"We could not be more thrilled for the opportunity to be back in Frisco, Texas, and have the opportunity compete for a third national title for James Madison University football".
NDSU has now won 14 national championships, breaking a tie for the most by any team across any NCAA division.
Both James Madison and North Dakota State practiced Thursday in Frisco, and the first 30 minutes of practice was open to the media. "They're both experienced and poised, they play within themselves and don't make mistakes, and they can beat you with their arms or legs". "They do a really good job of rotating guys, the two corner spots and guys playing nickel and things like that". They're 14-0 and have barely trailed this season. Bison running back Bruce Anderson scored on a 3-yard touchdown run in the first quarter. James Madison got another, 21-yard field goal from Ratke to make the score 17-6 at halftime.
Marcus Marshall had a 1-yard run for the only touchdown for the Dukes, who lost the turnover battle 3-1 after forcing 10 takeaways in the semifinals. Shepherd added his 50-yard touchdown catch that gave the Bison a 14-3 lead with 4:14 to play in the second quarter.
James Madison, with all of the momentum on its side, advanced the ball to the 19-yard line with 1:53 left, but its only positive gain on the ensuing four plays earned one yard.
"I told (my team) we were going to win the football game and I firmly believed that", Houston said of his message to his team at halftime.
"Just the feeling we had going into the half". The Bison won a record 33 consecutive games between 2012 and 2014. Despite the encouraging field position, Schor whiffed on three pass attempts and JMU was forced to settle for a field goal booted in by redshirt freshman Ethan Ratke. Moments later, the Dukes faked a punt that punter Harry O'Kelly ran 24 yards to the Bison 29-yard line with around 3 minutes remaining.
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Klieman says, "They got different players, just like we got different players".
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. The Bison then ran out the final 58 seconds. NDSU ranks fourth in the nation with 282.1 rushing yards per game. James Madison made seven trips deep into NDSU territory, but came away with three field goal attempts (only two of which were made), two interceptions, a touchdown and a turnover on downs.
Stick completed 13 of 22 passes for 130 yards and a touchdown with no interceptions. The Dukes also finished 14-1 with the loss.
James Madison: The Dukes have to replace Schor, two receivers and a tight end, although Stapleton returns as a junior after recording his first two career 100-yard games in the playoffs.
"What I love about my teammates this year is something that I've loved since I got to JMU", senior quarterback Bryan Schor said.
"That's nearly an absurd accomplishment, and one that you probably won't ever see again", Houston said. "You're going to have guys injured", Klieman said.