HARRISONBURG, Va. — James Madison enjoyed a memorable night in a game that one can only imagine South Dakota State will want to forget.
Marcus Marshall broke loose on a pair of long touchdown runs, Jimmy Moreland made three interceptions and defending FCS national champion James Madison returned to the title game with a 51-16 victory Saturday night over South Dakota State, which gave up 10 turnovers.
The top-seeded Dukes (14-0) won their FCS-tying 26th straight game to return to the championship game against No. 2 seed North Dakota State, a 55-13 winner over Sam Houston State on Friday night. James Madison beat the Bison in the semifinals last year, ending NDSU's run of five consecutive national championships. The championship game will be played in Frisco, Texas, on Jan. 6. James Madison also won a title in 2004.
"For our team to compete the way it did, gives us a special memory and special night (we) will remember for a long, long time," JMU coach Mike Houston said.
"We had a lot of adversity throughout the year, but the kids stuck together, kept on working, kept their faith and belief in each other and just time and time have been able to overcome different kind of obstacles, and to have the opportunity to return to go back to Frisco and compete for another national championship is truly an honor."
Marshall, who helped set up a last-minute touchdown in the first half with a 38-yard kickoff return, raced up the middle to score twice to begin a 30-point third period that broke the game open. First he went 65 yards to score, and on the Dukes' next possession he sprinted for a career-best 87 yard TD run and a 35-10 lead.
"The thing that crushed it was the two long runs right out of the chute (in the third quarter)," SDSU coach John Stiegelmeier said. "I would say we broke down there. ... When you're playing that type of athlete, you've seen it, it's going to happen."
South Dakota State (11-3), the fifth seed, was making its sixth straight playoff appearance and first semifinal. Jackrabbits quarterback Taryn Christion was intercepted six times, including a pick-6, and lost three fumbles, two coming after the ball slipped from his hand.
Marshall finished with a career-high 203 yards on 15 carries. Schor threw for 203 yards and two scores, both to Stapleton.
Christion was 18 of 43 for 234 yards passing and TD passes to Wieneke, who had 105 yards receiving, and Dallas Goedert.