Wildcats hit by stampeding Bison
By ARNE GREEN
By ARNE GREEN
Special to The Telegram
MANHATTAN — The Kansas State Wildcats were hit by a buffalo stampede and the North Dakota State Bison kept their giant-killing streak alive with a methodical 18-play, 80-yard drive to score with 28 seconds left Friday night and knock off Kansas State, 24-21, at sold-out Snyder Family Stadium.
It was the fourth victory in as many years over a Football Bowl Subdivision opponent for North Dakota State, the two-time defending Championship Subdivision (Division I-AA) national champ. It also spoiled the grand opening of K-State's new West Side Stadium Center in front of 53,351 fans, the largest opening-game crowd in school history and second-largest ever.
K-State appeared to take control of the game in the third quarter, scoring on its first two possessions of the second half to go up 21-7, but NDSU cut it to four points at the end of three periods.
Kansas State moved to the Bison 35-yard line early in the fourth quarter, but passed up a possible 52-yard field goal and punted into the end zone with 8:58 left.
North Dakota State then marched down the field, mixing the run and short passing game to pick up a first and goal at the K-State 7-yard line. Quarterback Brock Jensen ran for 6 yards on first down, then spun into the end zone on the next play for the lead.
The Bison used a balanced attack to rack up 380 total yards — 215 rushing, 165 through the air — to 321 yards for K-State. The Wildcats had just 41 yards on the ground.
K-State quarterback Jake Waters completed 21 of 29 passes with two touchdowns and two interceptions in his debut. Jensen was 21-for-30 with two TDs and an interception and Sam Ojuri rushed for 127 yards to lead NDSU.
K-State struck quickly to start the second half, scoring on its first two possessions to go up 21-7.
The Wildcats took the opening kickoff and moved 70 yards in just three plays to go in front for the first time on Waters' 45-yard cross-the-field strike down the left sideline to a streaking Tyler Lockett. Jack Cantele tacked on the extra point for a 14-7 advantage.
An interception and the first play of the season for backup quarterback Daniel Sams resulted in another touchdown.
Safety Dante Barnett picked off Jensen at the North Dakota State 47-yard line and returned it 11 yards. Six plays later, Sams came on for Waters on third down and dashed 17 yards up the middle to the end zone.
But NDSU came right back with 10 straight points to close it to 21-17 heading to the fourth quarter.
First the Bison put together a 12-play, 75-yard drive with Jensen hitting tight end Kevin Vaadeland over the middle from the K-State 9. They kept it alive with a short fourth-down conversion at the Wildcat 41-yard line.
On the next possession, NDSU used a big run by Ojuri to set up a 41-yard Adam Keller field goal that cut the lead to four. After punter Mark Krause pinned the Bison back at their 2-yard line, Ojuri broke free to the left sideline for 66 yards and was knocked down from behind by Barnett at the 32.
Kansas State never led in the first half and limped to intermission, tied 7-7.
North Dakota State had a chance to take the lead late in the half after cornerback Marcus Williams intercepted Waters at the Wildcat 29-yard line with Waters scrambling to avoid a safety. But the Bison were unable to pick up a first down and Keller's 34-yard field goal try ricocheted off the left upright with 1:58 left.
North Dakota State won the special teams battle, setting up the game's first score with Christian Dudzik's 49-yard punt return to the K-State 23. From there it took the Bison just five plays to score on a 5-yard slant pass from Jensen to Ryan Smith with 56 seconds left in the first quarter.
NDSU punter Ben LeCompte had an impressive first half, pinning K-State inside its 15-yard line three times with two inside the 10.
K-State answered the Bison's touchdown by driving to NDSU 26-yard line, but Waters came up a yard short on a fourth-and-3. The Wildcats fared better on their next possession as Waters completed four straight passes for 78 yards, including a perfect 35-yard strike down the left side to a wide-open Tramaine Thompson.
Waters completed 12 of 16 first-half passes for 148 yards, but K-State managed just 19 yards rushing on 12 carries. North Dakota was more effective on the ground with 104 yards, but Jensen was 7 of 15 passing for 44.