North Dakota State takes back FCS title, tops James Madison 17-13

NDSU ends JMU 26-game winning streak for sixth FCS Championship

As the James Madison football team prepares to take the field Saturday in search of their second straight FCS national championship, Dukes coach Mike Houston can't help but be in awe of North Dakota State's string of five titles in a row.

NDSU has now won 14 national championships, breaking a tie for the most by any team across any NCAA division. North Dakota State limited James Madison to 21 yards in the first quarter, and neither team conjured an offensive explosion until the Bison executed a near-flawless play-action pass with 4:14 left in the half. "Obviously they have the respect of the entire country, but I can promise you our kids are confident and motivated and are going to be ready to play tomorrow". "It's the best thing I've been a part of". The Bison took a 17-6 to halftime.

- Darrius Shepherd's touchdown catch in the second quarter was his first touchdown catch of the year. Sophomore cornerback Marquise Bridges intercepted Schor's pass at the NDSU 3-yard line. The Dukes scored on a Marcus Marshall 1-yard touchdown run that sliced the NDSU lead to 17-13 with 9 minutes, 26 seconds to play in the third quarter.

North Dakota State standout defensive tackle Nate Tanguay said his advice to his younger teammates during championship week is to "lock in" during practices and meetings but relax and enjoy the flurry of activities that includes meeting with former Bison football players and an annual bowling tournament. You could feel the air leaving the stadium as the Dukes brought the punting unit out with just over three minutes to play.

The Bison continued to prevent big plays, rough up Schor (four sacks, twice as many scrambles), and keep JMU from moving the ball much on the ground. They took advantage of a short field on their first drive of the third quarter. Those were the game's final points as both defenses took over late. The Bison won a record 33 consecutive games between 2012 and 2014. But Schor's receivers then dropped three straight catchable balls, and the Dukes settled for a field goal. Moments later, the Dukes faked a punt that punter Harry O'Kelly ran 24 yards to the Bison 29-yard line with around 3 minutes remaining. It marked the first time the Dukes trailed by double digits this season. And this time, the Bison had to beat the defending champions to do it.

Shepherd said the key was for the Bison offense to stay patient in a game dominated by both defenses.

"We found a way to play red-zone defense, which has been a staple for us", Klieman said. NDSU finished plus-2 in turnover margin, including two interceptions that both came with James Madison in scoring position.

North Dakota State (14-1) led this one throughout.

Stick completed 13 of 22 passes for 130 yards and a touchdown with no interceptions. To add insult to injury, a fight broke out after the play and JMU was taxed with a 15-yard penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct. "You're going to have guys injured", Klieman said.

"We thought that look could be there", Shepherd said.

James Madison: The Dukes have to replace Schor, two receivers and a tight end, although Stapleton returns as a junior after recording his first two career 100-yard games in the playoffs.

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