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North Dakota State will face hot QB in Northern Iowa's Bailey

FARGO -- What once was a battle for the starting quarterback job at Northern Iowa has turned into a decisive winner. It's Aaron Bailey's team now.The Panthers junior took the reins full-time in October and hasn't let go, notching a school record ...

North Dakota State's Darrius Shepherd (20) is mobbed by his teammates after catching the game-winning touchdown against the University of Northern Iowa's Saturday, Oct.10, 2015, at Gate Gity Bank Field at the Fargodome.David Samson / The Forum
University of Northern Iowa quarterback Aaron Bailey breaks away for an 83-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter against North Dakota State Oct. 10 at Gate City Bank Field at the Fargodome. (FNS Photo by David Samson)

FARGO - What once was a battle for the starting quarterback job at Northern Iowa has turned into a decisive winner. It’s Aaron Bailey’s team now.
The Panthers junior took the reins full-time in October and hasn’t let go, notching a school record for rushing touchdowns in a season with 19. He’ll attempt to add to that Saturday when UNI comes to Gate City Bank Field at the Fargodome for an FCS quarterfinal matchup.
The statistics don’t lie: Bailey leads the team in rushing with 1,301 yards on 239 carries. He’s considered a dual-threat quarterback, although his rushing prowess appears to outweigh his throwing threat - he’s completed 111 of 204 passes for 54 percent.
But take away the second round game played in the rain at Portland State and he was 21 of 31 for 343 yards, five touchdowns and no interceptions the previous two games against Eastern Illinois and Southern Illinois.
“He’s playing as well as any quarterback in FCS football,” said Bison head coach Chris Klieman.
Bailey and senior Sawyer Kollmorgen were in an apparent battle for the starting nod during the first half of the season. Kollmorgen started and played the first half the last time these teams met on Oct. 10.
But he got hurt late in the first half and Bailey played the final two quarters. He was highly effective with 157 yards rushing, which included an 83-yard touchdown run. NDSU responded with a last-minute touchdown drive to win 31-28.

“It definitely threw a curveball into the mix,” said Bison linebacker Nick DeLuca. “We weren’t planning for that as much. He came in and we kind of had a hard time tackling him.”
Bailey is a tough out not only with his speed but his size at 6-foot-2 and 226 pounds. Portland State had a tough time catching him once Bailey got to the perimeter - he finished with 200 yards rushing and two touchdowns.
“He has a good combination of size and speed and that plays into his favor,” DeLuca said. “He’s an explosive guy. He can hit a burst so we have a big challenge.”
Bailey will offer NDSU a much different look than what Montana presented last week in the second-round Bison win. Quarterback Brady Gustafson was all about throwing and not much about running.
NDSU got to Gustafson and ultimately the Grizzlies.
UNI, however, also has a hot running back in Tyvis Smith, who didn’t carry the ball in the first game against the Bison. He had 207 yards last week to go over 1,000 for the season.
“Bailey obviously hurt us and went on after that and hurt everybody else he played rushing the football,” Klieman said. “I think they’re more comfortable because he played the last six games. They know what their strengths are. They know his skill set as well as what the running backs are giving them.”

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