Jacks turn Marker over to NDSU
The Bison, who kept their Football Championship Subdivision playoff hopes alive, improved to 7-3 overall and 4-3 in the Missouri Valley Football Conference. SDSU, which saw its hopes for a ninth consecutive winning season come to an end, dropped to 4-6 overall and ended its MVFC slate with a 4-4 mark.
North Dakota State put the first points on the board with a defensive touchdown late in the first quarter. Coulter Boyer intercepted a Thomas O'Brien screen pass and returned it four yards to paydirt with 3 minutes and 27 seconds remaining in the opening stanza.
The Jackrabbits responded to tie the game at 7-all on the ensuing possession. On the first play of the second quarter, Kyle Minett spun out of a tackle near the goal line for a 1-yard touchdown. Minett picked up 22 yards on a carry earlier in the 10-play, 74-yard drive that consumed nearly four minutes.
NDSU's own 1,000-yard rusher, D.J. McNorton, put the Bison back on top as he cut back and bounced around the left end for a 31-yard touchdown run with 2:30 to play in the first half to cap a seven-play, 79-yard drive.
The momentum shifted back to the Jackrabbits on the second-half kickoff. Redshirt freshman R.C. Kilgore jarred the ball loose from Justin Howard and Dominique Clare recovered the fumble at the NDSU 18. Two plays later, Minett broke through the left side of the line for a 15-yard touchdown run - his second of the day and 12th of the season.
McNorton gave the Bison the lead in the closing seconds of the third quarter, again turning the corner around the left end for a 3-yard touchdown run. NDSU marched 67 yards on eight plays, helped along by one of three personal foul penalties against the Jackrabbits on the afternoon.
The NDSU defense turned up the pressure, with Marcus Williams intercepting an ill-advised O'Brien pass and returned it to the Jackrabbit 29. Ryan Jastram's 26-yard field goal with 10:22 to play put the Bison up 24-14.
The Bison put the game away midway through the fourth quarter with their second interception return for touchdown. Josh Gatlin did the honors this time, returning the ball 51 yards for a score.
O'Brien responded, however, with his longest completion as a Jackrabbit on his next attempt, connecting with Tyrel Kool over the middle for a 68-yard touchdown with eight minutes to play that cut the margin to 31-21. Kool topped the century mark in receiving yards for the third time this season, recording six catches for a career-high 132 yards.
The Jackrabbits made it a one-possession game with 4:17 to play as Peter Reifenrath connected on a 43-yard field goal.
SDSU never got the ball back as the Bison ground out three first downs to ice the game.
While the Jackrabbits' three-game winning streak in the series came to an end, so did Minett's streak of 100-yard rushing games. The senior from Ruthton, Minn., was hobbled by an ankle injury midway through the second quarter and was limited to only two third-quarter carries the rest of the way. He finished the game with 16 carries for 75 yards, ending his streak of eight consecutive games reaching the century mark.
McNorton topped the 100-yard mark for the sixth time in seven games, gaining 138 yards on 26 carries. Bison quarterback Jose Mohler finished the game 14-of-20 passing for 100 yards, with Warren Holloway leading the receiving corps with seven catches for 64 yards.
O'Brien ended the day 18-of-42 passing for 247 yards with a touchdown and the four interceptions.
The Jackrabbits close out the season next Saturday (Nov. 20), hosting North Dakota. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. at Coughlin-Alumni Stadium. NDSU travels to Missouri State.
NOTES: North Dakota State leads the all-time series, 52-40-5 ... SDSU holds a 4-3 advantage in Dakota Marker games ... SDSU tied a season high with three sacks ... Minett moved into ninth place on the Jackrabbit single-season rushing chart with 1,208 yards, passing Dan Nelson (1,150 yards in 1993) ... Minett also increased his career rushing total to 4,277 yards ... Kool upped his season receptions total to 58 - seventh most by a Jackrabbit receiver ... Reifenrath is 7-of-9 on field goals this season, including 4-for-4 on attempts of 40 or more yards ... the 68-yard pass from O'Brien to Kool was the longest pass play since a 79-yarder from Ryan Berry to JaRon Harris against McNeese State (La.) in 2008 ... SDSU is 0-6 this season when trailing at the half ... attendance was 17,037