NDSU Stays Undefeated, Holds Off Western Illinois, 24-12
The Bison got a test at home from a hungry Western Illinois team, but a stellar second half on both sides of the ball from the Bison helped them to their 7th consecutive victory.
The Bison defense didn't allow a point in the second half, forcing the Leathernecks to punt three times, turn the ball over on downs, and an interception. Meanwhile, NDSU scored on their first two possessions of the half after trailing 12-10 at the midway point. The two drives put the score at 24-12 and the Bison moved to 7-0 (4-0 in the conference).
Easton Stick threw for 221 yards on 11 of 18 passing with a touchdown and two interceptions. He also ran for 61 yards on 9 carries and two scores, which were both of NDSU's second half (third quarter) touchdowns.
Both teams traded field goals in the first quarter making it 3-3, before WIU's Quentin Moore picked off Stick on NDSU's second play of their next drive, and took the return 43-yards for a touchdown, putting the Leathernecks up 9-3. They missed the extra point.
On NDSU's next possession, Stick was picked off for the second time at the 50 yard line by Justin Fitzpatrick, but the Bison defense wouldn't budge, helped by two sacks by Cole Karcz and Derrek Tuszka to force a three-and-out.
Two possessions later, on a 3rd and 9, Stick threw to R.J. Urzendowski for a 58 yard touchdown to put the Bison up 10-9, after the extra point.
However, the next possession by the Leathernecks saw them getting enough yardage to get kicker Nathan Erickson in position for a 52-yard field goal. Erickson put it through just before the half, giving WIU a 12-10 halftime lead.
Whatever halftime adjustments the Bison made seemed to be on point. Their first drive of the third quarter went 75 yards on 11 plays, capped off by a Stick 2 yard run on a 4th and 1 to put the Bison up for good, 17-12. After a WIU punt, the Bison went 70 yards on just 6 plays for the final score of the game, an 8 yard touchdown run from Stick as he maneuvered his way threw a couple missed tackles for the score.
The Bison defense held WIU to just 216 yards overall, and just 31 yards rushing total.
Urzendowski finished with 4 catches for 100 yards and the touchdown. Bruce Anderson added 93 rushing yards on 21 carries to help pound the ball on the ground against the Leathernecks on a consistent basis.
Western Illinois falls to 5-2 (2-2). NDSU will play Northern Iowa next Saturday at 2:30 at the Fargodome.