Bison make it six titles, edging James Madison to regain FCS championship

NDSU players celebrate their FCS championship win against James Madison

NDSU players celebrate their FCS championship win against James Madison

The No. 2-seed Bison avenged last seasons' FCS playoffs loss to James Madison by upending the top-seeded Dukes 17-13 in the FCS championship game on Saturday.

The Bison have won 14 national championships in football with the first eight coming in Division II before NDSU transitioned to Division I.

The key, Houston said, is who can make the throw that counts the most.

"So I'm showing him, like, you know, you've got to be more attentive to details, you've got to bring it every play. It's the best thing I've been a part of".

Points were at a premium, but the Bison were able to muster 17 before halftime.

- Darrius Shepherd's touchdown catch in the second quarter was his first touchdown catch of the year.

But cornerback Marquise Bridges picked off Schorr at the 3-yard line and NDSU still had the lead.

James Madison's Simeyon Robinson, who had two sacks, blocked a field goal to keep the deficit at four with 4 1/2 minutes remaining before O'Kelly's run on the fake punt.

Meanwhile, the Bison have run wild with a deep running back corps that's withstood injuries, led by 1,186-yard rusher Bruce Anderson.

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North Dakota State standout defensive tackle Nate Tanguay said his advice to his younger teammates during championship week is to "lock in" during practices and meetings but relax and enjoy the flurry of activities that includes meeting with former Bison football players and an annual bowling tournament. D'Angelo Amos returned Koonce's punt for 37 yards - the second-longest return of his career - to put the Dukes at the NDSU 14-yard line.

James Madison, with all of the momentum on its side, advanced the ball to the 19-yard line with 1:53 left, but its only positive gain on the ensuing four plays earned one yard. They took advantage of a short field on their first drive of the third quarter. The Bison won a record 33 consecutive games between 2012 and 2014.

The Bison defense bent, but never broke as they stood tall inside their 30-yard line to turn the Dukes over on downs with just over a minute left in the game. For the second time in the half, a JMU miscue directly propagated a touchdown for the Bison. The Bison will have to replace DeLuca, the spiritual and statistical leader of the defense and a possible National Football League pick.

"We found a way to play red-zone defense, which has been a staple for us", Klieman said. "[I'm] so excited for an opportunity to compete with those guys one more time".

NDSU - Easton Stick was 13-for-22 with 130 yards and 1 touchdown. "I have so much love and respect for that man".

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

Quarterback Bryan Schor (33 total touchdowns) leads the Dukes' eighth-ranked scoring offense (35.9 points per game) that's gotten a major boost from running back Marcus Marshall and wide receiver Riley Stapleton this postseason.

"Many times you see a dropoff over time, but [NDSU coach Chris Klieman] has done a great job keeping that program at that championship level, and that takes a lot", JMU coach Mike Houston said.

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