do Monday night.