Easton Stick threw three touchdown passes as the North Dakota State Bison trounced the University of San Diego Toreros 45-7. Even with big-time players sidelined, the Bison’s strength showed in dominant fashion.
Linebacker Pierre Gee-Tucker did not play due to a knee injury. Leading wideout Darrius Shepherd joined him after tweaking his hamstring.
Tucker joined the long list of defensive leaders on the injury report. The next man up for the Bison, in terms of leadership, was MJ Stumpf. The linebacker picked up his game, including bringing a spark to the Fargodome.
San Diego quarterback Anthony Lawrence fired a first quarter pass that was tipped by Jalen Allison. The fluttering ball fell into the hands of Stumpf who broke into the end zone. The return looked similar to his pick six return at Iowa in September. The pick six put the Bison up 7-0.
“MJ is playing at an All-American level,” head coach Chris Klieman said. “He has all season long … every game.”
The next man up in Gee-Tucker’s spot was Chris Board. The junior got his first start of the season and did not disappoint. He got five tackles in the game, third most for the Bison.
Questions could have been asked about the NDSU offense without Shepherd. Stick came into the game with some struggles, but seemed as if he had put those behind him in the final regular season game.
Stick came out firing on the first play. He hit his big tight end Jeff Illies for 31 yards out of the gate. He found the balance with his legs, ending the first quarter with a 29-yard run.
That run was about as much room the Bison could get on the ground. The Toreros looked to shut down the run game and did just that early.
The first full Bison drive of the second quarter changed that, with three backs getting the Fargodome crowd on their feet. Lance Dunn blasted through the line for a gain of 31 yards. King Frazier followed that with a 11-yard run. Bruce Anderson got only got eight yards on the next play, but hurdled a defender to spark the crowd.
The fourth Bison running back was not going to be out done on the drive. Chase Morlock would do his damage with some help from Stick, scoring on a 16-yard pass.
Following a missed San Diego field goal, Stick would pass yet another two minute drill. The Bison marched down the field in 1:45 to extend the lead to 21-0. Stick looked at his Omaha counterpart, RJ Urzendowski, for help. The pair would hook up four times for 60 yards. The final 11 yards was a stop-and-go from Urzendowski into the end zone.
After San Diego cut the lead back to 21-7 in the third, Stick would respond with another dime. With the Toreros stacking the box, Stick found Morlock on the wheel route for the 49-yard score.
“I think Easton Stick played exceptional today,” Klieman said. “He has taken his game to the next level.”
Stick finished with 208 yards passing, 99 rushing and three touchdown passes, which tied the NDSU postseason record.
The game was pretty much on ice by the middle of the fourth quarter. That did not stop the Bison offense from turning out some large runs.
Lance had the first of two large runs. His season long 56-yarder went for a touchdown to put the Bison up 38-7.
It looked like the Bison were just wasting time on their final drive, but the memo did not reach Anderson. He looked like he was back to full health as he broke away for a 61-yard score with less than a minute left.
Attention now turns to next weekend. South Dakota State defeated Villanova 10-7 on Saturday as well. The escape by the Jacks schedules a rematch of the Dakota Marker game they won in Fargo.
NDSU will look to avenge their only loss of the season at 11 a.m. Saturday.