North Dakota State’s spring football opener ended like many have in the fall – with a Bison victory.
NDSU extended its FCS-record winning streak to 39 games with a 25-7 victory over Youngstown State in front of 6,578 fans at the Fargodome. Seating was limited to 50% capacity of up to 9,500.
The partisan crowd saw the Bison run for 243 yards, while holding the Penguins to 171 yards of offense.
"It was outstanding to see our fans there and to hear our fans," NDSU head coach Matt Entz said. "Really pleased with how the game went. I thought it was a very clean game. No turnovers. No sacks, very few penalties.
"Is there room for growth? Definitely. I don't know what our ceiling is yet and I don't care right now."
Kobe Johnson ran for 114 yards and the game's first touchdown. The sophomore from Lawrenceville, Georgia's role expanded when starting tailback Seth Wilson was injured early.
"I was ready for it," Johnson said. "We have pretty good depth in the running back room. If somebody goes down, it's next man up."
Entz was impressed with what he saw in Johnson's 16 carries.
"Kobe's worked extremely hard," Entz said. "He's stronger, more durable. He's matured immensely in the time he's been here. Really pleased with how he played today. He can be a weapon for us in a number of ways."
The Bison averaged 6.1 yards per carry en route to 243 rushing yards.
"I'm happy to be running behind those guys," Johnson said of NDSU's offensive line.
Jalen Bussey added two rushing scores for the Bison, including a 22-yarder in the third quarter and seven-yard sprint in the fourth to push the lead to 24-7.
Kicker Jake Reinholz accounted for seven points in the game. The Fargo Shanley product ran in a two-pointer after the first touchdown. Later, he pounded home a 28-yard field goal to go with a pair of extra point kicks.
Youngstown State got on the board in the third quarter. Mark Waid, one of two quarterbacks to play for the Penguins, capped a 15-play drive which chewed up more than half of the period, with a 12-yard touchdown pass to Jake Coates. The 75-yard drive accounted for nearly half of Youngstown State's offensive output.
Linebacker Jackson Hankey had a team-high 14 tackles for NDSU.
"We were able to play fast ... just react and play," the junior from Park River, North Dakota said. "I thought we did a good job today and hopefully we can continue it going forward."
Entz said their best prep is what they see every day in practice.
"The best offense we'll play against all year long is our own," he said. "If we can get through fall camp or spring camp and feel like we got some things accomplished, we'll be OK."
The Bison (2-0 overall, 1-0 Summit League) play their first road game Saturday, February 27 at Southern Illinois. The Salukis (1-1) were routed 44-21 by North Dakota on Saturday in Grand Forks.
Reach Tribune sports editor Dave Selvig at (701) 250-8246 or firstname.lastname@example.org