That’s all folks…for now

Photo Courtesy|John Swanson
Hunter Luepke is cheered on by his teammates as he nears the end zone.

After win against Central Arkansas, Bison football is put back on hold

With the lack of a crowd outside, of scouts and family members of the players, the atmosphere in the Fargodome on Saturday was, well…different. Bison head coach Matt Entz recognized this but was not going to let his team use it as a reason to play poorly.

“We started talking early this week B.Y.O.E. (bring your own energy)…there was going to be no excuses, and there is no excuses for us. The expectation and the standard is to win football games at NDSU.”

And win the Bison did. The Bison took care of the Central Arkansas Bears 39-28 in what turned into a shootout after a slow start by both squads. Now that the Herd’s fall season has officially begun and ended, the green and gold are not slated to play again until February.

The Bison got off to a slow start in the quiet and nearly empty Fargodome on Saturday. The herd’s first five offensive drives went punt, fumble, punt, punt and punt. The Bison defense was able to hold the Bears to just a pair of field goals in the first half which helped give the Bison offense time to get their feet under them.

After a 54-yard touchdown run from Lance on the second play of the third quarter the Bison offense looked like it was back. However, on the ensuing possession Lance threw his first interception as a member of the Herd.

“It’s just playing football.” Lance said on throwing his first pick, “Not really anything else to say about that.”

The Bears were able to finally get in the end zone twice in the third quarter, both on touchdown passes from quarterback Breylin Smith.

Per usual every member on the Bison sideline put four fingers to signal the start of the fourth quarter, winning time.

After the two teams exchanged touchdowns to start the final quarter (and a two point conversion by the Bears) the game sat at 28-25 UCA with 10:35 to go.

The Bison were able to respond with a seven-play, 75 yard much ending with a 23-yard touchdown pass from Lance to fullback Hunter Luepke. A quick three and out by the Bears gave the Bison the ball now with the lead, and some clock to drain.

A nine touchdown march milked the clock all the way down to just 1:51 left in the game. Luepke scored his second touchdown of the quarter, this time on a 13-yard run, putting the Bison up 39-28 and all but sealing a Bison victory.

Luepke, who was a touchdown machine his senior year of high school scoring 33 times, gave praise to his teammates for his fourth quarter performance.

“It was pretty cool, I was excited to hear my name called. Then again, the whole offensive line, wide receivers and the running backs that blocked for me, props to them.”

An interception in the games waning seconds by sophomore cornerback Jayden Price put stamp on a comeback Bison victory.

Lance finished the game just 15-30 passing but torched the Bears for 143 yards and a couple scores on the ground. Bison running back Seth Wilson, who missed his entire sophomore campaign due to a torn ALC, finally made it back toting the rock seven times for 55 yards on Saturday.

On the defensive side of the ball, the Bison were able to force two turnovers, both coming on interceptions at the end of each half. Linebacker James Kaczor led both teams with 11 tackles as well as scoring on a two-point conversion for the Herd in the third quarter.

So what did we learn from Saturday’s game? For starters, Central Arkansas showed up to play. The Bison were trailing entering the fourth quarter of a game for the the first time in almost two years. For the first 50 minutes whenever the Bears needed a key stop or execute on a key third down, they seemed to do so.

While Central Arkansas 10-game season marches on next week against Arkansas State, the Herd’s fall season is officially over. Now fans will have to wait until Feb. 21, to see the green and gold kick off their spring season against Youngstown State at the Fargodome.

Editors note: Trey Lance has declared for the NFL Draft, story coming in next week’s edition

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