The North Dakota State Bison made four stops on fourth down and three red zone stops. At the end of the day, they needed one more to beat South Dakota State at the Fargodome.
Jackrabbits quarterback Taryn Christion found Jake Wieneke on fourth and one from the Bison two-yard line in the last second to bring the Dakota Marker back to Brookings.
The Jackrabbits trailed for most of the game, but led when it mattered. The final drive for SDSU began at their own 20 yard line with just over two minutes left. SDSU showed they could drive down the field, as they had already done it plenty.
In the first two drives, the Jacks went 85 and 78 yards, but had no points to show. Both drives stalled inside the Bison three-yard line.
In the first quarter on fourth and goal from the Bison one, Christion fired a high pass to his tight end Dallas Goedert. The Bison then marched 99 yards for a touchdown.
The second drive was similar for the Jackrabbits. This time it was fourth and two from the three-yard line. Christion targeted his big receiver Wieneke, but Jalen Allison broke up the play.
“They just kept finding ways to make plays,” Bison head coach Chris Klieman said about his defense.
The big score of the first half was the Bison touchdown. Easton Stick engineered a 99-yard drive with help from his running backs. Stick, King Frazier and Lance Dunn all helped the Bison run down the field.
Fourteen of the Bison’s 18 plays on the drive were runs. Stick put it home on fourth and goal from the one-yard line. It looked as if Stick would get stuffed on the sneak up the middle, but the sophomore bounced outside for the score.
Cam Pederson then cancelled out Chase Vinatieri’s field goal for the Jacks with a 49-yarder as time expired in the half.
The second half saw the same proficiency from the Jacks with added result.
The Bison were the ones to set the pace early in the half. A nine play, 78-yard drive gave the Bison a two possession lead. Stick got it done once again with his feet cutting through the Jacks defense for a 26-yard run.
That was all the NDSU offense could get going in the second half as the Jackrabbit offense took over.
Following a King Frazier fumble, Christion found Goedert for the 12-yard score to bring the game back within seven points.
The Bison defense allowed yet another drive go deep into their territory. SDSU set up shop with first and goal from the Bison two. The Bison made yet another stop, this time Tre Dempsey picked off Christion. Wieneke drew double coverage in the corner of the end zone and Dempsey won the jump ball.
For the third time, the Bison escaped. Another Vinatieri field goal made it a four-point game.
The Bison offense went three and out to set up the final drive for SDSU.
“Four-minute drive, that’s what we wanted, to have a four-minute drive,” Klieman said.
Christion ran for his eighth first down on the ground to keep the drive alive early. Then Goedert dragged a couple of Bison tacklers for extra yardage. Wieneke hauled in a 25-yard pass to move to the Bison 11. Goedert once again fought for yardage to set the Jackrabbits near the goal line.
Christion finished with 444 all-purpose yards, including 303 passing. Goedert went for 150 yards and the touchdown.
For the Bison, Stick finished with 143 yards throwing and 86 on the ground. King Frazier led the running backs with 45 yards.
The Bison return to action next weekend with a visit to Western Illinois. Expect the Bison to come out firing.
As Dempsey said postgame, “We can say we were going hard last week, but we will be going 30 times harder this week at practice.”