By Kent Schmidt
CSN West Columnist
College Sporting News
NDSU defeated SHSU 39-13 in front of a Frisco Division I Championship record 21,411 in attendance. NDSU did most of its damage in the second half.
“I think you now transition your program into a pretty premier program when you’ve been able to go back-to-back,” said NDSU head coach Craig Bohl.
The road looked dicey in the first half, however.
At the half time break, the game had a 10-10 tie. NDSU scored first with a 32 yard Adam Keller field goal with 3:49 left in the first quarter. The two teams each exchanged two punts prior to Keller putting NDSU on the scoreboard.
Sam Houston State responded on their next possession with a 38 yard field from Miguel Antonio to tie the game at three with 14:18 left in the second quarter.
After three more exchanges of punts, NDSU’s defense got an interception from Marcus Williams after the Bearkats were driving into the Bison territory.
The NDSU offense used that defensive energy to score the game’s first touchdown. Jensen scored on what looked like a broken play from 20 yards out on the series’ sixth play to put the Bison ahead 10-3 at with 3:09 left of the opening half.
The Bearkats drove 75 yards on their next possession, which ended with a one yard touchdown pass from Bell to K.J. Williams to again tie the game, 10-10 with just 33 seconds left.
NDSU did have a chance to score in the last drive of the half but Keller’s 50 yard field goal attempt was well short.
The second half opened with a short kickoff as the two 15 yard SHSU personal fouls were enforced but NDSU just kicked a touchback. That drive for the Bearkats was halted when Bell throw his second interception of the game.
Carlton Littlejohn intercepted that pass and NDSU drove to score on a one yard Jensen quarterback sneak with 8:30 left in the third quarter.
“This is the best defense we’ve played this season and I’m comparing that with (Texas) A&M and Baylor,” said Bearkats head coach Willie Fritz.
The Bearkats played those two FBS teams earlier this season.
Sam Ojuri scored after NDSU stopped the Bearkats on a 4th and one play on the ensuing drive. Ojuri scored from two yards out on a 4th down play himself. The day was going NDSU’s way as the Bearkats blocked the kick but place kicker Keller had his extra point blocked but had the presence of mind to pass the ball to Mike Hardie to take a 25-10 lead.
Sam Houston State came back to kick a field goal by Antonio to cut it to 25-13 with 13:10 left in the game but NDSU answered right back.
Another Jensen one yard plunge and Ojuri's second score capped off the scoring.
“It’s got to be the hardest thing to do in sports to repeat a championship, go back-to-back, especially a national championship,” said Jensen, who was voted as the game’s most valuable player.
Jensen ended the game throwing for just 115 yards but added 44 on the ground. Ojuri ended the game with 92 yards, while John Crockett added 82. Both Ojuri and Crockett reached the 1,000 yard rushing plateau with their efforts today.
Quarterback Brian Bell threw for 255 yards and running back Tim Flanders ran for 53 for Sam Houston State in the losing cause.
NDSU is the first back-to-back champions since Appalachian State won three in a row from 2005 to 2007.
It is also the first back-to-back championships for NDSU since the Bison won the 1985 and 1986 Division II titles.