Frisco, TX (Sports Network) - Hopefully, the NCAA won't make the mistake again
of mailing North Dakota State's FCS national championship banner to the wrong
Of course, the NCAA could consider saving on the postage and handing off the
banner to the Bison next January at the NCAA Division I Football Championship
North Dakota State left no doubt about its reign over the FCS when on Saturday
it became the fifth program to repeat as the national champion, defeating Sam
Houston State for the second straight year, 39-13, before a raucous, Bison-
dominated sellout of 21,411 at FC Dallas Stadium.
The Missouri Valley Football Conference champions completed their second
straight 14-1 campaign while becoming the first team to repeat as the FCS
titlist since Appalachian State's three-year run from 2005-07.
Considering coach Craig Bohl has a lineup that started only four seniors in
the title game, the 2012 Eddie Robinson Award winner will wind up his squad
for a run at a championship three-peat next season.
So the NCAA could hold off on sending the NDSU banner, which last year hung in
its Hall of Champions until June when it mistakenly sent the banner to the
University of North Dakota.
Sam Houston also may have the returnees to get back to the national title
game, but the Bearkats (11-4) might wind up hoping the Bison get tripped up
along the way.
NDSU's top-ranked defense again slowed a Sam Houston offense that entered the
game with a 41.9-point average. It picked off four passes and turned big stops
into points, including three touchdown runs by junior quarterback Brock
Jensen, who won named the game's most outstanding player award.
After the first half ended in a 10-10 tie, the Bison turned a second
interception of Sam Houston quarterback Brian Bell into the go-ahead
touchdown. Linebacker Carlton Littlejohn's pick of Bell at the Bison 40 was
followed by a 10-play, 60-yard scoring drive which was capped by Jensen's 1-
yard quarterback sneak with 8:30 left in the third quarter.
Then after NDSU stopped Sam Houston on downs at the Bison 35, the visitors -
yeah, hardly, their program owned Frisco again - drove the 65 yards to score
again on Sam Ojuri's 2-yard run on fourth down at the 2:08 mark.
If the Bearkats weren't emotionally drained at the point, the extra point
attempt turned on the spigot.
After a botched snap, holder Ben LeCompte lateraled the ball to kicker Adam
Keller, who while he was being pressured lofted the ball into the Sam Houston
end zone and it game down in the hands of Mike Hardie, a defensive end by
trade who was in to block, and the two points extended the lead to 25-10.
Sam Houston countered with Miguel Antonio's second field goal with 13:20 left
in the fourth quarter, to cut its deficit to 25-13, but the Bison went on to
roll up the big score, with Jensen again scoring from one yard out and Ojuri
racing in an 11-yard run
The second half could have gone differently after the first half ended in a
10-10 tie. Sam Houston nearly had a potential go-ahead score on the opening
drive of the third quarter - a Timothy Flanders 41-yard touchdown run - but
the big play was negated by an offensive holding.
On the next play, Littlejohn completely wiped out the drive by intercepting
Bell to jump-start the NDSU momentum machine.
The Bearkats managed only one touchdown in the two championship games against
NDSU, but the score in the final minute of the first half prevented them from
having a nervous locker room at halftime.
They, too, were helped by a penalty. NDSU cornerback Andre Martin was whistled
for a holding penalty to negate his interception of Bell with 53 seconds left.
Bell then lofted a 30-yard sideline pass over Martin to Richard Sincere to
move the Bearkats to the Bison 1, where one play later the junior quarterback
faked a handoff to Flanders and threw to tight end K.J. Williams near the back
of the end zone for a 1-yard TD and a 10-10 deadlock with 33 seconds
NDSU had grabbed a 10-3 lead after Marcus Williams, its All-America
cornerback, set the school record with his 17th career interception.
The Bison converted the turnover into a five-play, 72-yard touchdown drive.
The last three plays were each runs of at least 20 yards: a Jensen third-down
scramble for 21, a Ryan Smith wide receiver reverse for 24 and then Jensen
going around left end to weave his way into the Sam Houston end
zone from 20 yards out to put NDSU ahead 10-3 with 3:09 left in the half.
Until then, the first half had the feel of a chess match considering both
teams were familiar with each other's tendencies. Sam Houston, not
surprisingly, had the more aggressive play calling.
To open the game, the Bearkats had an interesting approach when it targeted
passes toward Williams four times in their first two drives, connecting twice
while also drawing a pass interference call. But the Bearkats came up empty on
both drives, the second time when Antonio went the dreaded wide right on a 32-
yard field goal attempt with 6:26 left in the first quarter.
NDSU opened its ensuing possession with John Crockett taking a pitch and
rushing a career-best 57 yards to the Sam Houston 23, setting up Keller for a
successful 32-yard field goal and a 3-0 Bison lead with 3:49 left.
The Bison have taken to Frisco the last two years. About 70 percent of the
crowd was clad in green-and-yellow as they celebrated harder than New Year's
The loyal following could be back next year. The Bison have won 15 straight
games against nationally ranked teams and defeated a Bowl Subdivision opponent
in each of the past three seasons.
It's an FCS dynasty in the making.
The Sports Network