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NDSU Bison

North Dakota State Head Coach Craig Bohl led the Bison to their third FCS National Championship
Photo By Chuck Cox
Rattle and Hum Sports

Three Time FCS Championship winner Craig Bohl heads for the FBS

By Matthew Postins

PostinsPostcards.com

FRISCO — Saturday’s FCS National Championship game was the final game at North Dakota State for head coach Craig Bohl. Last month Bohl accepted the head-coaching job at Wyoming, but stayed on to complete the Bison’s run to Frisco.

Bohl’s tenure was incredibly successful. With a record of 104-32, Bohl helmed the Bison for 11 seasons and navigated the program’s move from NCAA Division II to NCAA FBS, including winning records during all four years of NDSU’s reclassification period.

Among the program’s major accomplishments during his tenure was seven wins over FBS opponents, including this season’s win over Kansas State.

Bohl mentioned before Saturday’s game that given his transition to Wyoming that he felt like one the Bison’s “25th senior.” He also had a hard time wrapping his mind around NDSU’s accomplishments the past three seasons.

“I think in a couple of months it will boggle my mind,” Bohl said. “This team was possessed with perfection and they relentlessly pursued it. You won’t be perfect but in the middle you’ll catch excellence. When you throw those numbers out it’s pretty remarkable. When you’re in the midst of playing a game you don’t think about it.”

NDSU joins exclusive club

North Dakota State became the second team in NCAA FCS history to win three straight national championships on Saturday, joining Appalachian State (2005-07).

During NDSU’s three-year run, its only losses have come to Youngstown State in 2011 and Indiana State in 2012. Both of those losses were in Missouri Valley Football Conference action.

The year after its three-peat, The Mountaineers went 11-3 and reached the FCS quarterfinals, falling three wins short of a four-peat.

Payton, Buchanan winners

The winners of the Walter Payton Award (top FCS offensive player) and the Buck Buchanan Award (top FCS defensive player) were honored during a pre-game banquet and recognized during Saturday’s game.

Eastern Illinois quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo won the Payton Award, becoming the second EIU quarterback to win the honor (Tony Romo, 2002). Garoppolo helped EIU to a Ohio Valley Conference title, a No. 2 national ranking and led FCS in passing yards (4,489), passing yards per game (374.1) and touchdown passes (48). EIU lost to Towson in the FCS quarterfinals.

Montana State defensive end Brad Daly won the Buchanan award, making him the second straight MSU defensive player to win the award (Caleb Schreibeis, 2012). He is also the sixth player from the Big Sky Conference to win the award in the last 11 years.

Daly led FCS with 14 sacks and 20.5 tackles for loss.

West finishes off extraordinary season

Towson running back Terrence West capped off his record-breaking 2013 season with a 99-yard, one-touchdown performance on Saturday.

West entered the game having already set the single-season records in FCS for rushing yards and total touchdowns. His final numbers for 2013 are 2,509 rushing yards and 42 total touchdowns. He became the first back in FCS history to rush for 2,500 yards in a single season.

West’s career numbers are staggering. He’s rushed for 4,849 yards and scored 86 total touchdowns.

West, a junior, told reporters earlier this week that he would not make a decision about coming back for his senior year until after Saturday’s game. He disputed a report earlier this week that he had already made his decision and was turning pro.

“That is a conversation he and I both agreed we would have in detail tomorrow,” Towson head coach Rob Ambrose told reporters.

Ambrose wears earring for title game

Towson head coach Rob Ambrose wore a small earring in his left ear as a result of a declaration he made to his players earlier this season, though, he admitted that he wasn’t happy about it.

“Yes I’m comfortable in my sexuality,” Ambrose joked. “No, I’m not having a mid-life crisis and yes, I did this for my players. There was a conversation where I said I would do anything for these guys. I would lay in front of  a bus if it gave them a chance to play in a national championship game. As stiff as I can be, as hard as I can be, I would get my ear pierced and wear it in the national championship game for them, and these sons of guns got us here.

“It’s not convenient. I don’t want to wear an earring. I don’t like it. I think I look terrible, although my wife likes it. But I said I would do it., and it’s a lesson. It doesn’t matter if I don’t like it, I said I would do it and it’s a lesson they needed to learn.

Playoff history

NDSU has a decorated postseason history. With its win on Saturday the Bison improved to 14-1 in FCS playoff games, including three FCS national titles. The Bison made the playoffs for the 27th time as a program and is 49-14 overall in the NCAA postseason. In addition to their three FCS national crowns, the Bison won three national titles as a member of the College Division (1965, 1968-69) and five titles as a member of NCAA Division II (1983, 1985-86, 1988).

Towson’s appearance in Frisco marked the Tigers’ first FCS national championship game appearance. As a program they’re 6-6 in the NCAA playoffs and have made the playoffs in Division III, Division II and FCS. This postseason run marked Towson’s second FCS playoff appearance, with its other appearance in 2011 ending with a two-point loss to Lehigh.

Saturday was the second contest between NDSU and Towson. The first was back in 1983 when the two teams met in the Division II quarterfinals. NDSU won, 24-17, as the Bison went on to win the national title, the first of their four titles in the 1980s.

Briefly …

Towson entered Saturday’s game having won 12 straight road games, dating back to a 49-35 win over Villanova on Oct. 27, 2012. The Tigers were 9-0 on the road this season. Saturday’s game was a neutral site game, but the Tigers were the designated road team. … The game-time temperature in Frisco was 60 degrees. To contrast, the game-time temperature in Fargo, N.D., the home of North Dakota State, was zero degrees. The game-time temperature in Baltimore, Md., the home of Towson, was 31 degrees. … Field conditions were rough for Saturday’s game, as huge chunks of sod came up throughout the game. NCAA personnel had to go onto the field, sometimes as many as three dozen at a time, to replace turf divots between the hash marks during timeouts. According to Nick Shafer, the vice-president of stadium operations for Toyota Stadium, that grass was replaced on Nov. 18. But the ice storm that swept through Dallas-Fort Worth in early December left ice on the field for a week and prevented the new grass from taking root in the turf. … Saturday’s official attendance was 19,802.

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FCS National Championship Game

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