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(Friday, December 20th)
Final Score: North Dakota State 52, New Hampshire 14
Fargo, ND (SportsNetwork.com) - North Dakota State has its date with destiny.
And the Bison are giving every indication they will complete their mission in two weeks.
Unbeaten NDSU throttled yet another opponent Friday night, this time red-hot New Hampshire, 52-14, in the semifinal round of the FCS playoffs at a rocking Fargodome.
All that stands between the top-seeded Bison (14-0) and a third straight national title is a victory on Jan. 4 in Frisco, Texas, over either second- seeded Eastern Washington or seventh-seeded Towson, who play their semifinal today. The Bison are trying to join the 2005-07 Appalachian State teams as the second FCS program to net the consecutive hat trick of national championships.
NDSU will take a 23-game winning streak into the title game, and few probably have been as impressive as the dismantling of New Hampshire.
The visiting Wildcats (10-5) came into the first-ever meeting between the two programs with six straight wins and nine in its last 10 games, and they took the lead in the first two minutes when Steven Thames intercepted NDSU quarterback Brock Jensen and scored on a 38-yard return.
From there, it was basically all NDSU as the Bison rolled off the next 52 points, including 24 in the second quarter to grab a 31-7 halftime advantage.
Jensen redeemed himself in the first quarter with a 50-yard touchdown pass to Zach Vraa (his school-record 14th TD reception) and then he threw two more in the second quarter - a 7-yarder to Derrick Lang and a 20-yarder to Kevin Vaadeland. Leevon Perry also scored on a 7-yard fumble return and Adam Keller kicked a 32-yard field goal in the decisive second quarter.
Jensen finished 11-for-21 for 146 yards with the three touchdowns and one interception. He also rushed for a third-quarter touchdown while gaining his 47th career victory - an FCS record for a quarterback.
Running back John Crockett rushed for 195 yards on only 13 carries, including a 71-yard burst in the third quarter. He went over 1,000 yards for the season, joining Sam Ojuri in the century club for the second straight season. Ojuri, a senior, also was one of two 1,000-yard rushers with D.J. McNorton during the Bison's first FCS national championship season in 2011.
Ojuri scored on a 9-yard run as the Bison extended their lead to 45-7 in the third quarter. He finished with 75 yards in the Bison's 350-yard ground assault.
Chase Morlock scored NDSU's final touchdown on a 1-yard run in the fourth quarter.
UNH running back Chris Setian scored on a 1-yard with 29 seconds left in the game - only the second touchdown allowed by the Bison in the fourth quarter this season. Still, the Bison have outscored opponents, 138-35, in three playoff wins.
The national championship game will be Craig Bohl's final game as NDSU's head coach. The Eddie Robinson Award winner for the second straight season accepted the University of Wyoming job on Dec. 8, but he is coaching with the Bison through the playoffs. Defensive coordinator Chris Klieman will become their head coach after the season.
New Hampshire, in the playoffs for the 10th straight year under head coach Sean McDonnell, was making its first appearance in the national semifinals.
The Wildcats' balanced offense had been averaging 32 points and 450.9 yards per game, but the stingy Bison defense limited them to only 117 yards through the first three quarters and 183 for the game.
Junior R.J. Harris has 33 receiving yards to surpass 1,000 for the season, joining teammate Justin Mello.
12/21 04:15:19 ET
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