Bison run over Eagles to repeat as champions


Taylor Newquist

Freshman Talolo Limu-Jones consoles Sophomore Eric Barriere after the Eagles 38-24 loss to NDSU in the FCS National Championship on Saturday. Barriere threw for 198 yards and rushed a touchdown in the game.

By Taylor Newquist, Sports Editor

North Dakota State University added another National Championship to the Bison’s ever-growing trophy cabinet, powering through EWU in the Eagle’s second-ever appearance in the title game.

The Eagles (12-3) fell to the Bison (15-0) 38-24 in Frisco, Texas on Saturday. NDSU controlled the ball for 40 minutes and five seconds during the game and tallied 23 first downs, with a third down conversion rate of 64.7 percent.

After the game EWU head coach Aaron Best took most of the blame for the result.

“I feel like I failed the seniors,” Best said. “I’ve got to do more, but we fought through a lot of adversity, whether it be bad playing, bad coaching or penalties. We self-inflicted some of the wounds we had.”

NDSU jumped out to an early 17-3 lead, with the Eagles’ drives into Bison territory being stalled by penalties.

EWU would cut the lead to 17-10 before the end of the first half on a fake field goal attempt, with Gunnar Talkington flipping the ball to Jayce Gilder for a two yard score.

The second half opened with three quick turnovers. The first was an interception from Eric Barrire, followed by another interception from Easton Stick. Barriere exited the game with an apparent hand problem on the following possession, and Gunnar Talkington replaced him, only to give up a strip sack that was recovered by NDSU.

“I wasn’t nervous,” Barriere said. “Sometimes stuff doesn’t go your way.”

Sam McPherson blew the doors open with a 75 yard run early in the third quarter to make the score 24-17. Stick answered right back with a 78 yard touchdown pass to Darrius Shepherd.

Both teams traded punts until the Bison put together a drive that lasted over 10 minutes in the fourth quarter, and ended with a missed field goal. The drive took a lot of the energy out of the game.

“They did a good job of making those third and ones’, third and two’s available and taking advantage of those,” Ketner Kupp said.

EWU gained possession with three minutes and 21 seconds on the clock and drove down the field in just over a minute, with Barriere scoring on a five yard run.

With NDSU up 31-24 the Bison faced a third down with just over a minute remaining. Stick kept the ball on a read option and ran untouched 46 yards into the endzone to seal a Bison victory, their seventh in the last eight years.

“When I signed here this is exactly what I expected, to play in the national championship game,” McPherson said. “Obviously it didn’t turn out how we wanted it to, but it’s been an absolute blast to wear this EWU uniform.”

The Eagle’s group of 27 seniors and the rest of the 2018 EWU football team stamped their place as one of the best teams to step on the field in an Eagle uniform. Over the course of the season they lost over 10 starters, but still persevered to the second best finish in the history of the EWU football.