North Dakota State smothers Indiana State 56-10
TERRE HAUTE, Ind. -- The only football team to beat North Dakota State last year didn't even come close Saturday. After building a 39-point halftime lead, the unbeaten and top-ranked Bison rolled to a 56-10 victory over Indiana State before 5,009...
TERRE HAUTE, Ind. -- The only football team to beat North Dakota State last year didn't even come close Saturday.
After building a 39-point halftime lead, the unbeaten and top-ranked Bison rolled to a 56-10 victory over Indiana State before 5,009 fans at Memorial Stadium.
It was the most lopsided Missouri Valley Football Conference win since NDSU's 50-0 win over South Dakota last year. It marked the 17th straight win for the Bison and their 16th straight on the road.
"I think North Dakota State is a very good football team, that's obvious," said first-year Indiana State coach Mike Sanford. "They are very good."
The Bison were so good in the first half that they scored on six of their seven possessions and returned a punt for another score to build a 49-10 halftime lead. It was the most first-half points by a Bison team since 2000, when they built a 63-0 halftime lead against Minnesota State Moorhead. The Bison won that game 80-0.
Here is how the dominating first half broke down:
• Bison quarterback Brock Jensen threw an 11-yard touchdown strike to Zach Vraa to give the Bison a 7-0 lead less than five minutes into the game.
• Less than 30 seconds later, Colton Heagle intercepted a Robert Tonyan pass and returned it 35 yards for a touchdown that made it 14-0.
"Any time a quarterback throws a pick six, it is hard to overcome," said Bison head coach Craig Bohl, who saw Jensen throw two interceptions for touchdowns in last year's 17-14 home loss to Indiana State.
• Jensen hit a wide-open Vraa for a 29-yard touchdown to give the Bison a 21-0 lead with more than four minutes left of the first quarter.
"That was so wide open," said Jensen, who completed 13 of 14 passes for 186 yards and four touchdowns. "Sometimes, it's tough for a quarterback to hit a guy that wide open."
• After giving up a field goal, the Bison answered back when Jensen hit a wide-open Vraa for a 41-yard gain, before hitting a wide-open Ryan Smith in the end zone for a 20-yard touchdown. With more than 11 minutes left of the first half, the Bison had a 28-3 lead.
• Just when Indiana State thought it caught a break with Lemonte's Booker 97-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, Smith returned the favor with what was officially ruled a 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown that made it 35-10. Smith, who caught the ball five yards in the end zone, tied the school record that was set in 1923 by Elmer Parisien.
"We knew we had a chance," Smith said of his kickoff return.
• On their next possession, the Bison marched 52 yards in 12 plays - a drive capped by Trevor Gebhart's acrobatic catch in the front corner of the end zone. With 2 minutes, 21 seconds left in the first half, the Bison led 42-10.
• As if that wasn't enough, the Bison defense sacked Tonyan twice, forcing a punt from the end zone. That's when Christian Dudzik, who bobbled the punt on the ISU 43, returned it untouched for a touchdown that gave the Bison their 49-10 lead 1:18 before halftime.
Dudzik did it again early in the second half with a 68-yard punt return that made it 56-10. He had never returned two punts for touchdowns in one game before Saturday.
"Not in middle school, not in high school," said Dudzik, who said the key in those returns was making the first tacklers miss him. "You try to make those bullets miss. If you can, after that, the blocks were there to create the seams."
The Bison first-string offense, which sat much of the second half, piled up 401 total yards while the Bison first-string defense, which also sat much of the second half, limited Indiana State to 157 total yards.
Indiana State, ranked 18th in a national preseason poll, falls 1-7 overall and 0-5 in the conference.
The Bison, which improve to 8-0 overall and 5-0 in the conference, now will have a bye week before its Nov. 9 home game against Illinois State.