The 2017 football season did not start well for the North Dakota State Bison against Mississippi Valley State.
Before the opening kickoff, the Bison were flagged for a delay of game. Booker Chambers returned the ensuing kickoff 55 yards to the Bison 35 yard line.
After stumbling out of the gate, it was smooth sailing for the Bison as they rocked the Delta Devils 72-7 in the Fargodome Saturday. In setting an NDSU Division I single game high for points, the Bison rushing offense showed it hasn’t missed a step, while the defense shut down everything MVSU had.
NDSU had not one, but two 100-yard rushers. Lance Dunn showed why he will likely be the number one back moving forward. Ty Brooks, meanwhile, showed why he will be a player to watch moving forward.
Redshirt junior quarterback Easton Stick also reminded fans of his quick feet and arm. Stick scampered 45 yards on quarterback draw on his second play, but the play was called back due to an illegal block in the back penalty.
One play later, Stick found RJ Urzendowski for a 47-yard touchdown catch. On the following drive, Stick took it in himself from eight yards out.
Dunn joined the touchdown party on the next drive with a 24-yard rushing touchdown. Dunn waited for his blockers to clear the way before going up the middle untouched.
Calling the following Omaha Connection “untouched” would not do it justice. Confusion struck the Delta Devil defense as Urzendowski went in motion. The senior found himself all alone in the end zone to make the easiest catch of his career.
“(The offense was) efficient. We had a couple of penalties that need to clean up. But our guy looked up and made plays,” Stick said, after the game.
While the offense efficiently ran through the MVSU defense, the Bison defense stood firm as a truck. That truck pushed the Delta Devils back 33 yards in the first quarter. Quarterback Jett Even could not get anything going and was pulled after one quarter of work.
NDSU forced three straight Delta Devils three and outs. The fourth drive technically did not end as one, unfortunately, as the snap flew over the punter’s head and out the back of the end zone for a safety.
That led to a short night for the starters on the Bison defense. Nate Tanguay and Nick DeLuca returned from injuries last season and were limited to less than 20 snaps each.
“It was good to get three and outs, but I was also trying to play as long as I could,” DeLuca said, postgame.
Stick also had just one quarter of work. He finished the day 5-5 for 100 yards and two touchdowns through the air. On the ground, he added 54 yards and the one touchdown.
“You’re going to play as hard as you can as long as you can until your done,” Stick said.
Ty Brooks profited from the efficiency of the first team offense. He took full advantage of his opportunity. Second quarter runs of six and 36 yards both resulted in touchdowns for the Bison.
“He is a good football player, and he proved that today. He has another gear, really electric in space,” Klieman said.
At the half, the Bison controlled the game, 44-0.
Dunn played just one series in the second half, but made the most of it. He electrified what was left of the Fargodome crowd with a career long 73-yard touchdown.
Dunn lead all rushers with 142 yards. The committee that has been a staple of Bison football developed nicely behind him. Brooks added another 127 yards. Bruce Anderson tacked on another 52, and had a spin cycle touchdown brought back for an illegal block below the waist.
That penalty did not lessen the praise given by Head Coach Chris Klieman. “Lance and Bruce are special backs as well.”
Ben Ellefson added to the Bison’s tally in the middle of the third. The redshirt sophomore tight end caught his first touchdown of his career from Davis from three yards out.
Demaris Purifoy added another two-yard touchdown run to balloon the lead to 65-7. Purifoy would later leave the game with a knee injury in the fourth quarter.
Redshirt freshman quarterback Henry Van Dellen took over for Davis in the fourth. His 10-yard rushing touchdown put the Bison at 72 points, the most in their Division I era. The previous record was 66.
Now, the Bison look ahead to next weekend. NDSU will visit the red turf of Eastern Washington, the location of the playoff loss in 2010. It will be a rematch of last season’s 50-44 overtime thriller in the Fargodome.
Have the Bison been looking forward to that game? “We have circled them on the calendar,” DeLuca said.