FARGO, N.D. (NDSU ATHLETICS) -- Tre Dempsey intercepted a pass on the second play of overtime and Lance Dunn scored on a 25-yard run on the next play to give No. 1-ranked North Dakota State a 50-44 win over eighth-ranked Eastern Washington before a crowd of 18,906 at Gate City Bank Field at the Fargodome on Saturday, Sept. 10.
It was the second overtime win in two games for North Dakota State, which got a 25-yard TD run from King Frazier on NDSU's first offensive play to beat Charleston Southern in the FCS Kickoff game two weeks prior.
“What can you say about those guys in that locker room," said NDSU head coach Chris Klieman. "They always feel like they have an opportunity to win. They never feel like they’re out of it. They play for each other.”
Dunn rushed for a career-high 128 yards on 14 carries including a 41-yard TD sprint on the first play of the fourth quarter. NDSU had six players combine to rush for 280 yards and averaged 6.0 yards per carry.
“I was really pleased with Lance and how hard he ran the football," Klieman said, "how he hit the holes, playing with a lot of confidence, and it showed on that last run.”
NDSU quarterback Easton Stick went 17 of 26 passing for a career-high 257 yards and two TDs. He connected with tight end Jeff Illies on a 33-yard score and receiver Darrius Shepherd on a 37-yard TD.
Eastern Washington took its first lead of the game 44-41 with 4:32 left in the fourth quarter on Tamarick Pierce's 1-yard run. The Bison tied it on a 28-yard Cam Pedersen field goal with 42 seconds left to cap a 15-play, 71-yard drive.
EWU moved into scoring position again with a 35-yard pass from Gage Gubrud to Nic Sblendorio that put the Eagles on the NDSU 32, but Jordan Dascalo missed a 49-yard field goal try with 6 seconds left.
“I’m just proud of our players and I’m not caught up in the end result with how I feel about how these guys came in here and battled," said EWU head coach Beau Baldwin. "It was a game either team could have won and came down to the wire. Give them credit, they found a way to win."
NDSU middle linebacker Nick DeLuca, who missed the second half of the season-opener with a separated shoulder, returned to make a game-high 14 tackles and scored on a 40-yard interception return in the fourth quarter to give NDSU a 41-31 lead.
The Bison defense had three interceptions including a 38-yarder by Robbie Grimsley and also came up with five sacks including 2.5 by defensive end Brad Ambrosius. Grimsley had a career-high 11 tackles and Jalen Allison a career-high 10 stops including one forced fumble.
EWU, after passing for 496 yards in a win at Washington State in the opener, passed for 450 yards and four touchdowns in the loss. Gubrud was 26 of 40 and completed eight passes to Stu Stiles for 169 yards and eight to Kendrick Bourne for 133 yards. Reigning FCS Offensive Player of the Year Cooper Kupp had five catches for 62 yards and two scores.
North Dakota State makes its first road trip of the season Saturday, Sept. 17, against the Iowa Hawkeyes. Game time is 11 a.m. and will be televised on either ESPN or ESPN2.