Bison Holds Back Incarnate Word, Earns Trip to 10th FCS Championship Game – InForum

FARGO — North Dakota State safety Dawson Weber saved the day Friday night.

Intercepting the senior safety in less than 90 seconds helped the Bison to a 35-32 win over Incarnate Word in the NCAA Division I FCS semifinals in front of 12,569 fans at Gate City Bank Field in the Fargodome.

“The ball seemed to be in the air for 30 minutes,” said Weber, who finished with two interceptions and a fumbled recovery.

NDSU earned their 10th FCS title game berth in the last 12 seasons and another trip to Frisco, Texas. The Bison fell back 16 points in the first quarter before battling for the win. Bison running back Kobe Johnson rushed for 136 yards and three touchdowns on 15 tries.

“We’re going back to where we should be,” Weber said.

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North Dakota State’s Dawson Weber intercepts an Incarnate Word pass in the final moments of their FCS semifinal championship soccer game on Friday, December 16, 2022 at the Fargodome.

Michael Vosburg/Forum Communications Co.

“Incredible determination from our football team,” added Bison head coach Matt Entz.

The Cardinals and the Bison took turns using the momentum in the four quarters.

“Two powerhouses throwing punches back and forth,” said Incarnate Word head coach GJ Kinne.

Incarnate Word quarterback Lindsey Scott Jr. completed 30 of 46 passes for 282 yards and a touchdown. He also rushed for 80 yards and two touchdowns on 21 tries.

The Cardinals moved the ball to Bison’s 33-yard line with less than two minutes left, but the 6-foot-2 Weber raised and caught Scott’s deep throw at the NDSU 18-yard line with a minute left 13 seconds off. The bison ran the clock from there.

“It just didn’t go our way this time,” said Scott, who is one of the top three finalists for the Walter Payton Award. “As a veteran, I can’t do that throw. That’s on me.”

For the second year in a row, the Bison had a dramatic late interception to seal victory in the semifinals. A year ago, cornerback Destin Talbert had a one-handed interception in the end zone — about three minutes from time in the fourth quarter — to save a 20-14 win over James Madison.

“To know that Christmas is now canceled is very exciting,” Weber said of the FCS title game scheduled for Jan. 8 in Frisco.

Johnson forged a 24-16 lead with a 49-yard touchdown burst with 12 minutes and 56 seconds remaining in the third quarter. That completed a 74-yard drive that lasted four plays in the opening second-half drive and set the stage for a frantic final 30 minutes.

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North Dakota State fans cheer after a Kobe Johnson touchdown against Incarnate Word during their FCS Championship semifinal soccer game on Friday, December 16, 2022 at the Fargodome.

Michael Vosburg/Forum Communications Co.

The Cardinals cut the Bison lead to 24-22 on Scott’s 1-yard TD run, leaving 7:05 in the third quarter. NDSU stopped the 2 point conversion attempt. The drive covered 75 yards and lasted 15 plays.

Scott added a 1-yard TD run on UIW’s next drive to give it a 29-24 lead with 2:59 to play in the third quarter. That 61-yard drive lasted five plays.

Bison kicker Griffin Crosa countered with a career-long 47-yard field goal to cut the UIW lead to 29-27, with 13:03 remaining in the fourth quarter. Cardinals kicker Carson Mohr launched a 41-yard field goal for a 32-27 lead with a 9:38 to play in the fourth quarter.

“I’m proud of our boys and how hard they fought,” said Kinne.

Johnson ripped off a 31-yard TD run for a 35-32 lead, remaining 8-11. The 65-yard drive lasted three plays. Tight end Joe Stoffel caught receiver Braylon Henderson’s 2-point conversion after a jet sweep. That score held with the help of Weber’s late-game heroics.

“They’re as good a team offensively as I’ve seen,” Entz said of Incarnate Word.

UIW scored on its opening run. Receiver Darion Chafin caught a 1-yard pass from Scott to give the Cardinals a 7-0 lead with 10:37 remaining in the first quarter. That ended a 75-yard drive that lasted 10 plays.

UIW kept rolling on his next drive and went 14-0 after a 15-yard touchdown from Jarrell Wiley to play at 7:42 in the first quarter. That drive covered 85 yards, lasted six plays, and lasted less than 60 seconds.

The Cardinals extended a 16-0 lead after a safety with 7:33 remaining in the first quarter. NDSU started the drive on his own 2 and UIW attacked Bison running back TK Marshall in the end zone on the first game of that drive.

“I think that really pushed us,” said Bison quarterback Cam Miller, who rushed for 132 yards and had a touchdown on 18 tries.

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Incarnate Word’s Lindsey Scott Jr. crawls for a loose ball after being disturbed by the Loshiaka Roques of North Dakota State during their FCS Championship semifinal soccer game Friday, December 16, 2022 at the Fargodome.

Michael Vosburg/Forum Communications Co.

Crosa hit a 27-yard field goal to reduce the Cardinals’ lead to 16-3, with 2:15 to play in the first quarter. UIW parried a punt that NDSU covered at the 2 yard line, but a Bison holding penalty knocked a Marshall TD run off the board.

Johnson added a 4-yard touchdown run to reduce the UIW lead to 16-10, with 4:46 to play in the first half. That completed a 93-yard drive that lasted eight games. Miller contributed with a 35-yard run that carried the ball to the Cardinals 41.

Miller scored on a 2-yard run to give the Bison a 17-16 lead with 47 seconds remaining in the first half. Jayden Price helped achieve that score with a 41-yard punt return that propelled the ball to the UIW 17.

The Cardinals finished with 539 yards in 94 games, but UIW had four turnovers while NDSU had no turnovers.

“It’s hard to win games like this,” said Bison defenseman Spencer Waege, who had conceded more than 500 yards in 94 games. “Bend don’t break.”

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Incarnate Word quarterback Lindsey Scott Jr. leaves the field dejected after the NCAA FCS semifinals at the Fargodome on Friday, December 16, 2022.

David Samson/The Forum

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