|Redbirds stampede Bison in Homecoming matchup|
|Written by Ashley Schrader, Daily Vidette Sports Editor|
|Sunday, 17 October 2010 18:59|
The Stanley Cup was not the only nationally recognized commodity making its way to Hancock Stadium Saturday afternoon, No. 14 North Dakota State University also made the trip to Redbird turf where Homecoming spirit proved too much for the Bison.
The ISU football team defeated Missouri Valley Football Conference foes NDSU 34-24 in front of a sea of red with 10,131 in attendance.
“This game was huge, this is all the senior’s last Homecoming,” junior running back Ashton Leggett said. “My whole mentality coming into this weekend wasn’t about myself, I just really wanted to make sure the seniors got what they deserved; they have worked so hard.”
Redbird (4-3, 3-2 MVFC) offense dominated not only the Bison (4-3, 2-2 MVFC) defense but also the football field with breakout performances from running backs Leggett and sophomore Erik Smith.
ISU rushed for 287 yards, notching the second highest total of the 2010 season, with Leggett totaling 148 yards and Smith rushing for 115. The duo were the first ‘Birds to rush over 100 yards in the same game since 2008.
Leggett attributed two touchdowns, one rushing and one receiving, for the Redbirds. He also caught three passes for a team-high 61-yards.
Leggett additionally was the driving force to seal the win for the Redbirds when ISU sophomore quarterback Matt Brown connected with the junior in the fourth quarter with less than three minutes remaining.
Leggett caught a 49-yard pass to score the game-winning touchdown and put the dagger in the Bison’s heart.
“We call that a bat screen, that was a big play for us,” ISU head coach Brock Spack said. “Ashton is a big back and he had a great day, as did Smith. It was a huge play in the game, we just wanted to keep the clock rolling, not expecting a touchdown, but we’ll take it.”
Although the ISU offense rallied to create a touchdown off every possession in the second half of play, it was the Redbird defense that helped ISU hold onto the ball for a little over 35 minutes throughout the game.
“I thought we eliminated big plays [on defense],” Spack said. “We stopped the running game for the most part, we made some subtle changes to try and play to our strengths. We had pressure on the quarterback and we made some plays in the backfield and we caught some blockers, we really played on our heels. It was a lot of fun to play that way.”
ISU defense made its presence known early in the first quarter when senior E.J. Jones intercepted a pass from NDSU quarterback Jose Mohler with 9:31 remaining on the clock.
The interception placed the Redbirds at the Bison’s 25-yard line, where Brown immediately connected with sophomore Tyrone Walker for the ‘Birds’ first touchdown of the day.
NDSU quickly responded, however, with a 39-yard field goal from Bison kicker Ryan Jastram to bring the score to 7-3.
With 2:08 left in the first quarter, the Bison stole the Redbirds’ lead after NDSU’s John Pike picked up the ball off a fumble by Walker at the seven-yard line. North Dakota State’s D.J. McNorton rushed the ball in for a touchdown on the next possession to take the score to 10-7.
Not to be outdone, the Redbirds kicked off the second quarter with a field goal by senior Steven Fetzer to tie the score 10-10. But the Bison responded just before half with a 48-yard breakaway quarterback draw by Mohler to lock their lead at 10-17 at half.
The ISU defense continued to create trouble for NDSU throughout the second half forcing several fumbles to stop the Bison in their tracks and steal the momentum.
“We just stayed with it and believed in ourselves,” Jones said. “We just came out with an attitude and played hard.”
“I’m really proud of our players and staff after last week’s game to hang in there,” Spack said. “It was a great effort by everyone in the program. Everyone really stayed focused and did not get discouraged; it was an awesome day for us.”