By Kent Schmidt
CSN West Columnist
College Sporting News
NDSU (15-0) finished their first undefeated season in front of 19,802 fans at Toyota Stadium with the title since they won the title in 1990 at the Division II level. Senior quarterback Brock Jensen was named the game’s most valuable player after throwing for 135 yards and rushed for 20 more. He had a touchdown both running and throwing.
Jensen finishes his career with an FCS quarterback-record of 48 victories.
“It's one I'll always remember my whole lifetime,” said Jensen. “Really special. It gets better every time, I think, you win it, definitely. But yeah, just to soak it all in, and that was the last time I put on a Bison jersey, but man, it's been a fun ride.”
The Bison joined Appalachian State (2005-07) as the only FCS teams to win three consecutive championships. They are the first undefeated champs at that level since Marshall in 1996, the year before the Thundering Herd moved to Division I FBS.
Coach Craig Bohl last month accepted the job as Wyoming's coach, but stayed with the Bison for during the team’s playoff run. He finished 104-32 in 11 seasons at North Dakota State, which has won 24 consecutive games to match the FCS record with Montana and Pennsylvania, who did this previously.
Bohl said, "I know much has been talked about all the potential distractions. I think there's two times this whole season where the game was in doubt at the tail end of the game, and that's a real indication of an excellent football team, and today capped it off. It's hard to do. It's hard to run the table. It's not hard, it's really hard to do, and hats off to these guys.”
This was the fourth consecutive year the title game was played at Toyota Stadium in North Texas, but this game was plagued by problems with the grass turf.
During each change of possession or timeout, groups of workers and volunteers had to pat down chunks of turf that were coming up during play. Stadium officials said the cold weather in late November was to blame for the field conditions.
Nick Shafer, the stadium's vice president of operations, said in a statement that the turf between the hash marks was replaced November 18. Soon after that, the area was hit by an extended stretch of unusual freezing weather and ice sat on the field for a week. Shafer says that "prevented the grass from taking root underneath the turf."
The game started its scoring with a two yard rush by John Crockett to go up 7-0 with 5:34 left in the first quarter. Crockett finished the game with a game high 86 yards rushing.
Towson came back to tie the game at the end of the first quarter on a run by Terrance West from three yards out. West finished the game with 100 yards rushing and also had 39 more through the air.
With 4:43 left in the second quarter, Ryan Smith scored after a blocked field goal attempt from safety Colton Heagle. Defensive end Kyle Emanuel returned the block back to the Towson 5 and Smith scored on the next play.
Towson Coach Rob Ambrose said, “A legitimate 10-point swing, I pretty much think everybody here figured that part out. We made a mistake, and they made us pay for it.”
A CJ Smith interception turned out to be the insurmountable margin for Towson to overcome. Smith’s interception led to a Jenson to Zach Vraa touchdown with 1:05 left in the opening half.
The second half was all NDSU as the Bison scored on a nine yard run from Jensen in the third quarter and Sam Ojuri scored the final touchdown in the fourth quarter on a one yard plunge.
Ojuri finished with 84 yards rushing and added 22 more through the air.
Zach Vraa, Ryan Smith, and Andrew Bonnet were NDSU’s leading receivers with three catches each and 51, 33, and 12 yards respectively.
Towson quarterback Peter Athens ended the day with 267 yards passing and another 20 on the ground.
Ambrose said, “I have to give credit to Coach Bohl, his program, his players, his staff, and North Dakota State's fans. They are undefeated for a reason. They are one, and they are perfect.”