CEDAR FALLS, Iowa — Christian Watson scored on a 100-yard kickoff return, Hunter Luepke ran for 95 yards that included a fourth-quarter touchdown, and second-ranked North Dakota State held off No. 24 Northern Iowa for a 23-20 victory on Saturday.
Tyler Hoosman had a pair of 1-yard scoring runs in the fourth quarter for Northern Iowa, the second with 2:47 remaining. The Panthers forced a three-and-out on the ensuing series but then could not convert on fourth-and-1 at their 13.
The Bison (6-1, 5-1 Missouri Valley) have won seven straight against Northern Iowa (3-4, 3-4).
Zeb Noland was 8 of 16 for 154 yards passing with a touchdown for North Dakota State. Watson made two catches for 86 yards, and his kickoff return for a touchdown gave the Bison the lead for good, 7-6, with 3:20 remaining in the second quarter.
Josh Babicz made a shoe-string catch at the 19 and then ran untouched into the end zone for a 36-yard touchdown that stretched the Bison’s lead to 17-6 lead with 29 seconds left in the third quarter. Luepke’s 2-yard TD run made it 23-12 with 6:17 to go.
Will McElvain was 14-of-27 passing for 193 yards for Northern Iowa. Hoosman finished with 70 yards rushing on 23 carries.