Bison Defense Stifles Bears for 14-7 Halftime Edge
Nov. 3, 2012
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. - A pair of second-quarter touchdowns and a dominant defensive effort handed No. 1 North Dakota State a 14-7 halftime lead over Missouri State Saturday at Plaster Field. Brock Jensen's 6-yard touchdown pass to Ryan Smith with 58 seconds left in the opening half broke a 7-7 tie and capped a strong second period in which the Bison used a pair of long scoring drives to overcome an early deficit.
North Dakota State dominated both the time of possession and the line of scrimmage in the half, out-gaining the Bears 227 to (-18) in total yardage, while eating up 21:35 of clock time to the Bears' 8:25. The NDSU offense asserted itself as well after a slow start, converting on seven of its final 11 third-down attempts and recording a pair of 14-play drives to take control of the game.
The Bears' offense struggled throughout the half, rushing for -22 yards on 10 carries and recording just four yards on 3-of-9 passing by Kierra Harris. MSU would not register a first down until the final minute of the half.
Caleb Schaffitzel provided one of the few highlights for the Bears over the first 30 minutes of play, established a Missouri State and Plaster Field record with a 100-yard interception return for a touchdown.
Defense was the name of the game early on, as the two offenses combined for just 19 total yards over the first four possessions of the contest. Sam Ojuri provided the first spark for the Bison, breaking free around the left end for a 37-yard run that set up the visitors with a first down at the MSU 7-yard line.
But three plays later with NDSU facing a third-and-goal from the Bears' 4, Schaffitzel stepped in front of a Jensen pass two yards deep in the end zone to thwart the drive with his fourth interception of the year. The sophomore eluded Jensen's tackle and raced to the opposite end of the field for the school-record-setting return that put the Bears in front, 7-0, with 3:23 left in the quarter.
North Dakota State got off the mat with a marathon drive to knot the score on its next possession, however. After completing long passes to convert on third-and-long three different times on the drive, Jensen scored from five yards out on a keeper up the middle to cap a 14-play, 65-yard drive that took 6:05 off the clock.
Schaffitzel's second pick of the game and ensuing 27-yard return set the Bears up at the NDSU 47 with just under nine minutes remaining on the clock. The sophomore safety's second long return broke a Bears' single-season record, eclipsing Bill Beckett's 34-year-old mark of 134 interception return yards.
But the Bison defense, which pushed the Bears back for a net -19 yards in the second quarter, put the clamps on the MSU offense to force a sixth Chris Sullens punt. NDSU then embarked on another 14-play drive, this one chewing up 85 yards over 6:15. Jensen found Smith over the middle for another critical third-down conversion and the go-ahead touchdown with just under a minute left in the half.
Despite tossing two interceptions, Jensen was an effective 11-of-22 for 108 yards through the air, while Ojuri rushed for 65 yards on just 10 carries in the half.