SALEM, Va. -- Zac Boyes threw for 349 yards and five touchdowns and rushed for 123 yards, Cortland stopped a 2-point conversion attempt with 90 seconds remaining, and the Red Dragons beat defending champion North Central 38-37 on Friday night for their first NCAA Division III championship.

Cortland (14-1), playing in the Stagg Bowl for the first time in program history, handed North Central (14-1) its first loss since the 2021 championship game. The Cardinals, in their fourth straight title game, won the 2019 national title in addition to last year.

Both teams scored in the final 1:41 -- with North Central electing to go for 2 instead of a potential tying extra point with 1:20 to go. Quarterback Luke Lehnen was stuffed on a run to the left side and Cortland recovered an onside kick and ran out the clock.

"It means everything. I was over there talking to the officials on the sideline when we were kneeling it out and I'm like 'We can kneel it, right? We can kneel it out and clock's at zero' and he said yes," Cortland coach Curt Fitzpatrick said. "I can't believe it. It's amazing. I'm so proud of our players and coaches and our fan base that drove seven hours to be here."

Cortland converted on a fourth-and-5 play near midfield with 3:49 to go in the fourth quarter and Cole Burgess ended the drive with a catch in the backfield before racing down the sideline for a 21-yard touchdown.

North Central scored 21 seconds later when DeAngelo Hardy was left wide open over the middle of the field and he cut back a defender to race for a 60-yard touchdown. The Cardinals, who average 60 points per game and rarely kick field goals, were denied a back-to-back championship on the goal line.

North Central entered with the nation's longest active win streak with 29. South Dakota State, which won its FCS semifinal game on Friday, has 28 straight wins, followed by Washington (20), Florida State (19) and Division II Harding (18).

The Red Dragons' trip to the title game included three road victories and one at home -- ending in a 12th straight victory.

Three of the first four drives of the game ended in fourth down stops in the red zone.

Cortland avoided being shutout in the first half of a game for the first time since 2016 when it drove 55 yards in 51 seconds -- aided by a 15-yard penalty -- to get within 7-3 after Mike Baloga's 31-yard field goal.

Cortland began the second half with a seven play, 72-yard drive ending in Burgess' 9-yard touchdown grab for a 10-7 lead. A video replay overturned the call on the field as Burgess got a foot down before going out of bounds.

It was just the second time all season that North Central trailed in a game -- with the other coming in the fourth quarter of the semifinals.

North Central tied it at 31-all with 7:16 remaining on Lehnen's 64-yard run.

Lehnen, who won the Gagliardi Trophy, the premier D-III individual award, threw for 179 yards and two touchdowns, and ran for 159 yards and another score for North Central. Joe Sacco added 159 yards rushing, including his 20th rushing touchdown of the season, to reach the 100-yard mark for the 11th time this season. Hardy made five catches for 146 yards and a touchdown.

Boyes became the second quarterback in school history to throw for 300 yards and rush for 100. Burgess finished with 11 catches for 134 yards and two touchdowns for Cortland. Joe Iadevaio also had two touchdown grabs and 95 yards. JJ Laap made two catches for 75 yards and a score.

North Central's third made field goal of the season -- in three attempts -- came with 3:16 left in the third quarter to tie it at 17-all.