Dominant 2nd half leads Bison to win over South Dakota 34-17

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During coach Matt Entz’s weekly press conference, he stressed the importance of not letting one loss turn into another by maintaining solid preparation and energy as the Bisons enter conference play. After the first half of the Bison’s conference opener against the University of South Dakota Coyotes, the Bison didn’t look ready after falling 17-10 at halftime. However, the Herd came out shooting in the second half scoring 24 unanswered points to defeat the Coyotes 34-17 at the DakotaDome in Vermillion.

By putting the defense on the field first, the Bisons gave themselves a great opportunity to build momentum on their offense. On a 3rd down, they would do just that thanks to a huge sack from linebacker Luke Weerts. The Bison would then immediately drive to the red zone, putting themselves in a prime position to score. That is until Bison quarterback Cam Miller was knocked out in the end zone by Myles Harden of the Coyotes. Before the game, Miller had attempted 85 consecutive passes without being intercepted and was his first interception since NDSU’s first playoff game last season.

The Bison offense would be without two of its greatest pass catchers, Phoenix Sproles and Noah Gindorff on Saturday. Sproles, who traveled with the team to Vermillion, was sidelined with a hamstring injury. As for Gindorff, he was not with the Bison due to an undisclosed injury.

“The previous injury just didn’t heal,” Entz said of Gindorff’s absence. “I don’t have all the details yet. He wasn’t with us on Thursday or Friday.

The Coyotes (1-3, 0-1 MVFC) would benefit from Bison’s errors and penalties. The first of those being a brutal penalty for safety punter Dawson Weber who extended a Coyote drive that had stalled deep in their own territory. Another Bison penalty would see South Dakota go deep into NDSU territory, the Bison defense would hold the Coyotes to just three points on an 18-yard shot by Eddie Ogamba and the Bison would trail just 3-0.

The red zone stoppage for the Bison defense seemed to give the Bisons a change of momentum as they would go on two straight drives. To get the Bison on the board, Griffin Crosa would tie the game at three a play with a 26-yard field goal, Bison’s first field goal of the season. On the very next play from scrimmage, Dawson Weber made up for his earlier mistake by forcing a fumble from South Dakota tailback Travis Theis that was picked up by Michael Tutsie. Tutsi, who started her 45e consecutive game at safety, led the Bison in tackles with seven with fumble recovery.

The Bison would take advantage of the short field and kick the ball into the end zone with a 2-yard touchdown by Kobe Johnson to give NDSU a 10-3 lead midway through the second quarter.

After Luke Weerts’ first career interception, it looked like all was well for Bison. However, the Bisons would do themselves no favors and return the ball after a fumble from Jalen Bussey. The Bison defense would hold their ground, however, and force a three and out of the Coyotes.

Another Bison mistake, however, brought DakotaDome and Coyote fans to life. NDSU’s Hunter Brozio would be called for an unsportsmanlike foul and give the ball to South Dakota in midfield. The Coyote offense led by Theis and quarterback Carson Camp would pick up the pace and drive to the end zone in less than two minutes of playing time to tie the game at ten apiece.

The nightmare of the Bison would unfortunately continue after yet another reversal. Tailback Dom Gonnella spat the rock on his own 28-yard line and gave South Dakota another scoring chance before intermission. The Coyote offense wasted no time and scored on a 28-yard connection from side to receiver Wesley Eliodor on the next play to give South Dakota a 17-10 before halftime.

Three turnovers and fifty penalty yards certainly aren’t the championship-level performances that Bison fans are used to. In fact, the most recent occurrence with the Bison committing multiple turnovers in the first half was in a 2014 game against Missouri State. Luckily for the Bison, though, they have a player no other Missouri Valley team has, and that’s Hunter Luepke.

Luepke was a key part of NDSU’s first practice in the second half. He was one of six Bison to touch the disc which ended with a 13-yard touchdown run from Cam Miller. Luepke would then be an even bigger piece of Bison’s next possession. After a fierce 17-yard run to the 2-yard line, Luepke hit the ball on the very next play to give the Bison a 24-17 lead and extended his consecutive game streak with a touchdown to seven from the start. last. season.

NDSU running back Hunter Luepke with a carry against South Dakota | photo creditTim Sanger

“He’s one of the best players we’ve had in years,” Entz said of Luepke. “He’s a pretty special athlete, a big body who can move really well and has great balance and vision.”

The Bison’s deadly combination of a dominant running game, which had 200 yards in the second half, and ball defense was key in the second half. North Dakota State possessed the ball for 22:26 of 30 minutes into the second half. Over 100 rushing yards from Hunter Luepke and two forced turnovers from the Bison defense early in Coyote’s drives gave the Bison possession of the ball for ¾ of the second half.

“That’s where they thrive,” South Dakota head coach Bob Nielson said after the game. “They’ll hold the ball for four or five, six minutes in a row and it wasn’t the kind of football we could play in the second half, even though we were ahead at half-time.”

Following another field goal from Griffin Crosa, Bison’s defense would force the previously mentioned turnovers on two consecutive possessions. Just three plays from the basket, Dawson Weber would again force a fumble from Coyote, this time through Carson Camp. The Bisons scored their final touchdown of the game to take a 34-17 lead on a 3-yard touchdown run for Luepke, his eighth total touchdown of the year in just four games.

A Logan Kopp interception would seal the game and complete the Bison’s second-half comeback after a bad 1st half showing.

“Bison vs. Bison. They were the only team I was worried about,” Entz said in his halftime message to the team. “We had to do what we had to do, and I thought you l you saw in the second half. Solid defense, we created the takeaway, and we knew how to move the ball and really do a great job in the red zone. It was on us. They weren’t doing anything. got in our way.”

The victory marked the 12e consecutive conference-opening victory for the Bison and was also the 6e consecutive game NDSU ran for more than 300 yards against South Dakota.

The Bison (3-1, 1-0 MVFC) will play at home on Saturday, October 1 against Youngstown State at 1:00 p.m. at the Fargodome. It will be a homecoming for the Bison. Student tickets are available at GoBison.com/Students.

Game statistics:

Hunter Luepke; 20 cars – 146 yards, 2 TDs; Dawson Weber; 6 tackles, 1 TFL, 2 FF; Luc Weerts; 7 Tackles, Sack, INT.


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