North Dakota State Wins Sixth FCS Championship Over James Madison
FRISCO, Texas - No. 2 seed North Dakota State won its sixth FCS national championship in seven years with a 17-13 victory over top-seeded defending champion James Madison on Saturday, Jan. 6, before a sellout crowd of 19,090 at Toyota Stadium.
It was North Dakota State's 14th football national championship since 1965 and tied the FCS record of six national titles held by Georgia Southern. The Bison finished their season 14-1 overall.
Junior quarterback Easton Stick, named the game's Most Outstanding Player, completed 13 of 22 passes for 130 yards and one touchdown in his first championship game start after leading the Bison through the semifinals with eight straight wins as a freshman in 2015.
NDSU running back Bruce Anderson rushed for 63 yards and a touchdown, and Lance Dunn rushed 13 times for 50 yards in his return to the Bison lineup after missing seven games with a hip injury.
North Dakota State's defense forced three turnovers and held James Madison (14-1) to a season-low 241 yards. Defensive tackle Nate Tanguay had an interception, cornerback Marquise Bridges made his third interception of the playoffs near to stop a JMU drive inside the 5, and cornerback Josh Hayes forced a fumble recovered by linebacker Jabril Cox.
Sophomore defensive end Derrek Tuszka had two sacks and six total tackles for NDSU, and safety Robbie Grimsley added six stops to lead the Bison.
NDSU forced a three-and-out on the game's opening possession and the Bison marched 66 yards in 11 plays on their first offensive series capped by Anderson's 3-yard touchdown run.
Wide receiver Darrius Shepherd caught his only touchdown pass of the season in the second quarter on a 50-yard strike from Stick that gave NDSU a 14-3. Cam Pedersen added a 32-yard field goal to make it 17-3 late in the second quarter.
Ethan Ratke's second of two field goals pulled JMU within 17-6 at halftime, and the Dukes scored the game's final points on a 1-yard Marcus Marshall touchdown run with 9:26 left in the third quarter.
JMU blocked an NDSU field goal in the fourth quarter that would have made it a seven-point game, and on the ensuing drive JMU converted a fake punt for 24 yards into NDSU territory. The Dukes reached the NDSU 18 before Tre Dempsey broke up a fourth-and-16 pass in the end zone to seal the victory.