FRISCO – The weather, a match-up of two excellent teams, and other various circumstances would ensure that this was a tough game for the Bearkats to win.
It was nasty in Frisco; rainy, sometimes windy, and dreaded lightning. Parents made emergency trips to Buccees to buy ponchos, since umbrellas weren’t allowed in the stadium. Two weather delays ensued. Players were slipping and sliding, there were bad snaps and missed opportunities. According to ESPN’s Kris Budden, quarterback Eric Schmid was spitting up blood due to being knocked down.
But it all led to a fourth quarter comeback; Schmid finding Ife Adeyi for a 10 yard pass with 16 seconds left. Those who follow the Bearkats are not surprised by the Kats pulling one off late.
“The last four weeks has come down to basically the last play, last drive of the game, and it did not surprise me that it came down to the last drive here,” said head coach K.C. Keeler.
“It was a four verticals concept with an angle route from the running back,” said Schmid. “Our progression for that play was just kind of picking one of your one-on-ones and then back to your angle route, and I saw Ife had some space in the middle of the field and we were both on the same page, so it worked out pretty nicely.”
Nicely, indeed. Schmid, a Woodlands native, showed grit throughout the title game.
“You talk about a warrior and you talk about a guy who just is just so calm under pressure and just doesn’t panic,” said Keeler. “I think that’s why a lot of us felt that we were going to be fine on that last drive, because we have a trigger man that is capable -- not only physically but emotionally, to make that last drive.”
“Tt’s not a one-man deal,” said Schmid. “Everybody came together and we did this as a team all year long. I’m just thankful to be a part of this team.”
Schmid, known to be humble and a quiet leader, didn’t think too much of spitting up blood. To him, it’s part of a win.
“Everybody is banged up at this point in the season, so you knew you had one game left, and just battling through injuries regardless of what’s going to happen,” said Schmid. “I mean, I know the defense was feeling the same way, the offense was feeling the same way. I just knew that we needed to fight the final 60 minutes and just go out with a victory.”
Keeler became the first coach to win two FCS championships with two different schools, having won with Delaware in 2003.
“It’s been an emotionally draining year, physically draining year,” said Keeler. “I’m looking forward to giving our kids a little time off and just kind of soaking this whole thing in.”
After a year of battles, Schmid had all the confidence in his team.
“We knew we’d battle through the adversity. South Dakota State was a really good team and they really tested us, so props to them. They’re a really good football team, and we’re just glad we got to come out on top,” said Schmid.