College Football: Stick, NDSU Survive another Top-Ten Showdown

Easton Stick's three touchdowns propels Bison to victory over Western Illinois.

FARGO, N.D. (NDSU Athletics) – North Dakota State is the lone remaining unbeaten team in the Missouri Valley Football Conference after a 24-12 victory over 10th-ranked Western Illinois on Saturday, Oct. 21, before a crowd of 18,630 at Gate City Bank Field at the Fargodome.

The No. 2-ranked Bison (7-0, 4-0 MVFC) took over sole possession of first place in the conference with No. 4-ranked South Dakota suffering its first loss of the year 37-21 at Illinois State.

NDSU shut out Western Illinois (5-2, 2-2 MVFC) in the second half and quarterback Easton Stickrushed for two touchdowns in the third quarter to help the Bison erase their first halftime deficit of the season.

“I thought, especially in the second half, we dominated the line of scrimmage and that’s the challenge we gave to the guys at halftime,” said NDSU head coach Chris Klieman.  “We had to come out and own the line of scrimmage, both sides of the ball.”

NDSU went 75 yards in 11 plays to open the second half capped by Stick’s 2-yard plunge on fourth-and-1 from the WIU 2.  The Bison defense forced a three-and-out and scored on the ensuing possession with plays of 23, 16 and 20 yards setting up Stick’s 8-yard score.

Stick averaged 6.8 yards on nine carries and finished with 61 yards on the ground.  He went 11 of 18 passing for 221 yards and threw his 45th career touchdown, tying Carson Wentz for third all-time at NDSU.

NDSU’s RJ Urzendowski had four receptions for 100 yards and one touchdown, and Bruce Anderson led all rushers with 21 carries for 93 yards.  WIU quarterback Sean McGuire was 17 of 28 passing for 185 yards and Jaelon Acklin made six catches for 115 yards.

James HendricksCaleb Butler and Robbie Grimsley each made five tackles to lead the Bison defense, which registered five sacks, two other tackles for loss, four pass breakups and two quarterback hurries.

“We had to get pressure on McGuire. It’s hard to get pressure on him,” Klieman said.  “We made some stops in the run game as well. I thought our defensive line played at a really high level and for us to be successful we have to continue that.”

The game was tied 3-3 late in the first quarter when Western Illinois went ahead with a 43-yard interception return touchdown by Quentin Moon.  That snapped Stick’s school-record streak of 152 passing attempts without an interception.

NDSU went ahead 10-9 when Urzendowski scored on a 58-yard passing play, but the Fighting Leathernecks took a 12-10 lead into the halftime locker room thanks to a 52-yard field goal by Nathan Erickson on his first career attempt.

“It’s a tough league and there are no easy games,” Klieman said.  “We just go on to the next, and we’re going to beat each other up. There’s no question about that.”

North Dakota State hosts second-place Northern Iowa at 2:30 p.m. next Saturday, Oct. 28.  The Panthers (4-3, 3-1 MVFC) are coming off a 19-14 home win over No. 9 Youngstown State and have won two straight including a 38-18 victory at seventh-ranked South Dakota State.

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