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Fargodome

The Fargodome on Dec. 1, 2018.

Live coverage of the second round of the FCS playoffs as Montana State visits No. 1 North Dakota State Dec. 1, 2018 in Fargo, North Dakota.

PREGAME: Montana State faces its toughest test of the year today in the second round of the FCS playoffs when it faces top-ranked and defending national champion North Dakota State. Kickoff is at 1 p.m. Mountain time.

North Dakota State (11-0) is 28-2 in the playoffs since 2010, including a 21-1 mark at the Fargodome. In all, the Bison are 71-6 at home since the start of the 2010 campaign. NDSU has won six of the past seven FCS national championships.

“When you combine exceptional personnel with tremendous commitment and great coaching, you win championships,” Bobcats coach Jeff Choate said this week. “And that’s what North Dakota State has done over and over and over again.”

Montana State (8-4) has won four straight games, including last week’s 35-14 first-round playoff victory over Incarnate Word at Bobcat Stadium. It was MSU’s first postseason win since 2012.

QB Troy Andersen enters today’s game with 20 rushing touchdowns, one shy of breaking the single-season school record set by Don Hass in 1966. He also has eight 100-yard rushing games, one shy of the record set by Matt Engelking in 1995.

This is the third playoff meeting between Montana State and NDSU. The Bobcats won in 1976 in Fargo en route to a national title, while the Bison prevailed in Bozeman in 2010.

A couple late pregame notes: It was announced that Bobcats LB Josh Hill could make his 2018 debut against the Bison. Hill underwent back surgery before the season. Also available is WR Willie Patterson, who has missed the previous five games due to injury.

FIRST QUARTER: On the first play of the game, Andersen hit receiver Kevin Kassis with a 71-yard bomb. Kassis tried to leap for the pylon while being chased but stepped out at the 4-yard line. That proved important, because NDSU stopped the Bobcats on the next three plays and had to settle for a 24-yard field goal by Tristan Bailey (after a false start penalty). 3-0 Bobcats.

The Bison answered right away with a nine-play, 60-yard TD drive to take the lead. NDSU picked up four first downs along the way. RB Lance Dunn scored from inside the 1-yard line for a 7-3 lead with 8:06 to go in the quarter. 

Dunn scored his second touchdown on NDSU's next drive, an 11-yard run around the edge. The Bison twice took advantage of some short(er) fields due to long returns in the kicking game by Ty Brooks and Robbie Grimsley, which helped set up both scores and a 14-3 advantage. 

After the Bobcats punted again, the Bison struck again. This time it was a 32-yard Bruce Anderson touchdown run for a 21-3 advantage. To that point, NDSU had nine first downs on three possessions. 

SCORE: NORTH DAKOTA STATE 21, MONTANA STATE 3

SECOND QUARTER: The Bobcats punted again early in the second quarter, and the Bison took advantage once more. Dunn scored his third touchdown of the first half, another 1-yarder, to put NDSU ahead 28-3.

Dunn added his fourth touchdown of the day, a 46-yarder up the middle, made it 35-3. With that, Dunn tied the school record for rushing TDs in a single playoff game, set by D.J. McNorton in NDSU's 2010 playoff win against Montana State in Bozeman.

After Jered Padmos had a punt blocked later in the quarter, NDSU kicker Cam Pedersen added a 27-yard field goal for a 38-3 advantage. The Bison rushed for 243 yards in the first half. 

SCORE: NORTH DAKOTA STATE 38, MONTANA STATE 3

THIRD QUARTER: Bobcats LB Josh Hill, playing in his first game of the season, leaped to intercept an Easton Stick pass on NDSU's first drive of the second half. It was NDSU's ninth offensive turnover all season. 

The Bobcats finally scored their first touchdown when Andersen broke through contact on a fourth-and-1 play and raced 51 yards to the end zone. It was Andersen's 21st rushing TD of the season, which sets a new single-season school record.

Andersen also eclipsed 100 yards for the game, which marked his ninth 100-yard rushing outing of the year and gave him another single-season school record.

Ty Brooks got those points back for NDSU on its next drive, with a 30-yard TD run, which made the score 45-10.

SCORE: NORTH DAKOTA STATE 45, MONTANA STATE 10

FOURTH QUARTER: NDSU's Adam Cofield added to the touchdown party at the 9:57 mark with a 1-yard run of his own to put the Bison ahead 52-10, and that capped the scoring.

The win sends No. 1-ranked and top-seeded NDSU (12-0) into the quarterfinal round, where it will host eighth-seeded Colgate (10-1) next week. Colgate defeated James Madison 23-20 in a second-round game on Saturday on a game-winning field goal.

The Bobcats, who were an at-large selection to the playoffs, finished their season with an 8-5 record.

FINAL SCORE: NORTH DAKOTA STATE 52, MONTANA STATE 10

 

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