North Dakota State routs Towson, 35-7, to repeat as FCS champion
FRISCO, Tex. — Towson players declined to pose for pictures with the national championship trophy Friday with senior middle linebacker Monte Gaddis arguing that there would be plenty of time after the Football Championship Subdivision title game for him and his teammates to participate in that photo opportunity.
Those plans will have to wait until at least next year as the Tigers fell to two-time defending national champion North Dakota State, 35-7, on Saturday afternoon before an announced attendance of 19,802 at Toyota Stadium.
Tigers junior Terrance West carried the ball 22 times for 99 yards, caught five passes for 39 yards and scored one touchdown to add to his FCS record of 42 this season and his career mark of 86.
But Towson’s bid for the university’s first Division I national crown in any sport was denied by a Bison squad that finished a 15-0 campaign, extended its win streak to 24 consecutive games and joined Appalachian State as the only programs to capture three straight FCS titles.
“I have to give credit to Coach [Craig] Bohl, his program, his players, his staff, and North Dakota State’s fans,” Towson Coach Rob Ambrose said. “They are undefeated for a reason.”
Statistically, the Tigers (13-3) outplayed North Dakota State. They had more total yards (373-345), more first downs (21-16) and longer possession (33 minutes 38 seconds to 26:22).
But those numbers masked Towson’s mistakes.
Deadlocked at 7-7, Towson attempted to take the lead late in the second quarter with D.J. Soven lining up for a 41-yard field goal. But his try was blocked by North Dakota State’s Colton Heagle, and Kyle Emanuel scooped up the loose ball and returned it 59 yards to the Tigers 5-yard line.
One play later, wide receiver Ryan Smith scored on an end-around to give the Bison a 14-7 lead with 4 minutes 43 seconds left in the half.
Ambrose called it “[a] legitimate 10-point swing. . . . We made a mistake and they made us pay for it.”
And late in the third quarter, backup quarterback and occasional punter Connor Frazier flubbed a rugby kick from the Towson end zone that skipped out of bounds at the Tigers 31.
The Bison went the 31 yards in seven plays, scoring Sam Ojuri’s one-yard run early in the fourth quarter to cap the scoring.
Those plans will have to wait until at least next year as the Tigers fell heavily to back-to-back, reigning national champion North Dakota State, 35-7, Saturday afternoon before an announced attendance of 19,802 at Toyota Stadium here.
Junior running back Terrance West carried the ball 22 times for 99 yards, caught five passes for 39 yards, and scored one touchdown to add to his FCS record of 42 this season and his career mark of 86.
But Towson’s bid for the university’s first Division I national crown in any sport was denied by a Bison squad that pounced on every Tigers mistake and turned those gaffes into touchdowns.
Deadlocked at 7-7, Towson – which dropped to 13-3 and suffered its first loss in 10 road games this season – attempted to take the lead late in the second quarter with senior kicker D.J. Soven lining up for a 41-yard field goal. But Soven’s try was blocked by North Dakota State junior strong safety Colton Heagle, and junior defensive end Kyle Emanuel scooped up the loose ball and returned it 59 yards to the Tigers’ 5-yard line.
One play later, senior wide receiver Ryan Smith scored on an end-around to the right to give the Bison a 14-7 lead with 4 minutes, 43 seconds left in the period.
On Towson’s ensuing possession, the offense marched to North Dakota State’s 45, but senior quarterback Peter Athens picked a bad time for his first interception of the postseason. He overthrew junior wide receiver Brian Dowling on a deep post route, and sophomore cornerback C.J. Smith picked off the ball and returned it 32 yards to the Tigers’ 43.
Five plays later, senior quarterback Brock Jensen connected with junior wide receiver Zach Vraa on a post for a 12-yard touchdown with up the Bison’s advantage to 21-7 with 1:05 remaining in the first half.
Towson opened the third quarter on offense, but was forced to punt. North Dakota State then went 88 yards on eight plays, and Jensen capped the drive with a 9-yard run on a read-option play with 9:09 left in the period.
Trailing 28-7, the Tigers were forced to shelve West and the run, which was the strength of their game, and rely on the passing attack, which failed to make the necessary headway against the Bison defense.
North Dakota State added a 1-yard touchdown run by senior running back Sam Ojuri with 13:09 left in the fourth quarter to complete the scoring and saddled Towson with its worst loss since a 48-0 loss to Delaware on Nov. 6, 2010.
The seven points scored by the Tigers was the program’s lowest since a 28-3 loss to Maryland on Oct. 1, 2011. Towson avoided becoming the fourth opponent in the playoffs to lose to North Dakota State by at least 30 points, but the 28-point win was the Bison’s largest of its three national title runs.
North Dakota State completed a perfect 15-0 season and has won 24 straight contests.