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SDSU Jackrabbit Football Team Wins National Championship

The Jackrabbits are NATIONAL CHAMPIONS!

South Dakota State grabbed control with a 24-point second quarter, running away from defending champion North Dakota State for a 45-21 victory in the Football Championship Subdivision national title game before a crowd of 18,023 fans Sunday afternoon at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, TX.

The top-seeded Jackrabbits won their 14th game in a row and finished the most historic season in program history with a 14-1 overall record. NDSU, which had won nine of the last 11 national championships, ended the year 12-3 overall.

SDSU scored on six of its first seven possessions, while the Jackrabbit defense forced three turnovers. After limiting the Bison to a three-and-out on the first possession of the game, the Jackrabbits put together a nine-play, 85-yard drive that ended on a 16-yard touchdown run by Isaiah Davis.

The Jackrabbit offense was only getting started. After NDSU tied the game at 7-all on the ensuing possession on a 27-yard touchdown pass from Cam Miller to Joe Stoffel, Amar Johnson gave SDSU the lead for good four plays into the second quarter with a 32-yard touchdown run up the middle. Johnson gained a career-high 126 yards on only nine carries, including setting up a 30-yard field goal by Hunter Dustman on the final play of the first half with a career-long 55-yard run. Dustman’s field goal extended the Jackrabbit lead to 31-17.

In between, SDSU turned to the air for a pair of scores. Four plays after Dalys Beanum recovered a Bison fumble at the NDSU 34, Mark Gronowski found Jaxon Janke all alone in the right corner of the end zone for an 18-yard touchdown pass.

SDSU’s lead grew to 28-7 moments later with a nine-play, 84-yard drive that ended with a 44-yard touchdown catch and run down the right hash from Gronowski to tight end Michael Morgan on a third-and-1 play. The Jackrabbits converted seven of their first eight third-down attempts and ended the day 9-of-14 on third-down plays.

Gronowski, who was named the game’s Most Outstanding Player, accounted for two more touchdowns in the second half. After receiving the second-half kickoff, Gronowski and the Jackrabbits needed only three plays to deliver the knockout blow as the sophomore quarterback broke through the middle of the line and veered to open space for a 51-yard touchdown run to extend the lead to 38-14 101 seconds into the third quarter.

SDSU closed out the scoring as Gronowski hooked up with Jaxon Janke for the second time with a 30-yard scoring strike in the back left corner of the end zone. Jaxon Janke caught three passes for 60 yards and the two scores, while twin brother, Jadon added a team-high five receptions for 61 yards.

Gronowski completed 14-of-21 passes for 223 yards, while rushing five times for 57 yards. Davis ended the day with 103 yards on 22 carries as SDSU held a 506-420 advantage in total offense, including a 283-140 edge on the ground.

For NDSU, Miller ended the day 18-of-29 passing for 260 yards, but threw second-half interceptions to Jason Freeman and DyShawn Gales. He also was the leading ground-gainer with 64 yards on 13 carries, while Kobe Johnson tallied 63 rushing yards on 11 attempts, including a 9-yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter that capped a 16-play, 99-yard drive by the Bison, but one that consumed nearly eight minutes.

Freeman led the Jackrabbit defense with 10 tackles, followed by seven stops by Isaiah Stalbird. Michael Tutsie registered a game-high 12 tackles for the Bison, followed by 10 tackles from James Kaczor.


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