Jacks Fall Short As Bison Dynasty Continues

SDSU Falls 36-10 In FCS Quarterfinals

North Dakota State’s ball-control offense scored the final 36 points of the game, ending South Dakota State’s season with a 36-10 victory Saturday in the Football Championship Subdivision quarterfinals at the Fargodome.

Top-seeded NDSU, the five-time defending FCS champion, improved to 12-1 and moves on to face James Madison in semifinal action next weekend. The eighth-seeded Jackrabbits had their season come to a close with a 9-4 overall record.

The Jackrabbits built an early 10-0 lead by scoring on their first two possessions. SDSU took the opening kickoff and moved down the field with relative ease. A 27-yard run by Kyle Paris gave SDSU the ball at the Bison 1 after the initial ruling of a touchdown was overturned by replay review. A false start penalty backed up the Jackrabbits five yards, but SDSU used some trickery as Brady Mengarelli scored on an inside handoff after lining up directly behind the right side of the line.

Following an NDSU punt on the first possession of the game, the Jackrabbits put together another seven-play scoring drive which covered 71 yards before a 34-yard field goal by Chase Vinatieri. Taryn Christion, who was 8-of-9 passing in the first half, connected with Jake Wieneke for 44 yards to set up the score.

The momentum began to shift in NDSU’s favor as the Bison quickly responded with a 49-yard touchdown run by Lance Dunn after a penalty for ineligible man down field negated a touchdown a few plays earlier.

Third-down efficiency was a key throughout the day for the Bison, who converted 9-of-12 third-down attempts, including six facing eight yards or more to go. As part of a 20-play, 82-yard drive, NDSU converted five times on third down and chewed up more than 12 minutes off the clock before quarterback Easton Stick scored from three yards out on a bootleg around the right end with 1 minute, 48 seconds to play in the half.

SDSU averted further disaster as Christion was sacked and fumbled, giving NDSU the ball inside the 1-yard line with just over a minute to play in the half. King Frazier was stopped for no gain on the first play and NDSU, which burned all three of its timeouts early in the half, was whistled for a delay of game penalty. After a 10-second runoff for the penalty, Stick was stopped short of the goal line on a quarterback draw, allowing time to expire.

Nick Farina intercepted a Stick pass near the goal line on NDSU’s first possession of the second half, but the Jackrabbit momentum was short-lived as Brady Mengarelli was stuffed in the end zone on the second play of the ensuing drive by Grant Morgan for a safety, giving the Bison a 16-10 lead.

NDSU took the free kick and put together a seven-play, 45-yard drive that ended with a 35-yard field goal by Cam Pedersen. Moments later, following an interception by Tre Dempsey in Jackrabbit territory, Pedersen hit a 45-yarder that pushed the Bison advantage to 22-10 entering the fourth quarter. In between the NDSU field goals, the Jackrabbits had an apparent 64-yard touchdown pass from Christion to Wieneke called back due to an ineligible receiver down field penalty.

The Bison offense continued to grind out yards and milk the clock in the fourth quarter, stringing together a 14-play, 90-yard drive that ended with a 14-yard run by Stick. Darrius Shepherd capped the NDSU onslaught with a 67-yard catch and run, tight-roping down the right sideline for the final score of the game.

NDSU held a 490-192 advantage in total offense and dominated the time of possession to the tune of 40:55 to 19:05. The Bison ran 73 plays, compared to only 39 by SDSU.

King Frazier led NDSU’s 302-yard rushing attack with 101 yards on 15 carries. Dunn added 91 yards on 13 carries, while Stick gained 83 yards on the ground and completed 12-of-21 passes for 188 yards. Shepherd caught a team-high four passes for 105 yards.

For SDSU, Christion completed 13-of-17 passes for 155 yards. Dallas Goedert caught six passes for 55 yards, with Wieneke adding five catches for 75 yards.

Christian Rozeboom led all players with 12 tackles for SDSU, with Chris Balster adding nine. Robbie Grimsley and Greg Menard each made five stops for NDSU and Caleb Butler recorded a pair of sacks.

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