FARGO -- UND and North Dakota State met Saturday afternoon for the first time in four years -- the final non-conference matchup before the Fighting Hawks are officially in the Missouri Valley Football Conference.
UND, however, didn’t show much at the Fargodome to indicate its closed the competitive gap with the Bison since 2015.
NDSU freshman quarterback Trey Lance ran for 95 yards, passed for 162 yards and scored four total touchdowns, while the methodical Bison dismantled UND 38-7 in front of 18,923 -- the largest Fargodome crowd since 2015.
“Obviously, it wasn’t the result we were looking for today,” UND coach Bubba Schweigert said. “We knew we had a really tough opponent. But I don’t feel any differently about our football team right now than I did yesterday. I love our players. They work hard, day after day.”
The Fighting Hawks, who lost 34-9 to NDSU in 2015, showed glimpses of offensive improvement with first-year offensive coordinator Danny Freund but not nearly enough to challenge the Bison.
UND ran for just 68 yards on 28 carries and the Bison outgained the Fighting Hawks in total offense 428-230.
“We just have to improve and put it behind us,” said UND linebacker Donnell Rodgers, who finished with 16 tackles. “We just have to fix it and be better.”
Backup quarterback Andrew Zimmerman, a senior making his first career start in place of injured starter Nate Ketteringham, finished with 150 yards on 16-for-27 passing with no touchdowns and two interceptions.
The No. 1-ranked Bison, winners of seven of the last eight FCS national championships, slowly built a lead, grabbing advantages of 14-0 after one quarter, 21-7 at halftime and 31-7 after three quarters.
NDSU ran for 266 yards behind a balanced attack, led by Lance, who ended with 16 carries.
“He’s talented,” Schweigert said. “We knew he was talented coming in. You know you have to stop the quarterback run, and we weren’t able to do it.”
UND stayed within striking distance at halftime thanks to an early second-quarter drive.
Zimmerman hit senior wide receiver Noah Wanzek for 15 yards and sophomore Garett Maag for 20 in the Hawks’ first sustained drive of the game.
Maag finished with six catches for 76 yards.
UND senior running back James Johannesson, a former Fargo South High School star, capped the drive with a 3-yard touchdown run to make it 14-7 with 9:20 left in the second quarter.
The Bison bumped the lead to 21-7 with a Lance-to-Ben Ellefson 2-yard touchdown pass on a fake Lance keeper.
Instead of putting a scare into the Bison, the Hawks came out in the second half and couldn’t find any offensive footing.
On the first drive of the second half, Zimmerman threw a bad interception under pressure, on his back foot, to Michael Tutsie, who finished with two interceptions.
“We got pressure on the quarterback early in the second half and that created some turnovers,” NDSU first-year coach Matt Entz said.
The UND offense went three-and-out on its next possession.
“I just think they’re pretty stout,” said Wanzek, who had six catches for 46 yards.
By then, the Bison had UND’s defense on its heels.
The Hawks (1-1) host Sam Houston State on Saturday at 4 p.m. in a Potato Bowl game at the Alerus Center.
“The reality of the situation is this was Game 2 and we have a huge game next with another nationally ranked opponent coming to Grand Forks,” Schweigert said.