Western rewind: Leathernecks lose 11th straight as No. 4 North Dakota State romps

North Dakota State’s Kobe Johnson breaks away on a touchdown run against Western Illinois. (Photo by Michael Vosburg/The Forum)

By Dan Verdun

Western Illinois saw its losing streak reach 11, the longest current FCS skid, following a defeat to North Dakota State Saturday in Macomb.

NDSU built a 28-0 halftime lead and breezed to a 56-17 Missouri Valley Football Conference win.

With strong wind gusts, NDSU (7-2 overall, 5-1) kept the ball on the ground against the Leathernecks (0-9, 0-6).

The Bison, ranked No. 4 in both national FCS polls, ran 55 times for 453 yards (8.2 yards per carry). NDSU passed just five times in the game.

The Bison had two rushers — TaMerik Williams (120) and TK Marshall (118) — go over the 100-yard mark Saturday. A third, Kobe Johnson, ran for 91 yards.

“We wanted to establish the line of scrimmage early in the game, but I think with the wind … you weren’t going to take many deep shots,” Bison head coach Matt Entz told inforum.com. “Once we got up, we turned it into a four-minute period or four-minute mentality and so we weren’t going to throw the ball.”

WIU has surrendered 202 points in the first half this season, a 22.4 per game average.

Game changers

14:10, 1st quarter: NDSU scored on its opening drive when Johnson broke free for a 47-yard touchdown.

12:32, 1st quarter: WIU gambled on 4th-and-2 with a fake punt. Carrying the ball, Leatherneck defensive lineman Cam Washington was dropped for a 2-yard loss, giving NDSU the ball at the Western 38. Three plays later, the Bison scored on a 25-yard TD run.

6:48, 1st quarter: WIU quarterback Nick Bruno was intercepted at the North Dakota State 38-yard line, ending a nine-play drive that started at the Leatherneck 25.

What it means

Western’s 11-game losing streak dates back to last season. The Leathernecks are one of two winless teams in the country this fall. Robert Morris (0-9), the other, lost to Charleston Southern 34-21 Saturday.

Nifty ‘Necks

Prairie State Pigskin chooses the top three WIU players in the game:

Jafar Armstrong, WR: The senior caught three passes for 85 yards with two touchdowns. He also averaged 19.7 yards on three kickoff returns.

Naseim Brantley, WR: The transfer led all receivers with eight catches for 68 yards.

Bradyn Smith, DB: The Springfield Sacred Heart-Griffin High School product led WIU with eight tackles, six of which were solo.

What’s next?

Western closes out its home schedule Nov. 12, hosting Indiana State. The Sycamores (1-8, 0-6) lost to North Dakota 42-7 Saturday in Terre Haute.

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