Bison notebook: Hofstedt opportunistic in making highlight-reel catch to help fuel strong NDSU start
NDSU fullback Logan Hofstedt had an unorthodox 32-yard reception in the first quarter that helped set up a Bison touchdown.
FARGO — North Dakota State's offense dominated North Dakota in mostly the usual way in Saturday's 42-21 victory in Missouri Valley Football Conference play at the Fargodome. But the Bison did get some help on a circus play.
Fullback Logan Hofstedt snared a pass intended for teammate Eli Green that deflected off of UND linebacker Marcus Vaughn-Jones' helmet in the first quarter. It went in the statistics as a 32-yard completion for quarterback Cam Miller, with no assist from Vaughn-Jones.
On first down from the UND 48, Miller threw deep along the right sideline to Green. Vaughn-Jones was in good position to break up the play, but the ball hit him on the back of the helmet and deflected back toward the middle of the field.
Hofstedt dove for the ball and caught it before tumbling to the turf at the UND 16.
"I got pretty lucky there," Miller said.
NDSU scored a touchdown five plays later on Miller's seven-yard run to give the Bison a 21-0 lead.
It was Miller's second longest completion of the day. He hit receiver D.J. Hart on a 76-yard pass on third-and-7 from the NDSU 6 in the first quarter. Hart beat UND safety Kadon Kauppinen down the right side of the field and caught the ball at the Bison 30. Kauppinen chased him down and made the tackle at the UND 18.
It was a career-long pass for Miller and the career-long reception for Hart.
The Bison scored five plays later on a four-yard run by Miller for a 14-0 lead.
"We had a lot of skill guys in and we motioned Eli out. I was really just reading the d-end because we had a hitch on," Miller said. "It was third and 6 or 7 so I was going to take the hitch. Then the d-end dropped right underneath so that my eyes immediately went to the field. I had seen D.J. beat the guy off the line, man coverage, and he was wide open so I couldn't miss that one."
Miller finished 8 of 12 for 159 yards.
Miller's running keys fast start
Bison backup quarterback Cole Payton is considered the better runner of NDSU's two at that position. But it was Miller who scored three TDs in the first half that got the Bison off to a fast start.
After the Bison took a 14-0 lead on scores by TaMerik Williams and Miller, the quarterback got another on the next series thanks to a hands-to-the-face penalty on UND that negated a third down Miller incompletion. Miller scored from the 7 and it was 21-0.
A 2-yard quarterback sneak by Miller that got a first down on NDSU's next possession led to his third score. This time it came from the 3 and the Bison led 28-7.
"We came down here and you have to get off to a decent start. I mean, I don't think it has to be great, but you can't give up an explosive run," UND coach Bubba Schweigert said. "Things just kind of snowballed on us."
13 seniors bid farewell
Safety Michael Tutsie might have been the first Bison player to carry his child onto the field during player introductions. Tutsie had his young daughter, Sarai, on his right arm as he ran onto the Fargodome turf following his introduction as a departing senior.
Tutsie was one of 13 seniors who were given special recognition before the game. It's assumed since they agreed to be introduced that they are leaving NDSU after this season, but those who have eligibility remaining could return.
Introduced were in addition to Tutsie were: running back Jalen Bussey, cornerback Anthony Coleman, tight end Noah Gindorff, offensive lineman Nash Jensen, linebacker James Kaczor, offensive lineman Luke LaCilento, fullback Hunter Luepke, offensive lineman Cody Mauch, cornerback Destin Talbert, defensive end Spencer Waege, safety Dawson Weber and running back TaMerik Williams.
Bussey, Luepke, Coleman and Williams have eligibility. Bussey and Coleman are juniors but are graduating and moving on.
"It's been a great week, especially with our 13 seniors that we had," NDSU head coach Matt Entz said. "You know, the emphasis has been on those guys all week long. Senior weeks are pretty special here."
Win caps Mauch's eventful week
It was as particularly eventful week from Mauch, who was honored in a celebration at his high school in Hankinson, N.D., on Tuesday. The senior left tackle is expected to be an NFL Draft pick next spring, but before that he'll have the Senior Bowl all-star game and perhaps the NFL Combine.
"The whole Hankinson deal was very special to me and my family," Mauch said. "To come out and play football the way we did today, obviously that was the biggest thing we wanted to do all week."
On Sunday, the Bison received a No. 3 seed and a first-round bye in the FCS playoffs and perhaps the break is in order for all involved. NDSU has won four straight after a 23-21 home loss to South Dakota State.
"I just think we've come so far," Mauch said. "We're trusting the run, we're trusting the pass, we're trusting our play-action shots. When you can trust whatever coach (Tyler) Roehl is going to call, you're going to be clicking all the time."
Odds and ends
NDSU All-American fullback Hunter Luepke, who left last week's game at Southern Illinois with a shoulder injury, did not dress. Entz did not have anything new to report on Luepke after the game. ... Tight end Joe Stoffel left the game in the third quarter with what appeared to be a lower-leg injury. ... Bison defensive end Tony Pierce did not dress. He suffered an ankle injury Oct. 29 against Illinois State and missed the Nov. 5 at Western Illinois before playing last week at Southern Illinois. ... Former Bison and current Green Bay Packers Christian Watson and Josh Babicz attended the game. ... Former Bison defensive end Bartholomew Ogbu played for UND. He transferred after last season. Ogbu was called for a key hands to the face penalty in the second quarter that led to an NDSU touchdown. ... Former NDSU offensive lineman Seth Anderson did not suit up for UND. Anderson transferred after last season. ... UND's C.J. Siegel blocked Griffin Crosa's field goal attempt in the fourth quarter. It was UND's fourth blocked kick of the season.