Defense - what else? - shines in NDSU spring game

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(STATS) - The pressure to keep winning FCS national championships - it's up to a record five straight - must be immense at North Dakota State.

Maybe everything else is a breeze with the Bison offense and defense having to face each other all the time.

When they did Saturday, the defense scored seven points on the final drive to beat the offense 18-16 in the annual Green and Gold spring game before an estimated crowd of 5,000 at the Fargodome.

A modified points system was used to reward the results of different plays.

Linebackers Kurt Mattox and Aaron Mercadel both recorded five tackles, and defensive end Greg Menard collected two sacks and a quarterback hurry in the win.

Three quarterbacks threw for a touchdown, with No. 1 starter Easton Stick completing 10 of 15 passes for 130 yards. Cole Davis was 4 of 7 and James Hendricks was 3 of 5.

Last season, NDSU throttled Jacksonville State in the FCS championship game to finish the season with a 13-2 record.

Also the five-time reigning Missouri Valley Football Conference champs, the Bison will return 14 starters this year. Stick is a sophomore-to-be who went 8-0 as a starter while Carson Wentz was sidelined with a wrist injury.

Coach Chris Klieman's squad will have one of the nation's deepest backfields in King Frazier, Bruce Anderson, Lance Dunn and Chase Morlock, and likely the best defense - led by linebacker Nick DeLuca, defensive tackle Nate Tanguay and Menard.

NDSU will open its season by hosting Big South champion Charleston Southern in the FCS Kickoff on Aug. 27.