Though the Bison never trailed Saturday, James Madison almost pulled off an unlikely comeback in a rematch of last year's national semifinal (The Dukes won and went on to win the national championship).
It's the first time since 2011 and the first time since the FCS playoff field expanded to 24 teams that the top two seeds will face one another in the title game. "The experience of the national championship last year helped us come out and compete this year".
"We talk about it all the time: Field goals won't beat you, and it didn't today", Klieman said. "He and his staff have done a great job, and they do it in a first-class manner".
"What I love about my teammates this year is something that I've loved since I got to JMU", senior quarterback Bryan Schor said.
"So I'm showing him, like, you know, you've got to be more attentive to details, you've got to bring it every play". "Now, if this continues on, and God willing, we continue to both have great programs, maybe [a rivalry] will potentially happen". Madison was one of seven on third-down opportunities, had turned it over twice, dropped a few passes, committed a roughing-the-punter penalty that led to an NDSU touchdown, given up a 50-yard TD pass caught by a wide-open receiver, possessed the ball for about eight fewer minutes, and had missed a 42-yard field-goal attempt. Fans of both Montana and Montana State are well aware of how routinely North Dakota State's linemen, on both sides of the ball, overpower opponents. Entering the championship game, Shepherd had 35 catches for 485 yards-no touchdowns.
"This matchup is exciting for the rest of the country, but it's exciting for us as well", Schor said at Thursday's media day. "Probably the best we've seen all year, and it's going to be a great competition". "Having the opportunity to play each other - it feels right". NDSU took over at the JMU 41-yard line, and after advancing to the JMU 19-yard line on six plays, junior kicker Cam Pedersen knocked a 32-yard field goal in between the posts to extend NDSU's lead to 17-3.
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Under center for the Bison will be Easton Stick (39 total touchdowns, 62.4 completion percentage). "Not many teams hit a home run on those guys".
"Good time to get the first one", Stick said.
Kickoff is set for Saturday at 10 a.m. on ESPN2 from the outskirts of Dallas in Frisco, Texas. The Dukes broke an FCS single-season record with 43 takeaways this year. "You can tell they play a lot of snaps", Stick said of JMU's secondary. "It's the best thing I've been a part of". "It's a really talented group, and we definitely have our hands full". Derrek Tuszka had two sacks for the Bison. Seven senior starters are listed on defense. "He just said "Coach, don't worry, there will be no time left on the clock". Those were the game's final points as both defenses took over late. You can't lack in plays. That loss still lingers among many Bison players.
"What an incredible leader for this team", Shepherd said of Stick.
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