FRISCO, Texas – Mark Gronowski threw three touchdown passes and rushed 51 yards for another as South Dakota State won its first national championship in Sunday’s 45-21 win over North Dakota State, who lost their first 10 FCS title games in their 10 games.
Like a true freshman two seasons ago, Gronowski tore his ACL in his left knee in the first episode of the Football Championship Subdivision title game. Nearly 20 months after losing that unprecedented spring finals and after the quarterback missed the entire 2021 season, the Rabbits beat their border state rival for the biggest ever cash in Coach John Stiegelmeier’s 26th season. his alma mater. .
Amar Johnson rushed for 126 yards and Isaiah Davis scored 119 yards in his ninth 100-yard game of the season and both scored touchdowns for the South Dakota State team. Gronowski, with 14 passes of 21 for 223 yards, scored in the third play of the second half to extend the lead to 38–14.
Cam Miller was 17 of 26 passes for 256 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions to Bison (12-3), who moved from Fargo to Frisco for the 10th time in 12 seasons.
The Hares have won the last four meetings between rivals in the Missouri Valley Football Conference in less than two years. The previous three played in the regular season for the Dakota Marker trophy, which was not contested at an MLS football stadium nearly 1,000 miles from their state line. It was their 114th meeting since 1903, but only their fifth in the FCS playoffs and their first in a championship game.
South Dakota State’s only previous appearance in an FCS title game was a last-minute loss to Sam Houston State in May 2021 after the lower division season was pushed back to spring due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Jackrabbits beat NDSU in that shortened regular season, and then again that fall ahead of a 23–21 win last October after overcoming a 21–7 halftime deficit at Fargodom.
Johnson’s 32-yard TD run broke 7-all early in the second quarter. The Rabbits got the ball right away when Stephen Arrell robbed running back Kobe Johnson and Dalys Bynam at Bison 34. Gronowski hit Janke wide-open with Jackson, landing an 18-yard touch four plays later – Janke also had a 30-yard TD to catch in the fourth quarter.
There was a 44-yard touchdown exchange right before halftime. On the third and first play, Gronowski went forward as if he was going to try to run for the first down, but instead stopped at the line and threw Mike Morgan solo behind the entire defense. Miller then hit Eli Green TD for 44 yards.
North Dakota State: The Bison are 44-4 in the FCS playoffs and missed the chance to match Georgia Southern’s record of 45 wins, now playing at the FBS level. They have only 14 losses since 2011, when they won the first of their record nine FCS titles, and six of those losses have come to South Dakota State – no other team has multiple victories against NDSU in that period.
South Dakota State: The Jackrabbits have won a school-record 14 games in a row since this season’s opener, losing 7-3 to Iowa’s Big Ten.
North Dakota State opens the 2023 season on September 2 in Minneapolis, one of the school’s largest alumni bases, against perennial FCS playoff team East Washington.
The state of South Dakota is still hoping to fill a spot on its 2023 schedule for Labor Day weekend. As of now, the first set game will take place on September 9 at home against 2021 runners-up Montana State, which the Jackrabbits beat in this season’s national semi-finals.
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