Bison Football dominates Eastern Washington 35-10 to open the year

NDSU’s Cole Payton. Courtesy | Zach Lucky

With a win over Eastern Washington, NDSU Football marks their eighth consecutive season opener win. It is a strong start for a team that is hungry to continue its championship legacy after a bitter second-place finish last year to the rival South Dakota State Jackrabbits.

Against Eastern Washington, NDSU was dominant in the run game, racking a total of 337 yards. Much of this was comprised of a few explosive plays. The highlight of the game was when second quarterback Cole Payton made a 70-yard rushing touchdown. He would top the team in rushing yards, totaling 104. Running back TaMerick Williams and primary quarterback Cam Miller also had strong running games, getting 93 and 83 yards, respectively.

Regarding the quarterback, Miller played went 18-24 for passes, achieving 174 yards. Besides his rushing, Payton did see some action going 1-3 for 2 yards. NDSU head coach Matt Entz has made it clear that there won’t be a definitive quarterback for the year.

Entz has established that each of them should be ready to play at any moment. With each week and in each game, he may decide to change it up. However, “you know what is fun? I should say it’s better than fun. What’s really cool to see is when Cole scores, the first guy down there is Cam Miller. And when Cam throws a touchdown, who is the first guy patting him on the back, Cole Payton,” Said Entz.

Entz was proud of the defense and how “we’re keeping them out of the end zone,” as Eastern Washington is known for putting up high scores.

Cole Wisniewski made a career-high 11 tackles after switching from his former position of linebacker to safety. Logan Cobb wasn’t too far behind, getting a career-high himself of 10 tackles.

The Bison also benefited greatly from Eastern Washington’s penalties. They made a total of eight, costing 57 yards. This is compared to the Bison’s four, resulting in 35 yards of penalties. Entz was only concerned with the illegal formation and pass interference.

Overall, NDSU did a great job at premiering up-and-coming talent. “We had 18 guys that played significant snaps that really had never played before today,” said Entz.

The game was also a first for U.S. Bank Stadium, which hosted its first college football game. The home of the Minnesota Vikings brought extra seating and the possibility for Bison alumni in the Twin Cities to attend. Over 22,000 attended. While not as many as some hoped for, it was more than the FARGODOME’s capacity of 18,700.

Nevertheless, it was still special for many of the players and the coaches. Entz added how it stands out even amongst the many other notable parts of his career, like playing in front of 40,000 fans and meeting the president.

Returning to the game, it had an explosive start in the first quarter. After an uneventful first drive by Eastern Washington, NDSU opened with a touchdown with theirs. With eight plays and eighty yards, tight end Joe Stoffel connected with Miller’s pass to end the drive.

In NDSU’s next offensive drive, running back TaMerick Williams made another touchdown, going 54 yards.

Eastern Washington responded with a touchdown of their own after a 34-yard reception. Ending the first quarter 14-7.

Only in the second quarter the Bison were able to score with Payton’s 70-yard rush. Eastern Washington attempted a field goal, but it was blocked by Eli Mostaert. On the last play of the half, NDSU’s Cole Wisniewski got an interception, his first collegiate.

In the second half, NDSU scored twice, first by a 14-yard rush by Miller. This drive was completed over 70 yards in nine plays. NDSU scored again with a more impressive drive that totaled 86 yards in 13 plays. Eastern Washington was only able to respond with a field goal.

Resulting in a final score of 35-10. The Bison had an impressive start, with 42% of their drives resulting in a touchdown. Their championship-contending form hasn’t shown any signs of fading.

Following this, NDSU is set for a span of home games. Their next three games will be at home. Next Saturday, Sept. 9, they will debut at home against Maine. This home game stretch will end against the University of South Dakota Coyotes on Sept. 30 for homecoming.

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