They reign for a reason.
Ranked first in the Football Championship Series (FCS) and boasting an NCAA-leading 14-game win streak, North Dakota State (8-0, 5-0) displayed their dominance in a 59-14 victory against USD (3-5, 2-3) at the DakotaDome Saturday afternoon.
NDSU Senior quarterback Easton Stick conducted a hot first quarter, throwing a pair of touchdowns to junior tight end Ben Ellefson and junior fullback Brock Robbins and jogging two yards into the endzone for his seventh rushing touchdown this season, giving the Coyotes an early 21-point deficit.
“We dug ourselves a hole from the beginning,” junior defensive end Darin Greenfield said. “It went downhill from there.”
After a 35-yard touchdown run from junior running back Ty Brooks that put the Bison up 28 midway through the second quarter, USD freshman running back Canaan Brooks answered with the first touchdown of his Coyote career, a three-yard rush with 5:27 left in the half.
On the following possession, Stick found Ellefson in the endzone for the second time, putting NDSU up 35-7 at halftime.
Junior quarterback Austin Simmons and Stick swapped long rushing touchdowns in the third quarter, Stick’s 47-yard dash coming with 6:32 left, then Simmons’ 62-yard sprint thirty seconds later.
Simmons threw for only 152 yards on 15/24 passing but rushed for 118 yards on 11 attempts.
USD opened the fourth quarter with a fumbled snap recovered by NDSU. The next play, backup freshman quarterback Trey Lance also fumbled his first snap of the game, but picked it up and ran 23 yards to the endzone. With 7:08 left in the game, NDSU freshman running back Adam Cofield moved the score to 59-14 after a 15-yard rushing touchdown, the last of the game.
NDSU’s defense, ranked first in the Missouri Valley Football Conference allowing only an average of 12.7 points per game, held USD’s offense to 336 total yards. USD Sophomore running back Kai Henry rushed for 43 yards on 14 attempts, and senior Shamar Jackson led the receiving group with 64 yards on five catches.
Junior Dakarai Allen, third in the MVFC in receiving yardage, did not record a reception.
Easton Stick finished with threw for 176 yards and three touchdowns on 12/19 passing, his two rushing touchdowns brought him to five total on the day. Senior running back Lance Dunn led the NDSU backfield with 114 yards rushing on 12 carries.
The Coyotes’ third straight loss moves them to 3-5 on the season.
“For the third week in a row, I think we underperformed as a football team,” Coyote head coach Bob Nielson said. “If you make mistakes and don’t execute against a team like North Dakota State, they make you pay, and they made us pay today.”
Greenfield said the team is playing with a lack of confidence.
“It’s our job as upperclassmen to make sure kids understand what they’re doing, that they’re confident when they get in the games, that they’re not second guessing themselves,” Greenfield said. “When you second guess yourself you play slow, and when you play slow they score touchdowns.”
The Coyotes travel to Terre Haute, Indiana to play Indiana State (4-4) next Saturday.
“We still have three more games left to play,” Jackson said. “We can’t let this control what we got ahead.”