4 INTs, including 2 by Williams, become huge for NDSU
FRISCO, Texas -- North Dakota State cornerback Marcus Williams picked a fine time to nab a prestigious record for defensive backs. The junior got two interceptions on the biggest stage in Division I Football Championship Subdivision.
They were part of four interceptions that were costly to Sam Houston in NDSU's 39-13 win Saturday at FC Dallas Stadium.
Williams overtook Steve Krumrie, a cornerback from 1968-70, on the school's all-time chart and now has 18. They were his sixth and seventh picks of the season.
Moreover, the first one led to NDSU's first half touchdown.
Sam Houston had a decided edge in time of possession and appeared to have the momentum when Williams picked off a Brian Bell pass and returned it to his own 28-yard line.
"That changes momentum," Williams said. "These guys are a better team than they were last year and they came in with a good game plan."
The Bison took just five plays to cover the 72 yards getting a 20-yard touchdown run by quarterback Brock Jensen to take a 10-3 lead.
The half ended 10-10, but NDSU defensive coordinator Chris Klieman said he wasn't happy with the performance of the secondary.
"We challenged our kids a bit at halftime," he said. "They were throwing the football on us in the first half and the second half we said we had to cover better and rush the passer better."
Linebacker Carlton Littlejohn answered the challenge on Sam Houston's first possession of the third quarter. His diving interception of a Bell pass on a third-and-13 play gave the Bison the ball at their own 40-yard line.
Quarterback Brock Jensen scored 10 plays later and the Bison took a lead they would never give up.
"One of the things we talk about at Sam Houston, we have a plan to win," said head coach Willie Fritz. "And the first thing in that plan is to win the takeaway margin. They had some timely interceptions and we didn't get any takeaways. It's just hard to win."
Andre Martin's first interception of the season came with NDSU leading 32-13. It made for a nice going-away present for the senior transfer from Northern Iowa.
"How great is that?" said Klieman, who coached Martin at UNI. "He had some adversity in the first half, got beat on a long pass play and I challenged him pretty good at halftime. I said they're going to come at you and you have to make a play."
Martin almost had his first interception late in the second quarter, but he was called for defensive holding. The Bearkats scored four plays later for a 10-10 halftime tie.
"We were minus-four today," Fritz said of the turnover margin. "You're not going to win at minus-four."