FRISCO, Texas - Easton Stick threw a 50-yard touchdown pass to Darrius Shepherd for the eventual winning score and North Dakota State took back the Football Championship Subdivision title, beating James Madison 17-13 on Saturday. The victory came a year after the Bison's five-year run atop the FCS ended against the Dukes in the national semifinals.
NDSU (14-1) ended James Madison's winning streak at 26 games, denied the Dukes a second consecutive title and spoiled what would have been their first undefeated, untied season.
By winning six championships in seven years in the suburb north of Dallas, the Bison tied Georgia Southern with the most FCS titles.
"It's a legacy," said linebacker Nick DeLuca, who was injured and missed last year's 27-17 loss to James Madison in Fargo that denied the Bison their annual trip to Texas. "That's everything that we work for and all those workouts, all that extra stuff we do in the offseason, it's for this moment and for this stage."
The Dukes (14-1), who trailed 17-3 late in the first half but then scored the game's next 10 points, 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 entirely overcome the early 14-point deficit because the mistakes that helped put the Dukes behind kept happening.
Schor threw two interceptions, including one by Marquise Bridges in his first career start at the NDSU 3 late in the third quarter. Two possessions later, Terrence Alls of the Dukes dropped a pass while running behind the defense, and Schor was sacked for the fourth time on the next play, forcing a punt.
"They made plays and we made too many mistakes," James Madison coach Mike Houston said. "That's what it boils down to. But they deserve to hoist that trophy out there."
NDSU's 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 to keep the deficit at four with 4 ½ minutes left before O'Kelly's run on the fake punt.
Marcus Marshall had a 1-yard run for the only touchdown for the Dukes, who lost the turnover battle 3-1.