The rematch goes to North Dakota State.
The No. 2-seed Bison avenged last seasons’ FCS playoffs loss to James Madison by upending the top-seeded Dukes 17-13 in the FCS championship game on Saturday. With the win, North Dakota State now has six of the last seven FCS national championships.
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“We’ve got a bunch of warriors and a bunch of winners in that locker room,” Bison coach Chris Klieman said after the game. “And they wanted to leave a legacy, and they left a legacy for the 2017 Bison. What a great group of guys. I’m so proud of them.”
The Bison outgained James Madison 264-241 and held the Dukes to just 93 yards rushing. Quarterback Easton Stick completed 13 of 22 passes for 130 yards and a touchdown, while Bruce Anderson rushed for 63 yards and a touchdown. For James Madison, quarterback Bryan Schor completed 14 of 32 passes for 148 yards and two interceptions. JMU running back Marcus Marshall rushed for 30 yards and a score.
North Dakota State got on the board first in the game with a 3-yard touchdown run from Anderson, followed by a 31-yard field goal by James Madison’s Ethan Ratke to bring the score to 7-3. Bison quarterback Stick then hit receiver Darrius Shepherd for a 50-yard touchdown in the second quarter, followed up with a Cam Pedersen 32-yard field goal to make it 17-3 NDSU. James Madison got another, 21-yard field goal from Ratke to make the score 17-6 at halftime.
After holding North Dakota State to a three-and-out out of halftime, James Madison got the last score of the game after an eight-play, 33-yard touchdown drive to start the second half. It was capped off by a 1-yard run from Marcus Marshall.
The Bison may have failed to score any second-half points, but their defense made several key stops in thwarting the Dukes’ comeback bid. James Madison made seven trips deep into NDSU territory, but came away with three field goal attempts (only two of which were made), two interceptions, a touchdown and a turnover on downs.
“Field goals don’t beat you,” Klieman said of his team’s defensive effort. “Field goals don’t beat you and that’s what we tried to do. I’m so proud of the guys. They busted their tail.”
Still, James Madison looked like it had an opportunity to take the lead late after NDSU missed its own field goal with 4:37 remaining in the game. The Dukes marched the ball all the way to the Bison’s 25-yard line with 1:10 left on the clock, but Bryan Schor’s fourth-down pass attempt was batted down in the end zone, essentially giving North Dakota State the win and the national title.
“We’ve won the sixth national champions in seven years, Klieman said. “Nobody’s done that before.”