FARGO, N.D. (AP)Cam Miller threw for a first-half touchdown and ran for a second to lead third-seeded North Dakota State to a 27-9 win over Samford in a Football Championship Subdivision quarterfinal-round playoff game on Friday night.
Already without fullback Hunter Luepke, who is out for the season with an injured shoulder, the Bison lost running back TaMerik Williams in the first half against Samford. No matter. North Dakota State still pounded away at Samford, rushing for 166 yards on 48 carries and dominating time of possession, holding the ball for more than 39 minutes.
Samford went with freshman Quincy Crittendon at quarterback after starter Michael Hiers was a game-time scratch with an injured hand that kept him out of last week’s opening-round win over Southeast Louisiana. But the Bulldogs went three-and-out on their first three possessions and an 11-play, 47-yard drive came up empty when Zach Williams’ 34-yard field-goal attempt was blocked by Spencer Waege. Samford turned the ball over on downs and went three-and-out for the fourth time in the first half on its final two possessions.
The Bison got off to a slow start as well, but began to click offensively in the second quarter. Miller drove the Bison 69 yards in 12 plays for the opening score, hitting Joe Stoffel from 2 yards out for a 7-0 lead. Griffen Crosa added a 44-yard field goal as time expired in the half for a 10-0 lead.
With Williams on crutches and his foot encased in a boot, North Dakota State turned to third-string back TK Marshall in the second half and he capped the opening drive with a 7-yard touchdown run.
Samford turned to Hiers to start the second half, but he was picked off to end the Bulldogs’ first possession of the half and the Bison drove 63 yards, with Miller nosing in from the 1 to take a 24-0 lead.
Miller completed 15 of 18 pass attempts for 194 yards to lead North Dakota State. Kobe Johnson carried 15 times for 48 yards to lead the ground game. Marshall gained 47 yards on 11 carries with a touchdown and Miller added 21 yards on 12 carries and a score.
Hiers completed 22 of 30 second-half pass attempts, good for 227 yards and a late touchdown with an interception. Chandler Smith caught six passes for 120 yards, including a 40-yard touchdown with 3:53 left in the game.
North Dakota State (11-2), winner of nine of the last 11 FCS national titles, advances to the semifinals, where it will face the winner of Friday’s Incarnate Word-Sacramento State quarterfinal game.
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