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Anthony Chiusano | NCAA.com | January 10, 2020

North Dakota State QB Trey Lance wins 2019 FCS Walter Payton Award

North Dakota State defeats Montana State in the FCS Semifinals

FRISCO, Texas — The seven-time national champs have their first Walter Payton Award winner.

North Dakota State redshirt freshman quarterback Trey Lance was honored with the 2019 FCS Walter Payton Award Friday night at the STATS FCS Awards Banquet in Frisco, Texas, home of the FCS championship. The award, which debuted in 1987, is given annually to the most outstanding offensive player in the FCS.

Lance edged out fellow finalists Case Cookus of Northern Arizona, Pete Guerriero of Monmouth and Kevin Thomson of Sacramento State. This was the first time that four finalists were invited to the banquet.

WALTER PAYTON AWARD: Complete history of the annual FCS top offensive honor

In his first year as a starter, Lance has passed for 2,714 yards and 28 touchdowns while rushing for 934 yards and 13 additional touchdowns. He ranks first in the FCS in passing efficiency (182.80) and has yet to throw an interception. Lance is the first freshman to win the award in its 33-year history.

"It's a huge honor honestly to be even in the conversation for that. I've said it before, wouldn't be in it without the coaching staff, the position they put me in to be successful," Lance said Friday afternoon ahead of the award's announcement. "The guys around me getting to this point in the season, Zeb [Noland] and Noah [Sanders], and Easton [Stick] as well, guys that came before me. Wouldn't be anywhere in the conversation without those guys."

Lance has led the top-ranked Bison to a 15-0 start heading into Saturday's FCS championship game against James Madison. NDSU seeks its eighth national title in the past nine years.

2020 FCS CHAMPIONSHIP: Follow live | The interactive bracket | Printable bracket

Montana's Dante Olson wins Buck Buchanan Award

A year after finishing third in the award race, Montana redshirt senior linebacker Dante Olson was announced the 2019 winner of the Buck Buchanan Award, handed to the most outstanding defensive player in FCS football.

Olson finished the 2019 season with 76 solo tackles and 179 total tackles, the latter being best in the FCS for a second straight year. Olson racked up double-digit tackles in 10 of the Grizzlies' 14 games and added 3.5 sacks, two forced fumbles and an interception.

Olson finished his collegiate career with 397 total tackles, a school record. He is the third Montana player to win the Buchanan Award, tying Cal Poly for most single-school representatives in the award's history.

Defensive ends Ron'Dell Carter of James Madison and Sully Laiche of Nicholls were the other two finalists for the 2019 honor.

TITLE COUNT: Schools with the most FCS football national championships | Complete history

Three more national awards handed out

The national coach of the year, top freshman in the nation and scholar-athlete in FCS football were also celebrated Friday. These winners were announced back in December, before the STATS FCS Awards Banquet .

Sacramento State's Troy Taylor is this year's Eddie Robinson Award winner for national coach of the year. Taylor guided the Hornets to a program-best nine wins in just his first season at the helm. Sacramento State finished the year 9-4 with its first-ever share of the Big Sky conference title.

The Hornets qualified for the FCS playoffs for the first time in program history and was the No. 4 seed in the bracket. They lost to Austin Peay, 42-28, in the second round of the tournament.

Lance, the 2019 Walter Payton Award winner, also took home the Jerry Rice Award as the national freshman of the year. He is the third quarterback to be honored in the award's nine-year history and the first North Dakota State winner.

This year's Doris Robinson Scholar-Athlete Award winner is Bucknell punter Alex Pechin. The senior excelled on the field with a school- and conference-record 47.3 yards per punt en route to becoming a first-team All-American in four different publications.

The two-time team captain and three-time Patriot League Scholar-Athlete of the Year is a biomedical engineering and management for engineers double major with a 3.90 GPA.

Below is every past winner of the FCS Walter Payton Award:
YEAR WINNER, SCHOOL POSITION
2019 Trey Lance, North Dakota State Quarterback
2018 Devlin Hodges, Samford Quarterback
2017 Jeremiah Briscoe, Sam Houston State Quarterback
2016 Jeremiah Briscoe, Sam Houston State Quarterback
2015 Cooper Kupp, Eastern Washington Wide receiver
2014 John Robertson, Villanova Quarterback
2013 Jimmy Garoppolo, Eastern Illinois Quarterback
2012 Taylor Heinicke, Old Dominion Quarterback
2011 Bo Levi Mitchell, Eastern Washington Quarterback
2010 Jeremy Moses, Stephen F. Austin Quarterback
2009 Armanti Edwards, Appalachian State Quarterback
2008 Armanti Edwards, Appalachian State Quarterback
2007 Jayson Foster, Georgia Southern Quarterback
2006 Ricky Santos, New Hampshire Quarterback
2005 Erik Meyer, Eastern Washington Quarterback
2004 Lang Campbell, William & Mary Quarterback
2003 Jamaal Branch, Colgate Running back
2002 Tony Romo, Eastern Illinois Quarterback
2001 Brian Westbrook, Villanova Running back
2000 Louis Ivory, Furman Running back
1999 Adrian Peterson, Georgia Southern Running back
1998 Jerry Azumah, New Hampshire Running back
1997 Brian Finneran, Villanova Wide receiver
1996 Archie Amerson, Northern Arizona Running back
1995 Dave Dickenson, Montana Quarterback
1994 Steve McNair, Alcorn State Quarterback
1993 Doug Nussmeier, Idaho Quarterback
1992 Michael Payton, Marshall Quarterback
1991 Jamie Martin, Weber State Quarterback
1990 Walter Dean, Grambling State Running back
1989 John Friesz, Idaho Quarterback
1988 Dave Meggett, Towson Running back
1987 Kenny Gamble, Colgate Running back

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