Bison Bury Black Bears 44-7 in Home Opener

Published: Sep. 10, 2023 at 2:08 PM CDT
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FARGO, N.D. (NDSU Athletics) - North Dakota State’s defense forced four turnovers and the No. 2-ranked Bison opened their home schedule with a 44-7 victory over the Maine Black Bears on Saturday, Sept. 9, in the 34th annual Trees Bowl game at the Fargodome.

NDSU linebacker Julian Wlodarczyk forced a fumble and linebacker Logan Kopp had an interception in the first quarter, and safety Cole Wisniewski had interceptions on consecutive defensive plays in the third quarter. The Bison settled for field goals despite starting on the Maine 14 and 23 after the first two turnovers. Griffin Crosa connected from 27, 40 and 31 yards as the Bison opened a 9-0 lead late in the second quarter.

It was 16-0 at halftime after a 2-yard touchdown run by quarterback Cam Miller. Miller added a 1-yard TD in the third quarter, backup quarterback Cole Payton scored on running plays of 2 yards and 61 yards, and Maine finally got on the board with 6:06 left in the game when John Gay scored on a 13-yard run.

NDSU running back Owen Johnson scored his first career touchdown on a 1-yard run with 22 seconds left. Johnson was one of nine ball carriers for NDSU, which ran for 264 yards and averaged 5.6 yards per carry. Miller finished 14 of 19 passing for 152 yards and Payton was 3-for-5 passing for 40 yards.

Nine Bison receivers caught passes led by Zach Mathis with four receptions for 62 yards. Wlodarczyk led the NDSU defense with a career-high seven tackles. North Dakota State is scheduled to close out its non-conference schedule hosting Central Arkansas at 2:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 16.