Different Dakota: SD State wins 1st FCS title over ND State

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Chris Jones/USA TODAY Sports
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FRISCO, Texas — Mark Gronowski threw three touchdowns passes and ran 51 yards for another one as South Dakota State won its first national championship with a 45-21 win Sunday over North Dakota State, which lost for the first time in its 10 FCS title game appearances.

As a true freshman two seasons ago, Gronowski tore the ACL in his left knee on the opening series of the Football Championship Subdivision title game. Now nearly 20 months after a loss in that unprecedented spring finale, and after the quarterback missed the entire 2021 season, the Jackrabbits (14-1) beat their border-state rival for the biggest prize in coach John Stiegelmeier’s 26th season at his alma mater.

Amar Johnson rushed for 126 yards and Isaiah Davis had 119 for his ninth 100-yard game this season, and both scored touchdowns for South Dakota State. Gronowski, who completed 14 of 21 passes for 223 yards, had his scoring run on the third play of the second half to stretch the lead to 38-14.

Cam Miller was 17-of-26 passing for 256 yards with two TDs and two interceptions for the Bison (12-3), who went from Fargo to Frisco for the 10th time in 12 seasons.

The Jackrabbits have won the last four meetings between the Missouri Valley Football Conference rivals, all in less than two years. The previous three had been in regular-season games for the Dakota Marker trophy that wasn’t up for grabs in the MLS soccer stadium nearly 1,000 miles from the border of their states. It was their 114th meeting since 1903, but only the fifth in the FCS playoffs and first in the championship game.

South Dakota State’s only previous FCS title game appearance was a last-minute loss to Sam Houston State in May 2021 after the lower-division season was pushed back to the spring because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Jackrabbits beat NDSU in that abbreviated regular season, then again later that fall before a 23-21 win last October after overcoming a 21-7 halftime deficit in the Fargodome.

Johnson’s 32-yard TD run broke a 7-all tie early in the second quarter. The Jackrabbits got the ball right back when Steven Arrell stripped the ball from running back Kobe Johnson and Dalys Beanum at the Bison 34. Gronowski hit wide-open Jaxon Janke for an 18-yard TD four plays later – Janke also had a 30-yard TD catch in the fourth quarter.

There was an exchange of 44-yard touchdowns passes right before halftime. On a third-and-1 play, Gronowski went forward like he was going to try to run for the first down when he instead stopped for the line and threw to Mike Morgan all alone behind the entire defense. Miller then hit Eli Green for a 44-yard TD.

THE TAKEAWAY

North Dakota State: The Bison have a 44-4 record in the FCS playoffs, and missed a chance to match the record of 45 wins by Georgia Southern, which is now playing at the FBS level. They have only 14 losses overall since 2011, when they won the first of their record nine FCS titles, and six of those losses are to South Dakota State – no other team has multiple wins over NDSU in that span.

South Dakota State: The Jackrabbits have won a school-record 14 games in a row since opening this season with a 7-3 loss at Big Ten team Iowa.

UP NEXT

North Dakota State opens the 2023 season on Sept. 2 in Minneapolis, one of the school’s largest alumni bases, against perennial FCS playoff team Eastern Washington.

South Dakota State still hopes to fill an open slot on its 2023 schedule for Labor Day weekend. As of now, the first set game is Sept. 9 at home against 2021 national runner-up Montana State, which the Jackrabbits beat in this season’s national semifinal game.

Clemson gives raises, contract extensions to staff

Ken Ruinard/USA TODAY NETWORK
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CLEMSON, S.C. — Clemson’s board of trustees approved raises for special teams coordinator and cornerbacks coach Mike Reed and defensive tackles coach Nick Eason.

Reed and Eason also received one-year extensions keeping them tied to the Tigers through Jan. 31, 2026.

Reed, who’s been with the Tigers since 2013, had his yearly salary increased $50,000 to $800,000. Eason, the former Clemson standout defensive lineman, joined the staff this past season. He also had his compensation upped by $50,000 to $800,000.

Seven other assistants were given one-year extensions by the trustees’ compensation committee, but without a raise in salary.

Co-defensive coordinators Wes Goodwin and Mickey Conn had their contracts extended through Jan. 31, 2026.

Defensive ends coach Lemanski Hall, tight ends coach Kyle Richardson, offensive line coach Thomas Austin, running backs coach C.J. Spiller and wide receivers coach Tyler Grisham all got one-year extensions through Jan. 31, 2025.

New offensive coordinator Garrett Riley last month received a three-year contract at $1.75 million per season.

Clemson will pay its 10 on-field assistants $7.475 million this season, an increase of $925,000 from the total for 2022.

The Tigers went 11-3 last season, winning the Atlantic Coast Conference title for the seventh time in the past eight seasons.

South Carolina’s Beamer suspends three freshmen from program

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Corey Perrine/USA TODAY NETWORK
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COLUMBIA, S.C. — South Carolina coach Shane Beamer said freshmen Monteque Rhames II, Anthony Rose and Cameron Upshaw were suspended from the football program.

There was no reason given for the suspensions in the school’s statement Friday. Online records showed Rhames, 18, was booked last night and was being held at the Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center on charges of carrying weapons on school property and obstructing justice.

“Our student-athletes know what is expected of them,” Beamer said. “They know that both the university and the football program will hold them accountable for their actions and decisions.”

None of the three have played for the Gamecocks.

Rose is a 6-foot-1, 190-pound defensive back from Miami who enrolled in January 2022 and redshirted this season. Rhames and Upshaw were part of South Carolina’s latest recruiting class and enrolled last month.

Rhames is a 6-5, 235-pound defensive lineman from Sumter and Upshaw is a 6-2, 193-pound safety from Perry, Florida.