FARGO — North Dakota State linebacker Jasir Cox glanced at his family sitting at Gate City Bank Field at the Fargodome in the second quarter Saturday and saw a surprise visitor: his brother Jabril Cox. The Dallas Cowboys linebacker and former Bison standout, with his team in a bye week, took a late-night flight to get to Fargo.
It was as trip well worth the effort in NDSU's 27-20 victory over Missouri State, a win that kep the Bison unbeaten on the season at 7-0 overall and 4-0 in the Missouri Valley Football Conference.
On Friday night, Jabril and Jasir were playing a video game from their respective homes.
"He was telling me he was going to go to a teammate's little party and I was like, OK, that's fine, you can still watch me on TV," Jasir said. "Just to know that he took a red-eye flight just to come to see me shows that he really cares. It was big for me to put on a show for him and my family."
Jabril Cox stayed in the stands with his family because, Jasir said, "he didn't want to be a distraction" on the Bison sideline.
More from North Dakota State's victory against Missouri State:
- Miller magic: Backup QB rallies Bison to home victory against Missouri State
- Kolpack: QB Cam Miller wanted no part of transfer portal, rescues Bison against Missouri State
- PHOTOS: Scenes from dramatic Bison comeback victory against Missouri State
The show for Jasir was an interception in the third quarter that he returned 43 yards to the Missouri State 21-yard line. The Bison couldn't cash in, turning the ball over on downs four plays later. Still, Jasir has three interceptions in the past two games and is playing the best ball of his career.
"It was a big surprise, seeing him after the second quarter," Jasir said. "Just gave me another boost. It's a competition between me and Jabril and I'm trying to chase that."
Weber tossed for targeting
NDSU lost starting safety Dawson Weber in the third quarter when he was called for targeting and ejected. Since the penalty happened in the second half, Weber will be forced to sit out the first half of next week's game against Indiana State.
Weber hit Missouri State receiver Xavier Lane along the Bison sideline on the Bears' first offensive play of the second half. Missouri State quarterback Jason Shelley lobbed a deep ball along the sideline and Weber broke up the play. There was no flag thrown on field, but officials called for a review and Weber was called for the penalty.
Replays showed Weber lowering his head and leading with the crown of his helmet, which hit Lane's helmet. Lane's helmet came off on the play.
NDSU was unhappy in a victory over Northern Iowa at the dome earlier this season when Panthers' defensive back Benny Sapp hit Bison receiver Christian Watson in the head. There was no penalty called and officials didn't change the call after video review, but the Missouri Valley Football Conference later contacted Entz and said the play should've been called targeting.
Entz said after the Missouri State game that he anticipated more penalties than usual. The Bison were flagged 11 times for 101 yards.
"Early in the year we had the same crew, we had eight (penalties)," he said, "so we anticipated we were going to get a bunch of penalties today. We keep track of everything and certain crews like to throw the hanky a little more than others and it is what it is. We have to fight through that. We can't give them any reasons to. I was frustrated at the discipline. It was a long week, we didn't have great practices and we about paid for it. Believe me, there will be a bit of good conversation on Monday with our football team."
Bison play with Braswell fire, get burned
Missouri State cornerback Montrae Braswell, a transfer from FBS Central Michigan, entered the game sixth in FCS averaging 29.1 yards per kickoff return. He returned a kick for a touchdown against Central Arkansas earlier this season and had a 100-yard return for a TD last spring.
Yet NDSU opened the game by kicking to Braswell, who caught the ball and returned it 62 yards to the Bison 37. He was tripped up along the sideline by kicker Jake Reinholz, who appeared to hobble a bit after the play.
"We work hard on blocking and scheming it," Missouri State head coach Bobby Petrino said. "We knew we would get an opportunity. They like to kick it high and pin you back."
The Bison defense held, stopping Shelley on a third and 2 run, to force the Bears into a field goal try. Jose Pizano made a 47-yard field goal for a 3-0 lead just over 2 minutes into the game.
Bears can't convert key early 4th-down play
Missouri State looked like it was trying to score a knockout punch late in the first quarter. The Bears had a 10-0 lead and faced a fourth-and-2 at the Bison 18.
Instead of kicking the field goal, Petrino opted to go for the first down to extend the drive. The Bison stuffed Bears running back Trae Thompson at the line of scrimmage and NDSU took over on downs with 51 seconds to play in the opening quarter.
“I felt like we had the momentum, we were executing and doing things right," Petrino said. “We had to be aggressive and some of our aggressiveness really helped us in the game. and that one, when you don't make it, you look back and you say, 'Well, that hurt you.'"
The Bison also went for a fourth down deep in Missouri State territory, eschewing a field goal after Cox's interception gave them good field position. Entz, too, said he was trying to be aggressive.
Odds and ends
Former Bison tight end and current Minnesota Vikings player Ben Ellefson was in attendance at the game. The Vikings are on a bye this week. ... Bison linebacker James Kaczor missed his third straight game, and fifth of the season, with an injury. ... NDSU linebacker Cole Wisniewski led the Bison in tackles with eight. His career high is nine against Eastern Washington in the FCS playoffs last spring. ... The NDSU defense has recorded five sacks in three consecutive games with another five against Missouri State.