North Dakota State edges James Madison for FCS title


(Frisco) - North Dakota State edged James Madison, 17-13, to win the FCS football championship on Saturday.

NDSU has now won 14 national championships, breaking a tie for the most by any team across any NCAA division. "There's no doubt. And we're excited about it too".

At the time, the Bison were ranked No. 1 and James Madison was ranked No. 4. "Obviously they have the respect of the entire country, but I can promise you our kids are confident and motivated and are going to be ready to play tomorrow". "Nobody wants that. I hope we're at our best, I hope JMU is at their best".

Points were at a premium, but the Bison were able to muster 17 before halftime. For Shepherd, it was his first touchdown catch this season and also the biggest offensive play in a game dominated by defense. D'Angelo Amos returned a punt 33 yards to the NDSU 33-yard line.

JMU closed the half going 68 yards in four plays that ended in a 21-yard field goal by Ethan Ratke. NDSU took over at the JMU 41-yard line, and after advancing to the JMU 19-yard line on six plays, junior kicker Cam Pedersen knocked a 32-yard field goal in between the posts to extend NDSU's lead to 17-3.

- NDSU was held scoreless in the second half.

"I told (my team) we were going to win the football game and I firmly believed that", Houston said of his message to his team at halftime.

Eight plays later, Marshall found the end zone to cut the Bison lead to four points.

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After showing flashes of excellence in the third quarter, the Dukes' reverted to their sloppy style of play from the first half in the fourth quarter. You could feel the air leaving the stadium as the Dukes brought the punting unit out with just over three minutes to play. Both defenses have made a living making teams pay for their mistakes.

"I thought our defense did a good job to responding to adversity all season long", said Bison senior linebacker Nick DeLuca.

"If you take the busiest day we've ever had, it doesn't compare to when the Bison are here", Verich said. Moments later, the Dukes faked a punt that punter Harry O'Kelly ran 24 yards to the Bison 29-yard line with around 3 minutes remaining. He led the Bison in rushing with 194 yards against Sam Houston State in the FCS Semifinals. Whether deserved or not, the Dukes will use their experience with being underestimated in the past to attempt to earn their second-straight FCS National Championship.

"Great time to get a first", Klieman said.

JMU senior quarterback Bryan Schor says, "This is the reason why we play football". James Madison made seven trips deep into NDSU territory, but came away with three field goal attempts (only two of which were made), two interceptions, a touchdown and a turnover on downs. NDSU finished with 264 yards.

NDSU - Easton Stick was 13-for-22 with 130 yards and 1 touchdown. "You would think it's going to be a defensive battle, a little bit, but both teams, offensively, have some explosive players".

"That's nearly an absurd accomplishment, and one that you probably won't ever see again", Houston said.