- Associated Press - Saturday, November 19, 2016

VERMILLION, S.D. (AP) - Easton Stick threw for three touchdowns as North Dakota State clinched at least a share of its sixth-straight Missouri Valley Football Conference championship with a 28-21 win over South Dakota on Saturday.

The fourth-ranked and five-time defending national FCS champion is likely to earn the No. 1 seed when FCS playoff pairings are announced on Sunday.

Stick completed 13 of 20 passes for 154 yards, including touchdown passes to Darrius Shepherd, Jeff Illies and Connor Wentz.

Lance Dunn ran for 145 yards and King Frazier added 91 yards and a touchdown.

NDSU (10-1, 7-1 MVFC) ran for 369 yards and had a 12-minute advantage in time of possession.

“Nothing is easy in this league,” NDSU coach Chris Klieman said. “How guys just know how to win.”

The teams exchanged touchdowns in the first half.

First, NDSU marched 70 yards on its first possession to take a 7-0 lead. Frazier capped the drive with a 1-yard dive up the middle with 7:29 left in the first quarter.

But the Coyotes (4-7, 3-5) came right back to tie it on Chris Streveler’s 36-yard TD pass to Tacari Carpenter.

Streveler was 16-for-30 for 184 yards and two scores. He also ran for 63 yards and a TD.

The Bison went back on top with 8:42 left in the first half. Stick rolled to his right and found Shepherd from 40 yards out to cap an 85-yard drive. It was NDSU’s first TD reception by a wide receiver in six games.

USD tied it again on Streveler’s 1-yard run with 4:01 to play in the half.

It took NDSU three minutes to go back on top 21-14 on Stick’s 13-yard pass to Illies with 1:01 left. Illies caught the ball short of the end zone and fought his way in.

“It was in the game plan all week,” Illies said. “We figured it would be a back-shoulder fade ball and he put it on the money.”

Stick’s third TD pass of the game, a 6-yarder to Wentz on the first drive of the third quarter gave the Bison some separation.

But the Bison offense sputtered in the second half after going up by two scores. Their next four possessions ended with an interception and three punts giving USD a chance.

The Coyotes got within 28-21 on Alonge Brooks’ 12-yard pass from Streveler with 9:30 left to play.

After a defensive stop, the Coyotes took over on their own 20 with 7:29 left and drove as far as the NDSU 20 before the drive stalled on downs.

“Good effort. We had a chance. We had to put the ball in the end zone there to make it an interesting game. We didn’t do that, USD coach Bob Nielson said. “Our guys battled to the end and that’s what they did all year.”

NDSU took over with 4:53 left and ran out the clock.

“We’ve got ourselves a sixth straight Missouri Valley Conference championship. What a great, great bunch of guys,” Klieman said.

USD lost its last four games of the season.

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