FRISCO, Texas – The FCS championship rematch between North Dakota State and Sam Houston State is something of a do-over for several key returning offensive players.
They didn’t have much of a say a year ago when a fake punt was the most important play in a 17-6 North Dakota State win dominated by defense.
The Bison controlled prolific Sam Houston State running back Tim Flanders to become the fourth straight first-time FCS champion as Bearkats quarterback Brian Bell couldn’t answer, completing just 12 of 32 passes with two interceptions.
“They looked at their football team and said, ‘We’ve got to throw the ball better,’ ” said North Dakota State coach Craig Bohl, who is 9-1 in the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs and has agreed to an eight-year contract extension through 2021. “Last year we did a good job defending them because they were fairly one-dimensional.”
The second dimension won’t guarantee anything for Sam Houston (11-3) today because the Bison lead the FCS in passing defense, along with scoring defense and total defense. North Dakota State has held 11 of its past 15 opponents under 250 yards, and that includes last year’s title game when Sam Houston had just 210.
The Bison (13-1) weren’t much better on offense a year ago, finishing with 235 yards and just nine first downs. They won because punter Matt Voigtlander ran 27 yards on a fake punt, and Brock Jensen threw a 39-yard touchdown on a screen pass on the next play to give North Dakota State a 10-6 lead early in the third quarter.
That one carry made Voigtlander the second-leading rusher with returning running back Sam Ojuri, and the Bison averaged just 3.4 yards per rush.
“Our first thing is going to be running the football,” said Jensen, who had North Dakota State’s other touchdown last year on a 1-yard run.
Sam Houston State defeated Eastern Washington to reach this year’s title game.