NDSU Football Holds off Western Illinois

Courtesy: NDSU Athletics

MACOMB, Ill. – North Dakota State’s defense blocked two kicks and forced three fourth-quarter turnovers to lift the No. 4-ranked Bison to a 21-13 victory over 12th-ranked Western Illinois in the Missouri Valley Football Conference on Saturday, Oct. 22.
King Frazier rushed for a pair of touchdowns and Jeff Illies caught a 17-yard touchdown pass as the Bison (6-1, 3-1 MVFC) built a 21-6 lead by halftime.
Western Illinois (5-2, 2-2 MVFC) scored on its first possession of the second half, but the Fighting Leathernecks had a field goal blocked, fumbled inside the NDSU 1, and threw two interceptions on their final four possessions.
A defensive offside call forced NDSU to make two stops on fourth-and-goal from the 1 midway through the fourth quarter.  Linebacker Matt Plank forced a fumble and Pierre Gee-Tucker recovered in the end zone for a touchback.
The Bison went three-and-out on the next series but got the ball back three plays later when Jalen Allison picked off Sean McGuire near midfield.
NDSU took 4:39 off the clock on a 10-play drive before stalling at the WIU 28 on a fourth-down try with 49 seconds left in the game. Tre Dempsey’s interception on the next play allowed the Bison to kneel out the clock.
The Bison jumped out to a quick 7-0 lead on their first drive of the game. Darrius Shepherd caught a 48-yard pass on the first play to the WIU 20, a 15-yard pass to Chase Morlock moved it to the 5, and Frazier punched it in two plays later from the 3.
Western Illinois got field goals on its next two possessions to cut the score to 7-6 before the Bison pulled away.  Frazier scored on a 1-yard run late in the second quarter and the Bison got a three-and-out to set up another scoring drive before intermission.
Shepherd had a run of 11 yards and receptions of 11 and 15 yards to spark a nine-play, 73-yard scoring drive that took just 1:34.  Illies scored with 45 seconds left and Greg Menard  blocked a field goal try on the next drive to keep NDSU’s 21-6 lead.
The Bison blocked two kicks for the first time since the 2012 national semifinal win over Georgia Southern.  blocked the second try in the third quarter to keep it an eight-point game.  He had a team-high nine tackles and Gee-Tucker finished with eight.
NDSU quarterback  went 9 of 18 passing for 160 yards and had two interceptions for the first time in his career.  Frazier finished with 20 carries for 89 yards and Shepherd had three catches for 74 yards to lead four Bison receivers.
North Dakota State plays at Northern Iowa at 6 p.m. next Saturday, Oct. 29.  The Panthers are 3-4 overall and 2-2 in the conference after a 61-7 home win over Missouri State.

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