Bison offense explodes for 28 points in fourth quarter
CEDAR FALLS, Iowa — If North Dakota State defensive end Greg Menard had to pull out a red pen and grade the defense’s performance Saturday at the UNI-Dome, the marks would be less than stellar.
“It wouldn’t be good, let’s just say that, especially in the first half,” Menard said.
The Bison defense played better in the second half and the offense erupted for 28 points in the fourth quarter as No. 1-ranked NDSU rallied for a 56-31 victory against No. 22-ranked Northern Iowa in Missouri Valley Football Conference play before 9,899 fans on Saturday, Oct. 6.
“I thought our guys showed great resolve in the second half,” Bison head coach Chris Klieman.
NDSU (5-0, 2-0 MVFC) remained unbeaten playing on the road for the first time this season.
Northern Iowa (2-3, 1-1) built a 14-point lead less than eight minutes into the game and also had a lead heading into the final 15 minutes. The Bison, however, scored on their first play of the fourth quarter to take the lead for good.
“I thought we played our tails off,” Northern Iowa head coach Mark Farley said. “Our defense wasn’t good enough. I thought our offense was very good.”
In a game that went back and forth, the Bison delivered a critical blow moments after Northern Iowa had taken three-point lead on the final play of the third quarter. Panthers quarterback Eli Dunne threw a 26-yard touchdown pass to receiver Deion McShane for a 31-28 edge.
“Usually teams don’t do that against North Dakota State,” Dunne said. “I thought we were moving the ball up and down on them.”
On the first play from scrimmage in the fourth quarter, Bison quarterback Easton Stick hit running back Bruce Anderson for a 75-yard touchdown strike that gave NDSU a 35-31 lead with 14:49 remaining.
“They made a good call,” Farley said. “That was the one that broke us.”
The Bison scored the game’s final 28 points and finished with 523 yards on 63 plays. Stick completed 9 of 15 passes for 179 yards and four touchdowns. Stick also rushed for 35 yards and two scores.
Anderson rushed for 170 yards on 23 attempts, while fellow running back Lance Dunn added 104 rushing yards and a touchdown on 17 carries.
“It’s a win,” Klieman said. “If we’ve got to win a shootout, I love the face that our offense answered the bell.”
Menard finished with five tackles and 1 1/2 sacks to lead the Bison. NDSU limited the Panthers to seven points on 153 yards in the second half after UNI erupted for 313 yards and 24 points in the first two quarters.
Menard said the defensive message at halftime was simple.
“Just be better. That was one of our worst halves of football this season,” Menard said. “I think our coaches made a lot of good adjustments at halftime.”
Menard moved into fourth place alone on the NDSU career sack list with 33. Jerry Dahl (1973-74), Phil Hansen (1987-90) and Kyle Emanuel (2011-14) are tied for the career lead with 41. Menard missed last season with a knee injury.