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Anthony Chiusano | | January 4, 2019

North Dakota State vs. Eastern Washington: How the FCS finalists match up statistically

Eagles soar with quarterback Eric Barriere

North Dakota State and Eastern Washington head into Saturday's FCS championship game flying high. They've outscored their postseason opponents by 33.3 and 19 points per game and account for 11 players on the STATS FCS All-American teams.

The amount of talent on each roster is obvious. But how do they stack up head to head?

Here's how each team compares statistically at individual positions and on team defense this season:

MORE: Schedule and how to watch the 2018 FCS playoffs | Interactive bracket | Printable bracket

Starting quarterback

NDSU's Easton Stick is tied for the most wins in FCS history (48) and is the reigning FCS championship Most Outstanding Player. EWU's Eric Barriere is a first-time starter, stepping in midseason for an injured Gage Gubrud. Differences in experience aside, the two signal callers match up fairly evenly in the stat book. 

CMP 162 177
ATT 262 286
PCT 61.8 61.9
YDS 2,554 2,252
Y/A 9.7 7.9
TD 26 24
INT 5 7
EFFICIENCY 172.7 150.8
RUSH ATT 99 90
RUSH YDS 645 742
RUSH AVG 5.6 6.7
RUSH TD 14 7

Top running back

North Dakota State's rushing corps runs deep, which accounts for the difference in workload between NDSU's leading rusher Bruce Anderson and EWU's Sam McPherson. Five different Bison have at least 80 carries this year, led by Lance Dunn's 141. Dunn also paces the team with 12 rushing touchdowns. Meanwhile, EWU's McPherson has twice as many rushing attempts and yards as any other Eagle.

RUSH ATT 124 186
RUSH YDS 940 1,386
RUSH AVG 7.5 7.3
RUSH TD 9 12
REC 12 22
REC YDS 199 178
REC AVG 16.6 8.1
REC TD 3 1

PREVIEW: North Dakota State stats, program history and players to watch | Eastern Washington

Top receiver

Darrius Shepherd (5-11, 188 pounds) and Nsimba Webster (5-10, 180) are both big-threat receivers, averaging more than 16 yards per reception. Each player has 18 career touchdowns and was the clear No. 1 option in their respective offense this year. No other Bison eclipsed 20 catches or 400 yards — though tight end Ben Ellefson (eight touchdowns) is a reliable red zone target. For EWU, redshirt freshman Andrew Boston ranks second with 43 catches and 531 yards.

  darrius shepherd (NDSU) nsimba webster (EWU)
REC 57 80
YDS 940 1,287
AVG 16.5 16.1
TD 7 11

Team defense

Both defensive units rank in the top five in interceptions and top 10 in turnover margin among all FCS teams. Only Colgate has allowed fewer points per game (9.3) than North Dakota State — in two fewer games. Eastern Washington has cut its points allowed per game mark by nearly two touchdowns from last season to rank in the top 20 nationally in 2018.

YDS/G 284.4 385.6
PTS/G 11.8 21.6
FR 6 12
INT 21 20

MORE: FCS national championship history | Schools with the most all-time FCS titles


Eastern Washington has a first-team All-American placekicker in Roldan Alconbendas, who is a perfect 15-of-15 on field goals and has only missed one extra point attempt in 69 tries. Both he and NDSU's Cam Pedersen have season-long field goals of 47 yards. Alconbendas has three 40+ field goal conversions while Pedersen has two.

   cam pederson (NDSU)  roldan alcobendas (EWU)
XPM 75 68
XPA 75 69
XP% 100.0 98.6
FGM 8 15
FGA 13 15
FG% 60.0 100.0
LONG 47 47


There may not be too many punts Saturday with each team's offense rolling, but two of the FCS's elite punters will be on display. Alcobendas, the two-way special teamer, ranks second in the nation with his 44.9-yard average. NDSU's Garret Wegner isn't far behind in ninth place.

YDS/PUNT 43.2 44.9
LONG 61 78

MORE: FCS Championship info | Buy tickets | Event schedule 

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