Brock Jensen passed for a career-high 313 yards and three touchdowns to lead No. 1-ranked North Dakota State to a 41-26 win over Missouri State before a record crowd of 19,108 at Gate City Bank Field at the Fargodome in the annual homecoming game.
Jensen was 20-for-28 and completed passes to 10 different receivers including Zach Vraa, who caught touchdown passes of 36 and 23 yards and totaled five catches for a career-high 179 yards. Kevin Vaadeland scored on a 33-yard pass on his only catch of the day.
North Dakota State (6-0, 3-0 MVFC) jumped out to a 10-0 lead on Ryan Smith's 85-yard punt return touchdown and Adam Keller's 33-yard field goal. It was Smith's third career punt return TD, which leads all active players in the Football Championship Subdivision.
Missouri State (1-6, 1-2 MVFC) took the lead in the second quarter on 47- and 21-yard field goals from Marcelo Bonani and a 65-yard passing play from Kierra Harris to Julian Burton that gave the Bears a 13-10 advantage.
NDSU answered with a six-play, 73-yard drive highlighted by a 52-yard strike to Vraa and capped by Sam Ojuri's 2-yard run. The Bison went ahead 24-13 by halftime when Christian Dudzik returned an interception 29 yards to the Missouri State 36 to set up Vraa's first TD.
The Bears were still hanging around after strong safety Caleb Schaffitzel returned his seventh career interception 19 yards for a touchdown to make it 24-20 early in the third quarter. Schaffitzel set a new MSU record for interception return yards with 235.
Vraa's second touchdown gave the Bison a 31-20 lead midway through the third quarter, and Jordan Champion forced a Missouri State fumble on the next possession. Dudzik recovered the loose ball and Vaadeland scored on NDSU's first play to give the Bison a 38-20 lead.
Middle linebacker Grant Olson led the NDSU defense with 10 tackles and had two quarterback hurries and a pass breakup. Zach Colvin, Travis Beck and Colten Heagle had six tackles apiece with Beck getting a half sack and two breakups. Dudzik finished with four tackles and a breakup to go with his interception and fumble recovery.
Harris was 10-for-20 and passed for 189 yards for Missouri State before leaving with an injury late in the second quarter. Ashton Glaser was 9 of 13 for 71 yards all in the second half. Mikael Cooper-Falls rushed 13 times for 29 yards as the Bears gained just 45 yards rushing.
North Dakota State is at Southern Illinois for a 2 p.m. kickoff next Saturday, Oct. 19. The Salukis (3-3, 1-1 MVFC) had a 14-0 halftime lead at Northern Iowa.
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