Late-Game Heroics Seal Fourth Straight National Title For NDSU
FRISCO, Texas – Carson Wentz scored on a five-yard run with 37 seconds remaining to lift the North Dakota State football team to its fourth consecutive Division I FCS national championship, defeating Illinois State 29-27 at Toyota Stadium on January 10, 2015.
NDSU finished its season 15-1 and became the first school in Division I history to win four straight national titles.
Wentz was masterful at the helm of the Bison offense, completing 15-of-22 passes for 237 yards and rushing 16 times for 87 yards. The Bismarck, N.D., native earned the game's Most Outstanding Player award.
Leading 23-14 with 11:20 remaining in the game, the Bison saw their lead disappear after two Illinois State touchdowns. ISU quarterback Tre Roberson scored on a 58-yard run to put the Redbirds up 27-23 with 1:38 left.
Wentz led the Bison down the field with the game on the line, completing three passes to freshman RJ Urzendowski before scoring the game-winning touchdown on a keeper behind All-American left tackle Joe Haeg.
Linebacker Esley Thorton sealed the title with an interception at the NDSU 45 with eight seconds left.
The national championship was the 12th in NDSU history, including eight won before the move to Division I. NDSU's seniors finished their four-year career with a record of 58-3.
The Bison fell behind 7-0 early after a 13-yard touchdown pass from Illinois State's Tre Roberson to Jon-Marc Anderson with 5:28 left in the first quarter. NDSU responded with a 41-yard field goal by Adam Keller and a 6-yard scoring strike from Wentz to Luke Albers with 8:43 left in the second quarter.
NDSU led 10-7 at halftime.
The Bison extended their lead early in the third quarter after the Redbirds muffed the opening kickoff and Chris Board recovered. Keller connected for another 41-yard FG on that possession, and NDSU scored on a 7-yard run by John Crockett to go up 20-7 at the 7:28 mark of the third quarter.