Fargo, ND (Sports Network) - Good teams find ways to win no matter what.
For North Dakota State, the defending FCS national champion, it might not
have been the prettiest of wins, but when a team has a superb defense, it
NDSU allowed 362 yards of offense, including 262 on the ground, but the Bison
stopped the Terriers when it counted most late in the second half to hold on
for a 14-7 victory in a national quarterfinal at the Fargodome Saturday.
The Bison (12-1) didn't allow an offensive touchdown, forced two turnovers and
blocked a field goal in the win. Linebacker Grant Olson had a truly historic
performance, setting a new school record with 29 tackles - topping a previous
NDSU record of 26 set in 1989.
Running back Sam Ojuri and receiver Zach Vraa each scored a touchdown in the
first half and the NDSU defense stopped Wofford twice in the fourth quarter,
spearheading the victory.
Coach Craig Bohl's squad will host Georgia Southern (10-3) next weekend in the
semifinals. It will be a rematch of a semifinal last season when the Bison
won, 35-7, in Fargo.
Wofford (9-4) missed two golden opportunities in the second half which
ultimately cost the team the game.
The first, which started late in the third quarter and went into the start of
the fourth, occurred after NDSU running back John Crockett fumbled the ball
and it was recovered by Wofford's Stephon Shelton.
The Terriers drove down into NDSU territory, converting a 4th-and-8 and a 4th-
and-4 along the way. However, coach Mike Ayers decided to settle for a field
goal and place-kicker Kasey Redfern's 26-yard attempt was partially blocked by
Anthony LaVoy with 11:44 remaining, keeping the Bison lead at 14-7.
Wofford's defense played exceptional as well, limiting the Bison to 262 yards
of offense and only 95 passing yards. The unit came up big again, forcing a
North Dakota State punt following the missed field goal.
Wofford got the ball back at their 30-yard line and methodically drove down
the field, getting all the way down inside the Bison 10-yard line. Facing
a 4th-and-3 at the NDSU 7, Donovan Johnson was stuffed - fittingly by Olson -
and NDSU survived the scare.
Wofford fullback and Walter Payton Award finalist Eric Breitenstein, playing
in his final collegiate game, rushed for a game-high 135 yards on 24 carries.
Brian Kass and Donovan Johnson added 63 and 42 rushing yards, respectively.
Wofford had 110 yards of offense at halftime, compared to 167 yards for the
The Terriers did not attempt a pass in the first half. In fact, the team's
only points of the game came off a Blake Wylie 35-yard interception return
for a touchdown, evening the score at 7 in the second quarter.
NDSU signal-caller Brock Jensen completed 13-of-18 passes for 95 yards and one
touchdown. He added 60 rushing yards on 12 carries, although his interception
resulted in Wofford's only points of the contest. Ojuri rushed for 72 yards,
including a 1-yard touchdown to open the scoring in the first quarter.
Both of NDSU's scoring drives in the first half lasted 10 plays. The team's
final drive went for 97 yards, ending with a Vraa 16-yard touchdown reception
with 1:02 left, giving the Bison their 14-7 lead.
Cole Jirek and Andre Martin Jr. recovered fumbles in the win.
The Bison have yet to lose an FCS playoff game at home and have not allowed an
offensive touchdown through their first two playoff games this season.
The Sports Network