FARGO, N.D. (AP) - Grant Olson set a school record with 29 tackles and North Dakota State rode its top-rated defense to a hard-fought 14-7 victory over Wofford on Saturday in the quarterfinals of the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs.
The defending FCS champion Bison (12-1) forced two turnovers, blocked a field goal and did not allow an offensive touchdown. They withstood two fourth-quarter drives by the Terriers, including one that ended on downs at the Bison 5 with less than 4 minutes left.
"I guess I'm still at a little bit of a loss for words," Olson said afterward. "It was a lot of fun. I'm so proud of this team. Coach told us to leave our hearts out there, and that's what we did."
North Dakota State's Travis Beck tracks down Wofford College quarterback Brian Kass, left, during a Football Championship Subdivision playoff quarterfinal on Saturday in Fargo.
Olson, a junior linebacker from Plymouth, Minn., broke the previous record of 26 tackles set by NDSU safety Ken Clark in 1989.
"We just expect it from him now," fellow linebacker Travis Beck said of Olson. "He always has good games."
Wofford (9-4) finished with a 326-262 edge in yards of total offense, but Terriers head coach Mike Ayers said the game boiled down to lost opportunities and turnovers.
"That being said, we played well enough defensively to keep the game within a score and we fought our tails off to try to get down there and make it happen," Ayers said.
The Bison scored on two long drives in the first half, including a go-ahead 10-play, 97-yard march capped by a 16-yard touchdown pass from Brock Jensen to Zach Vraa 1:02 before halftime. That made it 14-7.
NDSU also scored on the first possession of the game, going 75 yards in 10 plays before Sam Ojuri scored on a 1-yard run. Ojuri led the Bison in rushing with 72 yards.
Wofford stayed true to its option offense led by fullback Eric Breitenstein, running the ball on 51 of 58 plays. Breitenstein, the No. 2 rusher in FCS, ran for 135 yards on 24 carries and became the first player to top 100 yards on the ground against NDSU.
"In the end, that stuff doesn't matter because we're going home to Spartanburg," Breitenstein said.
Wofford scored its only touchdown on a 35-yard interception return by Blake Wylie in the second quarter, tying the game at 7. Jensen said he felt pressure from the pass rush and the ball sailed on him. Wylie said he had been dreaming all week about making a big play.
"It gave us momentum, but in the end it wasn't enough to give us the win," Wylie said.
Wofford drove inside the Bison 10 twice in the fourth quarter. The first drive ended when NDSU's Anthony LaVoy, a backup defensive lineman who started the season as an offensive lineman, blocked a 26-yard field goal by Kasey Redfern with 9 minutes remaining.
"It wasn't much, but I got it," LaVoy said.
"That is the first one that we have had blocked in, gosh, I don't know how many years," Ayers said. "Over a decade."
The second Wofford drive stalled 5 minutes later at the NDSU 5 when Donovan Johnson was tackled by Olson a yard short of a first down. Wofford had one more possession but could not move the ball from its own 42 with 49 seconds left and no timeouts.
Cole Jirek and Andre Martin Jr. recovered fumbles for NDSU, which advances to next week's semifinal game at home against Georgia Southern.
"I appreciate the competition that we had today. That's what our tournament is all about," NDSU head coach Craig Bohl said. "We're going to have to lick our wounds and get ready to play this next week."