McFeely: Patterson's TD run should send shudder through FCS
Virginia Tech transfer, all 245 pounds of him, zooms 52 yards for score and returns QB run game to Bison offense
FARGO — Yeah, it was Valparaiso. So let's not act like Quincy Patterson II soul-crushed James Madison in the national championship game like Trey Lance once did. But did you see the big man scrambling and running down the sideline for a touchdown Saturday? That noise you heard was the Football Championship Subdivision letting out a sigh and dreaming of last spring.
North Dakota State again has a quarterback who can run and that changes things, if not everything.
QP2, the Block 9-sized transfer from Virginia Tech who was wearing a seat belt in the Bison's season debut against Albany last week, clicked off the restraints against the overmatched Beacons at the Fargodome and the results were electrifying.
This despite the fact he played only one half, running only four times and completing four passes. He rushed for 94 yards, only passed for 102 and 65 of those came on a fly sweep flip to a receiver.
Forget the outcome, 64-0 in favor of the Bison, which was predetermined when the schools signed a contract years ago to play. Valpo is a Little Sisters of the Poor FCS program meant to serve as cannon fodder for a team in search of a national title.
Look at the speed of NDSU. The Christian Watsons. The Jalen Busseys. The Kobe Johnsons. The Braylon Hendersons.
And Quincy Patterson.
His 52-yard touchdown run in the second quarter was a play that should've made you sit up straight in your seat. Defensive coordinators in the Missouri Valley Football Conference sure did, you can bet.
"Those are the opportunities that he can create with his legs," Bison head coach Matt Entz said. "He did a great job of making a decision and making it fast and taking off with the football. You saw his ability to break tackles and he runs pretty well for 245 pounds."
When QP2 evaded pressure around the Bison 40 by sidestepping a Valpo linebacker and running to his left, it looked like the big man was going to make a nice gain. When he got to the sideline and turned the corner near the Valpo 45, jetting past defensive back Jamauri Jackson, it looked like Patterson might go the distance. When he slammed it into high gear, there was no doubt.
He went untouched. Touchdown.
"By the time I got to the middle of the field, they were kind of in my face a little bit so I stepped out to the left and I saw nothing but green so I just took off," Patterson said.
And it raised this question: Would you want to step in front of that freight train to make a tackle?
It wasn't quite the come-to-Jesus moment that occurred in 2018, when a true freshman wearing No. 5 turned a broken play into a TD against North Alabama at the dome. That was a shock to the system. The public hadn't seen Lance before. Knew nothing about him. We've seen tape of Patterson at Virginia Tech, caught a few glimpses of his size and talents against Albany last week.
There was a hint of Patterson's potential. Saturday was confirmation of what might be. He added a 40-yard run in the first half that was better than anything NDSU got in the spring.
Again, this was poor little Valparaiso. Let's not get carried away. Lance, Easton Stick before him, Carson Wentz before him and Brock Jensen before him all earned their chops in the biggest games, multiple times. But after watching the Bison offense clank and sputter in the spring under Zeb Noland (not good at all) and Cam Miller (better), Patterson tucking and running to the yellow end zone at the north end of the dome felt like a swoosh of fresh autumn air.
The door has been opened.
Whether Patterson can be an efficient, effective passer against tougher opponents remains to be seen. We'll find out whether his legs carry him to big gains in the Valley like they did against the Beacons. But for sure he's another weapon in a way Miller and Noland weren't.
"If we score touchdowns, we score touchdowns," Patterson said. "If we win games and I don't throw the ball much, and I don't need to throw the ball much to win, that's fine. Ultimately, if I need to throw the ball I will be ready to do that."
The Bison have a few home run hitters. Patterson is one more thing opposing defenses need to worry about. Good luck, if what we saw Saturday is a preview of what's to come.