FARGO – North Dakota State quarterback Carson Wentz erased any doubts on the health of his right ankle less than five minutes into the game Saturday afternoon at Gate City Bank Field.
The 6-foot-6, 235-pound senior sidestepped a defender midway through a 27-yard touchdown run that capped NDSU's first possession. That early scoring run helped set the tone as the No. 2-ranked Bison cruised to a 41-14 victory against Weber State in Division I FCS football before 18,801 fans at the Fargodome.
"That told us right there Carson was locked in and ready to go," Bison head coach Chris Klieman said.
Wentz suffered a high ankle sprain in a 38-35 season-opening loss at Montana two weeks ago in Missoula, putting in question his status for Saturday's home opener. Klieman announced on Friday that Wentz would start.
"It felt pretty good," said Wentz, who didn't think he would have been ready to play last Saturday had the Bison not had a bye week.
Wentz completed 19 of 29 passes for 281 yards and three touchdowns against the Wildcats. He also rushed for 45 yards and one touchdown on seven carries.
"I don't think Carson or any of us were worried," said Bison running back Chase Morlock. "I don't care if his ankle was broken. He was going to play."
The Bison finished with 586 yards on 81 plays against Weber State, building a 28-7 lead by halftime. Wentz threw all three of his touchdowns in the second quarter, including two to Morlock, who had a monster game.
The Bison (1-1) have won 24 consecutive home games, raising their fourth consecutive FCS championship banner prior to Saturday's game.
"They just outclassed us in all aspects," Weber State head coach Jay Hill said of the Bison. "They were more physical and they executed their schemes better. Give them credit. They looked like the four-time defending national champs today."
Wentz capped his big first half with a 23-yard touchdown strike to senior wide receiver Zach Vraa. On the play, Wentz faked a handoff and zipped a laser to Vraa on an inside route. Vraa scooted into the end zone for a 28-7 lead with 1 minute, 11 seconds remaining until halftime.
"Our guys did a great job in the second quarter getting that momentum back," Klieman said.
The Bison limited Weber State to 206 yards with 68 of those coming on a long Weber State touchdown pass in late in the first quarter. NDSU allowed 544 yards in the season-opening loss at Montana.
"I think we came out hungry," said Bison linebacker Nick DeLuca, who led his team with eight tackles. "We definitely had a lot to prove."