Hear from Bison head coach Matt Entz and student-athletes Trey Lance, Jackson Hankey, James Hendricks, and Ben Ellefson on the Bison’s thrilling FCS Championship win over James Madison.
There are some good insights from the coach and players of the NDSU Bison. This is a machine transcription that I tried to clean up.
We will let coach (Matt Entz) start with an opening statement; then we’ll take questions strictly for the student-athletes and then we’ll come back to coach. Coach..
Matt Entz, NDSU Head Coach
That was a fun one, wasn’t it? ..These four guys here, and a locker-room-full of other players, are the reason why we’ve been able to be successful all season. Their work ethic, their commitment to being at their best everyday, not only on the football field but in the classroom, resonates throughout our program. We have a lot of 18 and 19-year-olds that are in that locker room.. (They’ve) learned from these four guys and our other captains or other seniors. It’s been a unbelievable ride. I tell people all the time: ‘I’m afraid I’m going to wake up and we’re gonna still be getting ready for Butler.’ (first game of the 2019 season)
We’re gonna enjoy this one today. It’s not very often you go 16 (games without a loss).
It’s no surprise that the 16–0 NDSU ‘Bison’ met the 14–1 James Madison (JMU) ‘Dukes’ at Toyota in Frisco Texas once again for the 2019 NCAA FCS National Championship. The Bison have been a machine all year long. And except for a 9–3 game against Illinois State in the playoffs, they have won each game easily. The Dukes have been equally dominate in the Colonial Athletic Association winning all but their first game against West Virginia, an FBS team.
After knocking off the Bison in 2016 semi-final game, the Dukes went on to win the National Championship. In the 2017 season, the Bison got their revenge and beat the Dukes 17 to 13 in the National Championship Game. JMU was upset in the second round of playoff in 2018; they didn’t see NDSU that year. This year we will see which team is better. Both teams have new head coaches: Matt Entz for NDSU, and Curt Cignetti for JMU. Both teams are in what should be rebuilding years, but both programs are too good to suffer much drop-off. It should be a great game.
James Madison’s postgame press conference. The ‘Dukes’ head coach Curt Cignetti and student-athletes: DL #5 Ron’Dell Carter, QB #6 Ben DiNucci, and WR #10 Riley Stapleton after the 2019 NCAA FCS Championship game in Frisco, Texas. A YouTube Video Transcription that I tried to clean up as best I could. Adding (text) and punctuation to make it readable. But with Mr. Carter sometimes I couldn’t figure it out. Their comments on playing the ‘Bison’ and issues the had to overcome are interesting. For a couple seconds quarterback DiNucci went off-script and tried to place the blame elsewhere, but thought better of it. I can’t blame the senior, his day had to be heartbreaking.
We’re joined now by James Madison University once again with Ben DiNucci: quarterback; Riley Stapleton, wide receiver; and defensive end, Rondell Carter. We’ll start with an opening comment from (JMU) head coach, Curt Cignetti.
Okay, well obviously, (we) didn’t get the result we wanted today. I give North Dakota State a lot of credit. It’s great football team. You know (the) reason they’ve won so many (championships).. they played better than we did. (NDSU) deserves to win. (QB #5 Trey Lance) quarterback’s a tremendous player.
A lot of our issues, in the first half, were self-inflicted. We didn’t play particularly well on defense: a lot of miss assignments, missed tackles, penalties, a fake field goal for touchdown, a missed field goal (in the) second half. Like the guy (Lance with a) third and 20.. runs 50 (44) yards for Touchdown. That’s tough. But to our.. credit, I thought we played well, really well in the second half. We really settled down.. as a team: particularly on defense. (They) had a big fourth down stop on defense; it gave us a chance to tie the game and send it to overtime. We got down (to the goal-line with) a chance to do that. (But) didn’t do it. (I’m) very proud of our seniors and disappointed we couldn’t send them away on a happier note. That was tremendous group of guys. (I’ll) really miss them being around. I want to congratulate our team on their effort throughout the season; their commitment; their investment in the season. I told them, “You can’t lose sight of all the things you did accomplish throughout this season and your investment during the season.”
I also would like to thank our coaching staff for their effort this season; throughout the season. It’s the last time this team will be together as we know it.. I hate that we have to walk out like we are but that is life. You don’t always get what you want. But North Dakota (deserves) a lot credit
The undefeated NDSU ‘Bison’ host the Montana State ‘Bobcats’ (11–3) in the Semifinal game. The #1 team takes on the #5 team. The winner will either play #2 James Madison or #3 Weber State in the FCS championship game in Frisco, Texas. The Bison have played the Bobcats 35 times since 1914. In recent years, the Bison have won 2 of 3 playoff games in the Division Playoffs. Can MSU build on the defensive schemes that ISU used last week, or will the NDSU offense find a way around the blitzes?
The NDSU ‘Bison’ will host the Illinois State ‘Redbirds’ in the NCAA 2019 FCS Quarterfinal Game. The Redbirds hosted the Bison back in October. The Bison won that game 37 to 3. Since that game, the Redbirds have improved to 10–4. Their senior Running Back, James Robinson ran for 210 yards and two Touchdowns in the second round of the FCS playoffs; beating Central Arkansas (#8 seed) 24–14. In the first round, Robinson ran for 297 yards.
The Redbird Defense has been stout. They have the #1 red-zone defense in the country, #2 in turnovers gained, #3 in sacks and Interceptions. Illinois State is ranking #4 in scoring defense and #12 in total defense.
Brock Spack has been coaching the Redbirds for 11th seasons. The Redbirds have seen the Bison 12 times since 2007. The 2014 National Championship was one of the best game either team has played. NDSU won that game 29–27 in the last minutes. That game sticks in ISU’s craw. Will today be the day the Redbirds get their revenge or will the Bison swallow them whole?
The NDSU ‘Bison’ host the Nicholls State ‘Colonels’ in the second round FCS playoff game. After finishing the season undefeated, the Bison have their eyes on the National Championship, but before they can head to Frisco again, they need to make it through the playoffs. As the number one seed, the Bison will be playing at home. And in the Fargodome that is a big advantage.. just ask UND. Nicholls State finished the season 8–4 and has won four straight games. They represent the Southland Conference. The Bison played the Colonels in 2004 and 2005; winning both times. Will the Colonels outrank the Bison? What rank is a Bison? A General?
The Southern Illinois University ‘Salukis’ host the NDSU ‘Bison’ in Carbondale, Illinois. The Bison are playing for perfection. They have already clinched the Missouri Valley Football Conference Championship and probably have the #1 seed. The Salukis are playing for a spot in the playoffs. It should be a good game.
The NDSU ‘Bison’ host the USD ‘Coyotes’ on Senior Day. This is the last regular season home game for the Bison Seniors: FS #2 Dom Davis, LB #3 Jaxon Brown, RB #4 Dimitri Williams, FS #6 James Hendricks, CB #7 Tre Fort, CB #9 Marquise Bridges, WR #19 Jimmy Kepouros, RB #28 Ty Brooks, FB #39 Garrett Malstrom, DT #53 Cole Karcz, OT #68 Zack Johnson, TE #82 Ben Ellefson, DE #91 Derrek Tuszka, and DT #92 Jack Darnell.
The Bison will be shorthanded at Linebacker. LB #55 Aaron Mercadel and LB #42 Jabril Cox are out this week with injuries. NDSU Head Coach Matt Entz will move SS #25 Michael Tutsie and SS #26 James Kaczor down to Linebacker. This shouldn’t be an issue as it covers the Coyote’s passing offense well. But other injuries will slow down the Bison some: DT #53 Cole Karcz and RB #4 Dimitri Williams. Even Freshman RB #24 Kobe Johnson broke his finger in practice this week. Thankfully the Bison have plenty of depth at Running Back.
The NDSU ‘Bison’ host the Western Illinois ‘Leathernecks’ for the 45th annual Harvest Bowl. The Leathernecks (WIU) are struggling this year and the Bison are on a long winning streak, but this is the Missouri Valley where anything can happen and often does.
The NDSU ‘Bison’ head to Ohio to take on the Youngstown State ‘Penguins’. This is another tough Missouri Valley Football Conference (MVFC) game. In years past the Penguins have fought the Bison hard. Yet, the Bison always seem to come back and score in the last minutes to win the game. The YSU coach Bo Pelini was asked about it, “Different team, different year. We’re going to have to play well. That’s what it comes down to. You have to count on their best shot. They are going to play well. You’ve got to play physical. You’ve got to play smart. You have to be disciplined against this group and you have to execute at a high level. Our guys respect them. How can you not respect the success this team’s had? Our team knows what it is up against. They know what’s required. I think they will answer the bell.” 2
Ask not for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee. -John Dunne.