Top-seeded North Dakota State scored three second-quarter touchdowns and the vaunted Bison defense held South Dakota State out of the end zone in a 28-3 victory in Football Championship Subdivision second-round playoff action Saturday afternoon at the Fargodome.
The defending national champion Bison improved to 11-1 overall and will host Wofford (S.C.) in quarterfinal action Dec. 7 or 8. The Jackrabbits ended their season 9-4 overall.
After the Bison missed a 43-yard field goal on their opening drive of the game, SDSU put the first points on the board with a six-play, 66-yard drive capped by a 26-yard field goal by Justin Syrovatka two ticks under the three-minute mark of the opening quarter. A 49-yard pass play down the middle of the field from Austin Sumner to Brandon Hubert set up what would be the only score for the Jackrabbits.
Meanwhile, NDSU gained control on the first play of the second quarter as Brock Jensen hit tight end Garrett Bruhn on 12-yard touchdown pass. The Bison marched 75 yards on six plays, with John Crockett rushing for a combined 48 yards on the first two plays.
The Bison used a trick play to gain a 14-3 advantage on their next drive. Ryan Smith took a handoff from a bunch formation and motored around the left end for a 32-yard touchdown run.
NDSU made it three touchdowns in as many possessions, taking advantage of an interception by Marcus Williams near midfield. Eight plays later, Jensen scored on a 2-yard run to cap the Bison onslaught.
After a scoreless third quarter, the Jackrabbits appeared on the verge of getting back in the game early in the fourth. A long pass down the middle was dropped and an apparent catch by Tyrel Kool on the next play was overturned after a replay review.
The Bison put the game away on the ensuing drive as Jensen again hooked up with Bruhn for a 9-yard touchdown.
SDSU was stymied offensively most of the night as the Jackrabbits did not convert a third-down attempt until their final drive of the game. Overall, the Jackrabbits were 2-of-13 on third down and 0-for-3 on fourth down. Conversely, NDSU converted 10-of-19 third-down attempts and were 2-of-3 on fourth down.
The Bison held a 328-217 advantage in total offense, including a 218-21 edge on the ground. Crockett finished the game with 11 carries for 90 yards, while Sam Ojuri gained 65 yards on 19 carries. Jensen finished the game 15-of-25 passing for 110 yards, with Ryan Smith the leading receiver with five catches for 31 yards.
Jackrabbit running back Zach Zenner was limited to 46 yards on 15 carries, finishing his sophomore season with 2,044 yards – 11 yards shy of Josh Ranek’s single-season record of 2,055 yards set in 1999.
Sumner ended the afternoon 17-of-31 for 196 yards. Senior wide receivers Aaron Rollin and Kool each caught five passes for 49 and 48 yards, respectively.
Senior linebacker Ross Shafrath notched a career-high 18 tackles to lead all players as he set a Jackrabbit single-season record with 150 tackles. Grant Olson led the Bison with nine stops.
NOTES: Saturday’s game marked the 100th meeting between SDSU and North Dakota State in football, but the first time the two teams met in the playoffs … NDSU leads the all-time series 55-40-5 … the Bison have won the last four meetings … the Jackrabbits dropped to 1-2 in FCS playoff games and 1-3 all-time in the postseason … Rollin finished fifth in career receptions with 140 and fifth in career receiving yards with 1,878 … Kool ended up sixth in career reception with 138 as both players passed Rusty Lenners (137 receptions from 1993-96) on the day … Sumner finished seventh in single-season passing with 2,443 yards and moved into eighth in career passing with 4,825 yards … SDSU fell to 3-2 against ranked opponents this season … attendance was 18,482
Courtesy: Jason Hove, SDSU