Fargo, ND (SportsNetwork.com) - Distractions?
About the only thing that got in the way of two-time defending FCS champion North Dakota State on Saturday was the fact it didn't score on one of its seven first-half possessions.
When the Bison are dominating in such a way, they are going to smother the upset dreams of any opponent, and the top-seeded team in the FCS playoffs did just that while rolling to a 48-14 rout of Coastal Carolina in the national quarterfinals.
The Bison (13-0), who have won a Division I-high 22 straight games, will host either New Hampshire or fourth-seeded Southeastern Louisiana, who play Saturday night, in the semifinals Friday night. The winner will then advance to Frisco, Texas, for the national championship game on Jan. 4.
NDSU's thorough win came one week after 11th-year head coach Craig Bohl accepted the same position at the University of Wyoming. Bohl, who has a 102-32 career record, is finishing the postseason with the Bison, however.
The news had no effect on his team's performance. The Bison have had the best defense in the FCS for three years running, and they slowed a Coastal Carolina offense that entered the game ranked third nationally with a 43-point average. And their offense, bolstered by quarterback Brock Jensen and a dominant running game, has long been underrated, this season ranking No. 1 in the Missouri Valley Football Conference in scoring offense and No. 17 nationally entering the weekend.
Jensen, whose career win total leading the Bison is an FCS-record 46, rushed for a pair of first-half touchdowns and threw for two more in the fourth quarter, while compiling 262 yards of total offense. Running back Sam Ojuri also scored on two touchdown runs, leading a 424-yard rushing attack with 162 yards on 20 carries.
The Bison even outperformed their FCS-leading average in time of possession, which was 33 minutes, 49 seconds, by 5 1/2 minutes.
Defensively, middle linebacker Carlton Littlejohn led the Bison with nine tackles and free safety Christian Dudzik had interceptions on back-to-back Coastal Carolina possessions in the fourth quarter.
Coastal Carolina, from Conway, S.C., followed its 2,492-mile trip to Montana for a second-round win last weekend with a 1,584-mile trek to North Dakota State. Once inside the Fargodome, though, the Chanticleeers (12-3) were halted by a road block.
In the first-ever meeting between the two programs, North Dakota State scored on its first three possessions to grab a commanding 17-0 lead in the first quarter. The visitors didn't know what hit them while the Bison rolled to a 219-29 advantage in yards in the quarter.
Jensen's 39-yard run set up a 26-yard field goal by Adam Keller to cap the Bison's first possession. Ojuri broke free for a 73-yard touchdown run on their next possession. Jensen then accounted for everything on a 54-yard drive, completing two passes before he eased into the Chanticleers' end zone on a 10-yard bootleg
North Dakota State didn't score on its fourth drive, but followed that with touchdowns on Jensen's 1-yard keeper and an Ojuri 4-yard run on the ensuing drives to make it 31-0.
John Israel's 46-yard reception to the NDSU 3 allowed the Chanticleers to end the shutout on Lorenzo Taliaferro's touchdown run two plays later - his Big South Conference-record 29th touchdown this season - with 30 seconds left in the second quarter.
But the Bison weren't even finished at that point as they finished the half with Keller converting a 48-yard field goal for a 34-7 lead.
The second half was merely a formality as North Dakota State moved within two wins of capturing a third straight FCS national title, which has only been accomplished by the 2005-07 teams at Appalachian State.
The Bison improved to 12-1 all-time in the FCS playoffs. Their only loss was in overtime in 2010 at eventual national champion Eastern Washington. Since then, they have won 10 straight games in the postseason.