TOWSON, Md. — North Dakota State scored touchdowns on its first three drives Saturday night at Johnny Unitas Stadium, a scoring flurry that was more than enough for the team's lockdown defense.

That strong start fueled NDSU to a 35-7 victory against the Towson (Md.) Tigers in nonconference NCAA Division I FCS play before 9,109 fans. The Bison passed their first road test this season, and won all three games on their nonconference schedule.

"There is no way for us to simulate their physicality with our roster currently," Towson head coach Rob Ambrose said. "I told the guys in there, so the championship goes through this team whether you play them in Fargo, you play them here or you play them anywhere for that matter in the playoffs."

The Bison, who have won eight national titles since 2011, also defeated the Tigers 35-7 when the two teams played for the FCS national title game in Frisco, Texas, to end the 2013 season.

WDAY logo
listen live
watch live
Newsletter signup for email alerts

North Dakota State Matt Entz shakes hands with Towson coach Rob Ambrose at Johnny Unitas Stadium after the 35-7 Bison win in Towson, Maryland, on Saturday, Sept. 18. David Samson / The Forum
North Dakota State Matt Entz shakes hands with Towson coach Rob Ambrose at Johnny Unitas Stadium after the 35-7 Bison win in Towson, Maryland, on Saturday, Sept. 18. David Samson / The Forum

The Bison gained 493 yards Saturday evening, while limiting Towson to 200. NDSU (3-0) has a bye week next weekend before traveling to the University of North Dakota on Oct. 2 to start the Missouri Valley Football Conference slate.

“I think we’ve continued to improve over the three games," Bison head coach Matt Entz said. “I don’t necessarily think we are at our end game, we’re at the finish point. There’s a lot of things we can continue to clean up.”

NDSU pushed its lead to four TDs to start the second half. Running back TaMerik Williams scored on a 3-yard run to give the Bison a 28-0 lead with 11 minutes, 2 seconds to play in the third quarter. That capped a 73-yard drive that took seven plays. Williams had a 35-yard run earlier in the drive.

Running back Jalen Bussey scored on a 12-yard run that gave the Bison a 35-0 lead with 11:35 to play in the fourth quarter. That capped a 58-yard drive that lasted six plays. The Bison rushed for 328 yards on 46 attempts, averaging 7.1 yards per carry.

"It’s an animal you can’t truly understand until you face it," Ambrose said. "I got a locker room full of guys that know exactly who (former boxing champ) Mike Tyson is right now. I’m looking forward to playing them again already."

North Dakota State's Phoenix Sproles breaks loose against Towson at Johnny Unitas Stadium in Towson, Maryland, on Saturday, Sept. 18. David Samson / The Forum
North Dakota State's Phoenix Sproles breaks loose against Towson at Johnny Unitas Stadium in Towson, Maryland, on Saturday, Sept. 18. David Samson / The Forum


Towson didn't find the end zone until late in the fourth quarter. Running back Jerry Howard Jr. scored on a 1-yard TD run to cut the Bison lead to 35-7 with 2:20 remaining.

The Bison dominated the first half, outgaining Towson 344 to 50 yards through the first 30 minutes. NDSU averaged 9.6 yards per play in the first two quarters while limiting the Tigers to 2.4 yards per play. Towson finished with 37 rushing yards on 30 attempts.

"For us to win this ballgame, we were going to have to run the ball," Ambrose said. "We were going to have to keep them off the field as much as we could."

Wide receiver Christian Watson got the Bison offense rolling with a 67-yard touchdown catch from quarterback Quincy Patterson to give NDSU a 6-0 lead with 8:38 to play in the first quarter. That capped a four-play, 86-yard drive. Patterson completed 6 of 11 passes for 165 yards and a touchdown with one interception for the game.

"It’s the ultimate challenge," Ambrose said. "Pack the box, stop the run and then pay for it. It takes a higher level of discipline than we showed, both stopping the run and putting our eyes in the right place."

North Dakota State's Christian Watson hauls in a 67-yard touchdown reception against Towson at Johnny Unitas Stadium in Towson, Maryland, on Saturday, Sept. 18. David Samson / The Forum
North Dakota State's Christian Watson hauls in a 67-yard touchdown reception against Towson at Johnny Unitas Stadium in Towson, Maryland, on Saturday, Sept. 18. David Samson / The Forum


The Bison built a 13-0 lead after fullback Hunter Luepke scored on a 1-yard touchdown run on the first play of the second quarter to cap an 82-yard march that lasted 12 plays.

Towson tried to climb back into the game after Kobe Young returned the ensuing kickoff 87 yards to the Bison 12-yard line. NDSU, however, stuffed the Tigers on a fourth-and-2 play from the 4 to turn the ball over on downs.

"Getting points there makes it 14-7 and I think it’s a different ballgame," said Towson quarterback Chris Ferguson. "That’s an opportunity that we have to capitalize on. We make that happen, we punch that in there, like I said 14-7, maybe we get a little confidence, get some energy."

On the next play, running back Dominic Gonnella, who finished with 92 yards on 13 attempts, ripped off a 43-yard run that sparked a 96-yard drive that took seven plays.

Patterson also completed a 31-yard pass to running back Kobe Johnson that moved the ball to the Towson 3. One play later, Patterson scored on a 3-yard run for a 19-0 lead with 9:07 to play in the second quarter.

North Dakota State's Brayden Thomas snares Towson quarterback Chris Ferguson for a safety at Johnny Unitas Stadium in Towson, Maryland, on Saturday, Sept. 18. David Samson / The Forum
North Dakota State's Brayden Thomas snares Towson quarterback Chris Ferguson for a safety at Johnny Unitas Stadium in Towson, Maryland, on Saturday, Sept. 18. David Samson / The Forum

The Bison added a safety to take a 21-0 lead with 2:15 to play in the half. NDSU defensive end Brayden Thomas pressured Ferguson in the end zone before Ferguson threw the ball away. Ferguson was called for intentional grounding in the end zone, resulting in the safety.

"It was disciplined, physicality is what we wanted," Entz said. "We wanted to win in every little thing we did, we wanted to out-physical a good Towson team. I feel for the most part, we were able to."

The Bison had a 417-98 edge in yards through three quarters to build a 28-point lead heading into the final 15 minutes.

"They’re definitely aggressive and very tough, we knew that going in," Ferguson said. "I don’t think they did anything on defense that was outlandish. They dropped guys in coverage, they had a good front-four rush. I don’t think we made enough plays."