By STEPHEN HAWKINS AP Sports Writer
FRISCO, Texas (AP) — Mark Gronowski threw three touchdowns passes and ran 51 yards for another score 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.
“It’s really a storybook ending for us,” Gronowski said.
“We made a memory,” Stiegelmeier said. “I live through our players and I always will, always have. And so my joy is great today because their joy is great.”
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.
“We knew NDSU was going to fight until the end of the game and we knew that we had to come out in the second half and just start fast, score early,” Gronowski said. “That’s what we did there on that play.”
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.