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South Dakota State beats Montana for second straight FCS title


South Dakota State’s offense reawakened in the second half as the Jackrabbits defeated the Montana Grizzlies 23-3 to win their second consecutive FCS championship on Sunday in Frisco, Texas.

Mark Gronowski was selected Most Outstanding Player for the second straight year as he threw for 175 yards and a touchdown and rushed for 62 yards and another score. The Jackrabbits (15-0), who defeated North Dakota State for the 2022 title, extended their winning streak to 29 games.

South Dakota State scored on three straight possessions in the third quarter. Gronowski’s 10-yard scramble widened the cushion to 14-3 midway through the period, and the Jackrabbits tallied again with 2:36 left on Jadon Janke’s 23-yard catch.

South Dakota State then cashed in a fumble by Montana quarterback Clifton McDowell for a 32-yard field goal by Hunter Dustman and a 23-3 lead in the final minute of the third.

The Jackrabbits finished with 372 yards to 273 for the Grizzlies (13-2). McDowell threw for 165 yards and was intercepted once.

After falling behind on South Dakota State’s first possession of the game, Montana had numerous opportunities to recover.

Set up by a 39-yard kickoff return, the Grizzlies drove 57 yards to the South Dakota State 1-yard line, only to be stopped a half-yard short on fourth-and-goal.

Montana quickly got another chance when Corbin Walker picked off Gronowski, and the Grizzlies took over at the Jackrabbits’ 33. It was just Gronowski’s fifth interception of the season. But the Grizzlies had to settle for Nico Ramos’ 30-yard field goal and trailed 7-3.

The Grizzlies got another break and took over at their own 44 when South Dakota State fumbled a punt return, but they stalled at the Jackrabbits’ 46.

South Dakota State opened by driving 75 yards on 11 plays in almost seven minutes. Isaiah Davis capped the drive with a 6-yard touchdown run around the left side. Davis finished with 87 yards rushing, 74 in the second half.

Cade Terveer had 1.5 of the Jackrabbits’ four sacks and also forced a fumble.

–Field Level Media

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