The North Dakota State University Bison looked to complete the first undefeated regular season since 1990 with a victory over the University of South Dakota on Saturday, November 23. The game was the last regular season for 24 seniors on the Bison roster, all of whom were honored in the pre-game.
The Bison team would end the regular season on a high note with a 42-0 victory over the Coyotes.
The Bison won the toss and deferred to the second half, electing to have the Coyotes start on offense. The Bison defense held strong, only allowing one first down to the ‘Yotes. The Bison offense did not fare much better on their first drive of the game, going three and out.
The Bison defense forced USD to punt on their second drive and was set up with good field position after senior Ryan Smith had a 32-yard return to the Bison 45 yard line. On the first play of the drive, senior Brock Jensen hit junior Zach Vraa for what appeared to be a 55-yard TD pass.
However, officials decided that Vraa had not completed the catch and therefore it was an incomplete pass. The Bison would shake that disappointment off and score on a six play, 55-yard drive that was capped off by a 28-yard touchdown run from junior John Crockett.
The next offensive drive for NDSU would feature a long touchdown pass, a 64-yard pass to be exact, from Jensen to his roommate Smith. The touchdown made it 14-0 NDSU with 4:35 to go in the first quarter.
The Bison would take that lead into the second quarter. Both teams traded interceptions and NDSU even tried to get fancy with a fake field goal but for first half of the second quarter, not much was accomplished offensively.
NDSU would get the ball with 8:46 to go in the first half and put together a 12-play, 95-yard drive that took 5:26 off the clock and was capped off with a 1-yard touchdown run by senior running back Sam Ojuri. The score put NDSU up 21-0 with 3:20 to go in the second quarter.
NDSU would get the ball back with 52 seconds to go, looking to add more points on the board before the end of the half. The Bison would do just that when Jensen hit Vraa for a 22-yard touchdown score with just three seconds to go in the half.
The score made it 28-0 NDSU, which was the score they carried with them into the locker room.
The Bison would get the ball the start the second half and take two plays and 48 seconds to score yet again. Ojuri took the ball at his own 45-yard line and broke free for a 55-yard touchdown run. NDSU would tack on the extra point to make it 35-0 Bison.
USD would move the ball on their first offensive drive of the game but a pass into the endzone from USD quarterback Kevin Earl was intercepted by junior Christian Dudzik. The Bison would turn that turnover into points.
Crockett would cap off a seven play, 80-yard drive with his second 28-yard touchdown run of the game. The score would make it 42-0 NDSU with 6:49 to go in the third quarter. The quarter would end with the same score but not before Jensen received a standing ovation for the crowd as he was replaced by backup quarterback Carson Wentz.
The game reached a crawl stage in the fourth quarter, with both teams taking out their starters so the backups could get some action. When the clock hit triple zero, NDSU stood victorious for the 20th straight time.
The victory gave NDSU an overall record of 11-0 and 8-0 in the Missouri Valley Football Conference. The Coyotes ended their season on a five game losing streak, dropping to 4-8 overall and 3-5 in the Valley.
The Bison were led offensively by running backs Crockett and Ojuri and wide receiver Smith. Crockett ran for 116 yards and two scores while Ojuri went for 118 and two scores. Smith ended up with 111 yards receiving and a score.
Jensen threw for two scores and 230 yards passing while completing 16 of 22 passes. Defensively, junior Carlton Littlejohn led the team with 10 tackles and one interception.
NDSU will have to wait until Sunday morning before they find out who might end up coming to Fargo on December 6 for a second round game in the Football Championship Subdivision.