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South Dakota State Wins FCS Championship

Sports

South Dakota State Jackrabbits head coach John Stiegelmeier is doused with Gatorade after the South Dakota State Jackrabbits win the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) National Championship | Image by Chris Jones/USA TODAY Sports

South Dakota State crushed North Dakota State 45–21 to win its first-ever Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) National Championship on Sunday at Toyota Stadium in Frisco.

The South Dakota State rushing offense controlled the game with 283 yards as the Jackrabbits scored 24 points in the second quarter to take a 10-point lead at halftime.

The Jackrabbits’ defense stepped up in the second half, holding the Bison to just one score. The defense also forced three turnovers in the game, two of which turned into touchdowns.

South Dakota State quarterback Mark Gronowski was named the Most Outstanding Player after throwing for 223 yards and three touchdowns and running for another score.

Running backs Isaiah Davis and Amar Johnson each ran for over 100 yards and a score.

North Dakota State quarterback Cam Miller led the Bison with 260 passing yards and two touchdowns.

WHAT TO KNOW

This was the second time these two rivals met this season. South Dakota State also won the regular season matchup in October but had yet to defeat the Bison in a playoff game.

This was the rival’s 114th meeting, the fifth in the FCS playoffs, and the first in a championship game. Despite Sunday’s outcome, North Dakota State leads the all-time series 63–46–5.

South Dakota State and North Dakota State are members of the Missouri Valley Football Conference (MVFC), making this the second time foes from the same conference have met in the FCS Championship. It also happened in 2014 when North Dakota State defeated Illinois State 29–27.

South Dakota State was playing in its second FCS title game in the last three years after losing to Sam Houston State at the end of a delayed 2020 season.

North Dakota State was appearing in the championship for an FCS record 10th time. The Bison have won nine national championships in the last 12 years.

BY THE NUMBERS

South Dakota State finishes the season with a program-best 14–1 record, including an undefeated 14–0 against FCS competition. The only shortcoming of the season was a 7–3 loss to the University of Iowa in the season opener.

South Dakota State’s 45 points are the most scored by a team in the FCS Championship game since it moved to Frisco in 2010.

North Dakota State’s defense gave up 7.4 yards per carry, three yards higher than its average.

WHO SAID

South Dakota State head coach John Stiegelmeier said of his team’s first championship, “We made a memory. I live through our players, and I always will, always have. And so, my joy is great today because their joy is great.”

North Dakota State head coach Matt Entz commented on his team suffering its first championship loss in Frisco.

“We played a very good football team,” he said. “I’m not going to take anything away from our opponent. That would be disrespectful. Coach (John Stiegelmeier) has done a tremendous job with his program.”

NEXT UP
Both teams enter the offseason with eyes toward returning to Frisco in 2024. North Dakota State will have to replace defensive coordinator David Braun, who has been hired to the same position at Northwestern.

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