In a dominant show of force on Homecoming, the North Dakota State Bison dispatched Delaware 38-10.
It was a matter of scoring early and often for the defending champions. The offense that felt as if it hadn’t quite clicked in the opening to games of the season put everything together in the first quarter.
In the opening drive of the game, quarterback Easton Stick came out firing. Stick found receiver Desmond Cain twice early, including a 37-yard connection on third down.
“We designed a couple of plays to get (Cain) going,” Bison head coach Chris Klieman said. “That is what we needed to do so he can have confidence and Easton to have confidence in him.”
Three plays later, the quarterback found the front-left pylon to get the Bison on the board from two-yards out.
Cam Pedersen connected on the point after to give the Bison a 7-0 lead. The PAT was Pedersen’s 192nd, the most of any Bison kicker in school history.
Just 15 seconds later, the lead was doubled. Blue Hens quarterback Pat Kehoe’s first pass landed right in between the numbers of Bison linebacker Jabril Cox. The sophomore had 36 yards of green turf ahead of him, easily scoring his second pick-six in as many games.
“He is learning how to play the game with instincts now and seeing things pre-snap,” Klieman said of Cox.
The second drive for Delaware ended much like the first. Kehoe threw his second interception of the year, as Robbie Grimsley made the grab for the Bison.
The Bison offense took over from there and engineered a nine-play drive. After a false start, Lance Dunn picked up 12 yards to make it third-and-manageable for NDSU. Stick took care of the rest and trotted in for his second touchdown of the day on the ground.
NDSU would make it four scores from four drives. After Darrius Shepherd returned Nick Pritchard’s punt 49 yards to the Blue Hen 23, Stick connected with Bruce Anderson up the middle for an 18-yard strike.
“We needed a fast start, and we got off to that fast start,” Klieman said.
Up 28-0, the Bison defense looked for more. Greg Menard registered his 30th career sack, moving to fifth on the all-time NDSU sack chart.
After gaining just 18 yards in the first, Delaware began having some success in the second quarter. A drive toward midfield was quickly cut off though. Jaylaan Wimbush became the third Bison to pick off Kehoe. It was the first career interception for the senior safety.
Stick then used his arm to turn the turnover into points. With plenty of time and rolling to his left, Stick pointed Dallas Freeman down the sideline and completed a 39-yard strike.
“It felt like a minute and a half (in the pocket),” Stick said on his protection. “The Rams played unbelievably well today, and we had a good game plan going into it.”
The Bison quarterback got his tight end involved on the next play, finding Ben Ellefson for an 11-yard touchdown.
With the game in hand, the Bison cruised through the third quarter, chalking up a single field goal from Pedersen.
The defense continued its fine play. Wimbush seemingly had his second pick of the day only to have it brought back due to a roughing the passer penalty.
NDSU’s front four made sure they got their turnover. Derrek Tuszka brought the pressure on Kehoe and jarred the ball fell free. Caleb Butler scooped up the ball for the fourth turnover of the afternoon.
One blemish on the game for the Bison came in the fourth when Pedersen missed a 40-yard field goal.
Delaware took their next drive down the field and scored their first three points of the game.
Adam Cofield made an interesting twist of the tale for the Bison. The sophomore broke a 59-yard run down to the Blue Hens’ 4-yard line. On the very next play, he got stuffed and coughed up the ball, which Blue Hens cornerback Malcom Brown returned for a touchdown.
Stick finished the game 17 for 26 passing for 280 yards and two touchdowns in the air. On the ground, the quarterback added 41 yards and two scores. Cain and Shepherd each had four receptions for 89 and 77 yards, respectively.
NDSU now move into Missouri Valley play next weekend. An early win in the Valley is not the only thing up for grabs next week as South Dakota State comes to the Fargodome with the Dakota Marker on the line.