Stick, defense restore Bison order in Missouri Valley Football Conference with 28-14 win
TERRE HAUTE, Ind. – No. 8-ranked North Dakota State shut down a big-play receiver, and only had one big-play hiccup Saturday afternoon at Memorial Stadium.
That return to defensive stinginess helped vault the Bison to a 28-14 victory against No. 21-ranked Indiana State in Missouri Valley Football Conference action before 6,524 fans.
“We went into this game thinking we had to bring it,” said Bison defensive tackle Brian Schaetz, who had four tackles and a sack. “You saw what we had today.”
The Bison (5-2, 3-1 MVFC) rebounded from last week’s 24-21 home upset loss against South Dakota with a 14-point road win against a ranked opponent. NDSU limited Indiana State to 201 yards with 81 of those coming on a long touchdown run early in the third quarter.
“We all played with more passion, more sense of urgency,” said Bison senior cornerback C.J. Smith. “The younger guys played with a lot more passion. Last game, we were flat.”
A spirited defensive effort, paired with a strong first college start from redshirt freshman quarterback Easton Stick, helped the Bison pull away from the Sycamores in the second half.
Stick played in place of injured senior starter Carson Wentz, who broke his right wrist against South Dakota and is expected to miss 6-8 weeks.
Stick completed 9 of 20 passes for 126 yards and a touchdown. He also rushed for 124 yards and two touchdowns on 17 attempts.
“I saw a lot of skill, a lot of juice we would say,” Smith said of Stick.
The Bison were able to take some of the juice out of the Indiana State offense. Sycamores senior high-octane receiver Gary Owens didn’t have a catch. Owens entered Saturday’s game with 26 catches for 473 yards and eight touchdowns, averaging 18.2 yards per reception.
“We took a lot of pride in that,” Smith said.
The Sycamores offensive success was limited to about a six-minute window. Indiana State scored with 10 seconds remaining in the first half after Matt Adam zipped a 13-yard touchdown pass to Andrew Main. The Bison led 14-7 at halftime.
Indiana State scored on its first possession in the second half after Adam ran 81 yards for a touchdown. That tied the scored 14-14 with 10:51 to play in the third. The Sycamores had 151 of their yards on those two scoring drives.
“This is how we are going to win games, guys,” Bison head coach Chris Klieman said. “It’s going to be grind-it-out games.”
The Bison responded to that long Adam touchdown run with a 78-yard scoring drive in 10 plays. Stick finished the drive with a 13-yard touchdown pass to sophomore receiver R.J. Urzendowski. Stick was pressured and rolled to his right on the play, before zipping a strike to Urzendowski in the end zone. That gave the Bison a 21-14 lead with 6:25 to play in the third quarter. The Bison extended that lead to 28-14 after Stick scored on a 15-yard run with 33 seconds to play in the third.
“When the critical plays had to be made … he made critical plays,” Klieman said of Stick.
The Bison finished with 243 yards rushing on 57 attempts for a nearly 2-to-1 edge in time of possession. NDSU limited the Sycamores to nine yards on their final four possessions.
“Every week has got to be like this week,” Schaetz said. “It showed in this game, and we’ve got to keep doing this.”