FARGO, N.D. – Despite a strong defensive effort that saw Missouri State hold one of the nation’s top offenses in check, North Dakota State locked up its 28th consecutive victory with a 22-0 blanking of the Bears Saturday afternoon at Gate City Bank Field at the Fargodome.
Led by McNeece Egbim’s game-high 14 tackles, Missouri State’s defense enjoyed one of its best performances of the season, holding the top-ranked Bison (7-0, 3-0 MVFC) to a season-low point total, while forcing a season-high seven punts by the two-time defending national champions.
But a pair of early NDSU touchdowns and a stout defensive showing of their own was enough for the Bison to extend the second-longest winning streak in FCS history. Quarterback Trey Lance completed 21-of-31 passes for 225 yards, while rushing for 79 yards and the go-ahead touchdown in the first quarter.
Paced by Adam Cofield’s 93 yards and two rushing touchdowns, NDSU gained 222 ground yards, while the Bison defense held the Bears’ running game to just 21 yards on 20 carries for the game.
The NDSU defense set the tone for the afternoon with a dominating opening 30 minutes of play, limiting the Bears to 12 rushing yards (on nine carries) and 121 yards of total offense in the first half. Peyton Huslig started the game 8-for-11 through the air and directed the MSU offense into Bison territory on three straight possessions, but each time NDSU stood its ground to force punts and keep the Bears off the scoreboard.
Lance combined with Cofield to amass 255 yards of total offense in the opening half. NDSU’s redshirt freshman signal-caller scrambled for a 21-yard touchdown run to cap the initial Bison scoring drive midway through the first period, before James Hendricks added a successful two-point conversion run to hand the home club an 8-0 lead.
Cofield provided both the initial spark and the exclamation point on an 87-yard drive early in the second quarter, breaking free for a 58-yard run after Brendan Withrow pinned NDSU at its own nine yard line with a 45-yard punt. The MSU defense appeared to come up with a critical fourth-down stop at the Bears 29, but a subsequent offsides penalty gave the Bison new life. Cofield ran for 15 yards to move NDSU inside the 10, and Kobe Johnson carried the ball to the mouth of the goal line to set up Cofield’s one-yard scoring run with 9:44 left in the half.
The Bison defense would perform the heavy lifting from that point, permitting just eight total yards in the third period and 64 yards in the second half.
Cofield added a second one-yard touchdown run with just under six minutes remaining in the game to account for the only second-half points.
Huslig completed 20-of-37 passes for 164 yards, marking his fourth straight game with at least 20 completions—the longest such streak of his MSU career. Damoriea Vick reeled in six of those completions for 72 yards to lead all receivers.
Missouri State (1-5, 1-2 MVFC) returns to Plaster Stadium next Saturday (Oct. 26) for a 2 p.m. homecoming contest against UNI. Single-game tickets for all 2019 MSU home contests are available through MissouriStateBears.com, in person at the OMB Box Office at JQH Arena, or by phone at (417) 836-7678.
Postgame Notes: Missouri State fell to 0-8 against top-ranked teams, five of which have come against the Bison…The Bears dropped to 2-10 all-time versus NDSU with its ninth straight loss to the Bison…The setback also marked MSU’s 13th consecutive loss against schools from the Dakota states…Peyton Huslig made his 28th consecutive start for the Bears at quarterback, while Lorenzo Thomas started for the 23rd straight game at wide receiver; on the defensive side of the ball, McNeece Egbim logged his 24th start in a row at linebacker…Darius Joseph recorded a season-high eight tackles, while Egbim notched his third consecutive double-digit tackle effort with a team-best 14 stops; Egbim’s 3.5 tackles for loss marked a career high…Austin Henderson’s nine tackles also represented a career high.