NDSU vs JMU 28 to 20

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.

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Sideline Storylines

Curt Cignetti, JMU Head Coach
Curt Cignetti (1961) was named the head coach for the James Madison Dukes football team at the conclusion of the 2018 season. The previous coach, Mike Houston accepted the position of head coach at East Carolina University. Cignetti previously was the head coach of the Elon Phoenix football team (2017, 2018) and before that Indiana University of Pennsylvania. He also served as an assistant coach for the University of Alabama from 2007–2011.
His counterpart, Matt Entz (1973) was the Defensive Coordinator for the Bison from 2014–2018. Matt was named head coach when Chris Klieman accepted the position of head coach at Kansas State University.

Before the season began, the Bison lost their head coach, the ‘winningest’ quarterback in the history of the FCS and graduated the most seniors in school history. For any other football program, this would be a major issue. For other schools, losing all these key aspects may require multiple rebuilding seasons.
But not North Dakota State. The Bison do not rebuild. They reload. -Ian Longtin, NDSU Spectrum

Frisco Weather
On Friday it turned cold in Frisco Texas, then it rained, which turned to snow. The field was in good shape as the turf was under a tarp since Thursday. But it was still cold and windy. Before the game both coaches wondered how it might affect the game and their players. JMU coach Cignetti said, “We’re used to playing in cold weather, it doesn’t affect us. I kind of like the weather forecast to be honest with you. But the game is going to be won out there between the lines. We’ll see what happens.”
But are the Dukes really used to cold weather? It was 30 degrees in Frisco at kick-off. But it was –23 degrees outside when I woke up in Fargo. It was 61 degrees in Harrisonburg, VA. Both teams practice outside. I have to give the nod to NDSU. The sun came out early in the second half and it got a little warmer. I didn’t notice any issues with footing or throwing, so the weather wasn’t much of a factor. Cignetti was right the game would be won by line play.

Game Review


The game was played from 11:05–2:07 pm., at the Toyota Stadium (Frisco, TX) with 17,866 in attendance. At kick off it was 30 degrees, cloudy, with a 16 mph wind from the WNW.

The James Madison ‘Duke’ team captains meet the NDSU ‘Bison’ team captains: DE #91 Derrek Tuszka, TE #82 Ben Ellefson, RB #28 Ty Brooks, and FS #6 James Hendricks at mid-field for the coin toss. Referee Kelly Holman and Umpire John Schindler oversaw the toss. NDSU won the coin toss and choose to defer. JMU will receive and defend the south end-zone.

First Half Drives

NDSU #38 Garret Wegner will kickoff the game for the Bison.
JMU WR #3 Brandon Polk escapes Bison tackles and gains 10 yards before he’s tackled by SS #26 James Kaczor.

  1. JMU 14. RB #7 Jawon Hamilton runs into LB #42 Jabril Cox for 3 yards. QB #6 Ben DiNucci hits TE #84 Dylan Stapleton over the middle for 9 yards. Hamilton runs 2 yards into LB #52 Jackson Hankey. WR #10 Riley Stapleton escapes SS #25 Michael Tutsie for a 17-yard reception on the right sideline. DiNucci completes a screen-pass to WR #3 Brandon Polk for 6 yards on the left sideline. RB #31 Percy Agyei-Obese runs right and gains 7 yards; then up the middle for another 7-yards; followed by a 6-yard carry. RB #7 Jawon Hamilton cuts back inside for an 8-yard gain. DT #98 Matt Biegler drops Hamilton at the line of scrimmage. DiNucci with a 4-yard screen-pass to WR #89 Jake Brown. Agyei-Obese runs 6 yards, 3 yards, 1 yard, 3 yards, before losing a yard to DE #91 Derrek Tuszka and LB #55 Aaron Mercadel. DiNucci hits WR #10 Riley Stapleton on the goal-line, and Stapleton fights his way in for a Touchdown. The call is reviewed; the TD stands. #91 Ethan Ratke kicks the extra point for the ‘Dukes’. JMU takes a quick 7 to 0 lead. #40 Camden Wise on the ensuing kickoff. A short kick is returned 3 yards by LB #42 Jabril Cox. Cox was hopping out-of-bounds with LB #38 Mike Cobbs holding his foot.
  2. NDSU 30. QB #5 Trey Lance runs 7 yards to the left sidelines. FS #24 D’Angelo Amos and DL #5 Ron’Dell Carter sack Lance for a loss of 8 yards. Lance finds a crease and runs 32 yards; followed by a 4 yard pass. Lance throws to WR #11 Phoenix Sproles at the goal-line. Incomplete, but CB #30 Wesley McCormick was called for Pass Interference. First and 10 at the JMU 20. DL #7 John Daka and LB #2 Dimitri Holloway drop Lance for no gain. Lance side-steps Daka and hits Sproles over the middle for a 13-yard gain. Lance runs left 6 yards. Big block by OT #75 Dillon Radunz. The play is reviewed and the TD is overturned, as Trey’s leg was down. RB #18 Adam Cofield dives over the top of the ‘Dukes’ for a Touchdown. #37 Jake Reinholz kicks the extra point. (Jake’s been injured since the first game of the season. It is surprising to see him back.) The game is tied 7 to 7. #38 Garret Wegner with the ensuing kickoff. A Fair Catch is called by WR #3 Brandon Polk.
  3. JMU 25. RB #31 Percy Agyei-Obese runs 1 yard before he’s tackled by LB #52 Jackson Hankey and DT #98 Matt Biegler. QB #6 Ben DiNucci’s pass is complete to WR #10 Riley Stapleton for 13 yards. It was a free pass: NDSU was called Offside. JMU Head Coach, Curt Cignetti declines the penalty. DiNucci’s next pass is incomplete to Polk. DiNucci goes back to WR #10 Riley Stapleton, but it’s broken up by CB #14 Josh Hayes. TE #84 Dylan Stapleton is called for a False Start. Agyei-Obese runs 5 yards before he’s tackled by DE #91 Derrek Tuszka. #98 Harry O’Kelly punts the football 30 yards. A Fair Catch is called by WR #84 Trevor Heit.
  4. NDSU 31. RB #28 Ty Brooks dives into DL #5 Ron’Dell Carter and LB #2 Dimitri Holloway for a one-yard gain. QB #5 Trey Lance throws deep to WR #1 Christian Watson. No Play, CB #30 Wesley McCormick was called for Pass Interference. First and 10 at the NDSU 47. Lance is almost dropped for a loss but gains one yard before he’s tackled by DL #7 John Daka and CB #1 Rashad Robinson. Play of the gain, Lance is flushed, almost sacked, steps out of a sure tackle and then the Bison Offensive Line pushes Trey and half the Dukes 14 yards for a Bison First Down. Second Quarter. WR #11 Phoenix Sproles fakes a double-reverse to Watson; and runs left 38 yards for a Touchdown. #37 Jake Reinholz kicks the extra point. NDSU leads 14 to 7. Wegner’s kick went out-of-bounds at the JMU 17.
  5. JMU 35. WR #3 Brandon Polk runs left 4 yards. LB #55 Aaron Mercadel and CB #14 Josh Hayes drop RB #7 Jawon Hamilton for loss of 1 yard on a screen pass. QB #6 Ben DiNucci completes a 17-yard pass to WR #10 Riley Stapleton over the middle. DiNucci overthrows WR #19 Devin Ravenel. DiNucci runs 16 yards to the right sideline. RB #7 Jawon Hamilton loses a yard to DE #99 Spencer Waege. DiNucci’s pass is complete to TE #84 Dylan Stapleton for 17 yards over the middle. Hamilton runs 2 yards. SS #26 James Kaczor made the tackle. DiNucci trips for no gain. JMU calls a Timeout. RB #31 Percy Agyei-Obese runs 2 yards. LB #52 Jackson Hankey made the tackle. #91 Ethan Ratke kicks a 26-yard Field Goal. NDSU still leads 14 to 10. RB #24 Kobe Johnson returns Camden Wise’s kick 6 yards before he’s tackled by SS #34 Chris Chukwuneke.
  6. NDSU 19. LB #42 Jabril Cox takes the direct snap, slips and loses 2 yards. No Play, Center #59 Karson Schoening is called for an Illegal Block. QB #5 Trey Lance loses a yard to DL #95 Adeeb Atariwa and DL #5 Ron’Dell Carter. Lance tries again and gets the yard back from DL #5 Ron’Dell Carter. When Trey’s head snaps around it’s an obvious Face Mask penalty on Carter: First and 10 at the NDSU 25. A QB Hurry by DL #7 John Daka forces Lance to under-throw WR #19 Jimmy Kepouros. Lance runs 6 yards; then 7 yards to the left. RB #28 Ty Brooks pops free from the pile and runs 21 yards. JMU calls a Timeout. Lance runs 8 yards. RB #18 Adam Cofield finds a crease and runs 11 yards up the middle. Lance throws a screen-pass to WR #89 Cole Jacob for a 4-yard gain; tackled in place by CB #23 Charles Tutt. Lance hits a wide-open TE #82 Ben Ellefson in the end-zone. No Play, Ben was called Ineligible Downfield because he was covered up by the Bison Wide Receiver? Second and 11 at the JMU 23. Lance runs 3 yards before he’s tackled by SS #8 Wayne Davis. RB #18 Adam Cofield can’t bring down Lance’s pass. Kicker #37 Jake Reinholz is on the field. FS #6 James Hendricks holds. JMU is overloaded on the right. Hendricks takes the snap and runs left 20 yards for a Touchdown. TE #82 Ben Ellefson and TE #70/88 Cody Mauch made a big hole. Reinholz comes back to kick the extra point. NDSU leads 21 to 10. Head Coach Matt Entz and Offensive Line Coach AJ Blazek are bouncing on the sidelines. WR #3 Brandon Polk returns Wegner’s kick 19 yards before he’s run out-of-bounds by LB #52 Jackson Hankey. RB #28 Ty Brooks was called for Unsportsmanlike Conduct: a Late Hit.
  7. JMU 44. QB #6 Ben DiNucci: over the middle to TE #84 Dylan Stapleton for 7 yards. RB #31 Percy Agyei-Obese runs 5 yards. DiNucci goes back to Dylan Stapleton for 18 yards on the left hash. DiNucci’s pass goes out-of-bounds to Riley. DiNucci’s next pass is intercepted by FS #6 James Hendricks in the end-zone. No Play, DT #60 Lane Tucker was called Offside. DiNucci to WR #3 Brandon Polk. A big hit by LB #42 Jabril Cox; CB #14 Josh Hayes scoops up the ball and starts running for the end-zone. The pass was ruled incomplete. DiNucci is sacked for loss of 2 yards by DE #93 Logan McCormick. NDSU Head Coach Matt Entz calls a Time Out to freeze #91 Ethan Ratke. The first 39-yard kick went through. The second ‘official’ kick hits the right upright: no good.
  8. NDSU 23. RB #18 Adam Cofield runs right 2 yards. DL #7 John Daka is injured on the play. RB #28 Ty Brooks runs 6 yards. QB #5 Trey Lance runs 2 yards. Lance’s deep sideline pass to WR #11 Phoenix Sproles is incomplete. CB #23 Charles Tutt was called for Pass Interference. A QB Hurry by DL #92 Mike Greene forces Lance to under-throw WR #19 Jimmy Kepouros. Lance is tackled by FS #16 Que Reid and DL #95 Adeeb Atariwa after four yards. NDSU calls a Timeout with 3 seconds on the clock. RB #4 Dimitri Williams runs 19 yards before Tutt and SS #8 Wayne Davis made a stop. End of the first half.

Second Half Drives

JMU #40 Camden Wise to kickoff the second half for the Dukes. NDSU RB #24 Kobe Johnson returns the ball 22 yards before he’s tackled by LB #51 Mateo Jackson.

  1. NDSU 25. QB #5 Trey Lance runs 2 yards; tackled by SS #21 Adam Smith. RB #18 Adam Cofield gains 3 yards before he was tackled by LB #2 Dimitri Holloway and FS #24 D’Angelo Amos. Lance fumbles the hand-off to RB #4 Dimitri Williams. Trey falls on the ball. FS #24 D’Angelo Amos returns Wegner’s punt 3 yards. SS #25 Michael Tutsie made the tackle.
  2. JMU 40. QB #6 Ben DiNucci’s pass is complete to WR #10 Riley Stapleton for 11 yards. RB #31 Percy Agyei-Obesea escapes DE #99 Spencer Waege’s tackle to gain 6 yards. Agyei-Obese trips after a 15-yard gain. RB #21 Latrele Palmer runs 6 yards; 2 yards; then 3 yards. Agyei-Obese runs 8 yards; then no yards as LB #52 Jackson Hankey drops him at the line. DiNucci’s pass is complete to WR #10 Riley Stapleton, but CB #14 Josh Hayes drops him for a loss of a yard. #91 Ethan Ratke kicks a Field Goal. NDSU leads 21 to 13. #40 Camden Wise on the ensuing kickoff. RB #24 Kobe Johnson returns Wise’s kick 17 yards before he’s tackled by LB #38 Mike Cobbs.
  3. NDSU 25. QB #5 Trey Lance’s pass is complete to RB #18 Adam Cofield, but he’s dropped for no gain by LB #2 Dimitri Holloway. Lance can’t find a receiver, escapes a tackle, then runs 10 yards to the left sideline. Cofield runs 3 yards into Holloway and LB #52 Landan Word. SS #8 Wayne Davis stops Lance for no gain. Davis breaks up Lance’s pass to Kepouros tackled by SS #8 Wayne Davis. FS #24 D’Angelo Amos returns Wegner’s punt one yard. LS #41 Ross Kennelly made the tackle.
  4. JMU 14. RB #7 Jawon Hamilton runs 2 yards; pulled down by LB #52 Jackson Hankey. QB #6 Ben DiNucci spins out of DT #98 Matt Biegler’s arm tackle, runs 2 yards into DE #99 Spencer Waege and loses the ball. He was ruled down. DiNucci’s pass is complete to WR #10 Riley Stapleton for 6 yards. DE #91 Derrek Tuszka sacks DiNucci for a loss of 7 yards. DiNucci finds WR #19 Devin Ravenel for a gain of 7 yards. DiNucci runs past the line of scrimmage: Illegal Forward Pass penalty. #98 Harry O’Kelly punts the football 44 yards. A Fair Catch was called by WR #84 Trevor Heit.
  5. NDSU 35. RB #18 Adam Cofield runs one yard. QB #5 Trey Lance hits FB #44 Hunter Luepke for an 18-yard gain on the right sideline. Lance’s next pass finds TE #82 Ben Ellefson for 15 yards on the right sideline. DL #7 John Daka smells the reverse and stops WR #1 Christian Watson for a loss of 12 yards. DL #95 Adeeb Atariwa and DL #5 Ron’Dell Carter drop Lance for a loss of a yard. Fourth Quarter, Third and 23 at the JMU 44. QB #5 Trey Lance sees daylight and runs left 44 yards for a Touchdown. #37 Jake Reinholz kicks the extra point. NDSU adds to their lead 28 to 13. WR #3 Brandon Polk returns Wegner’s kick 19 yards. LB #3 Jaxon Brown made the tackle.
  6. JMU 27. QB #6 Ben DiNucci finds WR #89 Jake Brown for 19 yards. SS #26 James Kaczor drops RB #31 Percy Agyei-Obese for a loss of 2 yards. DiNucci under pressure: Obese wasn’t ready: incomplete. DiNucci’s next pass is almost intercepted by LB #42 Jabril Cox. (incomplete to TE #84 Dylan Stapleton) #98 Harry O’Kelly’s punt is downed by LS #50 Kyle Davis.
  7. NDSU 21. QB #5 Trey Lance runs 3 yards, 5 yards, and then one yard. Three-and-out, #38 Garret Wegner punts the ball 51 yards. JMU FS #24 D’Angelo Amos changes direction twice and gains 35 yards before he’s chased out-of-bounds by DT #94 Costner Ching.
  8. JMU at the NDSU 46. RB #21 Latrele Palmer runs 4 yards; then 11 yards. QB #15 Gage Moloney runs the ‘Wildcat’ for 7 yards; then 1 yard as he’s met by LB #52 Jackson Hankey. Palmer runs 8 yards; then 3 yards. RB #31 Percy Agyei-Obese runs a yard before he’s tackled by DT #53 Cole Karcz. QB #6 Ben DiNucci’s pass is complete to WR #10 Riley Stapleton over the middle for 5 yards; tackled in place by LB #52 Jackson Hankey. OL #69 Truvell Wilson is called for a False Start. Fourth and 6 at the NDSU 11. DiNucci runs right 6 yards and fights for the First Down. WR #3 Brandon Polk can’t come down with DiNucci’s pass. DiNucci hits WR #10 Riley Stapleton, who muscles the football to the goal-line for a Touchdown. #91 Ethan Ratke kicks the extra point. NDSU still leads 28 to 20. #40 Camden Wise on the ensuing kickoff. A Fair Catch is called by WR #1 Christian Watson.
  9. NDSU 25. QB #5 Trey Lance is tackled by DL #7 John Daka and SS #8 Wayne Davis for a loss of 2 yards. Lance’s pass is complete to TE #87 Noah Gindorff for 22 yards at the left hash, and the pass was deflected by LB #52 Landan Word. Lance runs 10 yards to the left sideline. RB #18 Adam Cofield runs 3 yards into DL #95 Adeeb Atariwa. Lance runs 3 yards into DL #7 John Daka. TE #82 Ben Ellefson is called for a False Start. Third and 9, Lance runs 7 yards. Fourth and 2, Lance is tackled by DL #5 Ron’Dell Carter and Daka a yard short.
  10. JMU 36. RB #21 Latrele Palmer runs 7 yards. RB #7 Jawon Hamilton runs 7 yards. QB #6 Ben DiNucci runs –8 yards as he’s tackled behind the line by LB #42 Jabril Cox. (Double Pass, trick play) Timeout James Madison with 1:58 left on the clock. DiNucci hits TE #84 Dylan Stapleton over the middle for 9 yards. DiNucci with a similar play: Dylan for 6 yards. Fourth and 3, DiNucci completes a 3-yard shovel pass to RB #7 Jawon Hamilton. He was tackled by LB #52 Jackson Hankey.
    First Down, but the spot is reviewed. The ruling stands. DiNucci’s next pass is tipped by FS #6 James Hendricks. (incomplete to TE #84 Dylan Stapleton). DiNucci throws deep down the right sideline; WR #10 Riley Stapleton goes up for it and comes down with a 22-yard gain. It was a free play; NDSU was called offsides. JMU Head Coach, Curt Cignetti declined the penalty. First and 10 at the NDSU 17, a QB hurry by DE #91 Derrek Tuszka forces DiNucci’s pass incomplete to the end-zone. Another free play, DE #99 Spencer Waege was offsides; CB #14 Josh Hayes bats down the pass to Riley. Second and 5 at the NDSU 12, same play only this time Hayes is called for Pass Interference. First and Goal at the NDSU 03, JMU calls a Timeout with 8 seconds left on the clock. DiNucci goes back to the pick-play with WR #3 Brandon Polk in motion, but this time Hendricks knows it’s coming, jumps the route, and returns the Interception 20 yards before sliding down to lock in the win.
  11. NDSU 20. QB #5 Trey Lance takes a knee in Victory Formation for the National Championship. NDSU wins 28 to 20.

Post Game Notes

The ‘Dukes’ were not ready for NDSU. The ‘Bison’ were ready for JMU. Sure, no team is 100% ready, that’s what makes sports so fun, but you could see the levels of preparation on the field. JMU marched down the field and scored first. But after that JMU didn’t score another touchdown until late in the fourth. Meanwhile, the NDSU offense was trying to find yards against the stiff ‘Dukes’ defense. The tried-and-true running game didn’t work. The ‘Bison’ running backs got 71 yards on eleven carries. The passing game wasn’t working. Trey Lance was 6 of 10 for 72 yards. But what did work was a combination of ‘trick’ plays and Quarterback keepers. Yes, there were some ‘trick’ plays. The fake field-goal being the most notable, but mostly it was running the wide-receivers and mixing up the formations to keep the ‘Dukes’ defense off-balance. JMU stand-out defensive end Ron’Dell Carter said, “We just gotta be more disciplined with our eyes. We weren’t.”
But the game was won by NDSU’s freshman quarterback, Trey Lance. NDSU Head Coach Matt Entz had noticed JMU didn’t play against many running quarterbacks this year. The Bison ran Lance, and ran Lance some more. The mighty Bison Offensive Line tied up the JMU Defensive Line, and the receivers tied up the secondary. Lance run through the holes on his way to became the MVP of the game. Lance ran a surprising 30 times for 166 net yards, and one Touchdown. He was averaging 5.5 yards per carry. JMU made adjustments but it was hard to account for NDSU’s award-winning QB. Ron’Dell Carter said, “It’s hard to tackle him.. We had some opportunities to get him down, but just didn’t.”

Three years ago JMU upset NDSU at home in the Fargodome. In post-game interviews the NDSU head coach Chris Klieman said the difference was depth. Since then the ‘Bison’ made sure not to be caught out again by team with a deeper roster. This is a lesson JMU head coach Curt Cignetti would learn today, “They play a lot of people. That’s the thing. The second series of the game, they may have four new guys in there on the defensive line. And they do that so that at the end of the game they’re fresh.” Carter had similar comments, “You’ve got to be ready for that and have your conditioning ready.. And then when the fourth quarter comes, you cannot give up, because they may have a guy coming in who hasn’t really played all game and he has fresh legs coming in to try to run you over. So you’ve got to be prepared to play a full four-quarter game. Not three and a half, but a full four-quarter game and all 60 minutes. Hell, maybe even overtime with this kind of team.”

JMU quarterback Ben DiNucci tried to win the game in the fourth quarter and taunted NDSU one too many times. FS #6 James Hendricks made the interception and the game was over. “Roll out to the left, Brandon Polk’s the first option and looked open. I didn’t see No. 6. [He] made a heck of a play.” DiNucci was philosophical about the loss, “There’s got to be a winner every game, there’s got to be a loser every game, and we just happened to come up on the short end of the stick today.” But then he went too far, “Honestly, I don’t think they really won that game. Honestly, I think we lost it. Too many penalties. I’m not going to comment on the refs, not my job to do that. But trick plays, they’ll probably tell you we outphysicaled them.”
Honestly, DiNucci should have kept quiet. Penalties are a normal part of the game. Both teams had seven penalties. And none of them were egregious. JMU also ran trick plans. The difference: NDSU’s trick plays went for two touchdowns. JMU’s reverse was snuffed out by LB #42 Jabril Cox for an 8-yard loss. In the battle of the Lines, it was NDSU that had the edge. Fresh bodies made the difference. NDSU was getting pressure on DiNucci all day long, whereas Lance was running through holes in the JMU line. Carter said, “They have a great O-Line. Their O-Line coach (AJ Blazek) was my O-Line coach when I was at Rutgers, so I know how he teaches them. He’s a great coach and they have a great O-Line.” Cignetti added, “Their offensive line is big and they’re good. They have three all-conference players and they play four different tight ends, two different 250-pound fullbacks and four different running backs and.. they’re playing a lot of people at the other positions.” He also said, “I think you saw flashes of JMU football, but unfortunately there were too many big, negative plays that proved to be too much to overcome.” Those negative plays were usually caused by the Bison.
Even so, the ‘Dukes’ were in this game right down to the wire. Like NDSU, JMU don’t get flustered. Cignetti again, “(We) talked about being resilient, like rubber ball.. At that point we’re down two scores but plenty of time really to get back in the game.. moments (during) that game we showed our true character and stepped up and gave ourselves a chance.”
It had to be brutal for JMU Quarterback Ben DiNucci. For two years in a row, the ‘Dukes’ season ended with his interceptions. James Hendricks said, “It was on film all year. We knew that when they got in that set they were going to run a pick play. And, honestly, they got us in a good call. I made that play and the rest is history.”

History indeed. With the win, the Bison became the first college football team since the 1894 powerhouse Yale Bulldogs to go 16–0 in a season. The win also extended their record-breaking win-streak to 37 games. -Ian Longtin, NDSU Spectrum

Bison Fake

NDSU Offensive Line Coach AJ Blazek discusses the fake field goal. “You’re just trying to find something on film you liked, little wrinkles they showed during the season. Our kids bought into it, watched the heck out of the tape and they were ready for it.”
In the second quarter a Bison touchdown pass to TE #82 Ben Ellefson was called back. Lance ran three yards. NDSU Head Coach Matt Entz talked over possible plays with Blazek, “Don’t forget the fake field goal.”
Entz, ‘with the big eyes’ said, “Bison Fake”
Blazek said, “The kids knew it, (the ball) was on the hash, (‘Bison Fake’) was ready to go. It was everything we prepared for.”
FS #6 James Hendricks replaced Punter #38 Garret Wegner as holder. Hendrick kept the snap, jumped to his feet, and ran down the left-side; picking up a block by Ellefson. A play that was designed to get a first down, got them another touchdown going into the half.
“It helped us because we were struggling a bit in the red zone,” Blazek said.
This Bison Fake cemented Entz’s nick-name: The Riverboat Gambler, which says more about the conservative nature of previous NDSU coaches.
Entz said, “James Madison has not let very many people score touchdowns. But the one thing they had shown is they lined up the exact same way every time after a touchdown to block extra points and/or a field goal. We knew we had the numbers over (the left side) so we took advantage of it.” –Inforum

Game Highlights

  • First Quarter
  • The JMU ‘Dukes’ have a great first drive with a good mix of run and throw. DT #98 Matt Biegler and then DE #91 Derrek Tuszka get Tackles For Loss (TFL) but LB #6 Julio Ayamel completes a TD pass to WR #10 Riley Stapleton.
  • Short kick to NDSU LB #42 Jabril Cox. FS #24 D’Angelo Amos sacks QB #5 Trey Lance. CB #30 Wesley McCormick is called for Pass Interference. WR #11 Phoenix Sproles makes a diving catch. Lance runs left for a TD, but it’s over turned on review. The ball is placed on the ‘Half-yard Line.’ RB #18 Adam Cofield dives over the top for a Touchdown. Kicker #37 Jake Reinholz is back after missing the season to kick the PAT. Tie game.
  • NDSU CB #14 Josh Hayes gets a Pass Break-up.
  • JMU CB #30 Wesley McCormick is called for Pass Interference again. Lance turns a possible sack into a first down by escaping tackles, spinning, and the Bison pushing the pile in a what was called: “Ugly but beautiful football.” WR #11 Phoenix Sproles takes the football on a sweep, fakes the reverse and keeps going for another touchdown. Reinholz PAT.
  • Second Quarter
  • JMU WR #10 Riley Stapleton makes a catch between the zones. QB #6 Ben DiNucci runs right out of the ‘cup’. DE #99 Spencer Waege gets a TFL. TE #84 Dylan Stapleton makes a 17-yard catch over the middle. RB #31 Percy Agyei-Obese slips, the grass is slippery. PK #91 Ethan Ratke kicks a Field Goal.
  • NDSU RB #24 Kobe Johnson reverses direction on the kickoff and loses yards. LB #42 Jabril Cox runs out of the Wildcat and loses yards. LB #54 Jake Kava is called for an illegal block. A Facemask Penalty on DL #5 Ron’Dell Carter saves the drive. RB #28 Ty Brooks runs 21 yards. RB #18 Adam Cofield runs 11 yards. TE #82 Ben Ellefson catches a TD pass but is called for Illegal Receiver. The Bison settle for Reinholz Field Goal only it’s a fake. The holder FS #6 James Hendricks runs it left for a Touchdown. Reinholz makes the PAT.
  • NDSU RB #28 Ty Brooks is called for a late hit on the Kickoff return. Big hit by LB #42 Jabril Cox; DE #90 Tony Pierce almost had an interception.. CB #14 Josh Hayes started running it back. DE #93 Logan McCormick sacks DiNucci. PK #91 Ethan Ratke hits the upright.
  • JMU DL #7 John Daka is injured and leaves the game limping bad. Daka is back in the second half. CB #23 Charles Tutt is called for Pass Interference. RB #4 Dimitri Williams breaks a 19-yard run but the Bison run out of time.
  • Third Quarter
  • Good defense by JMU. NDSU QB #5 Trey Lance falls on his fumbled handoff.
  • JMU RB #31 Percy Agyei-Obese runs past LB #55 Aaron Mercadel. CB #14 Josh Hayes breaks up the pass to WR #10 Riley Stapleton. PK #91 Ethan Ratke kicks a Field Goal.
  • NDSU RB #24 Kobe Johnson gets some yards on the kickoff return. Lance gets nothing. Then gets the First Down. SS #8 Wayne Davis almost gets an Interception.
  • LS #41 Ross Kennelly drops JMU FS #24 D’Angelo Amos on the kickoff return for a loss. DE #99 Spencer Waege tackles QB #6 Ben DiNucci. DE #91 Derrek Tuszka gets a sack. DiNucci crosses the line of scrimmage for an Illegal Pass.
  • NDSU FB #44 Hunter Luepke makes a 18-yard catch. TE #82 Ben Ellefson catches a 15-yard pass. WR #1 Christian Watson runs a reverse, but DL #7 John Daka makes the TFL. Lance runs 44-yards for a Touchdown. Watson had a good block. Reinholz for the PAT.
  • Fourth Quarter
  • SS #26 James Kaczor with a TFL. LB #42 Jabril Cox almost makes an Interception.
  • The Dukes keep the Bison off the field: Three and Out.
  • JMU FS #24 D’Angelo Amos with a 35-yard Kickoff Return. RB #21 Latrele Palmer has runs of 4, 11, 8, and 3 yards. QB #15 Gage Moloney runs the Wildcat twice. LB #52 Jackson Hankey with a big stop. 4th and 1, OL #69 Truvell Wilson called for a False Start. QB #6 Ben DiNucci runs 6-yards for the First Down. DiNucci hits WR #10 Riley Stapleton for a Touchdown. Ratke with the PAT.
  • NDSU TE #87 Noah Gindorff makes a 22-yard catch off a LB #52 Landan Word tip. QB #5 Trey Lance gets the First Down. TE #82 Ben Ellefson is called for a False Start. Lance runs. 4th and 2. Lance falls short.
  • JMU runs RB #21 Latrele Palmer; then RB #7 Jawon Hamilton for 7-yards each. LB #42 Jabril Cox with a TFL when he sniffs out the ‘Double Pass’ from QB #15 Gage Moloney to QB #6 Ben DiNucci (all his receivers are covered.) TE #84 Dylan Stapleton with catches of 9 yards; then 6 yards. 4th & 3, a shovel-pass to RB #7 Jawon Hamilton for the First Down. QB Hurry by FS #6 James Hendricks. Hendricks with a Pass Tip. CB #14 Josh Hayes and WR #10 Riley Stapleton both go up; Riley comes down with it. Hendricks breaks up the pass. No Play as DE #99 Spencer Waege was off-sides. CB #14 Josh Hayes is called for Pass Interference. First and Goal at the NDSU 03 and a chance for JMU to tie the game. Time Out Dukes. Hendricks makes an Interception, jumping in front of WR #3 Brandon Polk, then runs out to the 20 before taking a knee.
  • QB #5 Trey Lance is named “Player Of The Game”. FS #6 James Hendricks would be a good second choice.
  • An average of nearly 2.7 million viewers watched NDSU hold off the Dukes for a 28–20 victory at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas. showbuzzdaily.com
Scoring Summary
Qtr Clock Team Player Scoring Play Plays Yards TOP EWU NDSU
1st 07:27 JMU Riley Stapleton 5-yard pass 17 86 7:33 7 0
1st 03:30 NDSU Adam Cofield 1-yard run 8 70 3:54 7 7
2nd 14:50 NDSU Phoenix Sproles 38-yard run 4 69 2:13 7 14
2nd 09:37 JMU Ethan Ratke 26-yard field goal 11 56 5:13 10 14
2nd 03:47 NDSU James Hendricks 20-yard run 12 81 5:46 10 21
3rd 08:45 JMU Ethan Ratke 27-yard field goal 10 50 4:02 13 21
4th 14:50 NDSU Trey Lance 44-yard run 6 65 2:50 13 28
4th 06:55 JMU Riley Stapleton 5-yard pass 11 46 4:29 20 28


Team Stats

Game Stats JMU NDSU
Rushing Yards 261 281
Passing Yards 204 72
Total Offensive 365 353
Plays 78 55
Penalty Yards 7–75 7–53
First Downs 24 20
3rd Downs 7–15 5–10
4th Downs 2–2 1–2
Time Of Possession 31:43 28:17

Individual Stats:


  • QB #05 Trey Lance was 6 of 10 for 72 yards. His longest pass was 22-yards. Trey was sacked once. He ran 30 times for 166 net-yards, and one Touchdown. Trey’s longest run was 44 yards. He was averaging 5.5 yards per carry. Trey was named MVP of the game.
  • RB #28 Ty Brooks ran three times for 28 yards and a Touchdown. 21-yards was his longest run.
  • RB #18 Adam Cofield ran 7 times for 24 yards and a Touchdown. Adam also caught a pass.. for no gain.
  • RB #04 Dimitri Williams had a 19-yard run.
  • TE #87 Noah Gindorff caught a 22-yard pass.
  • FB #44 Hunter Luepke caught an 18-yard pass.
  • TE #82 Ben Ellefson caught a 15-yard pass.
  • WR #11 Phoenix Sproles ran once for 38 yards and a Touchdown. He also caught a 13-yard pass.
  • WR #89 Cole Jacob caught a 4-yard pass.
  • WR #01 Christian Watson had one play, but it was a –12 yard TFL.


  • LB #52 Jackson Hankey led the Bison with 17 tackles.
  • SS #26 James Kaczor had 14 tackles including one Tackle For Loss (TFL) of two yards.
  • FS #06 James Hendricks had 8 tackles, one Pass Breakup, a face field-goal hold for a Touchdown, and a 20-yard Interception to ice the game.
  • LB #42 Jabril Cox had 8 tackles including an 8-yard Sack, and two Pass Breakups.
  • CB #14 Josh Hayes had 7 tackles including 1.5 TFL for a yard. Josh also had a Pass Break Up..
  • SS #25 Michael Tutsie had 7 tackles.
  • DE #91 Derrek Tuszka had 6 tackles including a 7-yard Sack and shared a TFL. He also had a Quarterback Hurry.
  • DE #99 Spencer Waege had 4 tackles including a 1-yard TFL.
  • DE #90 Tony Pierce, and DT #98 Matt Biegler each had three tackles.
  • DT #53 Cole Karcz and LB #55 Aaron Mercadel each had two tackles. Aaron had a 1-yard TFL.
  • LB #03 Jaxon Brown, CB #09 Marquise Bridges, CB #33 Destin Talbert, LS #41 Ross Kennelly, DE #93 Logan McCormick, and DT #94 Costner Ching each had one tackle. Logan had a 2-yard TFL.

Special Teams

  • PK #38 Garret Wegner had three punts for 136 yards. His longest was 51 yards. He had five kickoff offs for 261 yards.
  • KP #37 Jake Reinholz make all four of his PATs.
  • FS #06 James Hendricks ran for a 20-yard Touchdown off a Fake Field Goal.
  • RB #24 Kobe Johnson had three kickoff returns for 45 yards. His longest was 22 yards.
  • LB #42 Jabril Cox had a three-yard kickoff return.

Tradition never graduates.. We had a bunch of coaches leave and a lot of talent graduate, but the tradition still carries on and we just take it day-by-day and work hard, compete and improve. -Adam Cofield, NDSU Running Back


Stream the entire game from ESPN3/ABC on YouTube.com. Mark Jones and Dusty Dvoracek call the game, while Olivia Dekker reports from the sidelines.

Note: sketches by Craig Maas inspired by photos from GoBison (Tim Sanger), JMUsports, NCAA, and ESPN.

NDSU vs JMU 28 to 20

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