BOSTON -- There were reminders of David Ortiz everywhere Friday night at Fenway Park. Printed banners atop the Green Monster and alongside the perimeter of the building. Countless homemade signs. The first of three pregame ceremonies planned for the weekend. And a massive artistic rendering of Ortiz weaved into the center-field grass.It was impossible not to know that Ortiz was the central figure in this, the last regular-season series of his career. But just in case, Ortiz gave the rain-drenched throng in Boston another reason to appreciate him.In a rather fitting result for the beginning of an Ortiz-centric weekend, his two-run homer in the bottom of the seventh inning proved to be the difference in a 5-3 win over the Toronto Blue Jays.The retiring designated hitter also had an RBI single as Boston stopped a three-game slide and remained on pace to open the American League Division Series at home against Cleveland next Thursday.What can I tell you? Pretty good season, Ortiz said matter-of-factly in a quick session with reporters after the game.As Ortiz took the heroics in stride, his teammates were asked once again to put his phenomenal last season into perspective.Ive seen it for 10 years; its pretty special, man, second baseman Dustin Pedroia said. Every time theres a big situation, hes found a way to come through. Were going to enjoy the last couple of games we have with him because its pretty special. ... You expect it. Its kind of sad to say, in this game its tough to do what hes doing and he makes it look easy. You appreciate it so much from the outside watching it. Were just enjoying it. Its pretty awesome to see.Ortizs 541st home run was also his 1,192nd career extra-base hit, which tied him with Ken Griffey Jr. and Rafael Palmeiro for eighth place on baseballs all-time list. In addition, he is now tied with Torontos Edwin Encarnacion for the AL lead with 127 RBIs.All this for a 40-year-old who apparently needs hours of assistance to get ready for each and every game.Nights like tonight. He almost leaves you speechless, manager John Farrell said. The career hes had, the number of home runs hes hit from the seventh inning on in ballgames at big moments. Tonight is right there with them.The blast helped the Sox hold on to the second seed in the upcoming AL playoffs with two games to play, giving them the inside track for home-field advantage against Cleveland in the ALDS. A fourth straight loss would have put the Indians ahead and Boston on a path toward opening the postseason on the road, this just four days after the Red Sox held the top record in the AL.They needed a boost, and Ortizs timing was impeccable, as summed up by teammate Jackie Bradley Jr.:Big-time player, big-time playmaker, big-time home run. Nick Ritchie Jersey . 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FARGO, N.D. -- North Dakota State rolled to its fifth straight Football Championship Subdivision title last year and then watched its star quarterback walk to the stage as the No. 2 overall pick in the NFL draft. Yet there was still something missing for Bison fans.They didnt get a chance to play a Football Bowl Subdivision team.The years we dont play an FBS school, there is some disappointment there, North Dakota State athletic director Matt Larsen said. Our fans want to see how we stack up.The Bison certainly have no need to raise their profile with an unprecedented title run and two appearances on ESPNs College GameDay, which is normally reserved for FBS schools. Yet they are constantly putting out feelers to FBS teams and recently announced games at Oregon in 2020 and Colorado in 2024.So why do it? Contrary to popular belief, Larsen said, its not all about cashing in.There is both a philosophical and financial piece to it, Larsen said, noting that FBS games typically fetch a paycheck between $300,000 and $600,000. For an FCS program, that is a nice chunk of change to help support the operating budget. Philosophically, its something that resonates with our fans.Bison fan Bob Clark, who has attended 418 straight North Dakota State football games, said he and fellow supporters enjoy the atmosphere of the FBS games compared to sitting in half-full stadiums at other schools.I wish we could play an FBS team every year, Clark said. We used to travel to Morningside and sit in front of 400 people watching a game. Now were in a 65,000-seat stadium at Kansas State and a 70,000-seat stadium at Iowa. Its a different feeling.Last years hiatus broke a five-year streak of FBS matchups for the Bison, who in that span defeated Kansas, Minnesota, Colorado State, Kansas State and Iowa State. Following the 2014 win over the Cyclones, college football pundits warned FBS schools to stop scheduling North Dakota State.dddddddddddd. The Big Ten, coincidentally, announced before the 2015 campaign that it would no longer play FCS teams.Larsen said it has been challenging to find FBS schools to take the leap, which is one reason why Oregon and Colorado are scheduled so far out. In addition to fears of losing to the Bison, North Dakota States physical style of offense and defense gives pause to FBS teams, Larsen said.We do get a lot of pushback, he said. That is a great sign of respect for what the football program here has done.The Big Tens decision to nix FCS games has cost NDSU the opportunity to play closer to home, which boosted fan support for a team that already travels well and helped the Bison steal a few players on the recruiting trail. North Dakota State had its best classes from the state of Minnesota after it started playing the University of Minnesota.This year the Bison play at Iowa, a game that former North Dakota State athletic director Gene Taylor lined up before moving on to become Iowas deputy athletic director. Although this years Hawkeye squad is probably the most formidable FBS opponent the Bison have ever played, Taylor said he is taking a lot of ribbing around the office.He also agreed with Larsen that its about more than money.I think if you ask the (North Dakota State) players, they want to come into Iowa and show they can compete, or at Oregon or those other places. Theyre a pretty confident bunch, Taylor said. The coaches always get a little nervous, but they know its part of the gig. If they can win the game, good for them, and if they can play well, it doesnt hurt them. ' ' '