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College football: North Dakota State wins eighth FCS title

Jan. 11 (UPI) -- North Dakota State held on for a 28-20 win against James Madison to claim their eighth FCS title Saturday at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas.

North Dakota State quarterback Trey Lance passed for just 72 yards, but ran for 166 yards and a score in the victory. James Madison quarterback Ben DiNucci completed 22 of 33 passes for 204 yards, two scores and an interception in the loss.

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The Bison have now won 37 consecutive games after capping off their perfect (16-0) campaign in 2019-2020. The 16-win season was a first for college football in any division since Yale won 16 games in 1894. The Bison clinched Saturday's win with James Hendricks intercepting DiNucci in the end zone in the final seconds.

"It was a play we were familiar with," Hendricks told reporters. "It was on film all year. We knew that when they got into the set, they were going to run a pick play. Honestly, they got us in a good call.

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"They picked our guy and I just left my guy and knew they were going to throw it and trusted that he was going to make the throw to the flat and not the guy I was supposed to cover. I made the play and the rest is history."

James Madison took a 7-0 lead with a 17-play, 86-yard drive to begin the game. DiNucci threw a five-yard touchdown pass to Riley Stapleton to end the drive. The Bison responded with an eight-play, 70-yard scoring drive, capped off with a one-yard Adam Cofield run. The Bison took a 14-7 lead with a 38-yard scoring run from Phoenix Sproles at the start of the second quarter.

Eithan Ratke made a 26-yard field goal for James Madison on the next drive. North Dakota State responded with a 12-play, 81-yard touchdown drive. Hendricks had a 20-yard rushing score to give the Bison a 21-10 edge.

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James Madison made another field goal on their first drive of the second half. North Dakota State went up 28-13 when Lance took off for a 44-yard touchdown run at the start of the third quarter. James Madison punted before responding with an 11-play, 46-yard scoring drive. DiNucci connected with Stapleton for a five-yard touchdown at the end of that drive, cutting the Bison lead to 28-20.

Stapleton had 10 catches for 100 yards and two scores in the loss.

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"Obviously we didn't get the result we wanted today," James Madison coach Curt Cignetti said. "I give North Dakota State a lot of credit. That's a great football team. There is a reason they have won so many."

North Dakota State opens the 2020 season against Oregon Sept. 5 in Eugene, Ore.

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