Becca Langys/Photo Editor
Fargo, ND — Western Illinois (1-9) had a tall task in front of them when they had to travel to Fargo, N.D. to take on the top-ranked North Dakota State Bison (10-0). The Leathernecks did all they could against the talented Bison squad, putting up a season-high for NDSU opponents with 21 points. Yet that still wasn’t enough against the Bison, as the hosts took this one, 57-21.
The Leathernecks got the ball first in front of 17,441 hostile fans in the FargoDome. Western Illinois pushed the ball at least 18 yards down the field, but then threw an interception just 1:14 into the game.
It didn’t take too long for the Bison to capitalize on bringing in the Western Illinois interception, when Adam Cofield found the endzone from a mere one yard out, adding the extra point attempt to make it 7-0 just about five minutes in.
Western Illinois continued to move it further down the field, but couldn’t find a seam just yet, turning it over on downs the next time down the field, and once again, North Dakota State answered, taking it 46 yards downfield, ultimately ending in a 10-yard TD run with a failed point after, setting the score at 13-0 around the mid-way point of the opening quarter.
Needless to say, the second portion of the first quarter wasn’t nearly as active as the kickoff, as no scores happened. On top of that, between NDSU’s most recent score and the end of the quarter, each team only got the ball once, with both sides working the clock.
Now, the Bison saw the quarter run out on them, but that didn’t make a difference for them. NDSU found the endzone all of 1:27 into the quarter to make it 20-0. The second quarter saw a significant lack of scoring plays, but the Bison hit endzone turf once again, almost the identical point of the first quarter they had scored, 7:48 to be exact, and then it was 27-0.
The Bison continued to establish consistency, one piece good for them, the other not so good. They scored yet again to make it 33-0, but failed to convert the point-after again.
It took until 9:21 of the third quarter, but Western Illinois finally got on the board with a nine yard pass from Kevin Johnson to Clint Ratkovich, plus the Nathan Erickson kick, and although the Leathernecks had quite the comeback to make, at least putting points up on the board against a thoroughly talented NDSU team could be some kind of consolation, and the Leathernecks weren’t even done yet.
Needing 75 yards to find the end zone, it was no problem for the Bison, who went right down the field and scored again to make it 40-7.
However, the Leathernecks weren’t going down without a fight. They scored on the connection from Johnson to George Wahee from 17 yards to go with the Erickson kick and it was a 26-point game with 12:26 to go.
This one started to get into ‘out of reach’ zone when the Bison scored on a singular 65 yard TD run by Jalen Bussey to make it a 33-point spread.
Despite the deficit, there was one last positive in this one for the visiting Leathernecks. A 28-yard touchdown run by George Wahee and the Erickson PAT gave the Leathernecks their 21st point, the most points scored by an NDSU opponent this season.
Even though Western Illinois did all they could offensively against the Bison, NDSU scored twice more, a field goal and 45-yard run to set the final score at 57-21 in favor of the home team.
Western Illinois has a week to bounce back in practices before returning home to Hanson Field for Senior Day this Saturday, Nov. 16, with a 1 p.m. kickoff against the Salukis from Southern Illinois.