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North Dakota State Bison thrash Western Illinois 59-7

FARGO -- North Dakota State linebacker Pierre Gee-Tucker made the signature play of his career Saturday at Gate City Bank Field. The junior returned an interception 36 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter to help spark a 59-7 victory agains...

King Frazier of North Dakota State carries against Western Illinois during their football game Saturday, Nov. 7, 2015, in the Fargodome.Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor
Zach Vraa of North Dakota State reaches around Riggs Baxter of Western Illinois to make a catch during thier football game Saturday in the Fargodome. (FNS Photo by Michael Vosburg)
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FARGO - North Dakota State linebacker Pierre Gee-Tucker made the signature play of his career Saturday at Gate City Bank Field.
The junior returned an interception 36 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter to help spark a 59-7 victory against Western Illinois in Missouri Valley Football Conference play.

“When you get that spark, you want to keep going,” Gee-Tucker said.
The defense carried that spark throughout the afternoon, limiting the Leathernecks to 205 yards from scrimmage. The No. 5-ranked Bison (7-2, 5-1 MVFC) powered their way back into the conference title hunt with the convincing win, coupled with Illinois State (7-2, 5-1) losing its first conference game at South Dakota State.
“We control our own destiny again,” Bison head coach Chris Klieman said of the conference race.
The Bison started fast, scoring on their first drive and building a 38-0 lead by halftime. NDSU rolled to 291 yards in the first two quarters, while limiting the Leathernecks to 100. Western Illinois had one rushing yard at halftime on 10 attempts.
“That was the best half that we’ve played this season,” Klieman said.
Bison quarterback Easton Stick continued his stellar play in his third career start. Take the first half for instance: The 6-foot-2, 215-pound freshman completed 8 of 14 passes for 140 yards and four touchdowns and rushed for 50 yards on six attempts.
The Bison took a 7-0 lead after Stick connected with senior receiver Zach Vraa on a highlight 41-yard touchdown pass with 13 minutes to play in the first quarter. On the play, Vraa leaped and caught the ball behind the helmet of a Western Illinois defense. He then gained his balanced and zipped into the end zone.
Less than six minutes later, Gee-Tucker came up with his game-changing play, picking off Western Illinois quarterback Trenton Norvell and racing into the end zone for a 14-0 lead with 7:38 to play in the first quarter.
“It sets the tone not only for us, but the offense,” Gee-Tucker said. “Once that happens, people keep going with it.”
Stick capped the first half with a 43-yard touchdown pass to freshman wide receiver Darrius Shepherd. On that play, Stick faked a quarterback draw before dropping back into the pocket and lofting a pass to a wide open Shepherd. That play gave the Bison a 38-0 lead with 44 seconds remaining in the second quarter.
“What can you say?” Klieman said. “That was a dominating performance.”
The 59 points were the most NDSU has scored in a MVFC game. The previous high was 56 points, done twice in wins at Indiana State in 2009 and 2013.
The statistics were staggering. The Bison ran 82 plays, while Western Illinois finished with 47. The Leathernecks were averaging 75 plays per game entering Saturday. NDSU ended with 43:47 in time of possession.

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