In NDSU title win, Stick leads the way

Posted January 07, 2018

Shepherd hauled in a 50-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter of NDSU's 17-13 victory against James Madison for the Division I FCS championship.

This year the teams seem evenly matched in all phases, including the presence of two veteran quarterbacks who have combined to win 62 games. It comes two years after he guided the Bison to the title game for an injured Carson Wentz, only to see the future National Football League quarterback replace him for the 2015 championship game.

It's #1 vs. #2 showdown. The Dukes will now face North Dakota State as underdogs as well, as the Bison come in as a 5.5-point favorite on Saturday.

It was the defensive battle of the top two scoring defenses in the FCS, with first downs at times a precious commodity by both teams.

Both coaches agree that Saturday's game at Toyota Stadium, slated for noon ET kickoff, should come down to defense.

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"I just know they're both competitors and they're both winners", NDSU head coach Chris Klieman said. That was made painfully clear during the semifinals when both teams absolutely throttled their high-powered opponents.

DeLuca helped lead the Bison defense in a staunch effort, highlighted by the Millard North product's hit behind the line of scrimmage on a key third down play in the game's fourth quarter. He's a big quarterback. North Dakota State was able to run the clock out, and secure their sixth FCS Championship in the last seven seasons.

- The North Dakota State Bison and their fans owned Frisco, Texas, for five consecutive championship seasons, not only on the football field but in area hotels, restaurants and sports bars.

"Oh no doubt", says Houston.

It left the outcome up to the Bison defense.

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"This matchup is exciting for the rest of the country, but it's exciting for us as well", Schor said at Thursday's media day.

Junior Bruce Anderson has been instrumental in helping Wilson along, "I've had more one on one time with Seth, you know kind of show him. It just so happens it's James Madison, whom we have a ton of respect for".

Schor, last season's CAA Offensive Player of the Year, is completing 66 percent of his passes and has 26 touchdown passes to 12 interceptions.

North Dakota State standout defensive tackle Nate Tanguay said his advice to his younger teammates during championship week is to "lock in" during practices and meetings but relax and enjoy the flurry of activities that includes meeting with former Bison football players and an annual bowling tournament.

"It's a tremendous honor to be here representing James Madison University and the CAA", JMU head coach Mike Houston said.

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"It was a really good team in 2015, and to me, it's probably a little more special this year just because of the relationships that I have with the senior class", Stick said. Whether deserved or not, the Dukes will use their experience with being underestimated in the past to attempt to earn their second-straight FCS National Championship.