FARGO, ND—The North Dakota State Bison and Charleston Southern Buccaneers opened the 2016 season in the third annual FCS Kickoff on Saturday night in a memorable way.
NDSU, the five-time reigning national champions, would win 24-17 but it took overtime to put away NDSU’s 18th consecutive home opener victory. A crowd of 18,881 in attendance saw the first ever overtime game in the Fargodome’s 23-year history.
The Bison led by a touchdown late in the fourth quarter but Charleston Southern tied the game with 2:59 left. CSU mounted a 7 play 42-yard drive to tie the game at 17-17 after a 6-yard rushing touchdown from Mike Holloway.
On the ensuing possession, the Bison marched down the field, but quarterback Easton Stick’s interception by Troy McGowens to put Charleston Southern nearly in field goal range at NDSU’s 40 yard-line with 18 seconds left in regulation time.
After a seven yard gain by CSU quarterback Kyle Copeland, newly appointed Buccaneer place kicker Jacob Smoak’s 51-yard attempt went wide-left as regulation time expired.
On the first play of overtime, running back King Frazier ran 25 yards for a touchdown to give the Bison the lead for good.
CSU’s overtime possession would end in after four plays, including the final play that was a pass to wide receiver Saire Davis but Bison cornerback Jaylaan Wimbush broke up the play to secure the Bison win.
“Give credit where it should be, Charleston Southern played with tremendous athleticism and they played physical. But our poised show there,” said NDSU Coach Chris Klieman.
The first quarter of the game went scoreless with CSU having the best scoring change but Tyler Tekac missed a 36 yard attempt.
NDSU also would miss a field goal to start the second quarter on a 43-yard attempt from Cam Peterson.
Following a CSU punt, NDSU wide receiver Dimitri Williams fumbled after a short pass play and the Buccaneers recovered the football at NDSU’s 29-yard line.
CSU took advantage of the turnover with a 46-yard field goal by Smoak, who came in relief of Tekac. The Buccaneers grabbed a 3-0 lead with just over 10 minutes remaining in the second quarter.
The Bison answered back on the final drive of the opening half, when kicker Cam Pedersen drilled a career long 52-yard field goal off the crossbar to tie the game at 3-3.
Both CSU and NDSU scored touchdowns on their opening possessions of the third quarter.
Mike Holloway capped a 4 play 75-yard drive with a 47-yard rushing touchdown to give the Buccaneers their second lead at 10-3.
NDSU responded when Easton Stick found Darrius Shepherd for a 23-yard touchdown catch on the ensuing possession to tie the game at 10-10.
The game would remain tied until Stick found wide receiver RJ Urzendowski for a 47-yard touchdown with just over 10 minutes left in the fourth quarter.
Despite the interception, Stick had a solid game completing 17-27 passes for 194 yards with two touchdowns.
“We always say, it’s hard to get wins in college football with the schedule we play,” said Stick. “We’re going to enjoy these 24 hours.”
North Dakota State played smothering defense too allowing just 264 yards of total offense, including an interception by corner back Jalen Allison.
The Bison accumulated 424 total yards, with 230 yards of those on the ground.
Frazier finished with 79 yards on 11 carries and the touchdown.
Holloway ran 10 times for 126 yards and two touchdowns for Charleston Southern.
“It was amazing by our team, the fight that they showed,” Buccaneer Coach Jamey Chadwell said. “They are a heck of a football team, but I think we are, too.”
The game also saw a number of injuries including both starting linebackers in NDSU’s Nick DeLuca and CSU’s Zane Cruz.
The Bison will have next week off before hosting Eastern Washington on Sept. 10.
Meanwhile, Charleston Southern will have its home opener next Saturday against D-II Kentucky State.