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No. 1 ranked Bison survive upset bid, rally past Northern Iowa on the road

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North Dakota State's Bruce Anderson leaps Northern Iowa's Xavior Williams on his way to a 75-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter on Saturday at the UNI-Dome in Cedar Falls, Iowa.David Samson / The Forum2 / 2

CEDAR FALLS, Iowa -- North Dakota State overcame a sluggish start for the second straight game. The Bison proved college football is four quarters, however, and they overcame Northern Iowa on Saturday afternoon at the UNI-Dome.

The 56-31 victory moved the No. 1-ranked Bison to 5-0 overall, 2-0 in the Missouri Valley Football Conference. The loss dropped the Panthers to 2-3, 1-1.

 Bison running back Bruce Anderson ran for 170 yards on 23 carries and caught a 75-yard touchdown pass. Quarterback Easton Stick threw four touchdown passes and ran for two more scores.  Wide receiver Darrius Shepherd hauled in two of those Stick touchdown tosses.

Leading 35-31, the Bison went 78 yards for a two-possession advantage. Running back Lance Dunn got it going with a 17-yard burst to near midfield. On third-and-3, Stick hit Shepherd for seven yards to the UNI 24-yard line.

Stick got the touchdown from a yard out and with 6 minutes, 3 seconds remaining, NDSU led 42-31, its first two-possession advantage of the game. Stick added a 31-yard scamper after the Bison held the Panthers on fourth down.

After two subpar games against UNI the prior two years, Stick was solid, completing 9 of 15 passes for 179 yards.

It was billed as a potential low-scoring game, but both teams threw that theory out the dome window in the first half. The Bison couldn’t stop UNI quarterback Eli Dunne. The Panthers couldn’t stop the NDSU rushing attack.

By the time the dust settled, Austin Errthum’s 32-yard field goal on the last play of the second quarter gave the Panthers a 24-21 halftime lead. It ended two quarters where Dunne threw for 256 yards and touchdowns of 64 yards to Briley Moore and 24 yards to Jaylin James.

Anderson topped 100 yards rushing in the first half. The Bison rallied from an early 14-0 deficit with a 20-yard touchdown pass from Stick to Shepherd and Lance Dunn’s 3-yard reception from Stick.

Dunn added an 8-yard touchdown run later in the second quarter to tie the game at 21-21.

Each team put up a touchdown in the third quarter, NDSU on a 22-yard, Stick-to-Shepherd pass and UNI on a 26-yard strike from Dunne to receiver Deion McShane.