VERMILLION, S.D. - North Dakota State quarterback Easton Stick passed for 176 yards, ran for 79 and accounted for five touchdowns in leading the top-ranked Bison to a 59-14 win against South Dakota Saturday inside the DakotaDome.
The Bison (8-0, 5-0 MVFC) ran the nation’s longest active winning streak to 14 games, compiling 560 yards of offense in the process and possessing the ball for nearly 37 minutes. Lance Dunn carried 12 times for a team-best 114 yards while tight end Ben Ellefson caught first-half touchdown passes of 15 and 6 yards.
South Dakota (3-5, 2-3) got 152 yards passing and 115 rushing from quarterback Austin Simmons, but dropped its third straight. The highlight of the day was a quarterback draw he took 62 yards for a score midway through the third quarter. The Coyotes also scored on 3-yard option play to true freshman Canaan Brooks in the second quarter for his first collegiate score.
After punting on their first drive, the Bison scored touchdowns on three straight possessions to lead 21-0 after one and never looked back. Big plays, including a 53-yard pass from Stick to Darrius Shepherd, a 75-yard run by Dunn, and a 34-yard interception return by linebacker Jabril Cox set up the scores. Shepherd added a 38-yard punt return just before Ty Brooks ran 35 yards for a score that made it 28-0 with 8:25 to play before halftime.
The Bison’s lead was 35-7 at the break. NDSU ran 28 plays in the first half for 319 yards, an average of 11 yards a play. Stick was 9 of 13 passing in the first half for 161 yards and three touchdowns.
The Coyotes drove 60 yards on 10 plays to get on the board. Brooks’ first career reception preceded his first score, taking a screen pass 11 yards to convert a 3rd-and-7 to extend the drive. Shamar Jackson caught a 13-yard pass in traffic at the 3 and Brooks took a pitch from Simmons and leapt into the end zone on the next play.
Brooks netted four yards on six carries and caught two passes for 21 yards. Jackson led South Dakota with five catches for 64 yards. Dakarai Allen, the Valley’s leading receiver heading into the weekend, went without a catch for the first time this season.
NDSU possessed the ball for all but 1 minute, 42 seconds in the third quarter and for 23 of the 30 minutes in the second half. Simmons’ 62-yard touchdown run was just the second play of a drive that needed 35 seconds. Playing with the lead, the Bison put it in the air six times in the second half.
The Bison’s run game, ranked 12th coming in, generated 384 yards on 48 carries, an average of 8.0 yards per tote. In addition to Dunn and Stick, Brooks carried 10 times for 72 yards and a score, Adam Cofield had 56 yards on five carries and a touchdown, and backup quarterback Trey Lance had a 25-yard touchdown run on a play in which he fumbled the snap from center, picked it up, broke thru the line and went untouched to the end zone.
Kai Henry ran 14 times for 37 yards to lead the Coyote backs. Simmons, working mainly off designed quarterback draws, became South Dakota’s first 100-yard rusher this season.
Defensively, the Coyotes were led by middle linebacker Jack Cochrane, who finished with a career-high 13 stops. Safety Elijah Reed finished with 10 stops and was credited with a pass breakup.
South Dakota takes to the road next weekend with a 1 p.m. (ET) kickoff at Indiana State. The Sycamores (4-4, 2-3) turned in an impressive 43-17 win on the road at Youngstown State Saturday and have won their last two.
Courtesy: USD Athletics