Running back D.J. McNorton ran for one touchdown and caught a pass for another as 5th/6th-ranked North Dakota State beat Illinois State 20-10 before a sellout crowd of 18,904 in the Fargodome on Saturday, Oct. 1. It was the ninth sellout since 2006 for NDSU and the eighth best crowd in Fargodome history.
North Dakota State (4-0, 1-0 MVFC) is scheduled to play at 12th-ranked Southern Illinois (2-2, 1-1 MVFC) at 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 8. The Salukis lost 27-21 at Western Illinois on Saturday.
The Bison, playing their Missouri Valley opener after coming off a 37-24 victory over Minnesota last week, scored first when Brock Jensen connected with McNorton for a 36-yard touchdown. NDSU won its MVFC opener for the first time in four tries.
McNorton's 15-yard run gave North Dakota State a 14-3 lead early in the third quarter, and Bobby Ollman returned an interception 82 yards for the other Bison TD. Ollman was making his first collegiate start. The Bison have scored on defense in four of the last five games.
Matt Brown, who was 31 for 48 for 270 yards for Illinois State (2-3, 1-2), found Milton Colbert for a 43-yard touchdown with 3:07 to play. Brown was intercepted twice including a pick by Marcus Williams in the end zone to stop a third quarter drive. It was the second interception of the season for Williams, who has a pass defended in 16 of 18 games played.
Jensen, who completed 15 of 22 passes, finished with 207 yards passing and 28 yards rushing for North Dakota State, while McNorton ran for 56 yards . The Redbirds outgained the Bison 397 yards to 331.
Cornerback Christian Dudzik led NDSU with a career-high 12 tackles including seven solos and added four pass breakups. The Bison had 10 pass breakups overall. Linebacker Brandon Jemison finished with 11 tackles, a forced fumble and one fumble recovery. Jemison has three double-figure tackle games in his career.
Illinois State wide receiver Lechein Neblett caught a career-high nine passes for 78 yards, while running back Ashton Leggett rushed 16 times for 73 yards. Evan Frierson led the Redbirds with nine tackles and one forced fumble.
North Dakota State's 6-foot-7 tight end Matt Veldman blocked a 51-yard field goal attempt as time expired in the first half. It was the second career blocked kick for Veldman, who blocked a punt against South Dakota State in 2008. The last time the Bison blocked a field goal was against Illinois State in 2009 by linebacker Preston Evans. Veldman tied a career-high with four receptions for 40 yards.
NDSU wide receiver Warren Holloway caught six passes for 70 yards pushing his career numbers to 105 receptions for 1,553 yards. He moved up two spots on the all-time receiving yards list to No. 7, past Eric Nelson (1997-00, 1503) and Marques Johnson (2002-05, 1508).