For the No. 2 seed North Dakota State, there was little worry of an upset by the University of San Diego Toreros in the second round of the FCS playoffs. The Bison got off to a fast start to control the game on their way to a 38-3 win.
NDSU was flying in the first quarter. On the Bison’s second offensive play, quarterback Easton Stick found a wide-open Nate Jensen in the middle of the field for 41 yards. Five plays later, the junior connected with true freshman Seth Wilson for a 19-yard touchdown pass.
It was the first playoff touch for the freshman out of Holmen, Wisconsin and his first receiving pass of his Bison career.
“We challenged our guys this morning to have a fast start, and we did get a really good start,” Bison head coach Chris Klieman said.
The Bison extended the lead on the next drive, with Stick the catalyst again. The quarterback broke off on a 51-yard run, weaving through the Toreros’ defense on his way to the end zone.
“We were able to get outside; Brock (Robbins) and Seth (Wilson) were out in front of it and both able to get on their two guys,” Stick said. “From their, it was just try not to get tackled.”
NDSU’s defense ended their dominate first quarter by forcing a turnover. San Diego quarterback Anthony Lawrence found Michael Bandy short on third down and a gang of Bison converged on the stop. Bison safety Robbie Grimsley ripped the ball out and recovered the fumble himself.
The offense was able to turn that into three points as Cam Petersen hit a season long 47-yard field goal.
After the field goal, the offense stuttered for the Bison. Stick was just 1-6 passing for 5 yards in the second quarter.
Included in the poor second half was a strip sack of Stick. San Diego’s Jonathan Petersen came around the edge and hit Stick from behind as he went to throw. With the sack, Petersen moved to the top of the FCS all-time sack charts, later adding one more to his record to end with 44 in his career.
As the Bison have done many times in the second half, they made adjustments that worked quickly in the third quarter. NDSU went with eight straight runs and marched down the field. Ty Brooks capped off the drive with his first FCS Playoffs touchdown, a 23-yard run.
In 12 games this season, the Bison have scored touchdowns on their first possession of the second half nine times.
Nick DeLuca killed off the next San Diego drive with a third down sack. The sack was the first of the season for the senior linebacker.
Anderson but the finishing touches on his impressive performance on the next drive. The junior took a screen pass from Stick 48 yards to the end zone, making defenders miss on his way.
“I was very impressed by the way he ran over us,” San Diego head coach Dale Lindsey said about Anderson. “He ran through us and made a few guys not want to tackle him. I thought he was really good.”
Anderson finished with 112 of the Bison’s 301 rushing yards to lead NDSU rushers.
A Bison highlight reel would not be completed until the next drive. RJ Urzendowski set up the Bison’s final score with a sideline toe-tapping catch to move to the San Diego 30. Four plays later, the senior receiver hauled in a 13-yard touchdown pass with one hand while being interfered with.
“He never ceases to amaze me with what he does,” Klieman said about Urzendowski and his pair of catches.
Urzendowski’s touchdown pushed the score to 38-0. San Diego would convert a 48-yard field goal in the fourth quarter to make the final score 38-3.
Stick was done in the fourth quarter, finishing with 171 yards passing for three touchdowns and adding 54 yards and a score on the ground.
The Bison’s attention now turns to Wofford, who beat Furman 28-10. It is NDSU’s eighth straight appearance in the quarterfinals, a stat not lost on the locker room.
“This is a standard. This is something we have to do every year, and if we don’t, we look at ourselves as failures,” defensive tackle Nate Tanguay said after the game.
The FCS Quarterfinal game will be at 11 a.m. Saturday at the Fargodome. Winner of the game will meet the winner of Sam Houston State/Kennesaw State one week later.