Connect with us


Sam Houston State Stuns SDSU In Final Seconds to Claim FCS Title



FRISCO, TX – South Dakota State’s first National Championship game appearance came up agonizingly short of bringing home the prize.

Sam Houston State’s Eric Schmid threw a ten-yard touchdown pass to Ife Adeyfi with 16 seconds remaining that would prove to be the difference in defeating SDSU 23-21 in the FCS National Championship Game on Sunday afternoon in Frisco, Texas.

Minutes earlier it appeared as though SDSU (8-2) was about to complete a remarkable comeback. After losing star freshman quarterback Mark Gronowski to a leg injury after the first series of the game, and falling behind 17-7, Isaiah Davis ripped off an amazing 85-yard touchdown run with 5:41 to go that gave the Jacks a 23-21 lead. The true freshman running back from Missouri carried 14 times for 178 yards and all three SDSU touchdowns.

Gronowski twisted his left leg during a run on the fourth play of the game. Though he ran the next play he was visibly in pain and crumpled on the sideline when trying to warm up for a return. Sophomore Keaton Heide, who started half of the 2019 season, came in and went 11-22 for 107 yards and an interception. Head coach John Stiegelmeier said after the game that the injury appeared to be “very serious”.

Washington alum Zach Heins led SDSU with three receptions for 44 yards. Pierre Strong Jr. carried 15 times for 57 yards.

Sam Houston’s Schmid, who himself appeared injured at times and was reported to have been spitting up blood, went 20-37 for 209 yards and three touchdowns. NFL-prospect Jequez Ezzard hauled in ten passes for 108 yards and a pair of scores.

South Dakota State won’t have to wait long to get back on the field. They’ll open the fall 2021 football season on Saturday, September 4th at Colorado State of the FBS in Fort Collins, Colorado.

You can hear from head coach John Stiegelmeier in our video above. A recap of the game from SDSU follows below.

In winning its first Football Championship Subdivision title, second-seeded Sam Houston completed an undefeated season with a 10-0 mark. The top-seeded Jackrabbits ended the spring campaign with an 8-2 record.

SDSU overcame an injury to starting quarterback Mark Gronowski on the first offensive series and the weather to battle back from a 17-7 deficit to regain the lead in the fourth quarter. The Jackrabbits rode the legs of freshman running back Isaiah Davis, who scored on a 28-yard run two minutes into the final stanza, then gave SDSU its first lead since 7-0 with an 85-yard burst with 5 minutes and 41 seconds remaining.

Sam Houston followed with the game-winning drive, a methodical 16-play, 65-yard march. The Bearkats converted twice on short-yardage fourth-down plays – the second of which was a 5-yard pass to Jequez Ezzard on fourth-and-3 that set up Sam Houston with first and goal at the Jackrabbit 10. After two incompletions, quarterback Eric Schmid found Ife Adeyi in the middle of the end zone for a 10-yard touchdown with 16 ticks left on the clock.

The extra point was missed, giving SDSU an opportunity to win the game with a field goal. The Jackrabbits moved the ball to the Sam Houston 47 after a 27-yard kickoff return by Jordan Meachum and 9-yard pass from backup quarterback Keaton Heide to Zach Heins, but SDSU’s last-ditch effort in the final seconds with a series of laterals came up short.

Early on, the weather was the story. The game began in heavy rain, which hindered both squads’ offensive and special teams efforts. The Jackrabbits recovered a botched snap on Sam Houston’s first offensive possession at the Bearkats’ 41 and SDSU quickly turned that miscue into seven points a Davis scored from a yard out after a 20-yard run for the first of his three touchdowns on the day.

Davis rushed for a career-high 178 yards on 14 carries.

After a bobbled snap when lining up for a punt on its next possession at its own 17, Sam Houston dodged a bullet when the Jackrabbits botched a snap and hold of their own on what would have been a 34-yard field goal.

Sam Houston began to gain control in the second quarter, tying the game when Ezzard caught a pass from Schmid along the left sideline and weaved his way through the Jackrabbit defense in the middle of the field for a 35-yard touchdown.

The game was delayed for nearly 75 minutes due to lightning in the area, and when play resumed the Bearkat duo of Schmid and Ezzard hooked up again for a 15-yard touchdown. Ezzard hauled in 10 catches on the day for 108 yards, while Adeyi tallied five catches for 73 yards.

Seth Morgan provided the only points of the third quarter for either team with a 45-yard field goal for Sam Houston.

SDSU finished with a 362-353 advantage in total offense. Heide completed 11-of-22 passes for 107 yards and an interception. Gronowski attempted only two passes before his injury, completing one for 16 yards. Zach Heins caught three passes for 44 yards, with Janke adding three receptions for 35 yards.

Schmid completed 20-of-37 passes for 209 yards, while Ramon Jefferson paced the running game for Sam Houston with 16 carries for 96 yards.