MCKINNEY, TEXAS – Sixteen weeks of DII football is officially in the books. Two undefeated teams entered McKinney ISD Stadium, and when 60-minutes of intense record-setting football action concluded, Valdosta State won its fourth national championship, defeating Ferris State 49-47.
Valdosta State (15-0) entered the game with DII football's top scoring offense, scoring 52.2 points per game. The Blazers certainly delivered with their potent attack. After missing a field goal on their opening drive, the Blazers reeled off seven-straight touchdowns on their next seven drives before punting for the first time with 9:05 left in the fourth quarter.
Quarterback Rogan Wells led the way. The Harlon Hill finalist set the championship game record, responsible for six touchdowns. The Blazers set the team net passing yard record with 374 yards. Wells threw for 349 yards and five touchdowns and caught a 25-yard touchdown on a thrilling little trick play in the fourth quarter.
Speaking of trick plays, Ferris State (15-1), attempting to win its first NCAA DII football title, opened things up on its very first play of the game. A double-pass saw receiver Jevon Shaw toss it to Keyondre Craig for an 8-yard catch and run to the end zone, the longest in championship game history. On the very next drive, the Bulldogs made history yet again as Jackson Dieterle connected on a 52-yard field goal, breaking the previous record of 50 set in 1984.
The teams exchanged blows to the final whistle. An interception by Alex Brown in the third quarter put the Blazers ahead by two scores and helped them hang on despite Ferris State hanging around by scoring on one of the wildest plays in DII championship game lore. Valdosta State's Cory Roberts tipped a passed headed out of bounds into the hands of Bulldog Keyondre Craig in the end zone, allowing Ferris State to close the lead to 42-38 with 1:37 remaining in the third quarter.
The first punts of the game for both teams occurred in the fourth quarter, but neither was finished scoring. Ferris State, trailing 49-41, mounted its final drive with 2:17 after a VSU turnover on downs on the Bulldog 34. FSU's Sy Barnett caught a 35-yard pass for a first down on the Valdosta State 8 and scored two plays later on a 5-yard run. The Bulldogs failed on a game-tying two-point conversion attempt with 40 seconds remaining.
The Blazers compiled 374 yards passing to Ferris State's 179, while the Bulldogs doubled up on the rushing yardage, 270-122. VSU quarterback Rogan Wells completed 19-of-31 passes for 349 yards and five touchdowns. FSU quarterback Jayru Campbell rushed for a team-leading 122 yards on 22 carries.
Records were broken, stat sheets were filled, and Valdosta State and Ferris State combined in one of the highest scoring games in championship game history. At the end of the day, the Blazers walked away with their fourth championship since 2004.