Bison beat Chanticleers 39-32 for date in FCS national semifinals against Sam Houston State

FARGO - North Dakota State played an unfamiliar style of game Saturday at the Fargodome, but the result was typical. The Bison gave up the most points it had in a game since 2010, but a record-breaking performance from senior running back John Cr...

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NDSU Bison quarterback Carson Wentz runs in for a touchdown in the team's 39-32 win Saturday at the Fargodome. Dave Samson/The Forum

FARGO – North Dakota State played an unfamiliar style of game Saturday at the Fargodome, but the result was typical.

The Bison gave up the most points it had in a game since 2010, but a record-breaking performance from senior running back John Crockett saved the day. Crockett rushed for 227 yards and two touchdowns, including the game winner, to lift NDSU to a 39-32 victory against Coastal Carolina in the NCAA Division I FCS quarterfinals at Gate City Bank Field before 18,049 fans.

“It’s time,” Crockett said. “You have to be ready to go. Win or shut up.”

Crockett played loud all afternoon, setting a school record for rushing yards in a playoff game. D.J. McNorton held the previous mark with 207 yards in a win at Montana State in 2010.

“The defense didn’t play very well, but the offense kept running the football,” said Bison senior safety Colten Heagle, who had the game-clinching interception in the final minute against the Chanticleers.


The three-time defending national champion Bison (13-1) advanced to the FCS semifinals. The No. 2 seed, NDSU will host Sam Houston State next weekend for a chance to advance to Frisco, Texas, site of the title game.

“I think it’s more rewarding for the guys to win the way we’re winning,” said Bison head coach Chris Klieman, whose team also had to rally for victory at home in the second round of the playoffs against South Dakota State.

The Chanticleers again pushed the Bison to the brink Saturday.

Coastal Carolina took a 32-31 lead after running back De’Angelo Henderson scored on a 2-yard touchdown run on the first play of the fourth quarter. Henderson had a big day, rushing for 143 yards and a touchdown on 24 attempts.

“I feel that we showed that we could compete with anybody,” said Coastal Carolina junior quarterback Alex Ross, who completed 11 of 24 passes for 197 yards.

The Bison responded a little more than five minutes later with what proved to be the game-winning points. On a third-and-1 play, Crockett sliced off tackle toward the sideline before cutting up the field. The 6-foot, 215-pound senior then outran the Coastal Carolina defense to the end zone.

“When he hit that corner, nobody caught him,” Klieman said.

That gave NDSU a 39-32 lead with 9:28 remaining after quarterback Carson Wentz ran in the 2-point conversion.


“I was just happy to get my team the lead at the end of the day,” Crockett said of the big run.

Crockett set the school’s single-season rushing record with his effort and has 1,724 yards heading into the semifinals. Lamar Gordon held the previous record with 1,723 yards in 2000.

The Bison defense, which uncharacteristically struggled throughout the game, buckled down late in the game to secure the victory. Coastal Carolina was limited to nine yards on 15 plays in its last three drives of the game. The Chanticleers had 11 yards on 16 plays in the final quarter.

“We did enough things in the fourth quarter to make some stops,” Klieman said. “In the end, it was a team win.”

Heagle ended Coastal Carolina’s final drive, intercepting Ross and then taking a knee at midfield with 53 seconds remaining.

“I was just so tired I just wanted to get off the field,” Heagle said.

The Bison gave up 30 points in a game for the first time since the 2010 quarterfinals, a 38-31 overtime loss at Eastern Washington.

Crockett moved into second place on the Bison career rushing list. He has 4,069 yards after Saturday’s performance. Lamar Gordon (1998-01) is in first place with 4,696.


“Offensively, I thought we were dynamite all day,” Klieman said.

Crockett found the end zone on his second carry. He weaved through the Coastal Carolina defense for a 70-yard touchdown that gave NDSU a 7-0 lead with 12:56 remaining in the first quarter. That set the tone for his record-breaking day.

“I couldn’t be prouder of my team,” said Coastal Carolina head coach Joe Moglia. “This is a difficult loss. This is a painful loss. This is a tough loss. … We lost today, but we lost to a very, very good football team.”


North Dakota State running back John Crockett breaks free for a 70-yard touchdown against Coastal Carolina during a quarterfinal game of the NCAA Division I FCS playoffs on Saturday at Gate City Bank Field at the Fargdome. David Samson / The Forum

Peterson covers college athletics for The Forum, including Concordia College and Minnesota State Moorhead. He also covers the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks independent baseball team and helps out with North Dakota State football coverage. Peterson has been working at the newspaper since 1996.
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