South Dakota State won their first FCS National Championship with a dominant 45-21 victory over North Dakota State in Frisco, TX on Sunday afternoon. The Jackrabbits utilized a 24-point second quarter explosion to pull away from the Bison in the first half. Mark Gronowski opened the second half with a 51-yard touchdown run to extend the South Dakota State lead to 24 points, which ultimately ended the Bison’s chances at their 10th FCS National Championship win.
QB Mark Gronowski was named the game’s most valuable player after his four touchdown performance for the Jackrabbits. Gronowski finished the game with 233 passing yards, three passing touchdowns, 57 rushing yards, and one rushing touchdown. He was a major piece in the offensive explosion for the Jackrabbits as South Dakota State put up over 500 yards of total offense against the Bison defense.
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“It means the world to me, South Dakota State QB Mark Gronowski said in the postgame press conference. “I’ve got to thank every single person that’s helped me along this journey and the guys that played an awesome game today. I’m so proud of them. I’ve got to thank my parents. I’ve got to thank Charlie, our athletic trainer, for getting me back to where I am right now. There’s no better feeling in the world.”
Amar Johnson led South Dakota State with 126 rushing yards and finished the game averaging 14.0 yards per carry. Isaiah Davis also had a solid performance with 103 rushing yards and one touchdown. Jaxon Janke exploded for two receiving touchdowns, including an impressive fourth quarter catch that solidified the South Dakota State win.
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LB Jason Freeman led the Jackrabbits with 10 total tackles and also had an interception in the fourth quarter that set up the final scoring drive for South Dakota State. DyShawn Gales also had an interception late in the game that ended a North Dakota State drive deep into South Dakota State territory.
“We’re really honored to come away with the National Championship,” South Dakota State head coach John Stiegelmeier said in the postgame press conference. “I love our football team. I thank God for them every day. And I mean that seriously. They’re an unbelievable group of young men. Finally, our fan support was beyond our imagination. So that was so, so fun to see them show up. We made a memory.”
South Dakota State ends the season with a 14-1 record as the Jackrabbits finish 14-0 against FCS opponents for the season. North Dakota State loses their first FCS National Championship game in school history after entering this weekend with a 9-0 record in FCS championship appearances.