Bison Complete Undefeated Regular Season

Ty Brooks (28) streaks away to get the Bison on the board.

The Road Runner is fast.

He is so fast in fact that he has been able to evade Wile E. Coyote no matter what he comes up with.

At the start of Saturday’s football contest between North Dakota State and Southern Illinois, the scoreboard was moving at the pace of the Road Runner.

That is if he was hyped up on caffeine and had an ACME rocket strapped to his back.

The score was 28-14 after the first quarter on a frantic afternoon that ended with the Bison completing an undefeated regular season with a 65-17 win.

“One of our goals was to go undefeated, and we felt we had the ability to do that,” Bison safety Robbie Grimsley said.

But it was the Salukis who drew first blood, and those late to their seats missed it. Je’Quan Burton burnt the NDSU kickoff team and returned the opening kickoff 100 yards to the house.

However, this turned out to be the definition of scoring too early.

“We haven’t had anything like that happen to us this year,” Bison quarterback Easton Stick said. “So, in hindsight, in coming away with a win, it’s probably good for us.”

The Bison offense struck quickly. Seniors Stick and Darrius Shepherd connected on a 33-yard pass on the first play to set the tone. Two plays later, Ty Brooks broke through a hole and was home 36 yards later.

Stick connected for another long first play on the next drive. The Omaha native found Christian Watson wide open for 48 yards to the SIU 2-yard line. Two plays later, Stick sneaked in for the score.

However, Southern Illinois answered right back. Matt DeSomer hit Raphael Leonard on a quick slant, and the senior did the rest.

Tied at 14-all, fans at the Fargodome were on pace to see over 280 points on the afternoon.

And the Bison did their part to keep pace. Stick hit another senior for a big gain. This time it was tight end Nate Jensen, who had plenty of space to trot into the end zone from 60 yards out.

Code Green quickly put the ball back into Stick’s hands, as Greg Menard collected a Saluki fumble.

One play later, NDSU had a 28-14 lead. Stick connected with Ben Ellefson for the tight end’s seventh touchdown in just 11 receptions.

The scoreboard fell stagnant for the rest of the first quarter, allowing everyone to catch their breath.

Big plays were still the name of the game in the second quarter. Stick bought time and unleashed a 31-yard pass to Shepherd to give the Bison a three-score lead.

Both teams went quiet for the rest of the half, in part due to Stick throwing just his fourth interception of the year late in the quarter.

NDSU’s ground game took care of the rest in the fourth. Bruce Anderson tallied 50 yards in the third quarter, including a pair of touchdowns.

“Credit to the Rams and the receivers. Dallas (Freeman) and a bunch of others got some blocks,” Anderson said.

The curtain calls for the Bison seniors followed in the fourth. Stick was relieved by Holden Hotchkiss after just one handoff in the fourth. Stick finished 16 for 21 for 302 yards and 3 touchdowns in the air and another on the ground.

Saybein Clark ran in for his first touchdown in Bison colors, and Adam Cofield added the cherry on top. The 65 points scored ties the 10th most in program history for a single game. In 1977, the Bison put up 65 against Morningside College.

With the win, NDSU secured the No. 1 spot for the FCS Playoffs. With that, the Bison get a bye over Thanksgiving weekend and will host games throughout the playoffs.

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