Top-ranked North Dakota State controlled the line of scrimmage and the clock, pulling away for a 20-0 win over sixth-ranked South Dakota State to retain the Dakota Marker before a Coughlin-Alumni Stadium record crowd of 16,498 Saturday afternoon.
The two-time defending national champion Bison improved to 4-0 overall, while SDSU dropped to 3-2. Saturday’s game was the Missouri Valley Football Conference opener for both teams.
After a scoreless first quarter, NDSU broke into the scoring column on its first drive of the second stanza. A 29-yard pass from Brock Jensen to Zach Vraa on the second play of the drive moved the ball to the Jackrabbit 25 and set up a 1-yard touchdown run by Jensen with 8 minutes, 47 seconds to play in the first half.
The Jackrabbits were stifled offensively throughout the game, managing only nine first downs and 124 yards of total offense. SDSU was stopped on third-and-1 on its first two drives as the Bison defense bottled up All-America running back Zach Zenner to the tune of only four net yards on eight carries. Zenner’s long run of the day went for three yards.
An Andrew Brown interception – the only turnover of the day – gave SDSU the ball at midfield on its first possession of the second half, but a holding penalty and sack stalled the drive.
The game remained 7-0 until the fourth quarter, when NDSU put the game away with a pair of touchdowns. Running back John Crockett accounted for all 67 Bison yards, including the final 14 on a run up the middle.
Jensen capped the scoring with a 1-yard run with 4:44 to play as the Bison wore down the Jackrabbit defense. NDSU held more than a two-to-one advantage in time of possession.
The Bison ground out 262 rushing yards, led by Sam Ojuri’s 19 carries for 113 yards. Crockett finished with 76 yards on 12 carries and Jensen added 61 yards on 15 carries. Jensen also completed 10-of-19 passes for 109 yards. Vraa caught three passes for 44 yards.
SDSU quarterback Austin Sumner completed 14-of-30 passes for 156 yards, but was sacked seven times as the Jackrabbits finished at minus-32 yards in rushing. Jason Schneider led Jackrabbit receivers with six catches for 68 yards.
The Jackrabbit defense received a career-high 17 tackles from linebacker R.C. Kilgore. Brown added 11 stops.
Grant Olson led NDSU with eight tackles.
The Jackrabbits continue home action Oct. 5 by hosting Southern Illinois in the 100th Hobo Day game. Kickoff is set for 2 p.m.
Courtesy: Jason Hove, Assistant AD-Sports Information, South Dakota State University