HUNTSVILLE, Texas — Eric Schmid threw for 227 yards and a touchdown, and his 6-yard touchdown run with 3:39 left helped send second-seeded Sam Houston State past defending FCS champion North Dakota State 24-20 on Sunday.
The Bearkats (8-0) advance to face the winner between No. 3-seed James Madison and North Dakota in the semifinals. Sam Houston State’s win gives it a 15-0 all-time playoff record in home games as it searches for its first-ever championship.
The loss snapped North Dakota State’s (7-3) FCS string of nine straight semifinals’ appearances.
Three days after former Bison quarterback Trey Lance was selected No. 3 overall by the San Francisco 49ers in the NFL Draft, North Dakota State couldn’t keep the positive vibes going.
“I told them how much I appreciated them and loved them,” North Dakota State coach Matt Entz said. “Ninety-nine percent of our guys we’ll have back. The one percent of guys, I’m upset we couldn’t give them one more game.”
Facing a third-and-10 near midfield, Ife Adeyi pulled in a spectacular 47-yard, over-the-shoulder, one-foot inbounds catch on the sideline from Schmid at the Bison’s 9-yard line to set up Schmid’s go-ahead score.
On the previous drive, North Dakota State put together a 20-play, 60-yard drive that lasted almost 10 minutes which ended with Jake Reinholz’s 33-yard field to give North Dakota State its first lead at 20-17 with 8:17 left.
Ramon Jefferson’s 1-yard scoring plunge near the end of the first quarter gave the Bearkats a 10-0 lead. Logan McCormick blocked Matt McRobert’s punt attempt for a safety for North Dakota State’s first points with 5:13 before intermission.
Schmid connected with Noah Smith on a 23-yard touchdown pass for a commanding 17-2 advantage with 8:39 left in the third. The Bison rallied when on the ensuing kickoff Christian Watson returned it 94 yards to make it 17-9. Less than two minutes later, Braylon Henderson returned a punt 76 yards for a Bison score and the 2-point conversion tied it.
The Bearkats stymied North Dakota State’s run game holding the offense to 3.2-yards per carry. Cam Miller threw for 90 yards and was intercepted twice.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.