FRISCO, Texas – At halftime of the FCS national championship game, North Dakota State leads James Madison 21-10.
The Bison have rushed for 201 rushing yards, and have three scores from three different rushers.
First Down – The Dukes’ opening drive was a clinic, gaining 86 yards over 17 plays en route to quarterback Ben DiNucci’s 5-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Riley Stapleton. For the series, JMU converted all three of its third-down attempts, as Stapleton’s touchdown reception came on a third down. In total, the Dukes picked up six first downs on the drive with three coming through the air and three coming on the ground.
Second Down – A big problem JMU faced in the opening half was tackling Trey Lance. The Bison quarterback had no issues running through JMU’s defense. The 6-foot-3 redshirt freshman rushed for 86 yards, which includes a 14-yard scamper he finished by plowing over Dukes linebacker Landan Word at the end of the first quarter. Lance’s success in the run game allowed North Dakota State to rush for 201 yards as a team in the first 30 minutes. Entering Saturday, JMU led the FCS in rushing defense, yielding just 61 rushing yards per game.
Third Down – The Bison have showed a few wrinkles they haven’t shown throughout the year on offense. North Dakota State put linebacker Jabril Cox in a wildcat formation for a direct snap. And on the jet sweep wide receiver Phoenix Sproles took for a 39-yard rushing touchdown, it came off a play the Bison ran a reverse on against Nicholls State in their second-round playoff win earlier this postseason.
Fourth Down – The highlight reel moment came late in the second quarter, when North Dakota State perfectly executed a fake field goal. The Bison holder, James Hendricks, kept the ball and ran for a 20-yard touchdown run. That score gave NDSU a 21-10 advantage with 3:47 left to play. Ahead of Saturday, Dukes coach Curt Cignetti said the Bison trickery on special teams was something JMU had "to be prepped for."