Before North Dakota State’s semifinal Football Championship Series game against New Hampshire, quarterback Brock Jensen received a text from Waupaca football coach John Koronkiewicz.
It said, “Keep living the dream.”
In front of a record Fargo Dome crowd, including a contingent from Waupaca, Jensen continued the dream for a third straight national championship by leading the top-ranked Bison to a convincing 52-14 victory.
The game began on a negative note for the Bison, as Jensen’s second pass was intercepted and returned for a New Hampshire touchdown. Even after the Bison turned the ball over on a fumble on their next possession, Jensen and the Bison did not panic.
This is a team that came back from an 11-point deficit the first game of the season against national powerhouse Kansas State. In his high school days, Koronkiewicz taught Jensen the value of keeping your poise and never giving up.
Like the Comets, the Bison have a fourth-quarter mantra that lets teams know that they will dominate in the final period.
However, the Bison didn’t need to wait that long to recover. Jensen hit Zach Vraa with a 50-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter. In the second quarter, he threw two more touchdown passes to go along with a defensive touchdown and a field goal to give NDSU an insurmountable 31-7 halftime lead. He scored on a 1-yard run to start the third quarter scoring and the Bison cruised to their third straight FCS final.
Jensen was featured on the video screens and saluted by the 18,694 fans with a standing ovation as he left the field in the fourth quarter. He is the winningest quarterback in FCS history with 46 wins.
After the game, he became emotional when asked about playing his last game in the Fargo Dome.
“To be part of this is so humbling,” he said. “I’m at a loss for words, really. This place means so much to me. It means so much to all our seniors.”
Those 24 seniors are leading the team on a mission, according to Jensen.
“We won’t be satisfied until we win the championship,” he said.
Jensen credited New Hampshire defensive back Steven Thames for his first quarter interception return for a touchdown, congratulated Thames after the game for his gutsy play and also complimented the New Hampshire coaches for teaching Thames what to look for.
“It was a great play, as he left his coverage and went for the ball,” he said. “The coaches prepared him well for that play.”
After the game, Jensen again spent over an hour visiting with fans, talking to the media, signing autographs and having his picture taken. He may have been sore from getting hit in the jaw from an opponent’s helmet or kicked in the leg, but he still had time for the fans.
“The magnitude of this win still hasn’t sunk in,” he said. “To be going for a third straight national championship, I just can’t explain the feeling.”
The Bison will take on Towson Saturday, Jan. 4, in Frisco, Texas. There will be a large contingent of Bison fans attending to see Jensen play his final game in the yellow-and-green uniform. Many of his fans hope to see him continue his football career in a similarly colored NFL team that needs a good backup quarterback.