Saturday, January 5, 2013 | Valley Football
Bison Repeat as National Champions
courtesy NDSU Media Relations
courtesy NDSU Media Relations

FRISCO, Texas (AP) - The North Dakota State Bison have a second straight FCS championship in what's becoming their second home.

Backed by more than 10,000 fans wearing green and gold in the same suburban Dallas stadium where they beat Sam Houston State a year ago, the Bison outnumbered their Texas counterparts in the stands and outplayed them on the field - again.

Quarterback Brock Jensen ran for three touchdowns, including the go-ahead score in the third quarter not long after a holding penalty wiped out a touchdown that would have given Sam Houston the lead, and Sam Ojuri scored twice in a 39-13 victory Saturday.

The field turned into a Bison pep rally after the game as thousands of fans joined a trophy presentation on a stage that makes up one end of FC Dallas Stadium.

"Let's go Bison!'' coach Craig Bohl shouted while holding up a Bison hand signal that could be mistaken for the Texas Longhorns' "Hook 'Em Horns'' sign in the Lone Star State. "Best fans in America!''

The Bison, who won 17-6 a year ago, improved to 10-1 in the FCS playoffs with their eighth straight postseason win.

Jensen put North Dakota State (14-1) in front for good on a 1-yard sneak in the third quarter, and Ojuri had a 2-yard TD run on fourth-and-1 after the Bison got the ball with a fourth-down stop.

Ojuri had 92 yards rushing, and Jensen added 44 to go with 115 passing yards. The Bison rushed for 300 yards.

John Crockett had 80 yards rushing, 24 receiving and a 26-yard pass to set up a score on a trick play after taking a straight-ahead handoff.

Bell threw for 255 yards against the nation's best pass defense, but had three of Sam Houston's four interceptions. Flanders, the school's career rushing leader, was held to 53 yards on 19 carries, a 2.8 average.

It was tied at 10 when Flanders broke loose on an apparent 41-yard touchdown on the first possession of the second half. Instead, Sam Houston had a third long run deep into Bison territory wiped out by a holding penalty. None of the drives ended in points.

After the holding call on Flanders' run, Carlton Littlejohn intercepted Bell's pass while falling to his knees, and the turnover was upheld on review. Ojuri had 25 yards rushing on a drive that ended with Jensen's score for a 17-10 lead.

"That's a big turning point,'' said North Dakota State cornerback Marcus Williams, who had two interceptions to set the school career record with 18. "Whenever a team scores a TD and it gets taken off the board, it gives you momentum. In this game, you needed as much momentum as we could get.''

The Bearkats were driving again when Bell had to throw the ball away before getting slammed to the turf on fourth-and-1. He stayed flat on his back and sat out parts of the fourth quarter.

"There were some opportunities there that could have gotten us back in the game, an answer or two to a score they had,'' Sam Houston coach Willie Fritz said. "But it didn't bounce that way.''

Jensen's 31-yard pass to Zach Vraa set up Ojuri's fourth-down run, and the Bison further deflated the Bearkats when they turned a botched snap on the extra point into a 2-point conversion and a 25-10 lead on a desperation pass from kicker Adam Keller to Mike Hardie.

"Sometimes there's plays that happen in the game when you think, 'You know what, this is probably going to be our day,''' Bohl said. "A play that we had never planned or designed turned out to work extremely well.''

North Dakota State scored the first touchdown in the second quarter by covering 65 yards on three running plays. Jensen ran 21 yards on third down after the field opened when Sam Houston State's leading tackler, Darnell Taylor, crumpled to the ground in front of him with an apparently leg injury. Ryan Smith ran 24 yards, and Jensen, who accounted for both touchdowns in last year's game, scored from the 20.

Sam Houston ended a championship game touchdown drought just before it reached six quarters and tied the score at 10 when Bell threw a 1-yard pass to K.J. Williams with 33 seconds left in the first half. A 30-yard toss to Richard Sincere put the ball on the 1 three plays after an interception by Andre Martin Jr. was wiped out when he was called for defensive holding.

Crockett's career-long 57-yard run set up a 32-yard field goal by Keller to give North Dakota State a first-quarter lead. Miguel Antonio kicked a tying 38-yarder in the second quarter after missing from 32 yards in the first.

2012 NCAA Division I Championship – Jan. 5, 2013

General Notes...

This was the first rematch of the Division I title game since 1995 and ’96 whenMarshallandMontanasplit two title appearances inHuntington,W.Va.It’s the fourth rematch since 1978 in NCAA Division I title skirmishes. The Bison and Bearkats are just the seventh and eighth programs to play in back-to-back gridiron championships.

The attendance for today’s game was 21,411 (largest crowd ever for an American football event at FC Dallas Stadium). The NCAA Division I record is 32,106 for in 1995 for Montana’s 22-20 win over Marshall in Huntington.

The 2011 NCAA Division I Football Championship set a tournament record for fan attendance with 256,384 while the 2012 Championship had the second-highest tally with 210,998, including today’s turnout in Frisco.

Richmond in 2008, Villanova in 2009, Eastern Washington in 2010, and North Dakota State in 2011 all were first-time Division I football champions. Appalachian State was a three-peat performer from 2005-07. NDSU becomes the first repeat winner since ASU in 2006-07 as the four-year trend of initial winners ended.

NDSU became the 21st different to win a NCAA Division I National Championship last season since NCAA Division play began in 1978. These teams represent seven different conferences – Big Sky, Colonial Athletic, Mid-Eastern Athletic,MissouriValley(ND State),OhioValley, Southern, Southland, and Division I independents. The Bison became the second MVC team to take all the marbles in 2011 and ’12 afterSouthern Illinoisin 1983.

The Bison move into fourth place behindGeorgiaSouthern with six,YoungstownStatewith four and Appalachian State with three championships in DI football since 1978.

NDSU now leads the four-game series between the teams 3-1 since they first met in 2007.

The Bison won their eighth football national championship either in NCAA Division II or Small College Division (wire service polls). It also was the Bison’s 22nd overall NCAA team title and first in DI after capturing Division II championships in football (eight), women’s basketball (five) and wrestling (four), and one each in men's cross country, softball and women's indoor track and field.SamHoustonState’s first national crown on any level was a shared NAIA football championship withConcordia,Minn., in 1964.

There never has been an overtime contest in the 35-season history of the Division I football championship.

The Most Outstanding Player in the 2012 Division I Championship was North Dakota State QB Brock Jensen with eight carries for 44 yards and a career-most three rushing TDs along with 9-of-16 passing for 115 yards and no interceptions.

North Dakota State Notes…

Bison head coach Craig Bohl now stands 89-32 after his 10th season as a college head coach – all at NDSU. He has been an assistant or head coach in the college ranks for 30 seasons, is a former defensive coordinator at Rice from 1989-93, He is 10-1 as head coach for three seasons of the Bison’s FCS postseason showings and 6-3 over the last seven seasons against NCAA FBS opponents.

NDSU now leads FCS and FBS with 14 wins (14-1 record) just ahead of several 12-victory teams, includingAlabamaand Notre Dame prior to Monday night’s Bowl Championship Series tussle inMiami. The coach also is 24-8 vs. nationally ranked FCS teams since 2006, including 8-0 last season and 8-0 in 2012. The school also is 12-0 in road games since 2011.

The Bison are 10-1 in NCAA Division I football playoff history and completed their third year of FCS appearances in ’12. State has outscored SHSU 56-19 in the last two title contests.

North DakotaStateruns to 641-365-34 (.633 winning percentage) over 116 seasons and 1,040 games.

NDSU has scored 495 points while surrendering 173 in 15 encounters. The Bison led FCS in team stats in scoring defense (11.4 avg/now 11.5), total defense (223.4 avg/,now 234.5) pass defense (131 avg yards/now 140.6) and first downs allowed (11.9 avg/now 12.7),

North DakotaStatedid not have a takeaway in the 2011 opener againstLafayetteand then had one in each of the last 14 contests in ‘11. The Bison also now have had 33 interceptions over the last two outings (20 in 2011) and recovered 16 fumbles (32 caused) this season for 29 turnovers gained in ’12. NDSU had nine interceptions in the first four games and four picks today.

In the first quarter, RB John Crocket broke the 1,000-yard rushing barrier with a career-long 57-yard junket after entering the contest with 956 net yards. Bison RB Sam Ojuri also entered the contest 45 yards short of the four-figure mark and broke 1,000 yards in the fourth quarter. This is the second time in succession and second time in NDSU season annals with a pair of 1,000-yard rushers. In 2011 D.J. McNorton and Ojuri both broke that infantry barrier.

QB Brock Jensen rushed for a career-high three touchdowns in today’s championship effort.

CB Marcus Williams now has six interceptions for the season and a school-record 17 for his career after his second quarter pickoff. The last two-point conversion before today by NDSU was a pass to D.J. McNorton from Brock Jensen in the 2011 DI semifinals against Georgia Southern, WR Ryan Smith carried a career-high five times on end-arounds and inside handoffs this afternoon.

DB Andre Martin had his first career interception at NDSU and eighth total, including seven in two seasons at UNI before starting his career with the Bison in 2011.

All-America LB Grant Olson had a school-record 29 tackles in the team’s 14-7 win over Wofford in the 2011 quarterfinals It was the highest total in NCAA football (all divisions) this season and the third-most tackles ever by a FCS gridman. Olson has five double-digit tackle contests for the campaign and his 148 tackles this season is the highest total at NDSU since LB Jim Dick had a school-season-most 167 in 1985.

Punter Ben LeCompte has taken up where Matt Voigtlander (had a season-best 66-yard punt in the 2011 championship contest) and averaged 43.3 yards on 51 punts with a long boot of 65 yards entering today’s outing. LeCompte had a long kick of 50 yards in the opening half.

Punters Voigtlander of NDSU and SHSU’s Matt Foster combined for 17 punts and a 45.9 average in last year’s 17-6 Bison defensive gem as the two defenses limited the offenses to 5-of-31 composite third down conversions (16 percent).

The 2011 and ’12 championship school also has a familiar hand signal in this area. The index and little finger Bison salute is the same asTexas’ “Hook-Em Horns” signal.