Bison use running game to pound out a 38-7 win over I-29 rival Fighting Hawks

Chris Harris, DLJ Sports
North Dakota State's Ben Ellefson celebrates after scoring a second quarter touchdown against North Dakota in a NCAA football game, Saturday, Sept. 7, 2019 in Fargo.

FARGO — North Dakota State is like a prize fighter. Sometimes they can overwhelm opponents and knock them out — much like what the Bison did to Butler in their season opener, winning by 47 points and amassing over 600 yards of total offense.

Or they can outpoint you with consistent jabs, akin to what they did to their in-state rival North Dakota.

On the day in which the Bison raised another national championship banner, North Dakota State rushed for 266 yards and controlled time of possession by over 10 minutes to come away with the 38-7 win over the Fighting Hawks on Saturday, Sept. 7, from the Fargodome.

“Things that just jump out at me, statistically, time of possession. I challenged the offensive line all week long and the backs, ball security and being able to stay ahead of the chains because that will be critical all game,” said Bison head coach Matt Entz. “We did know from a defensive standpoint what they were going to do offensively, so I figured the best way to attack it is to keep our defense off the field and to make sure our offense continue to move the chains.

“They did a great job.”

Of the 65 total plays by the Bison, 50 were on the ground. The Bison got 12 rushing first downs and possessed the ball for over 35 minutes.

“The thought process was that those gains of two, three yards early in the contest were going to turn into seven, eight, nine yards later in the game and they did,” Entz said.

Redshirt freshman quarterback Trey Lance carried the ball 16 times for 95 yards and had touchdown runs of 8 and 14 yards. 

“They gave us a lot of looks, they gave us a lot of stuff that maybe we didn’t prepare for as well and that we didn’t expect but they are a really good team and I think I did a decent job of making plays,” Lance said.

Lance was also 11-for-15 passing and two more scores. His 2-yard touchdown pass to Ben Ellefson with 4:44 remaining before halftime put the Bison (2-0) ahead 21-7. Griffin Crosa’s 27-yard field goal, after UND quarterback Andrew Zimmerman was intercepted by Michael Tutsie early in the third quarter, gave the Bison a 17 point lead.

“Obviously it wasn’t the result we were looking for today,” Hawks head coach Bubba Schweigert said. “You just got to be able to stop the run. We had to play really good defense and we weren’t able to do that and our offense couldn’t get into a rhythm because it was kept away from us.”

UND (1-1) was held to just 230 yards of total offense and only possessed the ball for just under 25 minutes — four minutes total in the first quarter.

“We’ll be able to move on. It’s Game 2, it’s really early in the year and we have a lot of football to play. We have to learn from this no question but we gonna move on,” said Schweigert.

Garett Maag finished with six catches for 76 yards and James Johannesson scored the touchdown for the Hawks, a 3-yard punch into the end zone that completed a 13-play, 75 yard drive in the second quarter that made the score 14-7.

Chris Harris can be reached at and on Twitter: @ChrisHarris_DLJ