Montana Denies North Dakota State Shot at 10th Championship

    In a game for the ages, Montana denied North Dakota State an opportunity at its record 10th FCS Championship in a two-overtime thriller.

    No team has stood atop the FCS standings at the end of the year more than North Dakota State. However, prior to a deep playoff run, 2023 didn’t seem like the Bisons’ year. At it turned out, Montana needed multiple overtimes to deny North Dakota State a chance to win its 10th championship in a 31-29 thriller.

    How North Dakota State Fell Just Short

    It was a hard-fought game in Missoula, as the Bison pushed No. 2 Montana to its limit. The Bison struggled to finish drives offensively, managing just three field goals in the first 58 and a half minutes.

    However, at the end the Bison—down 16-9 at the time—drove the length of the field in four minutes. This time, the Bison capitalized in the red zone, as Cam Miller hit Elijah Green for a 9-yard touchdown with less than a minute left.

    The teams traded quick touchdowns in the first overtime period, each scoring within two plays. When Montana scored to open the second overtime after three plays, the Grizzlies converted the required 2-point conversion on an incredible double pass that was tipped and then caught by receiver Keelan White.

    North Dakota State scored in three plays and was forced to try its own 2-point conversion for the tie. The Bison also tried some trickeration, but Montana was ready and receive RaJa Nelson’s pass was intercepted by Corbin Walker, although not without a bit of controversy on a no call.

    What’s Next for Montana and North Dakota State?

    The No. 2 seed Grizzlies will travel to Frisco, Texas to take on the No. 1 seed and defending champion South Dakota State Jackrabbits. These were the two best teams all season, and they’ll clash on January 7.

    The Grizzlies have won two FCS National Championships, the most recent of which came in 2001.

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    North Dakota State will begin to re-recruit its own roster. In the Transfer Portal era, lower-level teams must constantly fight to keep their rosters together. The Bison lost to South Dakota State in the championship last season and have now been denied a championship in consecutive seasons for the first time since 2009. They’re still seeking their record 10th championship.

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