FARGO — North Dakota State’s defense took care of business as it kept Missouri State off the board in a 22-0 victory in Missouri Valley Football Conference action on Saturday, Oct. 19, at Gate City Bank Field at the Fargodome.
The Bison controlled the game, but didn’t put much distance between themselves and 1-win Missouri State on the scoreboard. Despite nearly tripling the Bears' offensive output, the Bison let MSU hang around.
NDSU improved to 7-0, 3-0 in the Missouri Valley Football Conference setting up next week's showdown at 3-0 South Dakota State.
While NDSU’s offense struggled to pull away, the defense dominated. The Bears never came close to scoring. They crossed midfield three times, managing to make it to the NDSU 49 and 45 on their last two drives of the first half, and got to the 44 late in the fourth.
The Bison gained 450 yards and held the Bears to 185. MSU had 21 yards rushing and 164 yards passing in the shutout.
Sophomore Bison defensive end Spencer Waege was a drive killer in the first half with a pair of third down sacks to force Bears punts. NDSU’s front kept MSU quarterback Peyton Huslig on his toes throughout the game, forcing poor throws under pressure. And the Bears’ running attack was almost non-existent in the first half, as they rushed for 12 yards on nine attempts and didn’t fair any better after the break with just nine yards on 11 attempts.
A pair of chunk plays led to the two first-half NDSU touchdowns — a 58-yard rush by Adam Cofield and a 21-yard touchdown run by Trey Lance.
Lance started the Bison scoring with a 21-yard touchdown run at the 7:40 mark in the first quarter. He ran to his left where an MSU defender got a hand on his ankle, but the quarterback ran through it and scurried in for the score. And James Hendricks ran in a 2-point conversion to make it 8-0. The Bison got deep into Bears territory after a 27-yard pass up the seam to tight end Ben Ellefson.
Cofield’s 58-yard run jump-started a nine-play, 92-yard drive to push the Bison lead to 15-0. He hit a wall at the line of scrimmage, spun off a tackle and burst free of the pile before cutting to his right, hurdling a tackle attempt near the Bison 30 and following the lead block by Zach Mathis down the right sideline to the Bears 34. And he capped the drive with a 1-yard dive after a 9-yard jet sweep by Kobe Johnson.
The drive appeared to have stalled after a fourth-down screen was batted down by an MSU defender. A neutral zone infraction was called way after the end of the play and the Bison drive continued.
After a scoreless third quarter, the Bison gave themselves a little breathing room with 5:48 to go in the fourth quarter. Lance rushed for 17 yards on fourth-and-3 to set up a 1-yard touchdown dive by Cofield to put the Bison up 22-0 with 5:48 to play. On the 17-yarder, Lance scrambled to his right and made it to the 1 before being forced out.
The Bison had several opportunities to blow the game open, but couldn’t capitalize and create separation.
Lance had Kobe Johnson for what could have been a massive gain on the first Bison drive of the second half, but he missed the target. Johnson was wide open up the seam with nobody in front of him, but Lance rushed the pass and sailed a laser over his head. And Griffin Crosa missed a 31-yard field goal with 6:47 to go in the third quarter that would have made it a three-score game.