Sam Houston Defeats North Dakota State in FCS Quarterfinal, 24-20

Bison football
Bison football(KFYR-TV)
Published: May. 2, 2021 at 10:55 PM CDT
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HUNTSVILLE, TEXAS (NDSU Athletics) - Eric Schmid’s 6-yard touchdown run with 3:39 remaining in the game lifted No. 2 seed Sam Houston to a 24-20 victory over North Dakota State in the quarterfinals of the NCAA Division I Football Championship on Sunday, May 2, before a crowd of 4,984 at Bowers Stadium.

North Dakota State finished its season 7-3 overall with its 11th consecutive FCS quarterfinal appearance. Sam Houston (8-0) advanced to host the winner of Sunday evening’s quarterfinal between North Dakota and James Madison.

NDSU scored on a safety in the second quarter and a kickoff return and punt return in the third quarter to come back and tie the game 17-17. Jake Reinholz’s 33-yard field goal with 8:17 left in the game gave NDSU a 20-17 lead.

Schmid’s score capped a nine-play, 72-yard drive highlighted by a 47-yard passing play to Ife Adeyi on third-and-10 to move the ball to the NDSU 5. After a one-yard rushing loss, Schmid scored up the middle to put the Bearkats back ahead.

North Dakota State advanced as far as the Sam Houston 17 on the final drive thanks to a pass interference call on fourth-and-5, Dominic Gonnella’s 22-yard rush on third-and-2, and a five-yard pass from Cam Miller to Christian Watson that set up third-and-2 with 39 seconds left.

The Bison fumbled an exchange in the backfield and couldn’t convert a fourth-and-6 passing attempt with 29 seconds left in the game.

NDSU trailed 10-0 in the first quarter after Sam Houston capitalized on a Bison fumble and interception, but NDSU got on the board in the second quarter when Logan McCormick blocked a punt that rolled out of the end zone for safety.

SHSU took a 17-2 lead on the first possession of the second half. The Bearkats marched 75 yards in 12 plays capped by a 23-yard reception by Noah Smith.

Watson answered that score with a 94-yard kickoff return touchdown, becoming just the fifth player in school history to return two kickoffs for touchdowns in the same season.

The Bison forced a three-and-out on the next series and Braylon Henderson took the Sam Houston punt 76 yards for a touchdown. Reinholz converted the PAT kick to tie the game at 17.

NDSU’s Hunter Luepke rushed 12 times for a team-high 57 yards, Gonnella had 10 carries for 46 yards and Miller ran 14 times for 26 yards. Miller was 7 of 18 passing for 90 yards with two interceptions.

Linebackers Cole Wisniewski, Jackson Hankey and Jasir Cox each made six tackles to lead the Bison defense, which held Sam Houston to its second lowest total yards (313) this season.

Wisniewski, Eli Mostaert, Lane Tucker and Michael Tutsie had tackles for loss. Cornerback Courtney Eubanks and defensive end Spencer Waege had two pass breakups apiece.

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