Bison blast Gophers, 37-24MINNEAPOLIS — North Dakota State’s Metrodome magic transferred to TCF Bank Stadium.
By: Eric Peterson , Forum Communications Co.
MINNEAPOLIS — North Dakota State’s Metrodome magic transferred to TCF Bank Stadium.
Behind 28 points in the second quarter, the Bison powered their way to a 37-24 victory against the Minnesota Gophers in nonconference college football Saturday night.
“Our guys had a whole lot of confidence coming in,” Bison head coach Craig Bohl said. “We didn’t play perfectly, but we certainly played well enough to win.”
The Bison (3-0) have won their last two meetings against the Gophers (1-3). NDSU also earned a 27-21 victory in 2007 against Minnesota, a game that was played inside the Metrodome.
The game was played outdoors this time, but the outcome was the same.
“I think they are trying, but we just need to try a little harder,” Gophers head coach Jerry Kill said of his players.
Bison sophomore cornerback Marcus Williams iced the victory with a 40-yard interception for a touchdown with 2 minutes, 36 seconds to play in the fourth quarter.
Williams stepped in front of a pass from Gophers freshman quarterback Max Shortell and then weaved his way through Gophers en route to the end zone, diving just inside the pilon.
“I read his eyes the whole way. I wasn’t going down,” said Williams, from Hopkins, Minn. “Everybody knew it was going to be a big game. We just wanted to be ready for it.”
Williams also had a momentum-shifting play near the end of the second quarter.
The Bison capped the first half with a stunning interception return for a touchdown. Sophomore safety Colten Heagle intercepted a MarQueis Gray at the Bison 18-yard line. Heagle was at midfield when he fumbled trying the lateral the ball. Williams picked up the loose ball off one bounce and then took it the final 52 yards for a touchdown.
That gave the Bison a 28-14 halftime lead.
North Dakota State scored on all three of its possessions in the first half. The Bison scored on the first and last play of the second quarter.
NDSU sophomore quarterback Brock Jensen had a nearly flawless first 30 minutes, completing 6 of 8 passes for 82 yards. He also scored on a 1-yard touchdown run on the first play of the second quarter.
The Bison grabbed a 21-14 lead with 24 seconds remaining in the first half after senior running back D.J. McNorton broke off tackle for a 2-yard touchdown run. The Bison never trailed from that point, and that score set the scene for the Heagle-to-Williams interception return on the last play of the half.
Like Jensen, McNorton had a strong first half, rushing for 81 yards on seven attempts in the first two quarters. North Dakota State’s three scoring drives in the first half covered 65, 83 and 71 yards.
“We put in a lot of work and this is how it paid off,” McNorton said.
The Bison had 207 yards in the first two quarters on 24 plays and didn’t commit a turnover for half or the game. NDSU finished with 336 total yards, including 197 passing.
“We knew we couldn’t be one-dimensional,” Bohl said. “We knew we had to spread the field out and throw the football.”
The teams exchanged field goals in the third quarter and touchdowns in the fourth quarter. NDSU’s first punt came early in the fourth quarter.
“It comes down to what we do,” Gophers senior safety Kim Royston said. “Whatever they got, we gave it to them. … We have to take accountability for everything that goes on out there. Bottom line, we have to get better.”
NDSU 0 28 3 6 — 37
Minn 7 7 3 7 — 24
Minn–Donnell Kirkwood 4 run (Chris Hawthorne kick), 8:39.
NDSU–Brock Jensen 1 run (Ryan Jastram kick), 14:57.
NDSU–Sam Ojuri 3 run (Jastram kick), 7:30.
Minn–Kirkwood 30 run (Hawthorne kick), 2:11.
NDSU–D.J. McNorton 2 run (Jastram kick), :24.
NDSU–Marcus Williams 52 interception return (Jastram kick), :00.
NDSU–Jastram 49 field goal, 6:25.
Minn–Hawthorne 36 field goal, 1:12.
Minn–Eric Lair 20 pass from Max Shortell (Hawthorne kick), 9:05.
NDSU–Williams 40 interception return (kick failed), 2:36.
TEAM STATISTICS NDSU Minn
First downs 17 18
Rushes-yards 28-139 41-168
Passing yards 197 124
Comp.-Att.-Int. 16-21-0 9-20-2
Total yards 336 292
Fumbles-lost 0-0 0-0
Penalties-yards 6-52 8-57
Punts-Avg. 1-31 1-48
RUSHING: NDSU, D.J. McNorton 13-92, Brock Jensen 6-37, Sam Ojuri 8-12. Minn, Duane Bennett 13-74, Donnell Kirkwood 10-70, Marqueis Gray 13-23, David Cobb 1-3, Max Shortell 4-(-minus 2).
PASSING: NDSU, Jensen 16-21-0, 197. Minn, Shortell 4-8-1, 71, Gray 5-12-1, 53.
RECEIVING: NDSU, Ryan Smith 4-74, McNorton 3-36, Warren Holloway 5-34, Matt Veldman 2-31, Garrett Bruhn 2-22. Minn, Eric Lair 2-41, Da’Jon McKnight 3-39, Marcus Jones 2-31, Bennett 1-9, Malcolm Moulton 1-4.
Peterson a sports reporter for The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead, which is owned by Forum Communications Co.