Defensive TDs help Bison stun Minnesota 37-24
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Marcus Williams had two defensive touchdowns for North Dakota State on Saturday to help the Bison pull off another FCS team upset of Minnesota, 37-24.
Williams, a sophomore cornerback who played at Hopkins High School in the Twin Cities -- one of the dozens of Minnesotans on NDSU's roster -- returned an interception of Max Shortell's late heave 40 yards for a touchdown to seal the game.
On the final play of the first half, teammate Colten Heagle picked off MarQueis Gray's risky pass and tossed the ball back to Williams as he was taken down. Williams raced 52 more yards to put the Bison (3-0) ahead 28-14 at the break.
Donnell Kirkwood rushed 10 times for 70 yards and two touchdowns for the Gophers (1-3), but once again, it was difficult to determine which team was from a BCS conference -- and who was playing at home.
NDSU scored touchdowns on drives of 65, 83 and 71 yards in the first half before the highlight-reel play by Heagle and Williams as time expired.
Even when the Bison finally faced their first fourth down, with 6:25 left in the third quarter, Ryan Jastram kicked a 49-yard field goal with room to spare to stretch the lead to 31-14.
D.J. McNorton rushed 13 times for 92 yards for NDSU, and Brock Jensen completed 16 of 21 passes for 197 yards -- plus 37 yards rushing and a score on six scrambles.
The Gophers, who gave the Bison three first downs via penalties on their first two possessions, rushed for 168 yards -- including a 10-play, 95-yard march, all on the ground, to tie the game at 14. But the Bison played with more confidence, polish and discipline and seemed to have their game plan a step ahead of Minnesota's the entire game.
The Gophers rotated Gray and Shortell at quarterback, and they didn't have any rhythm when they needed it at the end. Shortell found tight end Eric Lair for a 20-yard touchdown pass on fourth-and-7 to bring the Gophers within 31-24 with 9:05 left, but they couldn't get any momentum after that.