SDSU, NDSU leaving for Gateway Conference next season

Chris Mangan

Chris Mangan

For the second consecutive year, the Great West championship came down to the final game.

The Jackrabbits squared off with the North Dakota State University Bison for the Great West championship for the second straight year, but this year the Jacks came out with a 29-24 win over the top ranked team in the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS). The Jacks (7-4, 4-0 GWFC) jumped out early on the Bison and were able to withstand a late rally that saw the Jacks fall behind early in the fourth quarter. With the Jacks facing fourth and short and down one point, Cory Koenig broke a tackle and rushed for the touchdown. The Bison had one late charge left in them, but senior defensive back Brock Gentile intercepted a Steve Walker pass that sealed the victory for the Jacks.

“We knew we were going to win. We knew it wasn’t an upset,” said Gentile. “We were the better team, and that’s all there is to it.”

The Bison (10-1, 3-1 GWFC) had a disappointing end in what was otherwise a great season. NDSU beat two Bowl Championship Subdivision (BCS) teams-Minnesota and Central Michigan-and were ranked either first or second in the coach’s or media poll for much of the year. The Bison had two close calls during the season, using touchdowns in the final minute to beat Cal Poly and Sam Houston State. The loss to the Jacks snapped the Bison’s 14-game winning streak, the longest in the FCS.

The Cal Poly Mustangs had the Bison on the ropes for most of the game other than during a furious fourth quarter rally. The Mustangs (7-4, 2-2 GWFC) finished the season with a 55-7 blasting of Iona. The Mustangs started the season by losing their first two games before running off four consecutive victories.

The UC Davis Aggies suffered their first season under .500 for the first time in 37 years. Three consecutive losses by the Aggies (5-6, 1-3 GWFC) in the middle of the season ended the hopes of extending the streak. Davis ended the season with a 49-46 victory of San Diego.

The Southern Utah T-Birds played a very tough schedule and gave several teams a battle, including the Jacks, but were unable to come up with a victory. SUU (0-11, 0-4 GWFC) has lost 18 consecutive games. The T-Birds ended their season with a 48-10 beating at the hands of Northern Iowa.

With SDSU and NDSU leaving for the Gateway Conference next season, the Great West will add the University of South Dakota and the University of North Dakota. Both teams will be in their first year transitions to Division I.