NCAA Game Summary - North Dakota State vs. Sam Houston State

4:42 PM, Jan 5, 2013   |    comments
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Frisco, TX (Sports Network) - Hopefully, the NCAA won't make the mistake again of mailing North Dakota State's FCS national championship banner to the wrong school.

Of course, the NCAA could consider saving on the postage and handing off the banner to the Bison next January at the NCAA Division I Football Championship Game.

North Dakota State left no doubt about its reign over the FCS when on Saturday it became the fifth program to repeat as the national champion, defeating Sam Houston State for the second straight year, 39-13, before a raucous, Bison- dominated sellout of 21,411 at FC Dallas Stadium.

The Missouri Valley Football Conference champions completed their second straight 14-1 campaign while becoming the first team to repeat as the FCS titlist since Appalachian State's three-year run from 2005-07.

Considering coach Craig Bohl has a lineup that started only four seniors in the title game, the 2012 Eddie Robinson Award winner will wind up his squad for a run at a championship three-peat next season.

So the NCAA could hold off on sending the NDSU banner, which last year hung in its Hall of Champions until June when it mistakenly sent the banner to the University of North Dakota.

Sam Houston also may have the returnees to get back to the national title game, but the Bearkats (11-4) might wind up hoping the Bison get tripped up along the way.

NDSU's top-ranked defense again slowed a Sam Houston offense that entered the game with a 41.9-point average. It picked off four passes and turned big stops into points, including three touchdown runs by junior quarterback Brock Jensen.

After the first half ended in a 10-10 tie, the Bison turned a second interception of Sam Houston quarterback Brian Bell into the go-ahead touchdown. Linebacker Carlton Littlejohn's pick of Bell at the Bison 40 was followed by a 10-play, 60-yard scoring drive which was capped by Jensen's 1- yard quarterback sneak with 8:30 left in the third quarter.

Then after NDSU stopped Sam Houston on downs at the Bison 35, the visitors - yeah, hardly, their program owned Frisco again - drove the 65 yards to score again on Sam Ojuri's 2-yard run on fourth down at the 2:08 mark.

If the Bearkats weren't emotionally drained at the point, the extra point attempt turned on the spigot.

After a botched snap, holder Ben LeCompte lateraled the ball to kicker Adam Keller, who while he was being pressured lofted the ball into the Sam Houston end zone and it game down in the hands of Mike Hardie, a defensive end by trade who was in to block, and the two points extended the lead to 25-10.

Sam Houston countered with Miguel Antonio's second field goal with 13:20 left in the fourth quarter, to cut its deficit to 25-13, but the Bison went on to roll up the big score, with Jensen again scoring from one yard out and Ojuri racing in an 11-yard run

The second half could have gone differently after the first half ended in a 10-10 tie. Sam Houston nearly had a potential go-ahead score on the opening drive of the third quarter - a Timothy Flanders 41-yard touchdown run - but the big play was negated by an offensive holding.

On the next play, Littlejohn completely wiped out the drive by intercepting Bell to jump-start the NDSU momentum machine.

The Bearkats managed only one touchdown in the two championship games against NDSU, but the score in the final minute of the first half prevented them from having a nervous locker room at halftime.

They, too, were helped by a penalty. NDSU cornerback Andre Martin was whistled for a holding penalty to negate his interception of Bell with 53 seconds left.

Bell then lofted a 30-yard sideline pass over Martin to Richard Sincere to move the Bearkats to the Bison 1, where one play later the junior quarterback faked a handoff to Flanders and threw to tight end K.J. Williams near the back of the end zone for a 1-yard TD and a 10-10 deadlock with 33 seconds left.

NDSU had grabbed a 10-3 lead after Marcus Williams, its All-America cornerback, set the school record with his 17th career interception.

The Bison converted the turnover into a five-play, 72-yard touchdown drive. The last three plays were each runs of at least 20 yards: a Jensen third-down scramble for 21, a Ryan Smith wide receiver reverse for 24 and then Jensen going around left end to weave his way into the Sam Houston end zone from 20 yards out to put NDSU ahead 10-3 with 3:09 left in the half.

Until then, the first half had the feel of a chess match considering both teams were familiar with each other's tendencies. Sam Houston, not surprisingly, had the more aggressive play calling.

To open the game, the Bearkats had an interesting approach when it targeted passes toward Williams four times in their first two drives, connecting twice while also drawing a pass interference call. But the Bearkats came up empty on both drives, the second time when Antonio went the dreaded wide right on a 32- yard field goal attempt with 6:26 left in the first quarter.

NDSU opened its ensuing possession with John Crockett taking a pitch and rushing a career-best 57 yards to the Sam Houston 23, setting up Keller for a successful 32-yard field goal and a 3-0 Bison lead with 3:49 left.

The Bison have taken to Frisco the last two years. About 70 percent of the crowd was clad in green-and-yellow as they celebrated harder than New Year's Eve.

The loyal following could be back next year. The Bison have won 15 straight games against nationally ranked teams and defeated a Bowl Subdivision opponent in each of the past three seasons.

It's an FCS dynasty in the making.


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