07 January, 2018
North Dakota State University is back on top of the FCS mountain with a 17-13 win in the championship game from Toyota Stadium. NDSU takes home its sixth FCS title - tying Georgia Southern, who has since moved to FBS, for the most in FCS/DI-AA history.
North Dakota State got on the board first in the game with a 3-yard touchdown run from Anderson, followed by a 31-yard field goal by James Madison's Ethan Ratke to bring the score to 7-3.
NDSU has now won 14 national championships, breaking a tie for the most by any team across any NCAA division.
The Bison limited James Madison to 241 yards on 62 plays, allowing one touchdown.
JMU started the possession at their own 27-yard line, and Schor picked up a first down on a 17-yard run to start the team's season-defining drive.
Eight plays later, running back Marcus Marshall scored from the 1 and it was 17-13.
JMU head coach Mike Houston says, "There are great players individually on both sides of the football, but I think the thing that stands out is that both units play so well together.I think it's going to be hard-hitting, extremely physical, and probably in the teens".
Despite being the No. 1 team in every national poll every week of the season, the Dukes haven't been favored in a game since their quarterfinal win over Weber State.
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NDSU 17 JMU 3 - Pedersen makes a 32-yard field goal with 39 seconds left in the second quarter.
Points were at a premium, but the Bison were able to muster 17 before halftime. "You can tell they play a lot of snaps", Stick said of JMU's secondary. "We made too many mistakes". They took advantage of a short field on their first drive of the third quarter.
Bridges said Stapleton and the James Madison receiving group will present a challenge.
"Obviously there are people out there that don't respect us that much", Houston said. The Bison defense knocked down pass to get the ball back on downs with 58 seconds to play.
Schor ran for 10 yards on the next play. NDSU finished plus-2 in turnover margin, including two interceptions that both came with James Madison in scoring position.
"In the back of our mind, we were looking at them", Stapleton said. Bison kicker Cam Pederson had a 38-yard field goal blocked with 4:37 to play in the fourth quarter. 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 have the, hands down, top two conferences in the country and the clear top two teams in the country", Houston said. After taking over at their own 44-yard line, Stick handed the ball off to Anderson for 13 yards on two plays and Dunn for two yards on two plays before whistling a dart to junior wide receiver Darrius Shepherd, who converted a wide-open pass downfield into a 50-yard touchdown to extend NDSU's lead to 14-3.