HICKORY, N.C. — Josh Justice carried Lenoir-Rhyne to its first NCAA Division II championship game.
Justice rushed for 175 yards and three touchdowns, and Lenoir-Rhyne advanced to the title game by beating West Chester 42-14 on Saturday.
“None of this has sunk in for any of us yet,” coach Mike Houston said.
Isaiah Whitaker added two touchdown runs and Michael Patrick had a late scoring run for the option-oriented Bears (13-1), who scored the final 30 points after falling behind 14-12, rushed for 451 yards and didn’t attempt a pass in rainy, muddy conditions.
“No turnovers. What a phenomenal job of our quarterback, our fullbacks of taking care of the football,” Houston said. “The key to the game was us not turning the ball over, able to control the line of scrimmage, drive the football and make them defend us and what just what a great job by our offensive line and Josh Justice.”
Justice scored on runs of 4, 2 and 1 yard to help the Bears earn their first Division II title-game appearance. It’s their first national championship game of any kind since the 1962 team lost to Central Oklahoma State in the NAIA final.
Sean McCartney was 12 of 22 for 135 yards with two touchdowns and an interception for West Chester (13-2).
The Golden Rams reached the semifinals for just the second time in school history but were denied their first berth in the championship game.
“A disappointing end to a great season,” West Chester coach Bill Swaan said. “The conditions were horrible but for both teams. It’s tough to play a game as big as that in those conditions but that’s the way it goes.”
Lenoir-Rhyne, meanwhile, will play the Northwest Missouri State-Grand Valley State winner in the title game Dec. 21 in Florence, Ala.
North Dakota State 48, Coastal Carolina 14
FARGO, N.D.— Sam Ojuri rushed for 162 yards and two touchdowns as top-seeded North Dakota State crushed Coastal Carolina.
Brock Jensen completed 14 of 21 passes for 187 yards and two TDs as the two-time defending FCS national champion Bison (13-0) won their 22nd straight game. Jensen also ran for two TDs and 75 yards on 10 carries.
The win comes less than one week after head coach Craig Bohl said he was leaving NDSU to coach Wyoming.
Coastal Carolina entered the game averaging 43 points and 491 yards of offense, but the Bison outgained the Chanticleers 624-281. Alex Ross passed for 185 yards and one touchdown for Coastal Carolina, but threw two picks as well.
The Bison host the winner of Southeastern Louisiana and New Hampshire in the semifinals Friday.
E. Washington 35, Jacksonville St. 24
CHENEY, Wash. — Quincy Forte rushed for 190 yards and two touchdowns and Eastern Washington pulled away from Jacksonville State in the second half.
Freshman linebacker Albert Havili returned an interception 77 yards for a touchdown early in the fourth quarter to break open the game for third-seeded Eastern Washington (12-2), which will host a semifinal game against Towson next Saturday.
Jacksonville State (11-4) twice took a one-touchdown lead in the first half, but lost quarterback Eli Jenkins to a knee injury just before halftime and managed a field goal the rest of the way behind backup Max Shortell.
Jenkins rushed for 118 yards and completed 12 of 14 passes, including a 10-yard touchdown to Anthony Johnson, before his exit.
Vernon Adams marched Eastern Washington 77 yards to tie the game at 21-21 late in the first half.
Division III semifinals
Mount Union 41, North Central 40
ALLIANCE, Ohio — Kevin Burke rushed for 131 yards with two scores and led Mount Union to a late touchdown and a victory over North Central (Ill.), securing the 17th trip to the Division III championship game for the Purple Raiders.
Down 40-35 in the fourth, Mount Union drove 65 yards in 31 seconds to go ahead with 1:07 left.
Burke completed 12 of 19 passes for 163 yards and one touchdown.
North Central (13-1) QB Spencer Stanek completed 19 of 37 passes for 198 yards and two touchdowns in a game where the snow fell harder as the afternoon progressed.
The Cardinals, making their first semifinal appearance, had two blocked extra points, a third missed and a failed 2-point conversion.
Mount Union, appearing in its 19th straight semifinal, extended the nation’s longest winning streak to 29 games and its own home winning streak to 77 games.