Bison QB Cam Miller rushes for record 5 TDs in decisive victory against rival UND
NDSU scored the game's first 21 points to spark a victory against in-state rival UND in the final game of the regular season.
FARGO — North Dakota State unleashed a new rushing weapon Saturday afternoon at Gate City Bank Field at the Fargodome.
Bison quarterback Cam Miller rushed for a program record-tying five touchdowns to fuel a 42-21 victory against rival University of North Dakota in Missouri Valley Football Conference play before 18,806 fans.
"I'm more locked in when I can run the ball more and kind of take hits that kind of helps me ooze into the game a little bit more," Miller said.
NDSU (9-2, 7-1 MVFC) has won four consecutive games and is in position to earn a top-4 seed and an at-large bid for the NCAA Division I FCS playoffs. The FCS selection show is scheduled for 11:30 a.m. Sunday on ESPNU.
“We’re going to get ready for whoever is next and wherever they send us," said Bison head coach Matt Entz.
"It's kind of hard for me to determine where we'll go," added Bison senior safety Michael Tutsie. "I'd like to definitely think we'll get a top-4 seed and get a first-round bye for sure. ... We'll be ready to go once playoff time comes."
The Bison led by 21 points less than 16 minutes into the game, and UND got no closer than 14 points of the lead from that point. The 6-foot-1, 212-pound Miller rushed for 93 yards on 16 carries and tied multiple former Bison players for the program record for most rushing TDs in a game.
"It came down to you've got to stay in the game otherwise they're just going to run the football and then it becomes a tough situation," said UND head coach Bubba Schweigert.
NDSU finished with six rushing touchdowns and rushed for 363 yards on 55 attempts.
Miller scored his fourth rushing touchdown of the game early in the second half. His 5-yard TD run gave NDSU a 35-14 lead with 13 minutes, 19 seconds to play in the third quarter. That capped a 45-yard drive that took four plays.
"I feel like each week we just continue to climb that ladder and just get better and better, offense, defense, special teams," Tutsie said.
UND quarterback Quincy Vaughn scored on a 1-yard touchdown run to cut the lead to 35-21 with 7:41 to play in the third quarter. Vaughn scored on a fourth-and goal play to cap a 72-yard drive that took 10 plays.
Miller countered with a 30-yard TD run for a 42-21 lead with 1:22 to play in the third quarter. That capped an 80-yard play that took 13 plays.
"I think we've just come so far," said Bison offensive tackle Cody Mauch. "We're trusting the run, we're trusting the pass, we're trusting our play-action shots. When you can fully trust whatever (offensive coordinator Tyler) Roehl is going to call, you're going to be clicking all the time."
The Bison start fast and took a 7-0 lead after running back TaMerik Williams scored on a 51-yard touchdown run with 12:36 to play in the first quarter. That was NDSU's second play from scrimmage after UND had a three-and-out on the game's opening possession.
Miller scored on a 4-yard TD run that gave the Bison a 14-0 lead with 5:13 remaining in the first quarter. The drive covered 97 yards in eight plays. DJ Hart set up the score with a 76-yard reception — on third-and-7 — that moved the ball to the UND 18.
Miller added a 7-yard touchdown run for a 21-0 lead with 14:08 to play in the second quarter. That capped a 60-yard drive that lasted seven plays.
"We've had a lot of success with our openers this entire season and coming out to a fast start kind of sets the tempo for the entire game" Mauch said.
UND countered moments later. Vaughn scored on a 1-yard TD run to cut the Bison lead to 21-7 with 12:40 to play in the first half. Wide receiver Bo Belquist set up that score with a 63-yard reception from starting QB Tommy Schuster to the Bison 2.
Miller answered with a 3-yard touchdown run for a 28-7 lead with 5:27 to play in the second quarter. That capped a 92-yard drive that took 13 plays and lasted more than seven minutes.
UND cut into the lead in the final seconds of the first half. Wide receiver Garrett Maag caught an 18-yard TD pass that sliced the NDSU advantage to 28-14 with six seconds to play in the second quarter. That capped a 78-yard drive that took 13 plays.
The Bison gained 304 yards on 32 plays in the opening 30 minutes. They finished with 522 yards on 67 plays.
"I don't know if we have played our best football yet, but we're sure excited to go try and keep getting better," Entz said. "This team can."
Schweigert said UND (7-4, 5-3 MVFC) has done enough to earn an at-large spot in the FCS playoffs.
"We're the third place team in the Missouri Valley conference, that's pretty good," Schweigert said. "That's a playoff team. That's the way I feel."