North Dakota State earns football, financial respect

Madison was one of seven on third-down opportunities, had turned it over twice, dropped a few passes, committed a roughing-the-punter penalty that led to an NDSU touchdown, given up a 50-yard TD pass caught by a wide-open receiver, possessed the ball for about eight fewer minutes, and had missed a 42-yard field-goal attempt.

North Dakota State returned to its familiar throne atop the subdivision with a 17-13 victory over defending champion James Madison before 19,090 at Toyota Stadium on Saturday, but not before the Bison gave a nod of respect across the line of scrimmage to a Dukes program that had stopped their run of five straight national titles last season. The Dukes were the culprits in ending the Bison's championship run in last year's semifinals.

It's #1 vs. #2 showdown. Stick put the ball in the hands of junior running back Bruce Anderson, who thrashed past the Dukes' defensive line into the end zone.

Stapleton said James Madison has been anticipating a matchup with the Bison all season.

These teams have the top defenses at the FCS level.

Kickoff is set for Saturday at 10 a.m. on ESPN2 from the outskirts of Dallas in Frisco, Texas. NDSU ranks fourth in the nation with 282.1 rushing yards per game.

One element organizers were particularly proud of are videos made with and for the Bison fans, with appreciation messages from several of the players and coach Chris Klieman.

Both teams have moved on from a rash of injuries.

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"It's really special", said Bison quarterback Easton Stick, who was named the game's most valuable player.

JMU - Kyre Hawkins had 10 tackles. He's a big quarterback. "People picked us to be the best team this year, and people picked them to be the best this season". North Dakota State was able to run the clock out, and secure their sixth FCS Championship in the last seven seasons.

"Oh no doubt", says Houston. He said the difference in his sales from 2017 to 2016 was "the Bison week", or lack thereof. "We felt like we'd get that look from them".

"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.

"If you take the busiest day we've ever had, it doesn't compare to when the Bison are here", Verich said. It's championship football so every time you're in the game you've got to go.

"It's a tremendous honor to be here representing James Madison University and the CAA", JMU head coach Mike Houston said. JMU was pounding on the door again following a 26-yard punt by backup punter Garret Wegner, who came in the second half after starter Jackson Koonce was presumably injured on a roughing call in the first quarter, a play that led to NDSU's first touchdown.

The Dukes and Bison will play for the FCS National Championship on Saturday at 12 PM Eastern in Frisco, Texas.

  • Lawrence Cooper