North Dakota State takes back FCS title with 17-13 victory over James Madison

North Dakota State players celebrate a touchdown during a game against Sam Houston State on Dec. 15, 2017.
(Gene Schallenberg / Associated Press)

Easton Stick threw a 50-yard touchdown pass to Darrius Shepherd and North Dakota State took back the Football Championship Subdivision title by beating James Madison 17-13 on Saturday a year after the Bison’s five-year run atop the FCS ended against the Dukes in the semifinals.

The Bison (14-1) also preserved their division-record 33-game winning streak from three years ago, ending James Madison’s run at 26 in a row, denying the Dukes a second consecdutive title and spoiling what would have been their first undefeated, untied season.

The Dukes (14-1), who trailed 17-3 late in the first half, had a chance to win after punter Harry O’Kelly ran 24 yards on a fake. But Bryan Schor’s desperation throw to the end zone on fourth and 16 fell incomplete with 58 seconds left .

James Madison couldn’t overcome the deficit because the mistakes that helped put it behind kept happening.


Schor had two interceptions, including one at the NDSU three-yard line late in the third quarter. Two possessions later, Terrence Alls dropped a pass while running behind the defense, and Schor was sacked for the fourth time on the next play, forcing a punt.

Bruce Anderson ran for a game-high 63 yards and the first touchdown. Shepherd’s first touchdown of the season came when Stick hit him in stride at the 15 for a 14-3 lead in the second quarter.

James Madison’s Simeyon Robinson, who had two sacks, blocked a field-goal attempt to keep the deficit at four before O’Kelly’s run on the fake punt.

Marcus Marshall had a one-yard run for the only touchdown for the Dukes, who lost the turnover battle 3-1 after getting 10 takeaways in the semifinals. Ethan Ratke had two field goals but missed one in the first half.