NFF Presents Divisional Championship Trophies

Tuesday, January 9, 2018
North Dakota State wins sixth FCS national title in seven years; Texas A&M-Commerce wins first ever DII title; Mount Union (Ohio) adds its 13th DIII title; and Saint Francis (Ind.) wins its second consecutive NAIA title.
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IRVING, Texas (Jan. 9, 2018) – In front of more than 1,500 coaches at the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) Annual Convention in Charlotte, N.C., NFF Director of Membership Ron Dilatush yesterday presented the National Football Foundation’s divisional national championship trophies to the coaches of the 2017 winning teams.

“Each year at the AFCA convention, the NFF presents the championship trophies to the coaches who have taken their teams to the pinnacle of success,” said NFF President & CEO Steve Hatchell. “It is fitting that we present the trophies in front of their peers, the very people who know the commitment, dedication and effort that goes into winning a national championship. We are extremely proud to join with AFCA Executive Director Todd Berry to continue this tradition of honoring the nation’s most successful coaches each year at the convention.”

NCAA Football Championship Subdivision – John F. Kennedy Trophy – North Dakota State University – Coach Chris Klieman

Coach Chris Klieman led No. 2 seed North Dakota State (14-1) to its sixth FCS national championship in seven years with a 17-13 victory over top-seeded defending champion James Madison (14-1) on Jan. 6 before a sellout crowd of 19,090 at Toyota Stadium. The win marked Klieman’s third national championship as the Bison’s head coach after serving as an assistant for the other three FCS titles. It was North Dakota State's 14th football national championship overall since 1965 and tied the FCS record of six national titles held by Georgia Southern. North Dakota State's defense forced three turnovers and held James Madison (14-1) to a season-low 241 yards. Junior quarterback Easton Stick, named the game's Most Outstanding Player, completed 13 passes for 130 yards and one touchdown in his first championship game start. The Bison clinched the victory after forcing a JMU turnover on downs on the 25-yard line with 58 seconds left.

NCAA Division II – Asa S. Bushnell Trophy – Texas A&M University-Commerce – Coach Colby Carthel

Coach Colby Carthel and Texas A&M-Commerce (14-1) etched their names into history with a 37-27 win over West Florida (11-4) in the NCAA Division II National Championship game Dec. 16 in Kansas City, Kan. It is the first NCAA Division II National Championship in school history and the second National Championship in Lion football history, 45 years after the Lions won the 1972 NAIA National Championship. The Lions had nearly 500 yards of total offense and never trailed in the game. Harlon Hill trophy winner Luis Perez had 23 completions for 323 yards and two touchdowns, and he broke a Division II record in the first quarter for most passing yards in a single postseason. Freshman running back E.J. Thompson rushed for 110 yards and a touchdown, and junior defensive back Reggie Kincade returned a kickoff 99 yards for a touchdown, tying a Division II championship game record.

NCAA Division III – Amos Alonzo Stagg Trophy – University of Mount Union (Ohio) – Coach Vince Kehres

In the lowest scoring Stagg Bowl ever, Coach Vince Kehres and Mount Union (15-0) added to the program’s illustrious history in a 12-0 victory over defending champion Mary Hardin-Baylor [Texas] (14-1) in the NCAA Division III National Championship game Dec. 15 in Salem, Va. After producing the first shutout in a Stagg Bowl since 1982, the Purple Raiders claimed their 13th Division III national title and second under Vince Kehres. A field goal by Mount Union was the lone score of the first three quarters before the Purple Raiders took control in the fourth quarter following D'Angelo Fulford’s 42-yard touchdown pass to Justin Hill. Less than a minute later, defensive back Nick Brish pinned Mary Hardin-Baylor quarterback Carl Robinson in the end zone for a safety and the game’s final points. The game’s most outstanding player, Brish had 10 tackles and 1.5 of the team’s eight totals sacks. It was the final Stagg Bowl played at Salem Stadium, its home for the past 25 years, before it moves to Woodforest Bank Stadium in Shenandoah, Texas, for the next two seasons.

NAIA – Dwight D. Eisenhower Trophy – University of Saint Francis (Ind.) – Coach Kevin Donley

Coach Kevin Donley led top-ranked Saint Francis (14-0) to back-to-back NAIA National Championships after a 24-13 victory over Reinhardt [Ga.] (12-1) on Dec. 16 in Daytona Beach, Fla. The Cougars are the first team since former Sioux Falls [S.D.] in 2008 and 2009 to win back-to-back titles, and they extended their win-streak to 23 games. Saint Francis running back Justin Green earned Outstanding Offensive Player of the Game honors after running for a game-high 144 rushing yards and two touchdowns. The Defensive Outstanding Player of the Game was the Cougars’ Eric Dunten, who recorded 17 tackles. The only NAIA coach to eclipse 300 wins, Donley is the winningest coach in NAIA football history with a 316-129-1 record in 39 years.

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