FARGO, N.D. (AP)Christian Watson scored long touchdowns on back-to-back touches early in the second quarter and two-time defending FCS champion North Dakota State blitzed Montana State 42-14 in a semifinal on Saturday for its 36th straight victory.
Trey Lance found Watson behind the defense along the left sideline for a 75-yard touchdown one play after the Bobcats tied the game at 7. After a three-and-out by Montana State, Watson went 70 yards on a reverse.
Lance threw for three touchdowns, including a 73-yard hookup with Dimitri Williams, and scored two rushing touchdowns.
The top-seeded Bison (15-0) were in the semifinals for the ninth straight year. They won eight and won the national championship each time. North Dakota State faces the winner of Weber State at second-seeded James Madison. James Madison beat the Bison in the semifinals in 2016.
Montana State (11-4) lost to NDSU 52-10 in the second round last year.
A week after being held to three field goals in a 9-3 quarterfinal win over Missouri Valley Conference rival Illinois State, the Bison scored on their opening drive, going 73 yards in 12 plays with Lance scoring on an 8-yard keeper. The Bobcats finally broke through with an eight-play, 8-yard drive with Travis Jonsen covering the final yard on a Wildcat formation play.
That’s when the roof caved in for Montana State, with the Bison successful adding a two-point conversation after Watson’s second score for a 22-7 lead.
On the last possession of the first half the Bison marched 76 yards on 15 plays, milking the clock for 8 minutes, 20 seconds, before Lance hit Jimmy Kepouros for a 6-yard touchdown.
Montana State scored on a 41-yard pass from Tucker Rovig to Kevin Kassis two plays after recovering a Bison fumble, cutting the deficit to 29-14 but the momentum was short lived. Just two plays later, Lance, a redshirt freshman who has not throw an interception this season, had plenty of time to move around in the pocket before finding Williams alone down the right sideline.
The Bison finished with 541 yards, 318 on the ground. Montana State had 298 yards.
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