Winning Best Supporting Role: Easton Stick

Easton Stick walks through the tunnel made of NDSU fans and the Gold Star Marching Band after the team buses arrived at Toyota Stadium.

There was no rust.

There was no doubt.

There wasn’t a missed beat.

It’s Carson Freakin’ Wentz for goodness sake.

Head coach Chris Klieman called Wentz the “best quarterback in college football, not FCS, in college football.”

Jacksonville State University head coach John Grass commended Wentz Saturday after the championship game in Frisco, Texas.

“He played phenomenal,” Grass said about Wentz’s final college football game. “He made every throw he needed to make, and he was on the money. So for a guy that hasn’t played in 10-11 weeks, he came out there like he was right in sync and played really well.”

He’s by far the best quarterback in North Dakota State football history.

All the passing touchdowns (45), all the passing yards (5,115) and all the dazzling throws. No NDSU football player has ever been drafted in the first round of the NFL draft, but Wentz will.

Imagine, National Football League commissioner Roger Goodell on draft night (April 28), “With our next pick in the NFL draft, the Houston Texans select, North Dakota State quarterback … Easton Stick.”

Wait what?

The redshirt-freshman, that took over when Wentz went down?

The dude that hasn’t lost a game in his collegiate career, that guy that isn’t from North Dakota?

The 6-foot-2-inch chap from Nebraska, are you serious? That’s who you’re talking about?

Yes, that’s who I’m talking about and no, Stick will not get drafted in the 2016 NFL Draft for obvious reasons, but Stick saved NDSU’s season.

“We wouldn’t be here without Easton Stick,” Klieman said Saturday after the championship game.

No kidding.

NDSU was coming off an unpredictable loss to the University of South Dakota, and the very next week a freshman quarterback was to make his first ever start against a Top 25 FCS team on the road.

But it all worked out.

Stick didn’t statistically have his best throwing game, but he did have two rushing touchdowns and 127 rushing yards on 17 carries in Terre Haute, Indiana.

And he finished his eight game season with 14 passing touchdowns and just four interceptions.

His completion percentage wasn’t very high, but there is plenty of time for improvement. And there is plenty of time for thanks.

After NDSU won its fifth straight title, Wentz thanked Stick for getting the Bison to the finish line.

“I owe (Stick) so much,” Wentz said. “He prepared all year long as if he was a starter, and he just took it and ran with it. He did a tremendous job.”

I can’t give all the credit to Stick during Wentz’s absence; NDSU’s defense continued to make strides in the right direction when Wentz was injured, and the offensive line had no problems protecting a young quarterback.

Heck, in Stick’s first eight games, NDSU’s opponents only scored 20-plus points twice and in the final three games Stick started (the first three playoff games) the Bison defense gave up just an average of 8.6 points per game.

But Stick stuck with the game plan and rattled off win after win and NDSU found itself in Frisco, yet again.

And it was a storybook ending.

Backup quarterback has major success, but in the end star quarterback steals the show right at the final scene.

Klieman said this is how Stick wanted it to be.

“His number one goal was to give Carson a chance to play again,” Klieman said. “And that tells you all you need to know about Easton Stick.”

Ultimately, Wentz crossed the finish line for the Bison, but the 2015 season was a relay race between teammates Stick and Wentz.

Now, Stick will get his own personal race in 2016.

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