South Dakota St advances to 1st FCS championship game

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BROOKINGS, S.D. (AP) — Mark Gronowski passed for two touchdowns and caught a 24-yard TD pass from Pierre Strong Jr. to help top-seeded South Dakota State beat Delaware 33-3 in the semifinals of the FCS playoffs on Saturday.

South Dakota State, in its ninth consecutive FCS playoffs appearance, advanced to the championship game for the first time in program history. The Jackrabbits (8-1) will face Sam Houston State in the championship game on May 16 in Frisco, Texas.

Gronowski had 115 of his 162 yards passing, 23 of his 27 yards rushing and all of his 24 yards receiving in the first half to help South Dakota State build a 27-3 lead.

Strong ran 14 times for 73 yards and a touchdown and Isaiah Davis added 70 yards rushing on nine carries. Jaxon Janke caught three passes for 64 yards and a touchdown and returned a punt 55 yards in the second quarter.

The Blue Hens (7-1) took a 3-0 lead on Ryan Coe’s field goal with 3:44 left in the first quarter. South Dakota State needed only 7 minutes, 26 seconds time of possession to score TDs on its next four drives.

Nolan Henderson completed 18 of 21 passes for 142 yards for Delaware. The Blue Hens won six national championships between 1946 and 2003. Since advancing to the FCS championship game in 2007 and 2010, the program had appeared in the playoffs just once, in 2018, before this season.

The Jackrabbits defense had seven sacks and held the Blue Hens to 68 yards rushing on 45 carries.

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