Bison earn their place in college football history books with fifth straight FCS title
FRISCO, Texas—College football history was made on Saturday afternoon.
North Dakota State became the first team in the modern era to win five straight national football championships, culminating a "Drive for 5" on a cool day at Toyota Stadium. The 37-10 FCS title win over Jacksonville State (Ala.) celebrated the one-game return of quarterback Carson Wentz from an injury that cost him half his senior season.
Wentz ran for two touchdowns and threw for another and the Bison defense turned in another playoff gem. The Gamecocks came in averaging 53.7 points in their three playoff games, but found the going tough against a Bison defense that forced three turnovers.
A big first half was key in the NDSU win.
The Bison didn't waste any time in starting its time of possession march in the first half, taking the opening kickoff and running 6:24 in getting a 29-yard field goal from Cam Pedersen. One possession later, an eight-yard scoring pass from Wentz to tight end Andrew Bonnet made it 10-0 early in the second quarter.
At that point, the Bison had 18 plays to JSU's seven and it would only get worse from there the rest of the half.
Turnovers came into play in the second quarter and it started with Nick DeLuca picking off an Eli Jenkins pass on JSU's first play after the Bonnet score. Four plays later, Wentz scored from 11 yards and it was 17-0.
Mistakes cost the Gamecocks again when Jenkins fumbled on a handoff and Bison linebacker MJ Stumpf pounced on it at the JSU 48-yard line. King Frazier scored from the 1 and the Bison were in control at 24-0.
The Gamecocks won the third quarter, however, started with a touchdown after taking the second half kickoff. Jenkins' six-yard touchdown run got his team on the board.
A 54-yard interception return by Brandon Bender kept the momentum in JSU's favor, although the Gamecocks got just a field goal out of it. Still, it was 24-10 midway in the third quarter.
NDSU slowed the JSU march on its ensuing possession, getting a 29-yard run by Wentz and a 29-yard pass to R.J. Urzendowski. It led to Pedersen's second field goal of the game and it was 27-10 heading to the fourth quarter.
Pedersen, who was 1 of 7 on field in the postseason coming in, found his form in the title game.
The teams played hot potato with turnovers early in the fourth quarter. Greg Menard recovered a fumble for NDSU at the JSU 23, but the Bison gave it right back on a double reverse interception by Easton Stick, who was lined up wide.
But Jordan Champion got the ball right back, getting his first career interception at the JSU 28 with 12:06 remaining.