Bison rout Bulldogs, force five turnovers in opening round of NCAA FCS Playoffs

(Fargo, ND) -- On Saturday afternoon the North Dakota State Bison were playing in the opening round of the NCAA FCS Playoffs. Something they hadn’t previously done since 2010. The opponent? The 8-3 Drake University Bulldogs who were the Pioneer League champions and entered the Fargodome riding an eight game winning streak.

The Bison won the coin toss and decided to take the football to begin the game. The start didn’t go as NDSU originally drew it up as the first play from scrimmage was a QB keeper with Cam Miller, who rushed for 15… But he fumbled and the Bulldogs recovered. Drake’s drive would stall out at the North Dakota State 13 yard line. The Bulldogs would settle for a 30-yard field goal, taking a 3-0 lead with 12:34 to go in the first quarter.

From this point forward the Bison would score in seven straight possessions and nine of their 10 possessions the remainder of the game. The first was a Cole Payton 20-yard touchdown run, 7-3 Bison. On the ensuing drive NDSU would punch it in from 5 yards out on a Raja Nelson sweep, 14-3 Bison after one quarter of play.

Only 52 seconds into the second quarter Cam Miller would connect on a 40-yard passing touchdown to Nelson making it a 21-3 Bison lead. Then with 4:10 remaining in the half, TaMerik Williams barrelled through the Bulldogs defense from 4-yards out, 28-3 Bison. With under a minute to go in the first half, defensive back Jayden Price intercepted a pass resulting in a touchback. NDSU would score in only 4 plays, capping off the 80 yard drive with a 34-yard touchdown pass from Miller to Eli Green, 35-3 Bison with 17 seconds left in the half.

Miller was perfect in the first half completing all nine passes for 192 yards and two touchdowns. He added seven carries for 62 yards in the opening half.

Things stayed the same in the second half as the Bison continued to score on their first drive of the half. The drive stalled for NDSU, resulting in a 31-yard field goal from Griffin Crosa, extending the Bison lead to 38-3 with 9:57 left in the third. NDSU would score once more in the frame on a 14-yard rushing touchdown from Barika Kpeenu, 45-3 North Dakota State.

In the fourth quarter Kpeenu would score for the second time in the afternoon, this time from only one-yard out. NDSU now leads 52-3 with 9:54 remaining in the game. At the five minute mark of the quarter Payton would find the end zone for the second time on the day on a 36-yard scurry, extending the lead to 59-3. At the 3:32 mark of the fourth NDSU struck one final time as defensive end Kelton McCaslin recovered a fumble and returned it five yards for a touchdown, 66-3 Bison and that would end up being the score once the clock hit 0:00.

On the day, NDSU would force five turnovers (three fumbles, two interceptions). The Bison would score 28 points off of those forced turnovers.

Now North Dakota State will visit No. 6 Montana State in the Round of 16 on Saturday, December 2.