North Dakota State claims sixth FCS title in seven years

North Dakota State claims sixth FCS title in seven years

The win pulls North Dakota State into a tie with Georgia Southern - now a member of the FBS Sun Belt Conference - for the most FCS titles; however, the Eagles won their six in eight tries, while the Bison are a flawless 6-for-6.

"It's a legacy", said linebacker and Millard North graduate Nick DeLuca, who was injured and missed last year's 27-17 loss to James Madison in Fargo that denied the Bison their annual trip to Texas. "Just happy to get back here".

James Madison couldn't overcome the deficit because the mistakes that helped put the Dukes behind kept happening. The Bison finished their season 14-1 overall.

North Dakota State took over on downs and expired the final 58 seconds to complete its march to a sixth national championship. They needed some points badly before kicking away to NDSU to start the third quarter, and Stapelton's snaring of this one - momentarily pinning it to the helmet of the Bison's Josh Hayes - got them across midfield to at least set up a field goal.

"Both players, I think their teams know how valuable they are", Klieman said about Stick and Schor. "That's what it boils down to".

Trailing 7-3, James Madison had a golden chance to take a first quarter lead after recovering a fumble by NDSU quarterback Eason Stick at the Bison 28, but JMU quarterback Bryan Schor gave the ball right back with an interception.

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.

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North Dakota State (14-1) led this one throughout. "I pinch myself", Klieman said after improving his NDSU record to 54-6.

"It's pretty wonderful. I mean six championships in seven years".

James Madison: This will be a tough one for Houston and company.

JMU closed the half going 68 yards in four plays that ended in a 21-yard field goal by Ethan Ratke. Schor's second interception came when it looked as if the Dukes were ready to take control with their first lead. "He just said "Coach, don't worry, there will be no time left on the clock".

In a bruising matchup of the two best defenses in the FCS, the Stick-to-Shepherd score was the most important offensive play of the game.

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.

Defending national champion JMU will be taking on North Dakota State in the FCS Finals this weekend. The first four games of 2018 are at home, starting with Cal Poly. Each championship game was played in Frisco except for James Madison's first title, won in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Seven senior starters are listed on defense.

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