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Vaadeland looking to help Bison win another FCS football title

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.

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."