North Dakota State seals eighth FCS national championship on late goal-line interception vs. James Madison

USATSI

The North Dakota State Bison clinched their eighth FCS championship in nine seasons with a 28-20 victory vs. the James Madison Dukes thanks to a goal-line interception from safety James Hendricks in the final seconds of the title game Saturday. The Bison defender jumped the pass from Dukes quarterback Ben DiNucci and returned the ball all the way to the 20-yard line before sliding to a stop and getting swarmed by teammates at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas.

NDSU's win also made college football history. The No. 1 Bison became the first team to go 16-0 since the 1894 season--Yale accomplished this feat, but still had to share the national title with Princeton (8-2) and Penn (12-0). When talking to ESPN after the game, coach Matt Entz made sure to give all the credit to his players while trying to hold back his emotions.

"It's hard to be national champs," Entz said. "It's hard to win that many game in a row. It's all the players. They handle every day like professionals."

Of course, there was the brief period on the No. 2 Dukes' final drive where the Bison looked like anything but professionals. The defense allowed JMU to march down to NDSU's 17-yard line, and then gifted the Dukes 14 free yards in penalties. Had it not been for a senior safety's veteran instincts kicking in, the story here might have been about JMU's final heroic drive.

Instead, however, the team coached by a former defensive coordinator made the stop. But it wasn't just the defensive side of the ball that did its job on Saturday. Bison redshirt freshman quarterback, and FCS Championship Most Outstanding Player, Trey Lance ended the season without throwing any interceptions--he connected on 28 touchdowns--and led all rushers on Saturday with 166 yards. Even Hendricks, who made the heroic late pick, was directly involved in one of the more impressive plays of the game when he scored a 20-yard touchdown on a fake field goal.

NDSU extended its winning streak to an FCS-record 37 games. Not a bad way to end a season that was supposed to be a rebuilding year.

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