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Stick leads NDSU over San Diego; Bison get rematch with Jackrabbits

North Dakota State quarterback Easton Stick rips off a 52-yard run as San Diego defender Devyn Bryant closes in Saturday, Dec. 3, 2016, during the FCS playoffs at the Fargodome.David Samson / The Forum1 / 4
North Dakota State's Chase Morlock grabs a 16-yard touchdown reception against San Diego Saturday, Dec. 3, 2016, during the FCS playoffs at the Fargodome.David Samson / The Forum2 / 4
North Dakota State's Bruce Anderson goes airborne against San Diego's Max Michaels and Alec Moreno Saturday, Dec. 3, 2016, during the FCS playoffs at the Fargodome.David Samson / The Forum3 / 4
North Dakota State's Lance Dunn is hauled down by San Diego's Trevor Barney after a big gain Saturday, Dec. 3, 2016, during the FCS playoffs at the Fargodome.David Samson / The Forum4 / 4

FARGO -- North Dakota State quarterback Easton Stick had a historical afternoon Saturday, Dec. 3, at the Fargodome.

Stick threw three touchdown passes to tie a Bison postseason single-game record. He finished with 307 yards from scrimmage to spark NDSU to a 45-7 victory against the University of San Diego in the Division I FCS second round at Gate City Bank Field before 18,305 fans.

“Easton Stick played exceptional football,” Bison head coach Chris Klieman said.

The Bison (11-1) host rival South Dakota State next weekend in the FCS quarterfinals. The Jackrabbits (9-3) are the only team to beat five-time defending FCS national champion NDSU this season. The Bison have won 21 consecutive playoff games.

“It’s an opportunity for us, and we’re excited we are in the group of eight,” Klieman said.

Stick completed 12 of 20 passes for 208 yards and the three scores against the Toreros. The 6-foot-2, 222-pound sophomore also rushed for 99 yards on four attempts.

“I think the whole offense is getting healthy and we’re playing fast and we’re playing hard,” said Bison senior running back Chase Morlock, who caught two touchdown passes.

Stick has thrown three touchdown passes in the past two games, counting the final game of the regular season at the University of South Dakota. Klieman said Stick has shook off a sore back that hampered him near the midpoint this season.

“He’s throwing the ball with a lot of confidence,” Klieman said. “He feels really good.”

Stick zipped two touchdown passes in the second quarter that pushed the Bison lead to three touchdowns. Morlock caught a 16-yard touchdown pass, on a wheel route out of the backfield, to give the Bison a 14-0 lead with 7 minutes, 11 seconds to play in the second quarter. Stick added an 11-yard scoring pass to junior receiver RJ Urzendowski that gave NDSU a 21-0 lead with 39 seconds to play in the first half.

“Their quarterback was awfully, awfully good today,” San Diego head coach Dale Lindsey said of Stick.

Stick tossed a 49-yard touchdown to Morlock, on another wheel route out of the backfield, to give the Bison a 28-7 lead with 4:48 to play in the third quarter. Morlock smiled when asked about running that play that went for two scores against the Toreros.

“I love that concept,” Morlock said. “It kind of felt good getting back to that a little bit.”

The Bison added two long rushing touchdowns in the final quarter. Sophomore running back Lance Dunn ripped off a 56-yard touchdown to give the Bison a 38-7 lead with 6:58 remaining. Sophomore running back Bruce Anderson exploded for a 61-yard score for a 45-7 lead with 19 seconds to play.

“We share the love in the running back room and Easton is in there stealing runs, too,” Morlock said with a smile.

The Bison rushed for 299 yards on 31 attempts, averaging 9.6 yards per rush. NDSU finished with 507 yards, while limiting San Diego to 296.

“I can see why they’ve won five championships,” Lindsey said. “We were worried all week long about the run game. … We felt we had hung in there with them.”

The Toreros are from the non-scholarship Pioneer Football League and cut the Bison lead to 21-7 after tight end Ross Dwelley caught a 1-yard touchdown pass with 6:56 to play in the third quarter. The Bison, however, countered with 24 unanswered points.

San Diego became the first Pioneer team to win a playoff game to reach the second round.

“It means a lot to me and the guys knowing we’ve been overlooked our whole lives,” said San Diego senior running back Jonah Hodges. “We wanted to come out here and shock the world and it didn’t happen.”

Eric Peterson
Peterson covers college athletics for The Forum, including Concordia College and Minnesota State Moorhead. He also covers the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks independent baseball team and helps out with North Dakota State football coverage. Peterson has been working at the newspaper since 1996.

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