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King of the road: Bison RB Williams has been most productive this fall when team leaves Fargo

NDSU running back TaMerik Williams has rushed for the majority of his yards this season when the Bison have played on the road.

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North Dakota State's TaMerik Williams drags Western Illinois’ Jalen McKie during their football game Saturday, Nov. 5, 2022, in Macomb, Illinois.
Michael Vosburg/The Forum
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FARGO — North Dakota State running back TaMerik Williams has been a road warrior this season.

The 6-foot-1, 229-pound senior has done his best work when the Bison have played road games in which he's gained around 85% of his rushing yards.

“I was just talking to my dad about that the other day," Williams said. "I think I play better on the road than at home. I’m not sure honestly, I guess what happens during the game happens.”

The Bison are hoping that Williams trend continues at 1 p.m. Saturday when NDSU plays at Southern Illinois in Missouri Valley Football Conference play.

“Any time he gets the ball something big can happen," said Bison offensive tackle Cody Mauch. "He’s just an explosive player.”

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North Dakota State's TaMerik Williams, right, is congratulated by Jake Lippe for his touchdown against Western Illinois during their football game Saturday, Nov. 5, 2022, in Macomb, Illinois.
Michael Vosburg/The Forum

Williams has rushed for 420 yards and five touchdowns on 51 attempts this season. However, he's rushed for 355 yards and all five TDs on 34 carries in NDSU's four road games.

Williams rushed for 120 yards and two TDs on 12 attempts in a 56-17 victory against Western Illinois last weekend. He rushed for 145 yards and three scores on 13 carries in a road win at Indiana State in early October.

“That’s a big cat rolling through there now," said Bison head coach Matt Entz. "You’ve got to bite down on your mouthpiece if you want to tackle him.”

Part of the reason Williams has come alive later in the season is he was dealing with a lower body injury during fall camp and early in the regular season.

“I think it’s more about me finding a rhythm and the coaching staff just trusting me to do what I do when I get the ball in my hands," said Williams, who had a similar late-season surge last year. “Running downhill is my best friend, staying north and south, not trying to run laterally too much.”

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The Bison have also spread the ball around in the running game with five running backs rushing for at least 223 yards. Quarterbacks Cam Miller and Cole Payton both rushed for at least 162 yards through nine games.

“I think it’s a good experience for all of us to learn," Williams said. "I think we’re all unselfish players and we just all want to see each other succeed. The same goes for myself. I want to see them being successful just as I want to be successful.”

The 6-foot-6, 303-pound Mauch said Williams makes it easier on the offensive line.

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“He sees the field so well, he runs the ball well, he just runs so hard," Mauch said. "It makes it easy to block for guys like that when they can see stuff so well.”

Williams appreciates the role the offensive line, fullbacks, tight ends and receivers play in his success.

“It’s a pleasure to know that you have a bunch of guys who are going to go to battle and fight for you everyday and make sure they’re doing a great job of sustaining their blocks," Williams said. "I just try to do the best I can to make their jobs easier for them.”

Williams ranks second on the team in rushing yards and the Bison are averaging 263.0 rushing yards per game. NDSU (7-2, 5-1 MVFC) has won two consecutive games after a home loss against South Dakota State.

“I think we’re headed in a good direction as a team," Williams said. "Everybody is starting to click. Obviously we can still get better at some things, but as a team I think we’re in a good spot.”

Peterson covers college athletics for The Forum, including Concordia College and Minnesota State Moorhead. He also covers the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks independent baseball team and helps out with North Dakota State football coverage. Peterson has been working at the newspaper since 1996.
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