TERRA HAUTE, Ind. (AP) If four-time defending national champion North Dakota State is going to get back into the FCS playoffs this season, redshirt freshman quarterback Easton Stick is going to take them there.
Stick proved an able replacement for injured quarterback Carson Wentz on Saturday, rushing for 124 yards and two scores and throwing for 126 yards and another score as the Bison (5-2, 3-1 Missouri Valley Football Conference) beat Indiana State 28-14.
''The offensive line and tight ends played great today,'' Stick said. ''The perimeter blocking was excellent and I just followed the big guys up front. All the credit to those guys.''
Stick made his first start in place of the injured Wentz - who is out six to eight weeks after wrist surgery - and is only the second player to gain 100 yards in a game against Indiana State (4-3, 2-2) this season.
''We challenged our guys and they came out and responded, especially when it got tight,'' Bison coach Chris Klieman said. ''What a job by our offensive line, what a job by Easton Stick.''
Stick made his presence felt right away, scoring on a 29-yard run early in the first quarter. He also played a key role in NDSU's second score, a 2-yard Chase Morlock run that capped an 80-yard drive with 2:04 left in the half. He carried the ball three times for 30 yards and two first downs and completed a 22-yard first-down pass en route to a 14-0 lead.
But Stick wasn't perfect, throwing an interception with 47 seconds left in the first half that led to an Indiana State score, a 13-yard touchdown pass by Matt Adam to Andrew Main. The Bison were up 14-7 at the break.
''I thought we played inspired football and dominated the first half,'' Klieman said. ''We can't turn the ball over. We did it a couple of times and that's going to affect you.''
Indiana State tied it 14-14 on an 81-yard TD run by Adam midway through the third quarter. Adam passed for 86 yards and ran for 75 yards for the Sycamores.
But NDSU came right back on Stick's first career TD pass, a 13-yarder to RJ Urzendowski, for a 21-14 lead with 6:25 left in the third quarter.
Stick's final touchdown run with 33 seconds left in the third quarter sealed the Bison win.
''It was awesome,'' Stick said. ''The support I got from my teammates was unbelievable.''
Klieman said the key was simple: ''Sixty minutes of great football,'' he said.