FRISCO, TEXAS - (gobison.com) The North Dakota State football team finished the first 16-0 season in modern college football history with a 28-20 victory over No. 2-ranked James Madison University in the Division I FCS Championship game Saturday afternoon.
NDSU senior James Hendricks scored a pivotal touchdown on a 20-yard fake field goal run, and later sealed the victory with an interception on the goal line in the closing seconds.
One day after winning the Walter Payton Award as the top offensive player in the FCS, NDSU redshirt freshman quarterback Trey Lance was named the championship game's Most Outstanding Player after rushing for 166 yards on 30 carries. He also completed 6-of-10 passes for 72 yards.
It was NDSU's eighth national title in nine seasons – the most championships by any school in Division I FCS history. The 2019 Bison became the sixth team to finish an undefeated season as the national champions, joining the 2013 and 2018 NDSU squads.
In all, it was the 16th football national title in school history. NDSU ran its winning streak to 37 games – tied for the third-longest in the history of Division I college football.
Sophomore linebacker Jackson Hankey racked up 17 tackles to lead the Bison defense, and sophomore James Kaczor added 14 stops for NDSU.
The Bison rushed for 281 yards in the game. Until Saturday, James Madison hadn't allowed more than 118 rushing yards in a game this season.
James Madison struck first, going ahead 7-0 midway through the first quarter after an opening drive that spanned 17 plays and 86 yards. NDSU responded with a touchdown on its first offensive possession, with junior Adam Cofield leaping in from one yard out at the 3:30 mark of the first quarter.
Bison sophomore Phoenix Sproles broke the tie with a 38-yard touchdown run on a reverse on the first play of the second quarter. With NDSU leading 14-10 and just under four minutes remaining in the second quarter, the Bison sent out the field goal unit. Hendricks sprinted from his holder position through the left side of the line for a 20-yard touchdown run, and NDSU led 21-10 at halftime.
Ahead 21-13, Lance turned a bleak 3rd-and-23 on the opening play of the fourth quarter into a 44-yard touchdown run to make the score 28-13 in favor of NDSU.
JMU cut the deficit to 28-20 on a 5-yard touchdown pass from Ben DiNucci to Riley Stapleton with 6:55 remaining. NDSU drove to the JMU 36-yard line on the ensuing possession, but the drive ended with a failed 4th-and-2 conversion attempt.
The Dukes took over with 2:51 on the clock and drove to the Bison 3-yard line. With eight seconds remaining, Hendricks intercepted DiNucci's pass on the goal line to seal the win.