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Bison win in overtime, again, in wild shootout with Eastern Washington

FARGO--Top-ranked North Dakota State continued its offensive overtime efficiency to cap a head-spinning afternoon Saturday, Sept. 10, at the Fargodome.

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FARGO-Top-ranked North Dakota State continued its offensive overtime efficiency to cap a head-spinning afternoon Saturday, Sept. 10, at the Fargodome.

Bison running back Lance Dunn scored on a 25-yard, walk-off touchdown run to lift his team to a 50-44 overtime victory against No. 8-ranked Eastern Washington in Division I FCS football before 18,906 fans at Gate City Bank Field.

For a second consecutive game, the Bison (2-0) scored on their first offensive play in overtime to earn back-to-back dramatic, heart-pounding wins against top-10 FCS opponents.

"Disbelief that it was the first play two (games) in a row," said Bison quarterback Easton Stick, who passed for a career-high 257 yards. "It's been a lot of fun. I think we've grown a ton."

The Bison started playing football in the Fargodome in 1993 and didn't play an overtime game until their season-opening 24-17 victory against then No. 6-ranked Charleston Southern on Aug. 27 in the FCS Kickoff. Bison running back King Frazier scored a 25-yard touchdown on his team's first offensive play in OT. NDSU's defense followed with a stop for that victory.

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"What can you say about those guys in the locker room? They always feel like they have an opportunity to win," Bison head coach Chris Klieman said. "I was so proud of those guys. .. When you played top 10 teams, you're not always going to play perfect."

The Bison didn't trail until less than five minutes remained in the fourth quarter, and then needed a Cam Pedersen 28-yard field goal with 42 seconds to play in the fourth to force overtime. Eastern Washington erupted for 30 points in the second half, including 20 in the fourth quarter, to rally into the lead. The Eagles took a 44-41 lead after running back Tamarick Pierce scored on a 1-yard touchdown run with 4:32 to play in the fourth quarter. That was Eastern Washington's first lead after trailing by as many as 14 points in the second quarter, and 11 points on two occasions in the second half.

"We're always going to respond," Eagles head coach Beau Baldwin said. "We're never going to panic."

The Eagles had the ball first in overtime, starting at the NDSU 25-yard line. On their second play, Bison safety Tre Dempsey made a spectacular one-handed interception to stop Eastern Washington.

"Tre Dempsey, what a play," Klieman said. "That is as good an interception as I've ever seen."

Dunn did the rest, capping his best day with the Bison. The 5-foot-9, 207-pound Dunn took a handoff into the middle of the line and cut back left to find a hole and zip into the end zone.

"When the safety came up, I knew I needed to make a play," said Dunn, who finished with a career-high 128 rushing yards with two touchdowns. "(Dempsey) made the play and we knew we were going to have to make a play on offense."

The Eagles had a chance to win in regulation, but kicker Jordan Dascalo was wide left on a 49-yard field-goal attempt in the final seconds of the fourth quarter.

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"It's was just a great football game," Baldwin said.

Eagles quarterback Gage Gubrud completed 26 of 40 passes for 450 yards and four touchdowns. Eastern Washington's 44 points were the most scored by a Bison opponent since 2009 when NDSU lost 48-45 at Sam Houston State (Texas).

The Eagles racked up 556 yards, despite playing most of the second half without All-American wide receiver Cooper Kupp, who suffered a shoulder injury.

The Bison came up with three interceptions, including linebacker Nick DeLuca, who returned his 40 yards for a touchdown. That gave NDSU a 41-31 lead with 9:29 to play in the fourth quarter. DeLuca finished with a team-high 14 tackles, even though he was a game-time decision with a shoulder injury.

"We knew we were going to face adversity," DeLuca said.

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Up next: North Dakota State at Iowa

When: 11 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 17

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TV: ESPN or ESPN2

Radio: 107.9-FM

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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