The Dukes are now the crowned kings of the FCS.
James Madison cruised to the FCS national championship on Saturday, stuffing former Nebraska head coach Bo Pelini and his Youngstown State team by a 28-14 score Saturday in Frisco, Texas.
The Dukes jumped out to a 21-0 lead and never looked back. Bryan Schor opened the scoring with a 14-yard touchdown strike to Jonathan Kloosterman, then followed with an 18-yard toss to Rashard Davis. Khalid Abdullah, the game’s leading rusher at 101 yards, pushed the lead to 21 with a 1-yard plunge at the 8:17 mark of the second quarter.
Youngstown State pulled within 14 with 3:35 to play before halftime when Hunter Wells hit tight end Shane Kuhn for a 17-yard touchdown.
Abdullah pushed the lead back to 21 with a 2-yard score early in the third quarter. The Dukes’ 28-7 lead held until Youngstown State added a cosmetic score with 10 seconds left in the game.
Youngstown State out-gained James Madison 292-254 and held a 23-15 first downs edge, but lost 4.5-3.7 on a per play basis and ceded two turnovers while claiming none.
James Madison (14-1) entered the playoffs with the No. 4 seed and cruised to wins over No. 22 New Hampshire (55-22) and No. 5 Sam Houston State (65-7) before ending No. 1 North Dakota State’s streak of five straight national championships with a 27-17 upset in the Fargodome on Dec. 16.
Youngstown State (12-4) did not earn a national seed or a bye; the Penguins beat Samford 38-24 in the opening round before upsetting No. 3 Jacksonville State 40-24 on the road. Youngstown State survived a missed field goal to beat Wofford 30-23 in overtime, then got a late touchdown to beat No. 2 Eastern Washington 40-38 on the road in the semifinals.
The win clinches James Madison’s second FCS national championship; the Dukes defeated Montana to win the 2004 crown.
For Pelini, the loss marks eight times in nine seasons his teams have finished with exactly four losses.