South Dakota State vs. North Dakota State score: Jackrabbits beat Bison for first national title

No. 1 South Dakota State captured its first national championship in program history with a 45-21 win over rival No. 3 North Dakota State at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, N.A. Texas. The win was the Jackrabbits’ fourth straight win over the Bisons and marks a high point in the formidable 25-year career of coach John Stiegelmeier, Eddie Robinson’s 2022 Coach of the Year.

The Jackrabbits have reached great heights since their time in Division I, including five trips to the national semi-finals in the past six seasons. However, a clash against their intense rivals provided a unique stage. North Dakota State entered Sunday as the most dominant program in Division I football, winning nine of the last 11 championships with an unbeaten record in league games since the game was moved to Frisco.

The last time these two teams played, the Bisons took a 21-7 lead over the Jackrabbits in the regular season game before South Dakota State came back strong. This time it was South Dakota State that took a 28-7 first half lead with a deadly offensive effort. The Jackrabbits scored touchdowns on four of their first five possessions and used a fumble from North Dakota State running back Kobe Johnson to take a double-digit lead, the first deficit of more than seven points. which the Bison faced in a title match.

South Dakota State has pulled out all the tricks to spray bison. Quarterback Mark Gronowski, who won Most Valuable Player honors, threw a jump pass to fullback Michael Morgan for a 44-yard touchdown and then broke away for a 51-yard touchdown run to all but freeze the game to start the third quarter. Running back Amar Johnson sped his way over 100 rushing yards in the first half alone with the help of a 32 rushing yard score.

The Jackrabbits rushed for 299 total yards and three touchdowns, only brought back under 300 thanks to Gronowski kneeling in formation for the victory. The Jackrabbits averaged 8.7 yards per play and dominated the game from start to finish. Brothers Jadon and Jaxon Janke also combined for 121 receiving yards and two touchdowns.

North Dakota State lost multiple regular season games in a non-pandemic season for the first time since 2015 but had the opportunity to break through in the game. North Dakota State quarterback Cam Miller threw a pair of touchdowns but added two interceptions. The Jackrabbits defense also did their job, keeping North Dakota State to just 4.3 yards per carry. Outside of a 38-14 loss to Southern Illinois during the spring pandemic season, this is North Dakota State’s biggest loss since a 37-6 decision to Cal Poly on October 8, 2005.

South Dakota State had already earned a trip to the FCS championship game during the spring 2021 pandemic season, but fell just short of Sam Houston after an injury to Gronowski. This time, the Jackrabbits left no doubt. The championship is the 11th in 13 seasons for the Missouri Valley Football Conference. The other two national title winners during this span – Sam Houston and James Madison – both move up to the FBS level. However, the Great Plains powers remain at the forefront of the FCS.

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