FCS title game QBs Schor, Stick defined by the winning
By CRAIG HALEY
(STATS) - To coaches Mike Houston of James Madison and Chris Klieman of North Dakota State, it would be particularly fitting if their respective quarterback wins the most outstanding player award in Saturday's FCS championship game.
JMU senior Bryan Schor and NDSU junior Easton Stick thrive in big games, and though they have a little less individual hardware than what their coaches feel is deserving, their outstanding careers are defined by their win totals and their teams' championship levels.
Stick enters the title game in Frisco, Texas, with a 33-3 career record as a starter. Schor is 29-3, including a win over North Dakota State in the 2016 playoff semifinals on the way to James Madison winning the national title. Stick is 8-1 in playoff games, Schor 7-1.
"They've both had a tremendous amount of success in their careers," Houston said. "I think they both do a great job of playing within the system. They do what their team needs on a daily basis to win football games.
"Sometimes that means they've got to be a little bit unselfish. But I'd say both of them are probably the same that they could really care less about the stats. What matters to them is winning."
Schor was the CAA Football offensive player of the year as a junior. While he was the second-team All-CAA quarterback as a senior, his final season has been just as impressive when considering the No. 1-ranked Dukes (14-0) have endured injuries with multiple offensive linemen, early season running back Cardon Johnson was lost after three games and there's been plenty of changes among the receivers.
He's completed 66.8 percent of his passes for 3,074 yards and 26 touchdowns with 12 interceptions, while rushing for 303 yards and seven TDs.
Houston says, "I think it is all the intangibles that are what make him special. Yet he has the ability to make plays when the stakes are the highest. He has the ability to make the accurate throws when there's tight coverage or when there's a lot of pressure around him. He has the ability to extend plays and does a pretty good job of ball security."
North Dakota State (13-1) relies on Stick in a way similar to James Madison with Schor. Stick will run more often on draws and is strong with setting up the pass through play-action. An honorable mention selection in the Missouri Valley Football Conference, he has a 62.4 completion percentage for 2,336 yards and 27 touchdowns with eight interceptions, while rushing for 596 yards and 11 scores.
As a redshirt freshman in 2015, Stick won three playoffs games and went 8-0 as a starter, but stepped aside the week of the championship game when Carson Wentz returned from a broken wrist to start his final college game.
"Easton said all along he was going to just hold the spot for Carson," Klieman said. "So he got us to that championship as well as our run game and a phenomenal defense. But for him to lead us all the way up to the championship game and not get the opportunity to play in it and then have the seasons he'd had the last two years with the amount of wins and the big-time conference championships, he deserves that opportunity to play on this kind of stage."
Updated January 2, 2018