Early Turnovers Prove Costly in 24-3 Loss at North Dakota State

LeRoy Alexander returns an interception against NDSU.
LeRoy Alexander returns an interception against NDSU.

Fargo, N.D. - Fourth-ranked North Dakota State scored 17 points in the first quarter and the 13th-ranked Youngstown State football team could never get back in the game dropping a 24-3 decision to the Bison at the FargoDome on Saturday afternoon.

The loss drops the Penguins to 6-3 overall and 4-2 in the Missouri Valley Football Conference while the Bison remain tied for first place in the league at 5-1 and are 7-1 overall.

NDSU jumped out to a 17-0 lead with 10 points coming off Penguin turnovers deep in their own territory.

The Bison's first score of the game came on short-yardage situation via the big play. Facing a thrid-and-1 from their own 29, Chase Morlock broke a tackle just past the line of scrimmage and ran 79 yards for a touchdown with 7:34 left in the first quarter.

The first Penguins turnover led to an NDSU field goal. After a giveaway at their own 25-yard line, the defense held and forced the Bison to settle for a 36-yard Cam Pedersen field goal with 3:54 left in the period.

Following an interception by NDSU's Robbie Grimsley of a Hunter Wells pass, the Bison took over at the YSU 15-yard line. One its first offensive snap, the Bison scored on a 15-yard pass from Easton Stick to Jeff Illies with 1:51 left in the quarter.

YSU was able to get on the scoreboard with 8:28 remaining in the second quarter when Zak Kennedy kicked a 32-yard field goal. Using Wells and Mays, YSU marched 65 yards in 15 plays before the drive stalled.

In the first half, YSU had the advantage in plays (37-21), time of possession (19:33 to 10:27) and first downs (9-5).

The Guins dominated the third quarter, but could not cut into their 14-point deficit.

NDSU extended the advantage to 24-3 when Lance Dunn scored on a seven-yard run with 12:39 remaining in the game. 

For the game, Wells completed 18-of-27 passes for 222 yards. YSU had 314 total offensive yards while NDSU finished with 329.

The Penguins play their final home game of the regular season next Saturday when they entertain Southern Illinois. Kickoff for the Senior Day tilt is set for Noon.