North Dakota State scored 14 fourth-quarter points to beat Western Illinois 17-10 Saturday in a Missouri Valley Football Conference contest at Hanson Field in Macomb, Ill.
The Bison spoiled the Leathernecks homecoming with a trick play and the execution was perfect. Quarterback Carson Wentz pitched the ball to running back John Crocket, then Wentz ran a route to the opposite side of the field and Crocket tossed the football 16 yards to Wentz in the end zone to tie the game at 10-10.
Crocket finished the game with 79 yards rushing on 22 attempts and ran for the game-winning touchdown to give the Bison (5-0, 1-0 MVFC) their first conference win this season.
Both teams started slow offensively, which led to a 3-3 stalemate at halftime.
Wentz was 19 of 29 for 240 passing yards through the air with one interception and ran for 39 yards.
Bison freshman R.J. Urzendowski had a career game, catching seven passes for 114 yards.
The Leathernecks (2-4, 0-2 MVFC) were led by senior running back J.C. Baker, who finished with 175 yards on the ground and a touchdown. Baker gave his team the 10-3 advantage with a 34-yard touchdown run in the opening minutes of the second half.
Baker’s 175 rushing yards were the most the Bison defense gave up to a single player since Eastern Washington’s Taiwan Jones rushed for 230 yards in NDSU’s 2010 Football Championship Subdivision quarterfinal loss.
The Leathernecks finished with a total of 253 rushing yards, and that was the most by an NDSU opponent since Georgia Southern ran for 271 yards in the 2012 FCS semifinals.
The Bison scored the game’s first points off an Adam Keller 20-yard field goal. Keller had a chance to give the Bison the lead 40 seconds before halftime, but his 54-yard attempt was no good. The miss snapped Keller’s streak of 14 straight made field goals.
NDSU outgained WIU 405 yards to 321, but only totaled 149 yards on the ground.
Both teams combined for five turnovers, however no points were scored off of them.
Bison safety Colten Heagle tallied up a career-high 16 tackles and linebacker Carlton Littlejohn finished with 10 tackles.
Kevin Kinztel led the Leathernecks defense with 16 tackles.
The Bison improved their win streak to 29 games, have won 11-straight games after coming off a bye week and have won their last 17 road games.
NDSU next plays in its homecoming game against Southern Illinois 1 p.m. Saturday at the Fargodome.