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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Crockett, defense lead North Dakota State past Sam Houston State

North Dakota State strong safety Colton Heagle, right, celebrates. (Associated Press)
Dave Kolpack Associated Press

FARGO, N.D. – John Crockett ran for three touchdowns and North Dakota State’s defense returned to form with a 35-3 win over Sam Houston State on Friday night in the FCS semifinals.

The three-time defending champion Bison (14-1) will return to Frisco, Texas, in January with the hopes of becoming the first team in the division formerly known as I-AA to win four straight titles. Appalachian State has also won three in a row.

The Bearkats (11-5) were trying to find their way back to Frisco after losing back-to-back title games to NDSU in 2011 and 2012. Sam Houston State had a statistical edge in the first half but the Bison piled up 217 yards in the third quarter to break open a close game.

NDSU scored 28 unanswered points in the second half.

Crockett, who last week rushed for a school playoff record 227 yards, finished with 166 yards rushing. He was held to just 27 yards in the first half, partly because the Bison had trouble throwing the ball to their wide receivers. Crockett finished as NDSU’s leading receiver with 66 yards.

The Bison led 7-3 at half despite being outgained 164-99 in total yards. They took command with a 90-yard drive midway through the third quarter that only took four plays, the last a 33-yard touchdown run by King Frazier to make it 14-3. That was the first of four straight scoring drives for NDSU.