Turnovers Cost Redbirds in 20-10 Loss at North Dakota State
Evan Frierson led the Redbird defense with nine tackles.
Evan Frierson led the Redbird defense with nine tackles.

Oct. 1, 2011

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FARGO, N.D. - Two North Dakota State interceptions with Illinois State threatening deep in NDSU territory helped lift the #5/6 Bison to a 20-10 win against Illinois State Saturday afternoon at the Fargodome.

ISU's Lechein Neblett led the Redbird offense with a career-high nine catches for 78 yards, while NDSU's Warren Holloway caught six passes for a team-best 70 yards. Illinois State drops to 2-3 overall and 1-2 in the Missouri Valley Football Conference, while North Dakota State improves to 4-0 and 1-0 in the Valley.

Redbird quarterback Matt Brown was 31-for-48 for 273 yards, with one touchdown and two interceptions, compared to North Dakota State quarterback Brock Jensen who finished 15-for-22 for 207 yards, with one touchdowns and no interceptions. Evan Frierson was ISU's defensive leader with nine tackles, including one sack and a forced fumble. NDSU's Christian Dudzik collected a game-high 12 tackles.

The Redbirds received the ball to open the game, but were ultimately forced to punt on their first possession. Then as the Bison attempted to drive early in the first quarter with a 37-yard pass from Jensen to Warren Holloway, ISU's Austin Davis forced a fumble following Holloway's reception, and Ben Ericksen recovered. The turnover was NDSU's first of the season. However, Illinois State was unable to capitalize, as the Redbirds again had to punt. The game remained scoreless at the end of the first quarter.

North Dakota State became the first team to score in the second quarter, as the Bison engineered a six-play, 73-yard drive that resulted in a 36-yard completion from Jensen to DJ McNorton for a touchdown. Ryan Jastram's extra point attempt was good, giving the Bison a 7-0 lead with 8:19 remaining in the first half. Illinois State responded with its first scoring drive of the game, as the Redbirds moved the ball 71 yards to the NDSU 17-yard line on 11 plays, resulting in a 27-yard field goal by Nick Aussieker. The fourth down field goal cut the Bison lead to 7-3, with 2:57 left in the first half.

Illinois State's defense again forced NDSU to punt, and the Redbirds took over with 1:10 to play in the second quarter. The Redbirds advanced the ball to the North Dakota State 34-yard line, where with six seconds to play in the first half, Aussieker attempted a 51-yard field goal. However, the kick was blocked as time expired, allowing the Bison to retain a 7-3 halftime advantage.

NDSU got the ball to start the second half, but the Illinois State defense forced another Bison turnover. This time Frierson caused Jensen to fumble and Davis recovered at the North Dakota State 31-yard line. The Redbirds advanced the ball to NDSU's nine-yard line, but on third and goal, Brown's pass was intercepted in the endzone by Marcus Williams and returned to the ISU 45-yard line. The Bison cashed in on the turnover with a 15-yard touchdown run by McNorton and another extra point by Jastram, increasing the Bison advantage to 14-3, with 7:34 remaining in the third quarter.

NDSU added six more points on another defensive play. With the Redbirds at the NDSU 25-yard line, Bobby Ollman picked off a pass from Brown and returned it 82-yards for a touchdown. Jastram's extra point attempt was blocked by Eric Brunner, making the score 20-3, with 4:46 left in the third quarter.

Needing points in the fourth quarter, the Redbirds went for it on fourth down and four at the NDSU 44-yard line and converted with a five-yard connection from Brown to Tyrone Walker. On first down, Brown threw the ball away because of a quarterback hurry, and on second down, Ashton Leggett fumbled and North Dakota State's Brandon Jemison recovered on the Bison 34-yard line. However NDSU ultimately had to punt, and the Redbirds marched the ball to North Dakota State's five-yard line. Facing fourth and goal, Brown attempted a pass to Matt Younger, but the ball was deflected in the end zone, allowing the Bison to take over on downs.

After consuming two more minutes late in the fourth quarter, North Dakota State punted, and the Redbirds took over at the NDSU 43-yard line. Facing fourth-down and 12 later in the drive, Brown found Milton Colbert for a 43-yard touchdown. Aussieker's extra point was good, trimming Illinois State's deficit to 20-10 with 3:07 remaining. The Bison retained possession for the remainder of the game, securing the NDSU victory.

The Redbirds stay on the road for another MVFC matchup with Missouri State next Saturday, Oct. 8. Kickoff in Springfield, Mo., is scheduled for 2 p.m.

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