No Craig Bohl, no problem… barely.
Down by four with just over a minute remaining and over 80 yards away from the go-ahead score, a championship-caliber drive ended with a touchdown that gave North Dakota State a 29-27 win over Illinois State in the FCS title game. The win marks the fourth straight championship for the Bison. The Redbirds had been gunning for its first title.
Late in the game, it looked as if ISU would grab that first trophy. With 1:38 remaining, quarterback Tre Roberson, who transferred to ISU from the Indiana Hoosiers in June of last year, raced 58 yards for a touchdown to give the Redbirds a 27-23 lead.
The score capped a comeback after ISU had fallen down 20-7 late in the third quarter. It wouldn’t be enough, though.
On the ensuing possession, Carson Wentz completed three of five passes for 78 yards, with all three completions going to freshman RJ Urzendowski. The last, a 33-yard hookup on third and 10, placed the ball at the ISU five-yard line. On the very next play, Wentz scampered in for what proved to be the game-winning touchdown with :37 remaining.
The Redbirds had one last opportunity to get into field range, but a Roberson pass was intercepted with eight seconds remaining.
The Bison have now won more FCS titles (four) than they’ve had losses (three) the past four years. NDSU is also the first team at that level of football to win four championships in a row and the second at any level, joining Div. III Augustana College (1983-86).
Bohl, who left following the 2013 season for the head-coaching job at Wyoming, was responsible for the first three titles. Chris Klieman, Bohl’s replacement, captured his first with the win Saturday, which the football program summed up thusly: