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Illinois State 3
Next up: Montana St @ NDSU
Time/Date: Dec. 21 – 2 or 6:30 p.m. ET | TV: ESPN2 or ESPNU
OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE GAME: Griffin Crosa, K, NDSU – Scored all nine points with field goals from 38, 33 and 22 yards
DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE GAME: Jackson Hankey, LB, NDSU – Game-high 10 tackles
OTHER STAT STANDOUTS:
Jabril Cox, LB, NDSU – 8 tackles, 1 TFL
Michael Tutsie, DB, NDSU – 7 tackles, 1 INT.
Christian Watson, WR, NDSU – 7 rec. for 107 yards
Dylan Draka, LB, ISU – 8 tackles
Devin Taylor, DB, ISU – 5 tackles, 1 TFL, 1 sack
James Robinson, RB, ISU – 24 att. for 94 yards
FCS COACHING CHANGES: The List – And Why
In order to pull off a massive upset at No. 1 seed North Dakota State, Illinois State had to do two things: play its best defensive game of the year and hope running back James Robinson and the offensive line can continue to play out of their minds. The Redbirds accomplished the first task in a gutsy defensive performance against the Bison, holding them without a touchdown for the first time since 2014. But NDSU also came to play on defense, shutting down the Redbirds and allowing just 194 total yards (160 yards on the ground off of 40 carries).
The Bison had their opportunities to put this game away. The Redbirds dug in their heels when it mattered most and forced three second-quarter field goals and a whole lot of punts in the second half to give their offense a chance to win.
NDSU's defense didn't let it happen, though. The Bison had four tackles for loss and two sacks with most of those coming at key points late in the game. NDSU allowed just three Illinois State offensive drives of more than five plays. The best being a 12-play drive that went 70 yards and resulted in a third-quarter field goal to make the score 9-3.
After four combined field goals from NDSU's Griffin Crosa and ISU's Sam Fenlason, that was all the points both defenses would allow the rest of the game.
PREVIEW OF NEXT WEEK
The top-seeded Bison host No. 5 seed Montana State in NDSU's ninth consecutive semifinal appearance. This is a rematch of the 2018 second-round game that saw the Bison pummel the Bobcats 52-10.
MSU has made ginormous strides since last season, though. And the Bison haven't looked like their normal self in their last three games. That's a credit to the defenses they've faced. But MSU is rolling on defense right now as well. Can the Bobcats exploit what ISU did today against NDSU's offense even more? And can MSU's balanced offense solve the riddle that is NDSU's defense? Get ready for a massive showdown in a game that can go either way.
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