JMU Football on Practice Field for FCS Championship Game

Beth Cruz
January 8, 2018

Fargo to Frisco is a thing again at North Dakota State.

Top-seeded James Madison (14-0) faces second-seeded North Dakota State (13-1) Saturday at noon in Frisco, Texas, for the FCS championship, which the Dukes won previous year.

The Bison got some redemption for their 27-17 semifinal-round loss to James Madison that spurred the CAA Football champ to last year's FCS title.

Previous meeting: JMU ended NDSU's streak of five consecutive FCS national championships with a 27-17 win in the semifinals past year. A sixth Bison title would tie Georgia Southern for the most in FCS history. Fittingly, James Madison had a late drive with a chance to take the lead, but after punter Harry O'Kelly's 24-yard run on a fake kept it alive, the Dukes didn't make it past the Bison 18. "That's everything that we work for and all those workouts, all that extra stuff we do in the offseason, it's for this moment and for this stage". The Bison saw four of their top five running backs get hurt and lost their two starting cornerbacks in the playoffs. The Dukes beat the Bison in 2016 in the semifinals en route to winning their first title since 2004. They're 14-0 and have barely trailed this season. This isn't the first one of the season. "That's what it boils down to".

NDSU 14 JMU 3 - Easton Stick completes a 50-yard touchdown pass to Darrius Shepherd with 4:14 left in the second quarter.

The game between the nation's top-two defenses had been, mostly, a defensive struggle during the first half.

As the two powers combined for only 505 yards of total offense, North Dakota State never trailed in holding a almost 15 1/2-minute possession advantage. "I pinch myself", Klieman said after improving his NDSU record to 54-6.

Dukes coach Mike Houston has described the quest for tickets as a contest in itself.

JMU - Riley Stapleton had 7 catches for 107 yards.

Rather than punt, the Bison had Stick run off the last 4 seconds on fourth down. "That was a huge play for us". "I just made sure, No. 1 catch the snap, and then I found the clock right away", said Stick, who didn't throw an interception against a defense that had 31 during the season. Derrek Tuszka had two sacks for the Bison.

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