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Kevin Vaadeland, who has 16 receptions for 161 yards and two touchdowns, is hoping to help North Dakota State University repeat as NCAA Division I FCS champions.

Vaadeland looking to help Bison win another FCS football title

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Vaadeland looking to help Bison win another FCS football title
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Kevin Vaadeland fulfilled two dreams as a member of the North Dakota State University football team last season.

Now Vaadeland has a chance to cap off another dream season when the Bison play Sam Houston State in a rematch of last year's NCAA Division I FCS (Football Championship Subdivision) title game.

After recovering from a knee injury his freshman season, Vaadeland made his dream of playing Division I football come true last year by catching five passes for 51 yards in 13 games. Vaadeland capped off his first collegiate season with a national championship ring as the No. 4-seeded Bison defeated No. 1 Sam Houston State 17-6 in the FCS title game.

Vaadeland played a bigger role as the Bison returned to the FCS championship game this year. NDSU, the No. 1 seed, will try to repeat as national champs by playing No. 5 Sam Houston State this Saturday (Feb. 5) at noon at Frisco, TX. That game at FC Dallas Stadium will be televised on ESPN2.

"Winning a national title was huge," said the 6-foot-4, 238-pound junior tight end. "I had never experienced anything like that since I never won a state championship. One of the main reasons I came here was to win a national championship. I didn't think I'd have the chance to win two."

In 14 games this season, including six as a starter, Vaadeland caught at least one pass in nine of them and has 16 receptions for 161 yards and two touchdowns as the Bison carry a 13-1 record into the national championship game.

Vaadeland had a 4-yard catch in NDSU's 22-7 win over Colorado State on Sept. 8 and had a 12-yard catch in the Bison's 66-7 victory over Prairie View on Sept. 22.

In the Bison's 33-21 win over No. 14 Northern Iowa on Sept. 29, Vaadeland had three catches for 43 yards, including a 19-yard TD in the fourth quarter to give NDSU a 30-14 lead. That was Vaadeland's first TD reception of his collegiate career.

"Catching a touchdown pass was amazing, especially against one of our biggest rivals," said Vaadeland.

In wins over South Dakota (54-0 on Oct. 20) and Southern Illinois (23-17 on Oct. 27), Vaadeland had one reception for 6 yards in each game and followed with three catches for 28 yards in a 21-17 win over Missouri State on Nov. 3.

Vaadeland had his second TD of his career on Nov. 10 as his 24-yard catch gave NDSU a 10-0 lead in the first quarter in a 20-17 victory over No. 16 South Dakota State University.

NDSU opened the playoffs with a 28-3 win over SDSU on Dec. 1 and defeated No. 9 Wofford on Dec. 8 as Vaadeland caught two passes for 10 yards. Vaadeland had an 8-yard reception as the Bison advanced to the title game with a 23-20 win over No. 6 Georgia Southern on Dec. 14.

Now NDSU, whose only loss was a 17-14 setback to Indiana State on Oct. 13, will put an eight-game winning streak on the line against Sam Houston State, which enters the championship game with an 11-3 record. Two of those losses were to Baylor (48-23) and Texas A&M (47-28).

"In the back of my mind, I knew we were talented enough to get back. It's going to be tough. Sam Houston is a really good team. They probably have the best defense we've faced all year," said Vaadeland. "If we work hard, I think we have a good chance to repeat and get another shot at winning it next year."

Vance Carlson
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