The North Dakota State Bison came into this year's FCS college football season as two-time defending national champions. They now finish the season as three-time defending national champions, thanks to a 35-7 blowout of Towson in the FCS National Championship Game in Frisco, Texas.
The Bison kicked off the scoring with a five-play, 54-yard drive on their second possession of the game, which culminated in a two-yard touchdown run by John Crockett with a little more than five minutes remaining in the first quarter.
The Tigers responded with a 12-play, 77-yard drive that took up the remainder of the first quarter and was punctuated by a three-yard Terrance West touchdown run as the quarter ended.
For most of the second quarter, the game stayed deadlocked at 7-7, and it appeared that Towson may be able to hang with the powerhouse Bison.
That all changed with about five minutes remaining in the half, when Bison safety Colten Heagle blocked a 41-yard field-goal attempt and teammate Kyle Emanuel picked up the block and ran it back to the Towson 5-yard line.
On the very next play, a sweep handoff to wide receiver Ryan Smith resulted in a five-yard touchdown run to put the Bison on top once again.
NDSU wouldn't relinquish that lead, as Towson's next possession ended when quarterback Peter Athens got picked off by cornerback CJ Smith, who had an impressive winding return that netted NDSU 32 yards and gave them the ball in Towson territory.
The Bison needed only five plays to find the end zone, with QB Brock Jensen hitting star WR Zach Vraa for a 12-yard touchdown pass to send NDSU into halftime up 21-7.
The third quarter was all Bison, as Towson gained only 33 yards total, while NDSU racked up 161 and got on the scoreboard again, courtesy of a nine-yard touchdown run by Jensen.
The fourth quarter opened on another positive note for NDSU, as Sam Ojuri broke into the end zone on a one-yard run to give the Bison a 35-7 lead.
Towson's players had two long drives left in them but couldn't find the end zone, giving the Bison the 35-7 win and their third consecutive national championship.
The Tigers actually outgained the Bison, 373 yards to 345, but most of that came on the two meaningless drives near the end of the game. On the ground, NDSU outrushed the Tigers, 210 yards to 106. The Bison defense kept vaunted Towson running back Terrance West mostly in check, as he failed to eclipse 100 yards on the ground and was held to only an average of 4.5 yards per carry, which is well below his season average of 6.3.
One factor that affected both teams was the terrible field condition, as the grassy turf was left in chunks all over the field, and footing was an obvious issue for both the Bison and the Tigers. Large groups of workers and volunteers came on during each stop in play to try to patch the field back together.
The dominating win put NDSU in elite company, making them only the second team to ever win three straight FCS titles in football. NDSU joins Appalachian State, which did it from 2005 to 2007.
There is no doubt that this NDSU squad is to be considered a dynasty. During their three-year run, the Bison have gone 43-2, which included a perfect 15-0 record this season. That makes them the first FCS team to go undefeated since Harvard in 2004, which didn't participate in the playoffs.
Bison QB Brock Jensen finishes his career as the winningest quarterback in FCS history, going out with a final record of 48-5 as a starter.
The Bison will lose most of their starters and coaching staff after this season, so it remains to be seen whether they will be able to extend their dynasty next season.
For the time being though, the North Dakota State Bison are the most dominant football program in the country.
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