FARGO, N.D. – The start was promising before the Bison running game got going.
Eastern Washington opened early leads of 14-0 and 20-7 over North Dakota State, but the Bison would plow forward for 422 yards rushing and score 35 unanswered points to beat Eastern Washington 42-20 in the first round of the NCAA FCS playoffs on Saturday, April 24, at Gate City Bank Field at the Fargodome.
Bison Freshman RB Dominc Gonnella rushed 20 times for 163 yards and his first two career touchdowns while redshirt freshman RB Jalen Bussey had 13 carries and 143 yards for North Dakota State (7-2), which advanced to the NCAA quarterfinals for the 11th straight year.
NDSU, with injuries to its top two right guards, averaged 7.4 yards per carry behind an offensive line featuring senior tackle Cordell Volson at right guard and redshirt freshman Jake Rock making his first career start at right tackle.
Thanks to a fast start, Walter Payton Award finalist and Big Sky Conference Offensive MVP Eric Barriere went over the 10,000 yard mark in total offense in his Eastern Washington career in the first half versus the Bison after needing just 157 to hit that mark. An 18-yard scramble put him over the top as he completed 10 of his first 11 passes for 178 yards and another 27 rushing.
He finished the game 17-of-28 for 246 yards passing, with another 32 on the ground.