North Dakota State fans know they can count on the Bison rushing attack to carry the day.
Saturday it was a parade of running backs that got the job done against Central Arkansas. Sophomore tailback/fullback/tight end Hunter Luepke was all over the field. Luepke finished with two carries for 27 yards, including a 14 yard touchdown run that put the game away in the fourth quarter. He also added two receptions for 29 yards and a touchdown.
"I think I'm a chief. Fullback, tight end, like to kick out power, I like to...I like to hit people." Luepke said after the game Saturday. Luepke was a high school sensation at Spencer High School in Wisconsin. Luepke racked up 95 touchdowns in high school. He displayed some of that athleticism last year in spot duty, including two touchdowns against South Dakota at the end of last season.
"He had a huge role in the gameplan. I think sometimes to call him a fullback is almost a little bit of a disservice. He does do a lot of blocking but this is a 250-pound athlete that can move really well. He's got great speed. We see it everyday at practice, his ability to be a difference maker for us." Head coach Matt Entz said.
Luepke wasn't the only standout in the backfield. Junior running back Seth Wilson made his return after a 22 month absence. Wilson tore his ACL in spring practice in March 2019 and missed the entire season. He came back with a purpose Saturday, running hard in the fourth quarter. He finished with seven carries for 55 yards.
"I've just been waiting and waiting and waiting and waiting for the opportunity to get back on this field, so I just knew it was really a joyous moment to be able to carry the football here again." Wilson said. "His story was huge. He had the Oregon game circled. That was his target date to be back from that ACL and it got delayed a little bit. It was sure fun to see him excited to play football again." Entz said.
Wilson flashed on the scene as a true freshman in 2017, playing in eight games that season. He was tremendous in the national semifinal game, running for 194 yards on 24 carries in the rout of Sam Houston State. Wilson was plagued by a hamstring injury in fall camp of 2018, causing him to miss the first half of the season. Wilson played in just four games, keeping his year of eligibility, but had an exciting 78 yard run against South Dakota State in the semifinals, where he re-aggravated his hamstring injury.
"I was just waiting for the opportunity. We have a lot of great running backs in that room that were getting touches and so I was just waiting for my opportunity to show them what I have."