Nothing went right for Missouri State Saturday as the Bears finished the season with a soul-stomping 55-0 loss. Everything clicked for the victors.
North Dakota State (9-2, 7-1 MVFC) dragged MSU (1-10, 0-8 MVFC) around Gate City Bank Field like a rag doll.
And that’s how the whole season had gone for the Bears.
The Bison defense made a statement early in the first quarter on MSU’s first offensive possession when sophomore defensive end Greg Menard forced a fumble, and redshirt freshman Caleb Butler recovered the fumble in the end zone to give the Bison the early 7-0 after a Cam Pedersen extra point.
“I think they are very, very powerful,” Bears head coach Dave Steckel said about NDSU’s defensive front four. “I think they are very tough, I think they are very, very relentless when they play.”
NDSU’s defense forced four turnovers in the conference game, and three of those were in the first quarter.
NDSU’s offense scored 20 points off Bears turnovers.
As the Bison defense shut down the Bears’ offense, NDSU’s offense was having fun scoring many, many touchdowns on senior day, which also featured ample amounts of emotional moments.
Carson Wentz garnered the largest applause as he ran out of the inflatable Bison helmet during pregame, suited up in his uniform. Of course he didn’t play due to his wrist injury, but he was subbed in at running back for a play.
He didn’t move when the ball was snapped, but after the play, NDSU called a timeout out, and the fans that were left of the 18,624 crowd gave him a standing ovation.
“I wanted to get him to dress because I wanted him to run out of that tunnel with his pads and helmet on and get the credit that he deserves for being an unbelievable Bison,” head coach Chris Klieman said.
It was a special day for Wentz and the 13 other seniors, including Zach Vraa.
Vraa finished with just one reception, but he made it a beaut. Stick’s floater in the corner ended up in Vraa’s hands. Initially ruled incomplete, video review reversed the call, giving Vraa his 27th career receiving touchdown catch. Vraa has caught the most touchdowns in NDSU history.
“(It) just kind of completes my run as an individual,” the six-year senior said. “Obviously we still have a lot of team goals we’d like to accomplish, but just where I started, two broken collarbones and battling through injuries, it means so much.”
The younger student-athletes had themselves a game, too.
Saturday was yet another memorable day for Easton Stick.
It was the second time in five games the redshirt freshman quarterback threw four touchdowns in a single game.
“My job is to make sure were in the right play and then just play as fast as I can, not turning the football over,” Stick said.
Stick finished the game with 189 passing yards on 15-of-20 passing and played the entire first half. He led one drive in the second half before sophomore Cole Davis took over quarterback duties.
Stick hit Connor Wentz with a 4-yard touchdown throw for his first of the game. Then in the second quarter Stick threw a 1-yard touchdown pass to Zach Vraa to give the Bison a 34-0 lead with 7:29 left in the second quarter.
NDSU continued the blowout in the second half after Jeff Illies caught a 30-yard Stick pass, 52 seconds into the third quarter, and with 9:25 left in the quarter Lance Dunn ran 60-yards to the house for his second rushing touchdown of the season.
Dunn lead the Bison in rushing on eight carries for 125 yards. King Frazier also finished with a rushing touchdown and carried the football eight times for 77 yards. Nine student-athletes carried the football at least once for NDSU.
NDSU’s offense dominated the total yards column, and outgained MSU 601-171.
With the win, NDSU captures its fifth straight MVFC title, and, after suffering a tough loss to University of South Dakota on Oct. 17, the Bison have won its last five games.
The Herd has outscored opponents 204-74 during that stretch.
“This group has faced more adversity then any of the previous ones I’ve been involved with, with injuries, tough losses and different set backs,” Klieman said after the game. “The last five weeks I think we’ve had as good as focus as a football team can have.”
NDSU will shift its focus to postseason play now. The Bison will get a first round bye, and play the winner of South Dakota State and University of Montana Dec. 5th at the Fargodome.