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Bison Dominate First Half, Win 56-10 Over Indiana State

by Dan Gunderson

The North Dakota State University Bison football team moved to 8-0 on the season and 5-0 in the Missouri Valley Football Conference with a 56-10 victory over Indiana State University. The Bison started out very strong against the Sycamores, grabbing a 21-0 lead even before the end of the 1st quarter.

The Bison offense was led by senior quarterback Brock Jensen as he threw for 186 yards and 4 touchdowns. Junior wide receiver Zach Vraa had 2 touchdowns along with 122 yards receiving in the first half while senior wide receiver Ryan Smith had a 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown.

The Bison, who deferred to the second half after winning the coin toss, forced a three and out on the first Sycamore offensive drive. For the Bison, it took a mere six plays to get on the board. Jensen hit Vraa for an 11-yard touchdown and the Bison offense was off and running.

Two plays later, the Bison defense added points of their own when redshirt junior Colten Heagle picked off freshman quarterback Robert Tonyan Jr. and returned the interception 35 yards for the score.

After another stop by the Bison “D”, Jensen and the offense continued to roll. Jensen hit Vraa 29 yards out for another touchdown toss for what is becoming one of the most productive combinations in the Missouri Valley Football Conference.

The score made it 21-0. The Sycamores were able to get on the board to start the second quarter with a 40-yard field goal from freshman Eric Heidorn. The Bison came back with another touchdown pass, this time it was Jensen find his roommate Ryan Smith from 20 yards out.

With 11:30 to go in the first half, the Herd already had a 28-3 lead. Indiana State would answer on special teams with a 97-yard kickoff return by freshman LeMonte Booker. The excitement, however, would last just seconds.

On the ensuing kickoff, Smith would show off his own speed with a 100-yard kickoff return of his own. The last time NDSU had been involved in a game featuring back-to-back kickoff returns was the 2010 playoff game against Eastern Washington University.

Jensen’s big first half was not over just yet. He would throw his fourth touchdown of the half to junior Trevor Gebhart on a third and goal from three yards out. That capped off a 12-play, 52 yard drive that consumed 7:45 off the clock. The touchdown made it 42-10 NDSU.

The Bison came up with their second special team’s touchdown of the game when junior Christian Dudzik returned a punt 43 yards for a score. The NDSU score put the game at 49-10 and the Bison would take that lead into the locker room. 

NDSU would open up the scoring of the second half with yet another Dudzik punt return for a touchdown. Dudzik took the punt 68 yards to the end zone. His second punt return touchdown of the game made it 56-10 Bison.

The last time NDSU had two punt return touchdowns in a game was on September 9, 2000 when the Bison beat the Minnesota State Moorhead Dragons 80-0. 

After that score, things slowed down offensively. The closest either team came to scoring was when Indiana State had a 1st and goal at the three but were unable to score on four plays and were forced to turn it over on downs.

Sam Ojuri, who came in needing just 85 yards to become the sixth NDSU running back in school history to have 3,000 career yards rushing, ended the game with 54 yards rushing. 

The defense was their dominate self, not allowing a passing yard until the third quarter. They also added to their conference leading 21 sacks with six sacks and also added nine tackles for a loss.

The victory was NDSU's 10th straight in the Valley, 16th straight on the road and 17th straight overall.

The loss pushes the Sycamores to 1-7 overall and 0-4 in the Missouri Valley Football Conference. Next up for Indiana State is a road game with the Missouri State Bears. For the Bison, they will enjoy their second bye week of the season before a home game against Illinois State University.