N. Dakota St. 23, Georgia Southern 20

Brock Jensen scored on a 5-yard quarterback draw on fourth down

with 3 minutes left to rally North Dakota State to a 23-20 victory

over Georgia Southern Friday night in the FCS semifinals.

The defending champion Bison (13-1) advanced to the championship

game Jan. 5 in Frisco, Texas, against the winner of Saturday’s

semifinal between Sam Houston State and Eastern Washington.

”I am little bit out of words,” North Dakota State head coach

Craig Bohl said. ”That’s probably one of the most draining games

I’ve ever been a part of.”

Georgia Southern coach Jeff Monken, whose team lost to NDSU in

last year’s semifinals, had to be consoled by four Eagles players

after they finished interviews in the postgame press conference.

Monken sobbed and then left the room for a few minutes before

taking questions.

”I apologize for losing my composure there,” Monken said. ”It

hurts, it hurts bad.”

Jensen’s run came on a fourth-and-3 play and it followed three

timeouts, the first one by NDSU and the last two by Georgia

Southern. Jensen said the play was called during the first timeout.

Bohl said offensive coordinator Brent Vigen decided to stick with

the play after much chatter among coaches on the field and coaches

in the press box.

”There was a lot of debating going on. It was a chess match,”

Bohl said.

”Those are the type of situations you live for as a competitor

of the game,” Jensen said. ”We called it, there was a hole there

for me, and I just tried to hit it as hard as I could.”

Jensen’s run capped a 59-yard drive that was aided by a

roughing-the-passer penalty on the Eagles. The drive started at the

Bison 41 after a 15-yard penalty on Georgia Southern for a late

hit.

”I talk to our guys about a lot of things. All of them have to

do the fundamentals, and that’s a fundamental thing,” Monken said

of the penalties.

The Bison survived a furious rally when Carlton Littlejohn

blocked a 50-yard field-goal attempt with 34 seconds left by Drew

Ruggles, who was recently recruited off the Georgia Southern soccer

team.

Quarterback Jerick McKinnon rushed for 168 yards and a touchdown

for Georgia Southern (10-4). He scored on a 25-yard run late in the

third quarter to give the Eagles a 20-16 lead after the Bison’s

Jordan Champion roughed the punter in the Eagles end zone.

”Without question, in my mind, I knew it was going to be a

pivotal play,” Bohl said of the penalty. ”Once you get through

the frustration you say, hey, here’s a young man trying to make a

play.”

McKinnon’s touchdown followed a 53-yard touchdown run by NDSU’s

Sam Ojuri, who scored two plays after Christian Dudzik forced

McKinnon to fumble and Grant Olson recovered at the Bison 41.

”You can’t turn the ball over against a good team. It cost

us,” Monken said.

Ojuri rushed for 71 yards for North Dakota State. Jensen added

58 yards and John Crockett 55 yards rushing for the Bison.

Georgia Southern outgained NDSU 430-277 in total yardage.

Dominique Swope added 78 yards rushing for the Eagles.

”Coming into the game we knew it would be a physical game,”

McKinnon said. ”North Dakota State did a great job of capitalizing

… making the big plays when they needed to.”