North Dakota State's players talked about how dangerous the Bison offense can be if they put together four full quarters.
A week after scoring 21 points in the fourth quarter in a 35-9 win over Morgan State, the 18th-ranked Bison broke loose for 410 total yards and 31 points in the second half against 20th-ranked University of South Dakota in NDSU's 38-16 win Saturday in Fargo.
"This was a good win. Games change in the second half with the adjustments," NDSU head coach Craig Bohl said. "That looked like Bison football out there in the second half."
Going into halftime, USD (2-2) was actually the team whose offense was causing NDSU (3-1) problems. The Coyotes had a 13-7 lead at the midway point with 203 total yards. Junior quarterback Dante Warren had already run for 51 yards and two touchdowns, while throwing for 97 yards.
But NDSU also made adjustments at halftime, which the focus being on stopped Warren, according to NDSU defensive lineman and Hurley native Coulter Boyer.
"We basically went over our game plan again, and we had to change our angles on him," said Boyer, who finished with two sacks and six tackles in the win. "The defensive backs also did a great job holding the wide receivers, allowing us to get to the quarterback."
The adjustments worked, as USD was only able to muster 119 yards of total offense in the second half.
USD head coach Ed Meierkort said part of the problem was the coaching.
"We got out-executed and we didn't coach them well on some plays. We allowed NDSU to dictate, and we just got whupped in the second half," he said. "I think we also got away from what we do well offensively in the second half. Our offense is too good for that."
"Defensively, we made maybe too many adjustments when things started to go downhill," Meierkort added.
USD had the 13-7 halftime lead, but in a matter of four minutes, the Coyotes found themselves down 28-13.
After NDSU quarterback Brock Jensen scored on a one-yard sneak to put NDSU up 14-13, USD went three-and-out on offense. One play later, NDSU went up 21-13 after D.J. McNorton broke free on a 53-yard touchdown.
Then another USD three-and-out led to a quick one-play, 58-yard scoring drive on Jensen's pass to wide receiver Warren Holloway.
"We gave them two big plays in the second half, and you can't do that," Meierkort said.
No matter how the Coyotes lined up defensively in the second half, NDSU running back McNorton was able to find the hole.
To say the junior running back had a career day was an understatement. McNorton came into the game with his previous career-best day being 66 yards, and he rushed for 118 yards total on the year.
By the end of the game, McNorton became just the fifth back in NDSU history to rush for 250 yards as he finished with exactly that many yards. McNorton was just 17 yards off the single-game mark for NDSU.
McNorton said everything just seemed to flow the right way during the game.
"I was initially slashing, and I got guys to overflow. We were rolling and it was fun," he said. "I have a lot of respect for our offensive line, just believing and trusting in them"
McNorton's career day earned him Missouri Valley Football Conference Player of the Week honors.
For Meierkort and the USD defense, the game raised some concerns on how NDSU was able to run for 348 total yards.
"It was a zone play where they went inside and bounced it outside," Meierkort said. "Without looking at the film, it seemed like our linebackers and safeties got handled."
One issue really stuck out to USD safety Shane Potter.
"We really have to work on tackling. There were a lot of missed tackles," he said. "We played pretty well in the first half, and then came out in the second half and missed tackles. We have to pick it up."
N. DAKOTA ST. 38, SOUTH DAKOTA 16
South Dakota 7 6 0 3—16
N. Dakota St. 7 0 21 10—38
SDak—Warren 6 run (Robb kick), 7:31.
NDSt—McNorton 1 run (Jastram kick), :48.
SDak—Warren 6 run (kick failed), 11:16.
NDSt—Jensen 1 run (Jastram kick), 7:09.
NDSt—McNorton 53 run (Jastram kick), 5:37.
NDSt—Holloway 58 pass from Jensen (Jastram kick), 3:16.
SDak—FG Robb 33, 13:36.
NDSt—McNorton 21 run (Jastram kick), 8:52.
NDSt—FG Jastram 28, 4:33.
First downs 19 21
Rushes-yards 35-165 42-348
Passing 157 182
Comp-Att-Int 19-33-2 9-19-0
Return Yards 0 53
Punts-Avg. 6-46.3 3-41.7
Fumbles-Lost 0-0 3-1
Penalties-Yards 9-81 4-49
Time of Possession 31:17 28:43
RUSHING—South Dakota, Warren 19-83, Ganious 14-49, Sims 2-33. N. Dakota St., McNorton 20-250, Jensen 12-32, Sigers 3-26, Lang 2-19, Voigtlander 4-16, R.Smith 1-5.
PASSING—South Dakota, Warren 19-33-2-157. N. Dakota St., Jensen 9-19-0-182.
RECEIVING—South Dakota, Flanagan 6-49, Nowotny 6-40, Powell 4-49, Ganious 3-19. N. Dakota St., Holloway 3-109, Howard 3-44, L.Smith 3-29.