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McFeely: Bison win a game that lives up to the hype

Youngstown, OhioThe belief that Saturday's game between North Dakota State and Youngstown State was going to be a good old-fashioned slobberknocker was confirmed not only by the teams' play on the field, but by some extracurricular activity by Pe...

North Dakota State kicker Cam Pedersen connects on a 36-yard field goal in overtime against Youngstown State Saturday, Oct. 14, 2017, in Youngstown, Ohio.David Samson / The Forum
North Dakota State kicker Cam Pedersen connects on a 36-yard field goal in overtime against Youngstown State Saturday, Oct. 14, 2017, in Youngstown, Ohio.David Samson / The Forum

Youngstown, Ohio

The belief that Saturday's game between North Dakota State and Youngstown State was going to be a good old-fashioned slobberknocker was confirmed not only by the teams' play on the field, but by some extracurricular activity by Penguins' fans.

After the Bison's RJ Urzendowski made an ESPN-worthy touchdown catch early in the second quarter-one hand, left-handed on a bullet throw to the corner of the end zone by Easton Stick-a Youngstown State fan threw a bowl of chili on the NDSU receiver as he was jogging back to the bench.

Does anything say "old school" more than food being tossed on a player?

While there needs to be some forgiveness for the rudeness of the Youngstown State fan-plus some allowance for fuzzy thinking since this was a 7 p.m. Eastern kickoff-what transpired at Stambaugh Stadium was exactly what was expected of a Missouri Valley Football Conference matchup of intensely physical, defense- and run-oriented teams.

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In today's world of never-ending media hype and social media titillation, the game between the Bison and Penguins actually accomplished a rare thing: It lived up to the hype.

Cam Pedersen booted a 36-yard field goal in overtime to give the Bison a 27-24 victory in a turnover-free, superbly-played football game between to high-level Football Championship Subdivision teams. Applause all around.

Give the Bison the upper hand in the brutal conference race. They improved to 3-0 in the league and 6-0 overall. The first leg of the gauntlet section of their schedule is out of the way with a victory. NDSU has a two-game lead on preseason league co-favorite South Dakota State (now 1-2 in the league), which suffered an ugly home loss to Northern Iowa on Saturday. The Bison also lead Youngstown State by two games.

NDSU is tied atop the Valley with surprising South Dakota, which is also 3-0 in the league and 6-0 overall. That Nov. 11 game at the Fargodome between NDSU and USD is looking more important by the week.

This game turned into a showcase of talented quarterbacks.

Stick was the main weapon for the Bison, rushing for 172 yards on 11 carries. Combine that with an 11-for-20 passing performance, including two touchdowns, and the junior was player of the game. He's having a conference player of the year-type season.

Stick was Superman for the Bison, electrifying the crowd of 16,408 with his legs. After showing remarkable athleticism on some runs in the first three quarters, he turned on the jets on an 80-yard touchdown run on the first play of the fourth quarter. It gave NDSU a 24-17 lead.

On the other side was Nathan Mays, Youngstown State's sophomore quarterback. He, too, was his team's best weapon, running for 81 yards and throwing for two touchdowns.

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Mays was Superman for the Penguins. His perfect pass to Damoun Patterson on a third down and 6 late in the fourth quarter went for 35 yards and kept alive a critical drive. Two plays later, Mays sprinted for a 36-yard gain to the Bison 21. It was a play that set up Youngstown State's tying touchdown.

Both teams were excellent defensively, as expected. While much of FCS is pitching, catching and running up and down the field at will, these teams made every yard valuable.

The Bison may have seen a breakout game from a future star defensive player. Redshirt freshman Jabril Cox was all over the field after taking the place of senior Chris Board, who left early with a knee injury. Cox finished with eight tackles, most of them noisy.

None was bigger than when Cox zipped into the backfield and dropped Youngstown State running back Tevin McCaster for a five-yard loss on the second play of overtime. That killed the Penguins' chances of getting a first down. Two plays later, Zak Kennedy missed a 39-yard field goal wide left and Pedersen ended the game a few minutes later.

A star was born.

And Cox was lucky. Nobody threw a bowl of chili on him. Although, given the outcome, he probably wouldn't have minded. Cox seems to play the game old-school, just like everybody on the field Saturday.

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