Dramatic Finish Pushes NDSU Past the Jackrabbits

JACOB KUBIK | THE SPECTRUM
JACOB KUBIK | THE SPECTRUM

It was only fitting this game went down to the final minute. Drama, flags, boos and reviews littered the fourth quarter in the FCS second-round game between No. 2-seeded North Dakota State and South Dakota State. After taking turns dominating quarters, it was the Bison that made the last play in a 27-24 come-from-behind win in front of 18,113 fans at the Fargodome.

That last play happened with 54 seconds remaining in the game. Carson Wentz found true freshman receiver RJ Urzendowski in the corner of the endzone to put the Bison up 26-24.

“It was a 50/50 game and we made a few plays at the end,” NDSU head coach Chris Klieman said. “Young kids made some plays at the end. That’s why this league is this league. It’s so tough every week. I knew that this game was going to come down to the fourth quarter.”

The two Missouri Valley Football Conference rivals went back and forth in the first three quarters. The Bison scored 14 straight points in the first 17 minutes. SDSU answered with 14 points before the half. Both teams added field goals in the third quarter. With a 17-17 score heading into the fourth quarter, the game had a feeling where whoever makes the biggest play will win the game.

The Bison found that playmaker in Urzendowski.

Down 24-20 after Jake Wieneke hauled in a 3-yard touchdown catch with three minutes, 18 seconds remaining and with NDSU’s leading receiver Zach Vraa sidelined with an injury, Urzendowski stepped up in big moments.

The Bison calmly marched down the field as the clock ticked. Urzendowski made his first splash with a 29-yard reception to SDSU’s 21-yard line. The next play saw Urzendowski draw a pass interference. Then, facing a second-and-12 on the 12-yard line, Wentz looked Urzendowski’s way and dropped in a pass to a diving Urzendowski in the corner of the endzone.

JACOB KUBIK | THE SPECTRUM
JACOB KUBIK | THE SPECTRUM

The touchdown stood after the refs reviewed it.

Urzendowski finished the game with two touchdowns and caught 109 of Wentz’s 235 passing yards.

“Just tried to stay calm really and we’ve run that play a few times,” Urzendowski said. “We kind of got the same look, so pre-snap read I thought it was probably coming to me. Just ended up making a play.”

The Bison sealed the game with a play from another freshman seconds later. Redshirt cornerback Tre Dempsey stepped in front of Austin Sumner’s first pass of the possession with 43 seconds left.

The come-from-behind win was something the Bison haven’t had to do this season.

“It sounds cheesy but it’s something you dream of,” Wentz said. “We’ve been fortunate enough during the season to be up at the end quite a few times. We’ve practiced the two-minute drill so many times, but to finally get out there and execute it, it was a lot of fun.”

The Bison advance to the quarterfinals for the fifth straight year. They host Coastal Carolina, the same team the Bison beat last year in the quarterfinals.

“I went to almost all the seniors afterwards and said ‘hey, we’re not done playing football,’” Wentz said. “I know they’re all excited and I’m excited as well. (We’re) ready to get back to work.”

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