- Associated Press - Saturday, December 3, 2016

FARGO, N.D. (AP) - Quarterback Easton Stick filled in to take Carson Wentz’s North Dakota State team to last year’s FCS championship game then stepped aside for Wentz and the Bison to win their fifth straight national title.

Stick threw three touchdown passes on Saturday as his Bison took the first steps toward a sixth title with a 45-7 win over San Diego in a second-round playoff game.

The top-seeded Bison (11-1) will get a chance to avenge their only loss when they play host to South Dakota State in the quarterfinals. SDSU beat NDSU 19-17 on the last play of the game in the regular-season meeting in Fargo.

“That’s the team we wanted to play and we got,” NDSU linebacker MJ Stumpf said.

Stick completed 12 of 20 passes for 208 yards and ran four times for 99 yards. He threw TD passes of 16 and 49 yards to Chase Morlock and 11 yards to RJ Urzendowski .

The Bison defense got into the act when Stumpf returned an interception 35 yards for a touchdown and Cam Pedersen kicked the PAT with 10:49 left in the first quarter.

“It was the same thing that happened in Iowa, it fell in my lap. I didn’t know I had it right away,” Stumpf said. “Everyone has got to elevate their play.”

The Bison took over in the second half.

“We told them if we were able to be more physical we could wear them down in the second half,” NDSU coach Chris Klieman said. “It was a grind-it-out Bison type of game.”

The Bison stretched the lead to 14-0 with 7:17 left in the first quarter. Morlock ran a wheel route out of the backfield and was left wide open for a 16-yard TD pass from Stick.

With 2:24 left in the half and the Bison up 14-0, San Diego’s Patrick Murray missed a 42-yard field goal attempt and NDSU took advantage of that missed opportunity.

The Bison marched 75 yards in less than two minutes and went up 21-0 on Stick’s 12-yard fade pass to Urzendowski. The receiver had four catches for 60 yards on the drive, his only catches of the game.

Morlock had 83 yards on three catches.

The Toreros finally got on the board on Anthony Lawrence’s 1-yard TD pass to Ross Dwelley with 6:56 left in the third quarter.

But Stick answered with a 49-yard TD toss to Morlock on NDSU’s next possession. The Bison got a 31-yard field goal by Pedersen and TD runs of 56 yards by Lance Dunn and 61 yards by Bruce Anderson.

Dunn finished with 93 of NDSU’s 299 yards rushing.

Lawrence was 23 for 38 for 188 yards. Jonah Hodges led the Toreros (10-2) in rushing with 93 yards and receiving with 68 yards on seven catches.

Klieman said he didn’t care who NDSU played in the next round. “Moving forward, whoever is out there is out there and we just have to be ready to play.”

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