No. 2-ranked Bison rumble past Eastern Washington
CHENEY, Wash. — North Dakota State offensive lineman Austin Kuhnert had smile on his face early Saturday evening, standing in the end zone for postgame interviews.
The 6-foot-4, 304-pound senior guard was responding to the amount of rushing yards the No. 2-ranked Bison churned on the red turf at Roos Field.
“I did not think 375,” Kuhnert said. “I knew we were going to put up a lot of rushing yards, but not 375.”
The Bison wore down the No. 6-ranked Eagles in the second half and pulled away for a decisive 40-13 victory in nonconference Division I FCS football before 10,231 fans.
The Bison (2-0) rushed for 375 yards on 63 attempts and had a 25-plus minutes edge in time of possession. The Eagles (0-2) had the ball less than six minutes after halftime.
“I thought ultimately our run game could wear them down and we were able to do that,” Bison head coach Chris Klieman said. “What a great job by the running backs and the rams.”
The Bison defense held heralded quarterback and Walter Payton Award candidate Gage Gubrud to 10 of 30 passing for 134 yards with no touchdowns and two interceptions.
It was a textbook, physical Bison performance the final three quarters, gaining more than 300 yards on the ground over the final 45 minutes. Lance Dunn and Bruce Anderson were a dynamic combination. Dunn rushed for 148 yards and a career-best three touchdowns on 19 carries. Anderson rumbled for 160 yards and a touchdown on 23 attempts.
“I felt like the second half we came out pretty strong. We made sure that we were going to keep the foot on the pedal,” said Dunn, who averaged 7.8 yards per carry. “We took off on them in the third and fourth quarter.”
The Bison put two backs over 100 rushing yards for a second consecutive game.
“I was so happy with those guys not going down after first contact and delivering a blow,” Klieman said. “I think Bruce delivered some big blows out there.”
NDSU finished with 532 yards, while limiting the Eagles to 204. The Bison ran 85 plays, while Eastern Washington finished with 54.
The Bison started to pull away in the third quarter. Quarterback Easton Stick converted a key third-and-11 play with an on-target delivery to tight end Jeff Illies. That play covered 14 yards and moved the Bison to the 38-yard line with NDSU holding a 19-13 lead. On the next play, Stick zinged a 44-yard completion to tight end Nate Jenson that moved the ball to the EWU 18.