FARGO, N.D. — Wofford’s high-powered rushing attack was stymied by the country’s top-rated defense in the quarterfinals of the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs.
North Dakota State turned away two fourth-quarter drives deep into its territory to post a 14-7 victory and advance to Friday’s semifinal contest with Georgia Southern.
The Bison (12-1) forced the visitors into two turnovers as well as blocking a field goal in the fourth quarter.
Wofford moved the ball inside of North Dakota State 10 twice in the final period but were unable to put any points on the board. After a Brad Nocek run on fourth-and-6 gave the Terriers a first down at the Bison 13, Eric Breitenstein rushed twice for 6 yards. On third-and-4, Donovan Johnson was stuffed for a 2-yard loss forcing a field-goal attempt. Kasey Redfern’s kick was blocked by Anthony LaVoy.
On their next possession, the Terriers marched back into scoring territory. After a rare pass completion from James Lawson to Jeff Ashley on the first play from scrimmage, eight straight runs had Wofford facing a fourth-and-3 from the North Dakota State 7. Donovan Johnson was tackled after a 1-yard gain, turning the ball over to the Bison on downs.
North Dakota State punted the ball back to Wofford with 49 seconds remaining in the contest, but the Terriers were only able to advance the 14 yards before time expired.
The Bison’s Grant Olson set a school record with 29 tackles, breaking the mark of 26 set in 1989 by Ken Clark.
Wofford (9-4) scored its lone touchdown against the defending FCS champion on a Blake Wiley 35-yard interception return early in the second quarter. Wiley’s touchdown tied the game at 7.
The Terriers out-gained the Bison 326-262, but lost two fumbles, both inside of North Dakota State territory.
Breitenstein rushed for 135 yards on 24 carries and became the first player to break the 100-yard mark against the Bison this season.
“In the end, that stuff doesn’t matter because we’re going home to Spartanburg,” Breitenstein said to the Associated Press.
Former Richmond Senior linebacker Phillip LeGrande closed out his collegiate career with seven tackles, including 1 1/2 for loss. For the season, LeGrande recorded 43 total tackles, 6 1/2 for loss, five pass breakups, three quarterback hurries, two sacks and a forced fumble.
— Sports editor Shawn Stinson can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 14, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.