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Back on top: NDSU defeats JMU 17-13 in FCS championship game

NDSU ends JMU 26-game winning streak for sixth FCS Championship

With the win, North Dakota State now has six of the last seven FCS national championships. The victory also ended James Madison's 26-game win streak.

The Houston-led JMU football team is making an appearance in the FCS National Championship for the second-straight year on Saturday.

It's the first time since 2011 and the first time since the FCS playoff field expanded to 24 teams that the top two seeds will face one another in the title game.

"That's nearly an absurd accomplishment, and one that you probably won't ever see again", Houston said. "I think both teams would say this is the most physical game they've played in all year".

Despite being the No. 1 team in every national poll every week of the season, the Dukes haven't been favored in a game since their quarterfinal win over Weber State. Bison quarterback Stick then hit receiver Darrius Shepherd for a 50-yard touchdown in the second quarter, followed up with a Cam Pedersen 32-yard field goal to make it 17-3 NDSU. They're 14-0 and have barely trailed this season. "I know I'll have these guys the rest of my life".

"They made the plays and we made too many mistakes". They took advantage of a short field on their first drive of the third quarter. D'Angelo Amos returned Koonce's punt for 37 yards - the second-longest return of his career - to put the Dukes at the NDSU 14-yard line. The teams traded field goals in the final minute of the first half and the Bison took a 17-6 lead into halftime.

The Bison would runout the final 58 seconds of the clock for the championship. Sophomore cornerback Marquise Bridges intercepted Schor's pass at the NDSU 3-yard line.

James Madison scored on its first possession of the third quarter to close within 17-13.

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NDSU 7 JMU 3 - Ethan Ratke drills a 31-yard field goal with 3:48 left in the first quarter.

"Obviously there are people out there that don't respect us that much", Houston said.

The Dukes entered the season as the No. 1 team in the land. The Bison's first drive notably showcased the return of junior running back Lance Dunn - arguably NDSU's most lethal offensive threat, who hadn't played since October 21. This year the tables are flipped, as James Madison is No. 1 and NDSU is No. 4.

"We just watched the film and decided what we liked and didn't like ... and moved on", Klieman said. Stick is completing 62 percent with a program-record 27 touchdown passes to just eight picks. He added 35 rushing yards on 14 carries.

James Madison, with all of the momentum on its side, advanced the ball to the 19-yard line with 1:53 left, but its only positive gain on the ensuing four plays earned one yard.

Quarterback Bryan Schor scrambled for 17 yards to the 46.

"We talk about it all the time: Field goals won't beat you, and it didn't today", Klieman said.

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