Ferris State Drops Season Opener To Two-Time Defending FCS National Champion

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Photo by Dennis Hubbard 

Fargo, N.D. - The Ferris State University football team took on one of the nation's top teams in two-time defending FCS National Champion North Dakota State on Saturday (Sept. 7) night, but suffered a 56-10 setback in front of a sellout crowd of nearly 19,000 fans at the Fargodome in Fargo, N.D.

The nation's top-ranked FCS team, coming off a big win over defending Big 12 Conference Champion Kansas State last week, bolted out to a 21-0 first quarter lead behind a loud and noisy crowd in one of the nation's top collegiate venues at Gate City Bank Field and handed FSU a loss in the second-ever series meeting between the two teams.  The game was also televised around the world by ESPN3.

North Dakota State, which raised its national title banner from a year ago prior to the opening kickoff, jumped out in front early as the Bison drove 78 yards in 10 plays on the game's first offensive possession.  Quarterback Brock Jensen capped the drive with a one-yard scoring plunge.

After forcing the Bulldogs to punt from their own end, the Bison then marched 73 yards in eight plays to make it a 14-0 score when John Crockett found paydirt from seven yards away with 3:50 to play in quarter one.

The lead grew to three scores at the end of one quarter when Zack Vraa hauled in a 43-yard TD pass from Jensen to finish a 64-yard march that needed only four plays.

The next NDSU score came from short distance following a costly interception by the Bulldogs that was returned to the FSU five-yard line.  Crockett scored his second touchdown of the game on the ensuing play to push the margin to 28-0 with 13:30 left in the half.

The score stood until only 2:41 remained in the second quarter.  Andrew Grothmann pushed the Bison advantage to 35-0 late in the half when Jensen connected with him from four-yards out to finish a seven-play, 61-yard scoring jaunt.

The Bulldogs trailed 35-7 at halftime after closing the half with their lone TD of the game on a 19-yard toss from quarterback Jason Vander Laan to Dewayne Boston. The score on the pass to the corner of the end zone against man-to-man coverage wrapped up a 75-yard Bulldog drive covering seven plays.

FSU then opened the second half by moving 73 yards in 18 plays before Austin Kantola trimmed the margin to 35-10 on a 25-yard field goal.  However, NDSU answered with a long drive of its own to push the advantage back to 42-10 when Sam Ojuri ran in from two yards away with 2:58 to play in the third.

NDSU tacked on another touchdown with 5:18 left in the contest to build a 49-10 margin on Chase Morlock's nine-yard scoring run and the Bison added a 44-yard interception return for a score by Zach Colvin with only 3:33 remaining to account for the final margin.

Ferris State finished with 343 yards of total offense, which included 228 yards on the ground versus a stiff NDSU defense that allowed less than 100 yards rushing a year ago and gave up only 41 to Kansas State the week before.  FSU's totals included 100 rushing yards on the ground from Vander Laan.  

Vander Laan was seven-of-14 in the air for 56 yards before Taylor Masiewicz came on in relief and also completed seven-of-14 throws for 59 yards.  Both were intercepted once each.

NDSU had 426 yards offensively with Jensen completing 18-of-23 passes for 259 yards and two scores.  Ryan Smith was his top target with six receptions for 56 yards while Vraa grabbed four passes for 100 yards.  Ojuri ran for 50 yards on 12 carries as the Bison totaled 162 yards on the ground and 264 in the air.

Ferris State's leading receiver was Phil Annese with three grabs for 21 yards.  Senior tight end Jace Heneveld had two catches for 18 yards while newcomer Dontae Ingraham caught two passes for 15 yards and sophomore Antonio Agurs hauled in two passes for nine yards.

Defensively, senior Marvin Robinson, a transfer from the University of Michigan, led the Bulldog defense with 10 total tackles.  Cornerback A.J. McEwen had eight stops and James Wimberly had six tackles as did defensive end Jordan Zimmer.  All-American Grant Olson paced the NDSU defense with a game-high 14 stops.

The win marked the 15th consecutive victory in home openers for North Dakota State since opening the streak with a win over Ferris State at the Fargodome in 1999.  The Bulldogs eventually bounced back from that 55-35 loss to win a conference championship that season.

The Bulldogs will host Lake Erie in their GLIAC opener next Saturday (Sept. 14) at Top Taggart Field.  Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. (ET). The first 500 fans will receive free thundersticks and bounce houses will be available for children.  Tickets are currently on sale and can be purchased online at StarTickets.com or call (231) 591-2888 for more information.

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