Jacks Run Over Bison to Win Valley Football Title, 27-17
FARGO, N.D. (Valley News Live) - Freshman quarterback Mark Gronowski rushed for 126 yards and passed for 149 yards to lead No. 4-ranked South Dakota State to a 27-17 victory over second-ranked North Dakota State on Saturday, April 17, in the Missouri Valley Football Conference before a crowd of 8,762 at Gate City Bank Field at the Fargodome.
Pierre Strong added 95 yards on the ground as South Dakota State (5-1, 5-1 MVFC) ran 46 times for 305 yards, the most rushing yards against a Bison team since a 2008 loss at Youngstown State. Isaiah Davis added 84 yards on the ground including a 5-yard TD with 2:50 left that made it a two-score game.
South Dakota State snapped NDSU’s 32-game home winning streak in dealing the Bison (6-2, 5-2 MVFC) their first home loss since the 2016 NCAA semifinals against James Madison. SDSU also claimed the Dakota Marker trophy for the first time in three years and earned the MVFC’s automatic qualifier for the 16-team NCAA Division I Football Championship.
Gronowski went 10 of 14 passing for SDSU and carried 16 times averaging 7.9 yards per carry. Strong finished with a game-high 145 all-purpose yards including four receptions for 50 yards, Davis added three catches for 36 yards and Jadon Janke made two receptions for 38 yards.
NDSU freshman quarterback Cam Miller rushed for a pair of third-quarter touchdowns to help the Bison tie the game at 10-10 and 17-17. SDSU answered the first score with five-play scoring drive capped by Strong’s 53-yard TD run and then went ahead for good with a 9 minute, 14 second drive that covered 70 yards in 16 plays ending with Cole Frahm’s 24-yard field goal to make it 20-17 with 7:55 to play.
The Bison converted one third down on the ensuing drive before punting with 5:05 left in the game. Gronowski started the next drive with a 55-yard run to the NDSU 16 to set up a touchdown by Davis three plays later. SDSU sacked Miller twice on the final drive and Michael Griffin’s interception near midfield allowed the Jacks to kneel out the clock.
Miller was 9 of 16 passing for 149 yards and finished with 15 carries for 38 yards while Hunter Luepke rushed 14 times for 43 yards. NDSU’s 97 yards rushing was the first time the Bison have been held under 100 yards on the ground since running for 43 yards in the 2014 loss at Northern Iowa.
North Dakota State, which saw its streak of nine straight conference championships come to an end, will await a possible at-large berth for the FCS playoffs. The 16-team bracket will be announced Sunday, April 18, on the NCAA Selection Show beginning at 10:30 a.m. CT on ESPNU.
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