Bison Hold Off Illinois State 9-3 to Advance to NCAA Semifinals
North Dakota State's defense got a fourth-down stop with 56 seconds left to lift the No. 1-ranked Bison to a 9-3 victory over 13th-ranked Illinois State in the quarterfinals of the NCAA Division I Football Championship on Saturday, Dec. 14.
North Dakota State (14-0) advanced to the semifinal round to face No. 5 seed Montana State (11-3) at either 1:00 or 5:30 p.m. next Saturday, Dec. 21, with a trip to the national championship game in Frisco, Texas, on the line.
NDSU got three second-quarter field goals from freshman kicker Griffin Crosa, who returned from a one-game team-issued suspension in the second round to connect from 38, 33 and 22 yards for the Bison. Sam Fenlason's 27-yard field goal for Illinois State with 2:02 left in the third quarter was the final score.
Illinois State running back James Robinson, who rushed 78 times for 507 yards in the Redbirds' first two playoff games, carried 24 times for 94 yards against the Bison. Illinois State outrushed NDSU by a 160-128 margin.
Bison linebacker Jackson Hankey made a game-high 10 tackles, safety James Hendricks had nine stops, linebacker Jabril Cox had eight tackles, and safety Michael Tutsie made seven tackles to go along with one interception and one pass breakup.
Illinois State went just 3 for 12 on third down and only crossed midfield twice.
NDSU's Ty Brooks had eight carries for 49 yards and quarterback Trey Lance carried 11 times for 41 yards. Lance finished 10 of 21 passing for 135 yards and Christian Watson had a career-high seven receptions and 135 yards.
North Dakota State extended its FCS record to 35 consecutive victories and won its 27th straight home game before a crowd of 14,132 at Gate City Bank Field at the Fargodome.