Bison Go the Distance, and Then Some

The Bison have a pair of perfect records after Saturday’s home and season opener. Not only is the Herd 1-0 this season, beating Charleston Southern 24-17 — North Dakota State is also 1-0 in overtime games ever played at the Fargodome.

NDSU survived the upset-minded Buccaneers of CSU in a gritty, imperfect performance televised on ESPN. King Frazier won the game for the Bison with a 25-yard run on the first play of overtime.

While the score shows that both offenses had a decent success on the night, actuality says otherwise. The score was only 3-3 in the first half, including a scoreless opening quarter. The defenses had their day in the first half, with the Buccaneers blanketing the Bison offense.

The Bison meanwhile were able to fend off the demons that plagued them last year against the option offense. Charleston Southern was limited to only 71 yards of offense in the first half.

The only scoring between the sides came from the kickers, with Jacob Smoak’s 46-yard connection getting cancelled out by the Bison’s Cam Pederson just before halftime. Pederson was on target from 52 yards, a career long, and got a little help from the top of the crossbar.

The second half offered a change of pace. Charleston Southern came out firing with the option offense. The Buccaneers needed just four plays, three executed options, to go 75 yards. The drive was capped off by 47 yard run by Mike Holloway. During the drive, Bison linebacker Nick DeLuca would leave with an injury to his shoulder and would not return.

The Bison were quick to respond, taking only three minutes to draw level. Frazier would set up the score with a smash-mouth run up the middle for 23 yards. A few plays later, it would be quarterback Easton Stick finding Darrius Shepherd for the touchdown. Shepherd ran an excellent post route and Stick dropped the ball over his shoulder from 23 yards out.

The rest of the third quarter would be a defensive battle, with both defenses refusing to give up any ground. In the end, both teams punted six times in the game.

The Bison would get the lead for the first time in the fourth from the Omaha Connection. Stick found the other Omaha native, RJ Urzendowski, on a go route. Urzendowski easily made the catch and gave the Bison a 17-10 lead with the 47-yard reception.

The Buccaneers stuck around, though, keeping fans in their seats.

Setting up shop at the Bison 42-yard line after a Jackson Koonce punt, Charleston Southern would drive right to the Bison’s doorstep. Holloway would collect his second touchdown from six yards, running through the middle untouched.

The Bison took one last drive at winning the game. Crossing into Buccaneer territory with under 1:30 remaining. A holding call would put the Bison out of field goal range. At 4-and-5, the Bison elected to go for it from the CSU 35-yard line. Stick threw his first interception of the season to Troy McGowens, who almost broke free to the end zone. Stick saved face and tackled McGowens at the Bison 40.

That would give the Buccaneers a chance at the win. Smoak lined up a 51-yard attempt. The kick would drift left, setting up the first overtime game ever at the Fargodome.

It was a short one.

Frazier took the handoff from Stick, running into traffic to his right. He then bounced outside and found a path to the pylon for the score.

The Bison defense finished on its side shortly after. Big plays by Matt Plank, in relief of DeLuca, and Jaylaan Wimbush would finish the game. Wimbush would break up the fourth-down attempt.

“A win is a win and college football wins are hard to come by,” head coach Chris Klieman said.

Stick echoed the words of his coach, “I missed plenty of things, a lot to go back and watch tape and a great deal to learn from.”

Charleston Southern head coach Jamey Chadwell praised the efforts of his team, who can leave Fargo with their heads held high. “It was amazing by our team, there were times I thought we were out of it and our guys stayed in.”

In the end, Stick finished with 197 yards on 17-27 passing with 2 TDs and 1 INT. Frazier led Bison runners with 79 yards and the overtime TD. Shepherd led receivers with 64 yards and a touchdown. MJ Stumpf had a team-high eight tackles, while Plank finished with six.

The Bison have a bye next week before hosting Eastern Washington, the last team to bring the Bison to overtime.

That game was in the FCS semifinals in 2010, the last time NDSU lost a playoff game.

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