Bison handle Cyclones to extend win streak over FBS opponents
AMES, Iowa — New head coach, new starting quarterback and a primarily new offensive line, but the same old Bison.
“We have new coaches, but the tradition stays,” said Bison senior safety Christian Dudzik, who had an interception. “The preparation is exactly the same. … The culture here is not going to change.”
The Bison extended their winning streak to 25 games, setting an FCS record. They surpassed Montana (2001-02) and Penn (1992-95), programs that each won 24 in a row.
The three-time defending FCS national champion Bison opened their season with a win against a Big 12 opponent for a second consecutive season. They won at Kansas State last season. NDSU has won five consecutive games against FBS teams and is 8-3 overall against the top division in college football.
“We look forward to these games years in advance,” Bison senior wide receiver Zach Vraa said of FBS matchups. “Those games, they are huge for us. They mean so much.”
Saturday meant a lot to Chris Klieman, who led the Bison to an impressive victory in his first game as NDSU’s head coach.
Klieman took over for Craig Bohl, now the head coach at Wyoming. Junior Carson Wentz made his first start at quarterback for NDSU, taking over for Brock Jensen, the winningest quarterback in FCS history who led NDSU to three straight titles. Wentz played behind an offensive line that returned one full-time starter.
None of that newness seemed to slow the Bison, who scored the game’s final 34 points.
“We are ready to keep this train rolling,” said Vraa, who had seven catches for 82 yards.
Iowa State had the Bison reeling early, taking a 14-0 lead after Aaron Wimberly scored on a 3-yard touchdown run with 14 minutes, 3 seconds remaining in the second quarter.
“I knew that our guys weren’t going to panic,” Klieman said.
Moments after Iowa State went up two touchdowns, NDSU senior John Crockett bolted the Bison back into the game. The 6-foot, 215-pound running back ripped off an 80-yard touchdown on NDSU’s next play from scrimmage, the longest run in his college career.
“We had a big play by Crockett that ignited our sidelines,” Klieman said.
On the play, Crockett zipped through an open crease in the middle of the line of scrimmage. He then shook an Iowa State defender about 10 yards downfield and raced into the end zone. That explosive run cut the Iowa State lead to 14-7 with 13:36 to play in the first half.
“I’ve got a great offensive line, they opened up the holes and my job was to make the last guy miss,” said Crockett, who rushed for 138 yards and three touchdowns.
“It was a momentum-changer for sure, but you’re still up 14-7,” said Iowa State head coach Paul Rhoads, who led the Cyclones to a 34-17 victory over the Bison in 2009.
The Bison were in control after Crockett’s big run. Crockett scored on a 1-yard scoring run that tied the game at 14-14 with 4:42 to play in the second quarter. A play earlier, Wentz completed a 44-yard pass to Vraa that set up Crockett’s second score of the game.
“I just want to be one of the greats,” said Crockett, who is coming off back-to-back 1,000-yard rushing seasons. “NDSU is a running back factory.”
Senior kicker Adam Keller booted a 19-yard field on the final play of the opening half to give NDSU a 17-14 lead. The Bison never trailed from that point, adding 17 more points in the second half.
Crockett paced a Bison rushing attack that gained 299 yards on 43 attempts. Sophomore running back Chase Morlock added 81 yards on six attempts, including a 66-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter. NDSU had nearly 36 minutes in time of possession.
“The toll of that type of offense began to take effect on us,” Rhoads said. “It’s designed to wear you down, and it did wear us down.”
The Bison have won 19 consecutive games on the road, including four games on neutral sites. NDSU hasn’t lost on the road since December 2010.
“I try not to think about streaks too much, but at the same time, it’s hard to ignore it,” said Bison senior defensive end Kyle Emanuel, who had two sacks.
NDSU 0 17 10 7 — 34
ISU 7 7 0 0 — 14
ISU–Aaron Wimberly 16 run (Cole Netten kick), 11:31
ISU–Wimberly 3 run (Netten kick), 14:03
NDSU–John Crockett 80 run (Adam Keller kick), 13:46
NDSU–Crockett 1 run (Keller kick), 4:42
NDSU–Keller 19 FG, :00
NDSU–Keller 21 FG, 5:52
NDSU–Crockett 3 run (Keller kick), 1:36
NDSU–Chase Morlock 66 run (Keller kick), 5:20
TEAM STATISTICS NDSU ISU
First downs 22 16
Rushes-yards 43-299 26-102
Passing yards 204 151
Comp.-Att.-Int. 18-28-0 20-31-2
Total yards 503 253
Fumbles-lost 0-0 0-0
Penalties-yards 8-61 5-31
Punts-Avg. 5-43 6-45.7
RUSHING: NDSU, John Crockett 17-138, Chase Morlock 6-81, King Frazier 9-40, Carson Wentz 8-38, Darius Anderson 2-4, TEAM 1-(minus 2). ISU, Sam B. Richardson 15-58, Aaron Wimberly 9-38, DeVondrick Nealy 2-6.
PASSING: NDSU, Wentz 18-28-0 204. ISU, Richardson 20-31-2, 151.
RECEIVING: NDSU, Zach Vraa 7-82, Kevin Vaadeland 4-48, Crockett 1-26, Carey Woods 2-19, Luke Albers 1-10, Andrew Bonnet 1-8, R.J. Urzendowski 1-6, Eric Perkins 1-5. ISU, Allen Lazard 1-48, Dondre Daley 5-32, Nealy 5-26, P.J. Harris 4-22, Jarvis West 3-15, E.J. Bibbs 1-8, Wimberly 1-0.