BCSU Bison headed to national championship
FARGO, N.D. (AP) — North Dakota State coach Craig Bohl received a present from the president of the university after his team's first game of the season. It was an atlas of Texas.
He put in on display Saturday after quarterback Brock Jensen accounted for 231 total yards despite playing with the flu and receiver Warren Holloway scored twice to help the Bison defeat Georgia Southern 35-7 in a Football Championship Subdivision semifinal.
North Dakota State (13-1) will face Sam Houston State (14-0) for the national championship Jan. 7 in Frisco, Texas. It is the first FCS title game appearance for the Bison, who moved up to Division I in 2004.
"I got this atlas from a supportive fan," said Bohl, holding up the book he received from school President Dean Bresciani, who came to Fargo from Texas A&M. "He's a prophet."
The Bison beat the Eagles (12-2) at their own game — rushing. North Dakota State had 314 yards on the ground to 186 for Georgia Southern and its highly touted triple option. It was the Eagles' second-lowest running total of the season.
The Bison outgained Georgia Southern 246-71 on the ground in the second half.
"They whipped us," Eagles coach Jeff Monken said. "They're physical, and they're tough. Those teams are hard to beat."
North Dakota State had a 451-333 advantage in total offense. The Bison forced three turnovers and turned them all into touchdowns.
Holloway scored on a 19-yard reception from Jensen in the first quarter and a 17-yard run in the second quarter. Both came after Georgia Southern miscues, including a kickoff out of bounds late in the first half after the Eagles had tied the game 7-7.
It took just two plays for NDSU to score after that, on Holloway's end-around. That gave the Bison a 14-7 lead at halftime.
"We've been talking about going to Frisco," said Holloway, a 6-foot-2, 199-pound senior from Houston. "I get to play in front of my family."
Jensen gave the Bison breathing room with a 55-yard touchdown run late in the third quarter on a third down-and-3 play that made it 20-7.
Monken said one of his cornerbacks missed a signal from the sideline to blitz.
"They've got no play if he blitzed," he said.
That touchdown capped a 96-yard drive after Travis Beck recovered a fumble when the Eagles were threatening to score.
Jensen finished with a career-high rushing total of 94 yards even though he hadn't eaten in 24 hours and needed intravenous fluids at halftime.
"I've had a long 18 hours," Jensen said. "It was a gutty performance by everybody."
Running backs Sam Ojuri and D.J. McNorton, who combined to rush for 194 yards, added touchdowns in the fourth quarter.
Dominique Swope ran for 96 yards and scored on a 23-yard run for the Eagles, who lost in the semifinals for the second straight year. Quarterback Jaybo Shaw was chased all afternoon and finished with 41 yards rushing, including 27 yards in losses.
"That's a very tough environment to play in," Shaw said of NDSU's indoor stadium. "We got in the red zone a couple of times and just couldn't punch it in. They made the plays and got the stops. Credit goes to those guys."
Bison strong safety Colton Heagle, who had been out three weeks with a thumb injury, led all defenders with 15 tackles.