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NDSU dominates Wildcats

FNS Photo by David Samson North Dakota State’s defensive tackle Leevon Perry, right, recovers a fumble and returns it for a touchdown during the FCS semifinal playoff game on Friday at the Fargodome.

FARGO — North Dakota State is now a postseason perfect 10 inside the Fargodome.

The top-ranked Bison erupted for 24 points in the second quarter Friday night to spark a 52-14 victory against New Hampshire in the FCS semifinals at Gate City Bank Field before 18,694 fans.

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NDSU (14-0) has won all 10 FCS playoff games it has played in the dome, earning a third consecutive trip to Frisco, Texas, and the national championship game. The Bison have won 23 consecutive games and have a chance for a third consecutive national title.

“We love Frisco,” Bison head coach Craig Bohl said.

“It’s unbelievable in the moment right now,” said Bison senior quarterback Brock Jensen as he started to choke up with emotion. “To be a part of this is just so humbling. This place means so much to me. It means a lot to all of us seniors.”

The Bison senior class, which played in its last game at Gate City Bank Field, had a hand in every game of that 10-0 home playoff record. A number of those seniors took separate curtain calls during the fourth quarter as each was taken out of the game, drawing a huge applause from the record Fargodome playoff crowd.

“It was just awesome to be able to play in front of these fans for four years,” said senior defense end Cole Jirik. “It was a pretty cool deal.”

Jensen was shown on the video boards on the sideline with less than six minutes to play, drawing a loud reaction from the crowd. Moments later, Bohl was shown on the video boards and also received a loud cheer.

The Bison set a new playoff record for points in a game. NDSU scored 51 points in the 1990 NCAA Division II championship game.

The Bison finished with 509 yards, limiting New Hampshire to 184 yards.

“That is a helluva football team and a helluva football program that we got beat by today,” said New Hampshire head coach Sean McDonnell said.

Bison seniors had their fingerprints all over the game-changing second quarter. Jensen threw a 7-yard touchdown to senior running back Derrick Lang for a 17-7 lead with 7 minutes, 40 seconds to play in the opening half. NDSU senior defensive tackle Leevon Perry scored on a 6-yard fumble return less than 90 seconds later.

Jensen capped the scoring flurry with his third TD pass of the first half. Jensen fired a strike over the middle to senior tight end Kevin Vaadeland for a 20-yard score. That gave the Bison a 31-7 lead with 2:04 to play in the second quarter.

“Good teams are made up of good leadership and veteran players,” said Jensen, who completed 11 of 21 passes for 146 yards and three touchdowns. “Our seniors rose to the occasion.”

The Bison had a 319-61 edge in yards in the first half. New Hampshire scored its only points on a Steven Thames 38-yard interception return for a touchdown. That gave the Wildcats a 7-0 lead with 13:37 to play in the first quarter.

“We had some adversity at the beginning,” Bohl said.

The Bison kept rolling in the third quarter with two touchdowns. Jensen scored on a 1-yard run that gave NDSU a 38-7 lead with 11:25 to play in the third. Junior running back Sam Ojuri scored on a 9-yard run less than two minutes later for a 45-7 lead.

The Bison took a 52-7 lead after true freshman running back Chase Morlock, from Moorhead, scored on a 1-yard run with 5:34 to play in the fourth quarter. That capped 52 unanswered NDSU points.

“This has been the best four years of my life,” Jensen said.

UNH 7 0 0 7 — 14

NDSU 7 24 14 7 — 52

First quarter

UNH–Steven Thames 38 interception return (Mike MacArthur kick), 13:37.

NDSU–Zach Vraa 50 pass from Brock Jensen (Adam Keller kick), 5:21.

Second quarter

NDSU–Keller 32 FG, 14:06.

NDSU–Derrick Lang 7 pass from Jensen (Keller kick), 14:06.

NDSU–Leevon Perry 6 fumble return (Keller kick), 6:14.

NDSU–Kevin Vaadeland 20 pass from Jensen (Keller kick), 2:04.

Third quarter

NDSU–Jensen 1 run (Keller kick), 11:25.

NDSU–Ojuri 9 run (Keller kick), 9:32.

Fourth quarter

NDSU–Chase Morlock 1 run (Keller kick), 5:34.

UNH–Chris Setian 1 run (MacArthur kick), :29.


First downs 13 22

Rushes-yards 38-66 41-344

Passing yards 117 159

Comp.-Att.-Int. 13-26-2 14-24-1

Total yards 183 503

Fumbles-lost 1-1 1-1

Penalties-yards 7-60 4-33

Punts-Avg. 7-41.6 3-47.3


RUSHING: UNH, Dalton Crossan 3-26, Sean Goldrich 21-19, Jimmy Owens 2-10, Chris Setian 4-7, Nico Steriti 6-7. NDSU, John Crockett 13-195, Sam Ojuri 13-75, Chase Morlock 9-39, Brock Jensen 4-30, Carson Wentz 1-6, Derrick Lang 1-3, Eric Perkins 1-2.

PASSING: UNH, Sean Goldrich 13-26-2 117 yards. NDSU, Brock Jensen 11-21-1 146 yards 3 TDS, Carson Wentz 3-3-0 13 yards.

RECEIVING: UNH, R.J. Harris 5-33, Harold Spears 2-30, Setian 2-22, Justin Mello 2-18, Jimmy Giansante 1-8, Crossan 1-6. NDSU, Zach Vraa 5-76, Kevin Vaadeland 2-24, Andrew Bonnet 2-21, Ryan Smith 1-9, Trevor Gebhart 2-13, Ryan Smith 1-9, Luke Albers 1-9, Derrick Lang 1-7.

Eric Peterson
Peterson covers college athletics for The Forum, including Concordia College and Minnesota State Moorhead. He also covers the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks independent baseball team and helps out with North Dakota State football coverage. Peterson has been working at the newspaper since 1996.

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