SDSU offensive lineman Garret Greenfield hoists the national championship trophy after beating Montana 23-3 at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas on Sunday, Jan. 7, 2023.
SDSU offensive lineman Garret Greenfield hoists the national championship trophy after beating Montana 23-3 at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas on Sunday, Jan. 7, 2023.
Zoey Schentzel

The FCS Championship Game

South Dakota State wins their second national championship in consecutive years. Here’s how it happened.

It’s Gameday

The Jackrabbits are back in Frisco for the second year in a row looking to become the first back-to-back champion in FCS football since the Bison 3-peat from 2017-19.

4th quarter updates

Jacks give the ball back (3:39 p.m.): 4 plays and one first down later and Montana has the ball on their own 12. 9:07 left in the game. – Brayden Byers

Defense is king (3:33 p.m.): SDSU’s defense holds again forcing a turnover on downs for Montana. Just over 11 minutes left and the Jacks have the ball up 20. – Brayden Byers

3rd quarter updates

End of three, Jacks on top (3:20 p.m.): Heading into the fourth quarter, the Jacks have the lead and the momentum advantage while Montana looks to keep themselves alive with a big drive. – Brayden Byers

Dustman gets a leg in the game (3:15 p.m.): Hunter Dustman knocks a 32-yard field goal through the uprights despite an awkward snap again. Jackrabbits lead by 20. – Brayden Byers

The defense is heating up (3:12 p.m.): Cade Terveer strips the ball and Ryan Van Marel recovers rumbling down to the Montana 21-yard line. – Brayden Byers

Jacks get another on the board (3:10 p.m.): Gronowski connects with Jadon Janke for a 23-yard touchdown reception to put the Jacks up 20-3. The extra point snap was bobbled resulting in a no-good play. – Brayden Byers

Defense backs up their offense (3:03 p.m.): The South Dakota State defense forced another Montana three and out providing some support for the offense. – Brayden Byers

Touch. Down. Jackrabbits! (2:55 p.m.): A 34-yard completion to Zach Heins and a 10-yard rush from Gronowski for the score. Dustman’s extra point is good. – Brayden Byers

The fans show out (2:53 p.m.): The official announced attendance at Toyota Stadium today is 19,512. – Brayden Byers

Back-to-back three and outs (2:49 p.m.): Montana can’t get the ball past the 10-yard line. Jacks ball at their own 42. – Brayden Byers

SDSU goes three and out (2:45 p.m.): The Jacks can’t get anything going on offense and give the ball back to the Griz. The ball is placed on the 5-yard line. – Brayden Byers

Montana turns the ball over (2:42 p.m.): Aaron Fontes fumbled the ball while running with it after a catch. Brian Williams forced the fumble, and Dyshawn Gales recovered. – Brayden Byers

Griz start on offense (2:35 p.m.): After winning the toss and deferring to the second half, Montana starts with the ball on their own 24. – Brayden Byers

1st half analysis

Low scoring 7-3 game at halftime in the 2023 FCS National Championship as the South Dakota State Jackrabbits lead the Montana Grizzlies 7-3 going into the half. The Jackrabbits haven’t been able to move the ball since their first drive where Isaiah Davis brought in a 6-yard touchdown run. But less can be said about the Grizzlies as their only points of the half came from a 30-yard field goal. South Dakota State found trouble early on with a Mark Gronowski interception and a fumble on special teams that the Grizzlies recovered. SDSU’s defense has held the Grizzlies on most drives with their most notable stop coming from an Adam Bock stop at the 1-yard line. – Marshall Minihan

2nd quarter updates

Halftime (2:15 p.m.): A last-second hail mary from McDowell gets intercepted in the endzone by Dalys Beanum and returned to the 34-yard line. It’s the end of the half. – Brayden Byers

South Dakota State leads Montana going into halftime in the FCS championship. Montana’s Clifton McDowell sent a heave to the endzone in the final seconds of the half but was intercepted by SDSU’s Dayls Beanum. – Marshall Minihan

2-minute drill doesn’t work for SDSU (2:11 p.m.): The Jacks run four plays and punt it away. Montana has it with 25 seconds left at their own 15. – Brayden Byers

Grizzlies stopped near midfield (2:05 p.m.): After the punt return was recovered by Montana, a holding penalty backs them up and the drive fizzles out. Jacks have it at the 13-yard line with 1:52 left in the half. – Brayden Byers

Special teams woes for SDSU (1:57 p.m.): After a big sack from Quinton Hicks and Cade Terveer, Montana’s punt from Travis Benham bounces off of a Jack and was recovered by the Griz. – Brayden Byers

Jacks drive stalls out (1:50 p.m.): After a season-long rush of 33-yards from Mark Gronowski, the offense can’t find any sparks. Montana will have it at their own five. – Brayden Byers

Montana’s on the board (1:40 p.m.): SDSU’s defense comes up with another stop. Nico Ramos boots the field goal through to get the Griz on the board. – Brayden Byers

Montana put up 3 from 30 yards out. South Dakota State still leads 7-3 with 10:51 to go in the second quarter. – Marshall Minihan

Interception puts Griz in Jacks territory (1:34 p.m.): Mark Gronowski throws a bad pass intended for Jadon Janke. Montana DB Corbin Walker comes down with the ball. The Grizzlies get an illegal block on the back on the return They’re set up on the Jacks 33-yard line. – Brayden Byers

Griz get stuffed (1:32 p.m.): Adam Bock comes up with a HUGE goal-line tackle on Eli Gillman. Turnover on downs. Jacks football. – Brayden Byers

1st quarter updates

End of the 1st quarter (1:28 p.m.): A quick first quarter saw only two drives between the two teams and Montana’s isn’t even finished yet. They are on the 1-yard line after a big run from Clifton McDowell. – Brayden Byers

End of the first in Frisco: SDSU leads 7-0. Montana sits with the ball with a 4th and goal from the one. – Marshall Minihan

They kicked it to Bergen (1:18 p.m.): The Jackrabbits’ first kickoff of the day goes straight to returner Junior Bergen who then proceeds to bring the ball out to the Grizzlies 42-yard line. Brayden Byers

Davis TD to start things off (1:16 p.m.): The Jacks start at their 25-yard line and drive down the field ending with a 5-yard touchdown rush from Isaiah Davis. The extra point is good. – Brayden Byers

Pregame updates

Coin toss

Montana won the coin toss and deferred their decision to the second half. SDSU will kick off. – Brayden Byers

Starting lineups


Game predictions

Jon Akre, Jackrabbit beat reporter: SDSU – 38, Montana – 17

The Jacks have been the best team in the FCS all season long and it’s easy to see why. The defending champs have the edge at almost every position, and when you return 18 starters from the 2022 season and have only looked better as the season has gone on, it’s tough to pick against them. The Griz will get overwhelmed with the amount of weapons they have to focus on, and the Jacks defense will force 3 turnovers en route to a second straight championship.

Marshall Minihan, sports editor: SDSU – 41, Montana – 24

It should be an exciting first half because of the talent that both teams have. Though Montana has done a good job this season keeping teams to minimal points, the number of weapons on this Jackrabbit offense could pose a threat to the Grizzlies. South Dakota State is a second-half team and has done a great job wearing down defenses with the run deep into games. The Grizz will have a hard time containing the run while also stopping the pass. Though Montana will stick close early, a second straight national title for South Dakota State could very well be the outcome of the game.

Brayden Byers, managing editor: SDSU – 35, Montana – 20

The Jackrabbits have gotten off to slow starts previously this season, but I expect the Yellow and Blue to be firing out of the gate. As the playoffs have gone on, the Jackrabbit offense has only ramped up. The top-rated defense in the nation will be able to stand tall when it matters, but the Montana offense is poised to score some points. Overall, I expect an exciting game with high energy throughout from two of the great fan bases in college football.

Evan Patzwald, design editor: SDSU – 42, Montana – 21

Montana will keep it close for the first quarter but the Jacks dominant defense will be too much for the Grizzlies to handle and the Jacks will win their second FCS title.

SDSU-Montana FCS Championship Must Reads

The stage is set

SDSU looks to win back-to-back championships against old rival Montana

Jon Akre, Sports Reporter

The 2024 FCS National Championship in Frisco, TX is set to be an instant classic.

It’s just the eighth time the top two playoff seeds have made the FCS championship, with the last time happening in the 2021 spring season between No. 1 South Dakota State and No. 2 Sam Houston.

Read the full story here >>

FCS National Championship: Keys to the game

Marshall Minihan, Sports Editor

The No. 1 South Dakota State Jackrabbits and the No. 2 Montana Grizzlies are set to take the field for the 2023 FCS National Championship.

This matchup is the first time in years that these teams have met on the gridiron and the first time meeting on the biggest stage in the FCS. Here are the Keys for the game.

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Back 2 Frisco

Marshall Minihan, Sports Editor

The Great Danes could do nothing against the No. 1 ranked defense in the nation all game, resulting in a 59-0 blowout in the FCS Semifinals. 

To add, the Jackrabbits scored on five of their six first-half drives, giving them a 28-point lead at halftime. 

Read the full of the story here >>

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