FARGO, N.D. - No. 1-ranked North Dakota State rallied for 14 points in the fourth quarter and CJ Smith's second interception of the season capped a 24-23 win over No. 4-ranked Northern Iowa in the Missouri Valley Football Conference on Saturday, Oct. 5.
Zach Vraa caught an 11-yard touchdown pass from Brock Jensen on fourth-and-6 to pull NDSU within 23-17 and Sam Ojuri scored on a 19-yard run with 2:52 left in the game to give the Bison (5-0, 2-0 MVFC) their first lead. It was NDSU's 14th straight victory.
Tyler Sievertsen kicked field goals of 37, 50 and 36 yards for Northern Iowa (4-1, 0-1 MVFC) and the Panthers were up 13-0 in the second quarter after David Johnson's 85-yard touchdown run. NDSU's Carey Woods caught his first collegiate touchdown on a 23-yard pass from Jensen to cut the score to 13-7 by halftime.
NDSU's Adam Keller booted a 28-yard field goal to make it 13-10 but the Panthers extended the lead back to 13 points in the third quarter on a three-yard TD pass from Sawyer Kollmorgen to Kevin Vereen and Sievertsen's 36-yard field goal.
Vraa's touchdown catch capped a 10-play, 68-yard drive highlighted by Jensen's 24-yard rush on third-and-3 to move into UNI territory, and John Crockett's 13-yard run on third-and-1 to reach the 15. Crockett ran for four more yards before a stop for no gain and an incomplete pass set up fourth-and-6, and the Bison scored.
Two UNI penalties aided the Bison on their final scoring drive. A personal foul on an NDSU incompletion on third-and-9 gave the Bison first down at their 40 before Jensen rushed for nine yards on third-and-6 to cross midfield. Pass interference in the end zone gave the Bison 15 yards to the UNI 26 before Jensen ran for seven and Ojuri scored from the 19.
Crockett rushed for 103 yards, Ojuri had 96 and Jensen 58 to lead the Bison rushing game. Six different receivers caught passes from Jensen, who was 13-for-24 passing for 99 yards and two touchdowns.
NDSU punter Ben LeCompte averaged 45.4 yards on eight punts with five inside the 20 and one touchback. Grant Olson had 11 tackles and Colten Heagle nine to lead the Bison defense.
NDSU outgained UNI 359 to 296 in total offense and had the advantage in time of possession 37:25 to 22:35. The Bison lost two fumbles which led to UNI field goals - one by Marcus Williams on the game's opening kickoff and another by Christian Dudzik returning a third-quarter kickoff.
UNI's Johnson ran 12 times for 142 yards and Kollmorgen was 12 of 33 passing for 128 yards. Kevin Vereen Jr. led all receivers with 67 yards. Linebacker Jake Farley had 11 tackles including one sack before leaving the game with a broken leg in the fourth quarter, and UNI's Collin Albrecht had two sacks.
A fourth-straight regular season sellout crowd of 18,840 was on hand at Gate City Bank Field at the Fargodome, where the Bison will host Missouri State in the annual homecoming game at 1 p.m. next Saturday, Oct. 12. That game can be seen on KVLY in HD.