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College football: North Dakota State wins record seventh FCS national title

College football: North Dakota State wins record seventh FCS national title
North Dakota State quarterback Easton Stick picks up yards against Eastern Washington during the first half Saturday. (Jeffrey McWhorter / Associated Press)

Easton Stick ran for three touchdowns and threw two quick scoring passes to Darrius Shepherd in a wild start to the second half as North Dakota State won its record seventh FCS championship with a 38-24 victory over Eastern Washington on Saturday in Frisco, Texas.

North Dakota State (15-0) has won all seven of its Football Championship Subdivision titles over the last eight seasons.

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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 total touchdowns (88 passing, 41 rushing).

It also was the last game for Bison coach Chris Klieman, who now takes over as Kansas State's coach after going 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 to within 17-10 with a two-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{ minutes. All of the scores, including Stick's TD passes of 23 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, playing with starter Eric Barriere out a series while getting his throwing hand looked at, fumbled when being 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 busted free for a 75-yard TD run for the Eagles, but two plays later Stick hit Shepherd for a 78-yard score.

Brown is new West Virginia coach

West Virginia has hired Troy's Neal Brown on a six-year, $19.05-million contract to coach the Mountaineers.

Brown replaces Dana Holgorsen, who left West Virginia to become Houston's coach.

The school announced Brown's hiring on Saturday. President E. Gordon Gee says he's confident the 38-year-old Brown is a “good fit” for West Virginia, its football program and the state.

Brown coached Troy since 2015 and went 35-16 at the Sun Belt Conference school in Alabama, including 3-0 in bowl games. His teams won at Nebraska this past season and at LSU in 2017. The Trojans lost 30-24 at Clemson in 2016, the season the Tigers won the national title.

Before his tenure at Troy, Brown spent two years as offensive coordinator at Kentucky. He has Big 12 experience, having spent three years at Texas Tech as offensive coordinator.

Holgorsen went 61-41 in eight seasons at West Virginia.

Etc.

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Iowa junior defensive back Amani Hooker will enter the NFL draft. Hooker, a first-team All-Big Ten pick and the league's defensive back of the year, announced Saturday on social media that he's leaving school early and turning pro. The 6-foot, 210-pound Hooker starred as a hybrid safety/linebacker for the Hawkeyes (9-4) in 2018, picking off three passes while making 65 total tackles. He had six tackles in Tuesday's 27-22 win over Mississippi State in the Outback Bowl.

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