The Bison scored on just their third offensive play, and the rout was on almost immediately.
On third-and-1 at their own 39-yard line, Lance Dunn bounced to the outside and rolled in for a 61-yard score.
“It was supposed to be an inside run, but the defense, they all crashed, and I just saw the open field outside, so I just bounced it,” Dunn remarked after the game. “It was nothing but green after that.”
Dunn saw nothing but green for much of the rest of the game as well. His touchdown scamper was the first of four on the day, all on just four touches.
“I’ve never done anything like that,” Dunn stated. “I’m really proud of our offense. We all executed, and I couldn’t do anything without them. I told myself before the game that every time I got the ball I wanted to make something happen, and that’s what I did.”
The junior from Waterloo, Iowa doubled NDSU’s lead later in the first quarter on a 5-yard carry following Logan McCormick’s forced fumble deep in the Colonials’ territory. Dunn added a 10-yard receiving touchdown in the first quarter and a 45-yard rushing score in the second to complete the superfecta.
Between Dunn’s second and third scores were another two touchdowns for the Bison. Safety Tre Dempsey picked off quarterback Mathew Barr’s pass and returned it 23 yards for six, sparking the Herd and piling on to Robert Morris’ misery.
On the play following the interception, linebacker Dan Marlette, starting in place of the injured Nick DeLuca, forced a fumble, which was recovered by freshman Jabril Cox. Cox’s fumble recovery was the beginning of a busy day which saw the linebacker record 8 tackles. Once again capitalizing on the opportune field position, Bruce Anderson slipped through for a 1-yard rushing touchdown.
Leading 35-0 after the first quarter, the Bison made many changes to their lineup, most notably at quarterback. Senior Cole Davis took the reigns from Easton Stick midway through the second quarter. Stick silently had an efficient performance, completing 11 of 15 passes for 132 yards and 2 touchdowns.
“Easton’s got a lot of confidence right now,” head coach Chris Klieman commented after the victory. “That was a good defense that gave you an awful lot of different looks, and a lot of different blitz looks. I think he did a really good job of being able to see things pre-snap, so I am really pleased with his progress through three games.”
Davis made the most of his time on the field, throwing for 42 yards and scoring on a 17-yard running play, his first rushing touchdown as a Bison. Unfortunately, Davis suffered a shoulder injury on the scoring play, which opened the door for redshirt freshman Henry Van Dellen, who would later record the first completion of his NDSU career.
“We talked all week about starting fast and having a sense of urgency, and we definitely did that,” Klieman stated. “We knew this team had the ability to hang in there unless we gave them the knockout punch early on, and I thought our guys did a great job of that.”
One positive for the Colonials was their ability to stop ball carriers in the backfield. RMU tallied 4 sacks and 8 tackles for loss in the contest, but it did little to slow the Bison offense. Through three contests, the Bison are tied with Yale for the FCS’s top mark in scoring offense, averaging 56 points per game. Their 607.5 yards per game leads the FCS, but much stiffer competition awaits them.
“We’re 3-0 in the non-conference, which is what our goal was, and we’re excited about the win. We’ll turn the page quickly on Monday and head into the Valley play,” Klieman said.
Missouri Valley Conference play begins for the Bison next weekend against Missouri State at the Fargodome for homecoming.