FARGO — North Dakota State showed its own version of a triple-option backfield Saturday afternoon at the Fargodome.
Three different running backs scored touchdowns and the Bison rushed for more than 300 yards, rolling to a 38-3 victory against San Diego in the second round of the NCAA Division I FCS football playoffs before 18,067 fans.
“It’s just so nice to be able to plug three different guys in there and know they are going to be able to make plays,” said Bison quarterback Easton Stick, who had a 51-yard touchdown run.
The Bison (11-1) advance to the FCS quarterfinals for an eighth consecutive season. They will host Wofford College (S.C.) next weekend in the final eight.
“It’s really, really special. I’m happy I was able to commit to a place and come to a place that is so special,” said Bison senior defensive tackle Nate Tanguay. “This is a standard. This is something we have to do every year and if we don’t we look at ourselves as failures.”
The Bison defeated the Toreros (10-3) in the second round for a second consecutive season. Last year, NDSU earned a 45-7 victory at the Fargodome. San Diego won the non-scholarship Pioneer League.
“We had great respect for North Dakota State coming in here and we leave with even more,” San Diego head coach Dale Lindsey said. “We aspire to be like that.”
Bruce Anderson led the Bison backfield barrage. The 5-foot-11, 216-pound junior rushed for 112 yards on 14 attempts and also caught a 48-yard touchdown pass.
“We like to pride ourselves in making people miss or making the first guy pay for it,” Anderson said.
Bison sophomore Ty Brooks rushed for 88 yards on 11 carries, including a 23-yard scoring burst. True freshman Seth Wilson had a 19-yard touchdown reception in the first quarter and also rushed for 47 yards.
“I’ve been more impressed the last couple of games with Bruce,” Bison head coach Chris Klieman said. “Ty and Seth give us that home-run hit and do some nice things.”
The Bison rushed for 301 yards on 46 attempts, averaging 6.5 yards per carry. Stick contributed to that big day on the ground, rushing for 54 yards on eight carries. Stick also passed for 171 yards and three touchdowns.
“The playoffs are like a different season,” Anderson said. “We attack it.”
The Bison offense was in attack mode early, scoring on its first two drives. Wilson’s 19-yard touchdown catch capped the first scoring drive and gave NDSU a 7-0 lead with 8 minutes, 57 seconds to play in the first quarter. That march covered 82 yards in seven plays.
Stick capped the team’s second possession with his 51-yard scoring burst that gave the Bison a 14-0 lead with 5:24 to play in the first half. That drive covered 75 yards in five plays.
Bison kicker Cam Pedersen added a season-long 47-yard field goal that gave NDSU a 17-0 lead with 14:13 to play in the second quarter. The Bison took that lead into halftime.
“We challenged our guys this morning to have a fast start,” Klieman said.
The Bison started fast again in the second half, scoring 21 points in the third quarter. Brooks sparked that rally his 23-yard touchdown run that gave NDSU a 24-0 lead with 10:58 to play in the third quarter. Anderson later added his 48-yard touchdown catch on a screen pass and senior wide receiver RJ Urzendowski added a one-handed, 13-yard TD catch. Urzendowski’s grab gave the Bison a 38-0 lead with 2:57 to play in the third quarter.
“We were able to get some explosive plays,” Klieman said.
The Bison defense did its part, holding the Toreros to 174 yards of total offense on 58 plays. NDSU finished with 472 yards on 63 plays. Bison senior linebacker Nick DeLuca had two sacks to lead the charge.
“This is where we’re supposed to be and we’ll play it one game at a time but we have an ultimate goal we want to achieve,” Tanguay said.