FRISCO, Texas -- Sunday’s FCS Championship game involving South Dakota State and Sam Houston was a thriller.
And a lot of television viewers back home in South Dakota missed the dramatic conclusion. That’s because the local ABC affiliate inadvertently went to commercial in the final seconds, missing the game-winning touchdown from Sam Houston.
Viewers watching on Sioux Falls’ KSFY-TV saw the game cut to a commercial just as Sam Houston QB Eric Schmid took the snap on third-and-goal with 21 seconds left in the game. Then the broadcast missed the pass to the end zone caught by Sam Houston’s Ife Adeyi for the go-ahead score at 23-21.
The broadcast was gone for less than 20 seconds, but left viewers having to piece together what happened via social media and replays.
Following the game, Dakota News Now -- which is the combined news branding of KSFY, NBC affiliate KDLT-TV and FOX affiliate KTTW-TV -- issued a statement on its website apologizing for the technical error that sent the game to break.
“Due to a technical issue, we interrupted two moments at the end of the game between South Dakota State University and Sam Houston, including the final touchdown by Sam Houston State University. That mistake is on us and we apologize for the error. We will be reviewing our procedures to make sure something like this does not happen again.”
It was the second time in the fourth quarter that viewers missed some of the televised action, cutting to a promotional commercial during an earlier Sam Houston drive.
It drew some comparisons to the most famous example of missing the final moments of a football game, when NBC broke into the final minute of a 1968 New York Jets-Oakland Raiders game to show the start of the film “Heidi.” Some social media users joked Sunday’s game could be called the “Heide” game, due to the name of SDSU’s fill-in quarterback Keaton Heide during the contest.
Nationally, ABC’s broadcast also had technical issues in the second quarter, cutting out and missing Sam Houston’s first touchdown. That was just prior to a 71-minute lightning delay due to the weather in North Texas on Sunday.
North Texas was in the path of heavy rain and severe thunderstorms on Sunday afternoon, sending the FCS Championship game into a weather delay in the second quarter.
In nearby McKinney, located just north of Frisco, more than 1.2 inches of rain was recorded on Sunday morning and afternoon, according to the National Weather Service, bringing out ponchos and raincoats for Jackrabbit fans in the stands.
The teams played through driving rain for the first hour of the game, and then lightning within an eight-mile radius of the stadium caused play to be halted with 8:25 left in the second quarter and the game tied at 7, forcing nearly all of the 7,840 fans out of the seating bowl. The delay lasted 71 minutes, and is believed to be the first in FCS championship history, given the game is usually played in the winter.
“We said, you know, to win a National Championship -- this isn't basketball,” Sam Houston coach K.C. Keeler said. “You're not playing indoors. It's not climate controlled. You need to go through so many different things in a football game, in a football season, and this is just one of them we're going to go through. If we truly are the best team in the country, bring it on.”
Isaiah Davis, the SDSU running back with three touchdown runs on Sunday, said they tried to stay loose during the long break, which led to a three-minute halftime to keep the game moving after a long intermission.
“We had switched up the game plan, see what they were stopping us with, some different calls we had to change coming out of that second quarter,” Davis said. “We really used that break to rehydrate, get some fluids and get some snacks in our system, make sure we weren't getting stiff and loose -- make sure we were staying loose. We felt like that worked to our advantage.”
Sunday’s game was the seventh time in FCS championship history the top two seeds played for a title, and the Bearkats’ victory means the No. 2 seed has now won six of those seven meetings.
Thanks to 178 yards from Davis, SDSU ran for 239 yards in the game and had 362 yards of total offense on 59 plays. Sam Houston had 353 yards on 73 plays, including 209 passing yards. The Jackrabbits had just 190 yards of offense prior to the fourth quarter.
Sam Houston was the nation’s leader in sacks for the season entering the game, with 37 in nine games. But the Bearkats did not have a sack on Sunday, and had four quarterback hurries.
The Missouri Valley Football Conference was seeking its eighth national champion in the last 11 years with an SDSU win Sunday, with the previous seven titles coming from North Dakota State.
Sam Houston is the newest initial winner of an FCS title since Eastern Washington in 2010.