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North Dakota State makes college football’s best-ever title reign even better

NDSU was already the most dominant dynasty in Division I football history. That’s now even more true.

NCAA Football: Division I Football Championship-Eastern Washington vs North Dakota State Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

North Dakota State didn’t need to win the FCS national championship this year to secure its place as a historic dynasty, but it doesn’t hurt to have. The Bison beat Eastern Washington on Saturday in the national title game in Frisco, Texas, 38-24.

They controlled the ball for 40 minutes and led almost wire to wire. In doing that, they won the championship for the seventh time in eight years, an unprecedented feat in Division I football. They also sent out two program legends: head coach Chris Klieman, who’s leaving for Kansas State, and QB Easton Stick, who started for three titles alongside Klieman.

Eastern Washington put up a good fight, but the outcome was never in serious doubt. Klieman goes off to Manhattan with four titles as the Bison’s head coach, and NDSU defensive coordinator Matt Entz takes over the Bison. The most dominant program in college football will probably just keep on trucking, as it did after Craig Bohl left and Klieman replaced him. This 15-0 season didn’t reveal any hint of a slowdown.

Below, a chronology of the game:


Fourth quarter

NDSU 38, EWU 24

Ballgame. Easton Stick ran in for a touchdown from 46 yards — his third rushing TD of the game — with 1:16 left. The Bison will win their seventh title in eight years.

NDSU 31, EWU 24

EWU’s onside kick failed, and NDSU should be able to kill just about the whole clock.

NDSU 31, EWU 24

Late life for Eastern! The Eagles just went 80 yards in four plays, finishing up with a 5-yard Eric Barriere touchdown run with 2:19 left.

EWU has one timeout and will need an onside kick recovery to have a chance.

NDSU 31, EWU 17

Good news and bad news for Eastern Washington.

  • Good: NDSU just missed a 24-yard field goal, and it’s still a two-score game.
  • Bad news: The driving leading up to that missed field goal took 10 minutes off the clock, and the Eagles now have just 3:21 with which to make up 14 points.

NDSU 31, EWU 17

NDSU’s in the midst of an eight-minute, 15-play-and-counting drive that’s included five third-down conversions. With five minutes left, the Bison are trying to pound in an emphatic touchdown to finish things off. But this result is not in any doubt.

NDSU 31, EWU 17

After an Eastern Washington punt, the Bison are on the march and chewing clock. They’re out near midfield as the 11-minute-remaining mark passes.

End third quarter: NDSU 31, EWU 17

The Bison are 15 minutes from seven national titles in eight years. EWU will start the quarter with a second-and-8 at its own 44-yard line. The Eagles remain nominally in the game, but they probably have to score a touchdown on this series for it to stay that way.

NDSU 31, EWU 17

This game keeps being interesting. After a bad offensive pass interference call wiped out an NDSU first down and forced the Bison into third-and-18, EWU’s Calin Criner picked off Easton Stick at the Eagles’ 42. The underdogs are still hanging around.

NDSU 31, EWU 17

Eastern Washington picked up a quick first down but then went three-and-out. North Dakota State, which has the ball near its own 30, is likely a TD away from sealing this thing.

NDSU 31, EWU 17

The Bison punted after an important Eastern Washington stop. The Eagles have the ball at their own 13-yard line with 4:51 in the quarter.

NDSU 31, EWU 17

There are touchdowns or turnovers on practically every play now. The latest is a 78-yard TD pass from Easton Stick to Darrius Shepherd. That’s their second scoring connection in the game’s last three offensive plays.

Also, please read about why that Eastern Washington fake field goal touchdown right before halftime was one of the coolest plays of the year.

NDSU 24, EWU 17

This game’s great. EWU just got a 75-yard touchdown on the first play of its second drive of the half, with Sam McPherson running right through the Bison.

NDSU 24, EWU 10

Easton Stick threw a 23-yard touchdown to Darrius Shepherd, after three turnovers in the first two minutes and change. That’s a huge blow to EWU.

NDSU 17, EWU 10

What a wild start to the half.

  • EWU’s Eric Barriere threw an interception to NDSU’s James Hendricks on the second play of the third quarter.
  • On the next snap, Easton Stick got picked by EWU’s D’londo Tucker at the Eagles’ 6-yard line.
  • A few plays after that, EWU fumbled.

NDSU’s ball just outside the red zone after three turnovers in the first 2:16 of the half.

Halftime: North Dakota State, Eastern Washington 10

The Eagles are in it, thanks to an audacious fake field goal score at the end of the half. NDSU’s had the ball for 20 of 30 minutes and and averaged 5.3 yards per play to EWU’s 4.6, but the Eagles are getting the ball after halftime and have a chance to tie. That’s all they could reasonably ask, given NDSU’s talent and how this game’s unfolded.

NDSU 17, EWU 10

A FAKE FIELD GOAL TOUCHDOWN! Eastern Washington opted for a field goal on fourth down from the NDSU 2, or appeared to. In reality, holder Gunner Talkington flipped the ball to a pulling Jayce Gilder, who got just enough for the score.

NDSU 17, EWU 3

Eastern Washington’s trying to punch in a touchdown from 2 yards out in the last minute of the half. The Bison have third-and-goal from the 3.

NDSU 17, EWU 3

EWU forced a quick three-and-out after what looked like it might be a devastating interception. The Eagles are inside midfield in the last three minutes of the half, but facing a third-and-long.

NDSU 17, EWU 3

Welp. EWU’s Eric Barierre threw an interception on the first play of the Eagles’ drive after they had great field position. At least it came at the NDSU 14.

NDSU 17, EWU 3

Eastern Washington finally got a stop, after NDSU went field goal-TD-TD on its first three series. The Eagles have the ball inside midfield with 5:17 left in the half. They also get the ball after halftime, so there’s a window here to make some noise.

NDSU 17, EWU 3

This game is at significant risk of getting out of hand. The Eagles just punted, and NDSU, with its two-touchdown lead, will start at its own 20 with 6:38 left.

NDSU 17, EWU 3

NDSU QB Easton Stick ran for a 4-yard touchdown, his second of the game. That drive took 10 plays and about six minutes, covering 75 yards. The Bison are in total control.

NDSU 10, EWU 3

North Dakota State’s moved inside the EWU 20 and is threatening to take its biggest lead of the game. The Bison are more than doubling up EWU in time of possession, six minutes into the second quarter.

NDSU 10, EWU 3

The Eagles are back within one score after a 40-yard field goal by Rolden Alcobendas, their stud kicker who’s now 16-for-16 on the year. A touchdown would’ve been better, but it was mandatory that EWU get points there to keep things from getting out of hand.

End first quarter: NDSU 10, EWU 0

EWU’s putting together a nice, necessary response drive right now. Eric Barriere ran for a first down a fourth-and-1 and got down to the Bison’s 23 on the last play of the quarter.

NDSU 10, EWU 0

Eastern might be in big trouble. Easton Stick scored on an option keeper for NDSU to cap a four-play, 68-yard drive. The Eagles frustrated the Bison a decent bit on their first drive, which ended with a field goal. But this time, the doors got knocked down.

NDSU 3, EWU 0

EWU punted with just inside four minutes left in the first quarter. The Eagles held the ball for three-plus minutes and looked threatening in spots, but they lost 58 yards to penalties, and that was before an illegal-formation call on a 35-yard punt made things worse. NDSU’s ball at its own 32.

NDSU 3, EWU 0

Penalties are hurting Eastern badly. After an illegal formation wiped out a 39-yard gain, a chop-block call wiped out a third-down scramble past the marker by QB Eric Barriere. They’ll have third-and-24 at their own 38 and will have to play field position.

NDSU 3, EWU 0

Eastern narrowly converted a third-and-1 just across midfield on a swing screen from Eric Barriere to Dre Dorton. Two plays after that, Barriere found Dennis Merritt for what would’ve been a 39-yard completion deep into Bison territory. But an illegal formation call on EWU, for having five men in the backfield, wiped it out. That’s a killer.

NDSU 3, EWU 0

Cam Pedersen, the leading scorer in Bison history, punched through a 36-yard field goal to wrap 13-play, 60-yard, 8:10 drive to start the game.NDSU had false-started before the attempt, pushing it back 5 yards, but Pedersen was money anyway.

NDSU 0, EWU 0

North Dakota State received to start the game. The Bison are nearing midfield after converting a third-and-1 up the middle with running back Lance Dunn.

NDSU 0, EWU 0

Kickoff’s in moments. Here were the pregame interviews with NDSU’s Chris Klieman ...

... and EWU’s Aaron Best: