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Bison Storm to Third Straight FCS Title

North Dakota State players celebrate with the trophy after winning the FCS championship NCAA college football game against Towson, Saturday, Jan. 4, 2014, in Frisco, Texas. NDSU won 35-7. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

North Dakota State players celebrate with the trophy after winning the FCS championship NCAA college football game against Towson, Saturday, Jan. 4, 2014, in Frisco, Texas. NDSU won 35-7. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

Frisco, Texas — From Fargo to Frisco again, and a perfect championship ending for senior quarterback Brock Jensen and coach Craig Bohl at North Dakota State.

Jensen threw a touchdown pass and ran for another score in his FCS-quarterback record 48th victory, and the Bison capped a 15-0 season with a 35-7 victory over Towson on Saturday to claim their third consecutive FCS title in Bohl’s final game at the school.

“It hasn’t (set in) right now, but I think in a couple of months it’s going to,” said Bohl, who stayed with the Bison for their playoff run after accepting the job as Wyoming’s coach. “This team was possessed with perfection. And they relentlessly pursued it. ... It’s pretty remarkable.”

The Bison joined Appalachian State (2005-07) as the only FCS teams to win three consecutive championships. They are the first undefeated champs at that level since Marshall in 1996, the year before the Thundering Herd moved to Division I-A (now FBS).

“It gets better every time. Definitely,” Jensen said. “That was the last time I’ll put on a Bison jersey but man, it’s been fun ride.”

Bohl was 104-32 in 11 seasons at North Dakota State, which has won 24 consecutive games to match the FCS record.

The Bison went ahead to stay on Ryan Smith’s 5-yard TD run in the second quarter that snapped a 7-7 tie. That came one play after Colten Heagle blocked a field goal try that was scooped up by defensive end Kyle Emanuel and returned 59 yards. It was the first of three consecutive possessions when North Dakota State scored touchdowns.

Towson (13-3), the first school to play in championship games at the FCS and NCAA Division III levels, was 1-10 only three years ago in Ambrose’s second season. But the Tigers had their lowest scoring total since a 28-3 loss at Maryland four games into the 2011 season.

This was the fourth consecutive year the title game was played in the professional soccer stadium in North Texas, but this game was plagued by problems with the grass turf. During each timeout, groups of workers and volunteers had to pat down chunks of turf that were coming up during play.

Nick Shafer, the stadium’s vice president of operations, said in a statement that the turf between the hash marks was replaced Nov. 18. Soon after that, the area was hit by an extended stretch of unusual freezing weather and ice sat on the field for a week. Shafer said that “prevented the grass from taking root underneath the turf.”

BBVA Compass Bowl

Vanderbilt 41, Houston 24

Birmingham, Ala. — Patton Robinette threw two 50-yard touchdown passes to Jordan Matthews, and Vanderbilt recovered after blowing a 24-point lead to beat Houston in the BBVA Compass Bowl.

Robinette, starting after senior Austyn Carta-Samuels had season-ending surgery to repair a torn ACL in his left knee, also had an 8-yard scoring run as Vanderbilt built a 24-0 lead in the first half.

After Houston (8-4) pulled even by scoring 24 points in the third quarter, Vanderbilt reclaimed the lead on Brian Kimbrow’s 21-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter.

Vanderbilt (9-4) closed the season with five straight wins, adding to third-year coach James Franklin’s status as a possible candidate for coaching vacancies, including at Penn State and with the NFL Browns and Redskins.

The Commodores played in three straight bowl games under Franklin — a first for the program — and completed their first back-to-back nine-win seasons.