North Dakota State avenges loss to James Madison to win FCS championship

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They have combined for the last six national titles heading into their highly anticipated title game at Toyota Stadium.

Add in the unmatched intensity and physicality and the 40th FCS championship game showed why it was one of the most anticipated in history.

Easton Stick threw a 50-yard touchdown pass to Darrius Shepherd and the Bison took back the Football Championship Subdivision title, beating James Madison 17-13 on Saturday. They're 14-0 and have barely trailed this season.

The game was nothing short of epic.

AP PREVIEW: Former James Madison linebacker Gage Steele summed up the feeling of the Dukes' FCS championship last January.

Weber State did teeter on eliminating James Madison in the quarterfinals, but a field goal as time expired kicked the Dukes into this season's semis, where they blasted South Dakota State 51-16.

The Bison outgained James Madison 264-241 and held the Dukes to just 93 yards rushing.

JMU senior quarterback Bryan Schor says, "This is the reason why we play football".

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"You have to keep waiting for that moment and keep believing that you are going to make that play", Shepherd said.

"We've worked that all week", James Madison coach Mike Houston said. "We made too many mistakes".

The Dukes lead the country in scoring defense, allowing just 11 points per game. On 3rd-and-17 from midfield, Shepherd slipped behind the James Madison secondary and Stick lofted a pass to him at the 10, which Shepherd turned into his first touchdown of the season and a 14-3 Bison lead with 4:14 left in the half. "We felt like we'd get that look from them".

"Got the coverage that we wanted, and really was all on Darrius running away from that back-side safety", Stick said. As soon as the clock hit zero, he slid and waited to get mobbed by teammates, while the yellow-clad fans spilled onto the field for the trophy celebration on a stage behind one of the end zones.

James Madison scored on its first possession of the third quarter to close within 17-13.

JMU - Marcus Marshall has 11 carries for 30 yards and 1 touchdown.

The rematch goes to North Dakota State. The Bison won five straight titles before bowing out in last year's semifinals against... The Dukes beat the Bison in 2016 in the semifinals en route to winning their first title since 2004.

"If you take the busiest day we've ever had, it doesn't compare to when the Bison are here", Verich said.

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