FRISCO, TEXAS (KELO) — The FCS National Championship is just one day away as #1 South Dakota State gets set to meet #2 Sam Houston.
SDSU and Sam Houston will cross paths for the first time in their school histories.
SAM HOUSTON 38 JAMES MADISON 35
The Bearkats met James Madison in the FCS Semifinals and they trailed 24-3 at halftime.
Sam Houston outscored James Madison 35-11 in the second half to earn the come from behind win and send them to the FCS National Championship.
“Great win last week. A historic win because I don’t know if anyone has ever come back from 21 points, this late in the season in a semifinal,” Sam Houston head coach K.C. Keeler said. “The theme is has been just to play one play at a time and we got away from that for about a seven minute stretch in the second period.”
The Bearkats forced two turnovers and two punts in the second half to grab the lead, but they were out gained by quite a bit.
James Madison rushed for 159 yards and passed for 271 yards, giving them a total of 430 yards to SHSU’s 331 total yards.
Sam Houston quarterback, Eric Schmid, had a solid performance as he threw for 218 yards and a touchdown, while rushing for 55 yards and two more scores.
The Bearkats finished the 2021 season with a perfect 9-0 record including their last three playoff wins.
“They’re a very good football team and they have no weaknesses. I would say there are a lot of strengths. They’re players are really good, they’re quarterback is excellent,” SDSU head coach John Stiegelmeier said. “Their skill on offense is excellent their lines are really good. On defense, if you said where have they improved the most from the Sam Houston’s I’ve seen in the past, I would say it’s their total defense, especially their defensive line.”
Sam Houston’s success stems from their terrific offense that is paired with a pressuring defense that can get after the quarterback.
“Defensively there are no weaknesses, offensively there are no weaknesses. They have difference makers, at least one at every level so coach Keeler has put together a really special football team,” Stiegelmeier said.
The Bearkat offense has scored the second most points in the FCS and they are scoring nearly forty points per game.
Defensively, Sam Houston creates pressure with their talented front six and strong secondary.
The Bearkats have 37 sacks, which is nine more than the next team. They’ve also forced 22 turnovers, which is third best in the entire country.
SEARCHING FOR A TITLE
Both the Bearkats and the Jackrabbits are in search of their first ever FCS Title.
Sam Houston has played in two prior FCS National Championships, but suffered losses to NDSU in 2011 and 2012.
“The changes that I’ve made to make the playoffs over the past five years, weren’t to get us to a championship, they were to win us a championship,” Keeler said.
South Dakota State has never reached the big game before.
The key to winning on Sunday is going to be how each team handle the opportunities they get.
“You’ve got to manage the moments, because the moments can be overwhelming. If you fumble the ball or you don’t get enough for the first down and with all those moments, you can’t dwell on the last play. You’ve got to move onto the next play” Keeler said. ‘That’s why when you get to this time of the year, it’s constantly ‘play the next play’.”
Sunday’s game kicks off at 1 p.m. and can be seen on ABC Network. KELOLAND’s Sean Bower is in Frisco and will have coverage of the big game.