FARGO, N.D.—Revenge was on the minds of the top seeded North Dakota State Bison and they got just that in a 36-10 Division I FCS quarterfinal win over #8 seed South Dakota State in front of a sellout crowd of 18,285 inside the Fargodome.
South Dakota State (9-4) handed North Dakota State (12-1) its only loss this past October in Fargo 19-17 but the Bison easily won the rematch.
The game, however, did not look like it would be an easy NDSU win to begin the game as SDSU scored the game’s first 10 points.
SDSU got on the scoreboard first with the opening drive of the game with a trick play that was a direct snap to a kneeling running back Brady Mengarelli and while quarterback Taryn Christion faked a roll to the right and Mengarelli went left for a five yard score.
A Chase Vinatieri 34 yard field goal followed a NDSU three and out to put SDSU up 10-0 with 4:33 left in the first quarter.
From that point, however, it was all NDSU.
Lance Dunn got the Bison on the scoreboard following the SDSU field goal with a 49-yard scamper to bring NDSU within 10-7 with 1:29 left in the opening quarter.
Following a SDSU punt at the first minutes of the second quarter, NDSU put together one of its signature drives that has been a hall mark of the team in its current five national straight national title teams. The Bison received the ball with 13:50 left in the second quarter and went on a 20-play drive that ate up over 12 minutes of the second period.
NDSU converted six third down conversations including one to start the drive from 23 yards away from a first down. Quarterback Easton Stick culminated the drive on a three yard bootleg run to put the Bison ahead 14-10 with just 1:48 left in the opening half.
NDSU looked as if it might get an even larger lead before halftime following a fumble recovery of a Christion fumble that was forced and recovered by end Greg Menard at the SDSU one yard line.
The Bison, however squandered the gift following a delay of game penatlty and without any time outs remaining running a Stick quarterback keeper that SDSU stopped short of the goal line allowing time to runout without NDSU gaining any points.
NDSU took the first second half drive down the field inside the SDSU 20 yard line but Stick through his only pass interception by SDSU safety Nick Farina. The only issue was that Farina went out at his won one yard line to set up the SDSU drive.
On the second snap on SDSU’s drive, Mengarelli was stopped in the backfield for a NDSU safety to up the Bison lead to 16-10 with 9:13 left in the third period.
NDSU would gain two Cam Pederson field goals on its next two drives—following the safety kick and from a Tre Dempsey interception—to up the Bison lead to 22-10.
The NDSU defense stiffened again and Easton Stick ran for another touchdown from 14 yards out and threw for another to Darrius Shepherd for 67 yards to end the one sided win for NDSU.
Stick finished the game with 188 yards passing and another 83 on the ground while running backs King Frazier (101 yards) and Dunn (91 yards) topped the NDSU offense.
Christion highlighted the SDSU offense with 155 yards passing.
The time of possession battle was a key to the NDSU victory as the Bison won this battle with 40:55 to just 19:05 for SDSU.
NDSU moves on to host #4 seeded James Madison, who defeated #5 Sam Houston State 65-7 Friday night, in the semi-final round next weekend.