« Continue Browsing

e-mail article Print     e-mail article E-mail

Published December 17 2011

NDSU headed to national championship game

FARGO – Making history is always sweet. It’s even better when you do it this way.

The North Dakota State football team dominated on defense for the third week in a row, securing the program’s first national championship game appearance of the Division I-era with a convincing 35-7 win against Georgia Southern in the Football Championship Subdivision semifinals before 18,108 fans Saturday at the Fargodome.

“It’s great to be at home and soundly beat a good football team,” NDSU head coach Craig Bohl said.”Not only a good football team, but a great program.”

NDSU (13-1) appeared to be in for a dogfight early. Georgia Southern battled back and forth with the Bison, using its much-hyped triple option offense to perfection in a 13-play, 83-yard drive that tied the game at 7-7 with 3:58 remaining in the second quarter.

However, the Bison took over from there.

The defense kept big plays to a minimum, holding the No. 2 rushing attack in the nation to 186 yards on 48 attempts.

The Eagles (11-3) entered the game averaging 334 rushing yards per game.

Georgia Southern even rolled up 302 rushing yards in a late-season loss against Alabama.

But that was then.

The Bison left few running lanes for Eagles backs Darreion Robinson and Dominique Swope, or for quarterback Jaybo Shaw.

When Georgia Southern did get close to a score, NDSU was usually there to shut down the threat with a big play.

The Bison limited the Eagles to 2 of 5 on crucial 4th down conversions. Georgia Southern was 4 of 15 on third down.

“They played really hard and they are very physical,” Shaw said. “We got in the Red Zone a couple times and we just couldn’t punch it in.”

NDSU took advantage of several Eagles mistakes to pull away in the second half.

The Bison recovered a J.J. Wilcox fumble at their own 4 early in the third quarter.

NDSU converted it into points on a 55-yard run by quarterback Brock Jensen down the sideline to made the score 20-7.

The Bison made a 4th-down stop early in the fourth, and converted it into points on a 4-yard Sam Ojuri run to extend the lead to 28-7.

The defense forced another fumble and recovered the ball later in the fourth quarter. The NDSU offense again converted with a 4-yard D.J. McNorton run to make it 35-7 with 39 seconds remaining in the game.

Game over.

Ojuri ran for 100 yards on 16 carries, McNorton had 94 yards on 13 carries, Jensen finished with 94 rushing yards and 137 passing.

The Bison will play top-ranked Sam Houston State for the national title on Jan. 7 at Pizza Hut Park in Frisco, Texas. NDSU’s last experience in a national championship game was in 1990, when the Bison defeated Indiana (Pa.) 51-11 for the Division II crown.

NDSU announced a move to Division I in 2003.

“That’s an impressive football team, altogether,” Georgia Southern coach Jeff Monken said of the Bison. “You can’t make mistakes against a great football team. And they are (great).”

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Heath Hotzler at (701) 241-5562.

Hotzler’s blogs can be found

at www.areavoices.com