Bison rout New Hampshire; advance to FCS title game
FARGO, N.D. (AP) — Brock Jensen says North Dakota State is not through with business.
The senior threw three touchdown passes to help North Dakota State overpower New Hampshire 52-14 in the Football Championship Subdivision semifinals Friday night.
The national champion Bison (14-0) advanced to the title game Jan. 4 in Frisco, Texas.
“We’re not satisfied yet,” Jensen said.
The Bison will play against the winner of the second semifinal Saturday between Eastern Washington and Towson. They are trying to match Appalachian State’s string of three straight FCS crowns from 2005-07.
The Bison overcame two turnovers and a 7-0 deficit in the first 3 minutes to roll before a school playoff record-crowd of 18,694 fans at the Fargodome in the last home game for 24 seniors and head coach Craig Bohl, who’s leaving for Wyoming after the championship game. Bohl downplayed the occasion.
“We tried to park that because we’re on a mission,” the coach said.
Jensen, the winningest quarterback in FCS history, threw touchdown passes to Zach Vraa, Derrick Lang and Kevin Vaadeland in the first half and scored a 1-yard keeper early in the second. He was a little less reserved than his coach about his final home game.
“To be a part of this is so humbling. I’m at a loss for words really,” Jensen said. “This place means so much to me. It means so much to all of our seniors.”
North Dakota State finished with a 509-184 advantage in total offense, including 195 yards rushing by John Crockett. Its defense forced three turnovers and scored a touchdown.
“As the game progressed, things got bottled up inside,” New Hampshire running back Chris Setian said. “They had a great scheme against us. What can you really say? They were a more physical team tonight.”
The Bison took the opening kickoff and promptly spotted New Hampshire (10-5) a 7-0 lead. On the third play from scrimmage, cornerback Steven Thames stepped in front of a pass intended for Ryan Smith and sprinted 38 yards for a touchdown.
“That was a gutsy play by that cornerback,” Jensen said. “I went up to him after the game and congratulated him. It was a great play by him.”
The Bison coughed it up again less than a minute later when Sam Ojuri fumbled and Casey DeAndrade recovered and returned it to the NDSU 29. The Wildcats failed to come away with points.
An incomplete pass and two running plays moved the ball to the NDSU 24. New Hampshire decided to go for it on fourth-and-5 and quarterback Sean Goldrich was stopped for a 2-yard gain after he scrambled out of the pocket.
New Hampshire coach Sean McDonnell said he felt his team needed points and could not settle for a field goal.
“Look at the end of it,” McDonnell said. “I don’t know if I was right or wrong. Fourteen wasn’t going to be enough. Seven wasn’t going to be enough.”
The Bison scored 31 points before half, including Jensen’s three touchdown passes, a 32-yard field goal by Adam Keller, and a defensive touchdown.
Crockett ripped off several long runs for the Bison, including a 71-yard jaunt on North Dakota State’s first play from scrimmage in the second half. He was pushed out of bounds at the 7. He was also run down on a 40-yard run in the first half, but was able to make light of it afterward.
“I have to give credit to my offensive line. They gave me some holes and I got caught twice,” Crockett said. “I’m a little upset about that.”