FARGO – North Dakota State will attempt to send away coach Chris Klieman with another national championship.
Quarterback Easton Stick rushed for 147 yards and three touchdowns, Bruce Anderson also scored three times and the Bison advanced to the FCS title game with a 44-21 victory over rival South Dakota State in a national semifinal Friday night at the Fargodome.
Stick also completed 12 of 15 passes for 169 yards and a touchdown for top-seeded North Dakota State (14-0), which will play for its seventh FCS national championship, all since 2011. Of their previous six championship teams, only the 2013 team under Craig Bohl went undefeated at 15-0.
That was Bohl’s final season before departing for FBS Wyoming. Klieman will coach in the Jan. 5 title game in Frisco, Texas, before taking over the program at Kansas State, a job he took Monday. Klieman will be going for his fourth championship in five seasons as Bison coach.
NDSU’s opponent in the FCS final will be the winner of Saturday’s game between seventh-seeded Maine and third-seeded Eastern Washington.
South Dakota State (10-3) lost 21-17 on Sept. 29 at the Fargodome but won regular-season games against the Bison in 2016 and ’17. The Jackrabbits have played NDSU four times in the FCS playoffs and lost all four.
Stick scored on a 5-yard run in the first quarter and gave the Bison the lead for good at 14-7 with a 34-yard touchdown run late in the second. NDSU then started to pull away with a 21-point third quarter. On the first play from scrimmage in the second half, Bison running back Seth Wilson broke off a 78-yard run to the 2. He was caught from behind by Marshon Harris — who was called for a horsecollar penalty, giving the Bison another yard — but Anderson dived in for a score on the next play, putting NDSU up 21-7.
The Jackrabbits, who got 135 rushing yards and a touchdown from Pierre Strong, answered on an 8-yard touchdown pass from Taryn Christion to Blake Kunz, but Stick then directed a 75-yard touchdown drive that ended with a 14-yard pass to Anderson. And after SDSU was held to a three-and-out, Anderson broke off a 41-yard TD run for a 35-14 lead.
After putting up 226 yards of offense in the first half, NDSU had 232 in the third quarter.