(STATS) - It's only mid-October?
It felt like an afternoon deep into the FCS playoffs when third-ranked North Dakota State emerged from a back-and-forth fourth quarter Saturday to beat No. 10 Northern Iowa 31-28 on Carson Wentz's 18-yard touchdown pass to Darrius Sheppard with 35 seconds left.
NDSU second-year head coach Chris Klieman would have agreed.
"That may be the best college football game that I've been a part of," he said after beating UNI, his alma mater.
The lead changed five times in the final quarter before NDSU (4-1, 2-0) won the Missouri Valley Football Conference thriller - its 27th straight win at the Fargodome. The Bison, who have won the last four FCS national titles, also avenged last year's loss at UNI, which stopped their FCS-record 33-game win streak.
The winning TD pass on NDSU's Homecoming Day was Wentz's fourth of the game, third of the fourth quarter and second to Sheppard. The redshirt freshman, who's been nursing a shoulder injury, got behind UNI defenders Deiondre' Hall and D'Shawn Dexter in the back left corner of the Panthers' end zone to cap a 10-play, 79-yard drive, which included two successful fourth-down conversions in Bison territory. The drive started after UNI's Michael Schmadeke missed a 38-yard field goal attempt.
UNI (2-3, 0-2) had gone ahead 28-24 on quarterback Aaron Bailey's 83-yard touchdown run with 7:31 left. He led an earlier touchdown drive in the quarter and finished with 157 rushing yards - all in the second half after he replaced starter Sawyer Kollmorgen.
Bailey had a Hail Mary attempt into the NDSU end zone on the game's final play, but it was knocked incomplete by NDSU freshman Robbie Grimsley.
Wentz completed 26 of 40 attempts for 335 yards, adding 47 rushing yards. He was intercepted twice.
RJ Urzendowski led the Bison with five receptions for 109 yards. Sheppard caught three passes for 61 yards.
UNI linebacker Brett McMakin had a monster effort in the loss with 13 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, one sack, an interception and two forced fumbles.
STATS FCS TOP 25=
THURSDAY, OCT. 8
No. 17 Eastern Kentucky (3-2, 2-0 Ohio Valley) 48, Tennessee Tech (2-4, 1-2) 17
EKU junior quarterback Bennie Coney fueled the rout with career highs in completions (32), attempts (46), passing yards (351) and touchdown passes (five) with two interceptions.
Running back Dy'Shawn Mobley, the 2014 Ohio Valley Conference's offensive player of the year, had his first 100-yard game of an injury-plagued season. He finished with 115 yards on 25 carries and caught a touchdown pass.
The game was played at Georgetown College, about 40 miles from EKU's campus in Richmond after it was shut down earlier in the week because threatening graffiti was found inside its student center.
SATURDAY, OCT. 10
No. 2 Coastal Carolina (6-0, 1-0 Big South) 24, Presbyterian (1-5, 0-1) 17
Coastal Carolina held on to win its Big South Conference opener. Redshirt junior De'Angelo Henderson finished with 124 rushing yards and a 5-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter to tie former Monmouth running back David Sinisi's FCS record with a TD in his 20th straight game.
Chanticleers place-kicker Ryan Granger scored on a 4-yard run in addition to kicking three field goals.
Thunderstorms delayed the start of the game by about 1 hour, 45 minutes.
No. 4 Illinois State (4-1, 2-0 Missouri Valley) 31, No. 9 Youngstown State (3-2, 1-1) 29
The ninth-ranked Penguins pulled within 31-29 on Hunter Wells' 13-yard touchdown pass to Martin Ruiz with 32 seconds remaining, but failed on the two-point conversion.
Illinois State All-American running back Marshaun Coprich rushed for 131 yards and a touchdown, while Tre Roberson had 220 yards of offense with both a touchdown run and pass.
No. 5 James Madison (6-0, 3-0 CAA) 51, Towson (2-3, 0-2)
Vad Lee's five touchdown passes helped James Madison extend the best start in program history. He was 22 of 29 for 233 yards.
Khalid Abdullah carried the ball 26 times for 150 yards. Charles Tutt scored on a 92-yard kick return.
No. 6 Chattanooga (4-1, 2-0 Southern) 31, Furman (3-3, 1-1) 3
Defending Southern Conference champion Chattanooga remained in first place as Derrick Craine rushed for 138 yards and three touchdowns - all from 4 yards out - on 21 carries.
No. 7 Eastern Washington (3-2, 2-0 Big Sky) 42, Cal Poly (2-4, 1-2) 41, OT
Eastern Washington denied a two-point conversion attempt in overtime to edge Cal Poly. The Eagles went ahead 42-35 on Jordan West's 25-yard touchdown pass and Brandyn Bangsund's PAT on their OT possession.
West was 27 of 35 for 224 yards and four touchdowns, including a pair to Kendrick Bourne (10 receptions, 84 yards). Jabari Wilson also scored twice and had 103 yards on 25 carries.
Cal Poly quarterback Chris Brown rushed for 173 yards and three touchdowns as part of the Cowboys' 503-yard ground assault. He was only 2 of 5 for 16 yards.
No. 8 South Dakota State (4-1, 1-1 Missouri Valley) 24, No. 19 Indiana State (3-2, 1-1) 7
Without quarterback Zach Lujan, SDSU still controlled Indiana State. Taryn Christian threw for 221 yards and a touchdown and rushed for 99 more yards and a score.
No. 11 Sam Houston State (3-2, 3-1 Southland) 59, Incarnate Word (3-3, 2-2) 7
LaDarius Brown had 115 receiving yards and two touchdown receptions and Sam Houston owned a 596-177 advantage in yards.
Weber State (3-3, 2-1 Big Sky) 24, No. 12 Montana (3-3, 2-1) 21, OT
Montana suffered its first home loss to Weber State since 1987 as Josh Kealamakia booted a 27-yard field goal to end overtime. On the first play of the Griz's opening possession, Tre'von Johnson sacked quarterback Maken Simis, forcing a fumble that was recovered by Filipe Sitake.
Griz tight end Ben Roberts caught a pair of touchdowns, one each from quarterbacks Chad Chalich and Simis.
No. 13 Fordham (5-1) 48, Penn (1-3) 45
Makay Redd kicked a 31-yard field goal with eight seconds remaining to lift Fordham.
Sophomore Chase Edmonds rushed for a second straight and fourth overall 200-yard game with 230 yards and four touchdowns on 29 carries. He added a fifth score on one of his four receptions for 49 yards.
Quarterback Kevin Anderson continued his big season by completing 29 of 36 attempts for 377 yards and two touchdowns.
Penn tied the score 45-45 on Andrew Lisa's 13-yard touchdown pass to Ryan Kelly and two-point conversion throw to Justin Watson with 1:46 left to play.
William & Mary (3-2, 2-1 CAA) 38, No. 14 Villanova (2-3, 1-1) 16
Junior Kendell Anderson rushed for three 1-yard touchdowns in a 149-yard performance and free safety DeAndre Houston-Carson set a school record with a 94-yard interception return for a touchdown to spark William & Mary in a key CAA Football game.
Villanova has lost its last two games without quarterback John Robertson, the 2014 FCS offensive player of the year who suffered a season-ending knee injury.
Gardner-Webb (2-3, 1-0 Big South) 34, No. 15 Liberty (3-3, 0-1) 20
Gardner-Webb quarterback Tyrell Maxwell extinguished the Flames with 176 yards and three touchdowns on the ground and added a touchdown pass. The Runnin' Bulldogs jumped to a 20-0 lead in the first half.
Liberty's Josh Woodrum threw for 307 yards and a touchdown with one interception. Wide receiver Darrin Peterson caught nine passes for 107 yards and a touchdown.
No. 16 Richmond (4-1, 2-0 CAA) 27, Elon (2-4, 1-2) 14
Seth Fisher rushed for 119 yards and Jacobi Green added 101 yards with two touchdowns as Richmond won its fourth straight game.
No. 18 Montana State (3-2, 2-1 Big Sky) 35, Sacramento State (1-5, 0-3) 13
As usual, quarterback Dakota Prukop led the way for Montana State, throwing for 277 yards and a touchdown and rushing for 69 more and two scores.
No. 22 McNeese State (5-0, 4-0 Southland) 21, No. 20 Southeastern Louisiana (3-2, 2-1) 7
Ryan Ross rushed for 149 yards and two touchdowns on only 15 carries and McNeese matched its FCS-best scoring defense in allowing seven points.
Quarterback Daniel Sams also scored on the ground, adding 212 yards of total offense.
Idaho State (2-4, 1-2 Big Sky) 37, No. 23 North Dakota (4-2, 2-1) 31
Idaho State delivered the upset by overcoming a 31-15 second-half deficit. Jakori Ford scored on a 1-yard run and a 27-yard pass from Michael Sanders (32 of 49, 427 yards, four touchdowns) in the fourth quarter.
UND's John Santiago rushed for 155 yards and two touchdowns in the loss.
No. 24 Harvard (4-0, 2-0 Ivy) 40, Cornell (0-4, 0-2) 3
The Crimson forced four Cornell turnovers and kept an opponent without a touchdown for the second straight game while rolling to their 18th straight win, the longest active streak in the FCS. It was also their 13th straight Ivy League victory, a program record.
Quarterback Scott Hosch had 322 yards of total offense and four total touchdowns (three passing, one rushing).
No. 25 Portland State (4-1) 66, North Texas (0-5) 7
Portland State's second win over an FBS team this season was one of the more eye-opening victories as North Texas didn't score until 1:02 remained in the game. The touchdown didn't prevent the Big Sky school from registering the largest margin of win by an FCS team over an FBS program.
The Vikings, who opened their season by defeating Washington State, 24-17, outgained North Texas 670-198. Quarterback Alex Kuresa threw for three touchdowns and David Jones rushed for 134 yards and two scores.
No. 1 Jacksonville State (4-1, 2-0 OVC)
No. 21 New Hampshire (3-2, 2-1 CAA)