FARGO, N.D. — Before its last game, North Dakota State had never won an overtime game in the Fargodome. Now it has won two in three weeks.
Lance Dunn’s 25-yard touchdown run on NDSU’s first play in overtime lifted the No. 1-ranked Bison over No. 8 Eastern Washington 50-44 on Saturday.
Dunn ran 14 times for 128 of NDSU’s 280 yards rushing. He finished with two scores.
“I seen the hole open, I seen my guy and after that I knew I had a touchdown,” Dunn said.
For the second straight game, NDSU’s opponent missed a field at the end of regulation that would have beaten the five-time defending FCS champion.
“That’s a great football team we played. I’m so proud of our guys for staying the course,” NDSU coach Chris Klieman said. “Those guys battling are kids hurting big time. They just willed themselves to a victory. It’s the culture. Our guys never believe they are out of the game.”
Neither did Eastern Washington, which kept battling from behind and finally took a 44-41 lead Tamarick Pierce’s 1-yard run and Roldan Alcobendas’ PAT with 4:32 to play.
NDSU quarterback Easton Stick guided a scoring drive that led to Cam Pedersen’s 28-yard field goal with 1:43 to play.
Stick ran 10 times for 60 yards and a score and completed 17 of 26 passes for 257 yards and two scores.
Rather than accept OT, the Eagles came right back. Quarterback Gage Gubrud completed a 35-yard pass to Nic Sblendorio to get into field goal range.
Gubrud was 26-for-40 for 450 yards and four TDs. He also ran for 49 yards. Cooper Kupp, the FCS leader in career TD receptions, had two more for the Eagles.
Jordan Dascalo’s kick was way left and for the second straight game, NDSU went to overtime.
EWU’s possession ended when NDSU’s Tre Dempsey intercepted a pass on second down.
Dunn wasted no time ending the game that started with King Frazier’s 8-yard TD run with 6:19 left in the first quarter.
Eastern Washington tied it 7-7 on Gubrud’s 20-yard TD pass to Kupp with 12:54 left in the first half.
After a successful onside kick and subsequent interception by NDSU’s Robbie Grimsley, the Bison got a dual-possession call on a 43-yard pass down to the EWU 1 and a review of a potential fumble. Stick then scored on a quarterback sneak with 11:01 left in the half.
Stick later hit Jeff Illies for a 33-yard TD. Illies broke a tackle at the 15 to give the Bison a 21-7 lead with 6:12 left in the half.
The Gubrud-to-Kupp combination struck again with 5:05 left in the half, an 8-yard TD that capped a 75-yard drive and made it 21-14.
Alcobendas kicked a 37-yard field goal to cut the lead to 21-17 with 10:58 left in the third quarter but Stick’s 37-yard TD pass to Darrius Shepherd stretched the lead to 28-17 midway through the quarter.
The Eagles had a 79-yard TD called back for ineligible receiver with 5:42 left in the third. But they went right back to work and marched down the field to score on Gubrud’s 13-yard run with 4:06 to play in the third.
Dunn’s 41-yard run with 14:53 to play made it 35-24, but the Eagles again came back. Gubrud’s TD pass of 35 yards to Nsimba Webster made it 35-31 with 12:05 to play and Nic DeLuca returned an interception for a scored with 9:29 to play.
NDSU finished had 537 yards of offense, while EWU countered with 556. The Bison had 13 penalties for 137 yards.
Stu Stiles had eight catches for 169 yards for EWU and teammate Kendrick Bourne added eight for 133 yards.