NDSU backup quarterback Cam Miller threw an incomplete pass intended for Bison sophomore tight end Joe Stoffel on a second down-and-10 play from the Albany 23-yard line. The ball landed incomplete with 16 seconds to play in the fourth quarter and NDSU holding a 22-point lead.
“I don’t really care,” Gattuso said. “I think it’s a classless act, but I don’t care if they want to do that. If you’re going to do it, call the timeouts and take two more shots. I know all the rhetoric behind you try to get a guy some throws and everything. I really don’t care, we have to defend it. I’ve always been like that. I have no problem. If you want to run the score up, run it up. I don’t have any problem. It’s just not my cup of tea. It’s just bad optics and unnecessary and it’s silly, but it must be who they are, I don’t know?”
After the Miller incompletion, Bison running back TaMerik Williams ran the ball for four yards on the next play to end the game.
“I told coach Entz at the end of the game he probably could have used a couple more timeouts and threw a couple more passes in the end zone to pad that score a little bit, but other than that I thought the people of Fargo were amazingly nice to us, treated us with a lot of respect,” Gattuso said. “It’s a place we’d love to come back to some day. This was a great environment, we loved it. We just wish we would have played a little bit better in the second half and kept it closer.”
North Dakota State’s Destin Talbert intercepts an Albany pass during their football game Saturday, Sept. 4, 2021, in the Fargodome.
Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor
NDSU came within one play of throwing a shutout at the Great Danes. The Bison had all the look of going into halftime with a 14-0 lead after tight end Josh Babicz hauled in an 18-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Quincy Patterson with 20 seconds remaining in the second quarter.
Albany’s Roy Alexander returned the ensuing kickoff 30 yards to the 33-yard line. On the next play, quarterback Jeff Undercuffler found Alexander open over the middle and the receiver took it from there.
He skirted a couple of tackle attempts and headed for the end zone.
“Bad tackling, bad pursuit,” said NDSU head coach Matt Entz. “We’re better than that. That was frustrating, especially after what we did offensively. You have to be ready to play every snap. They have scholarship players, too.”
Entz said that the play will be part of Bison film review. He also may point out the hustle play cornerback Courtney Eubanks made. The sophomore punched the ball from Alexander as he was crossing the goal line, a play that was reviewed but not overturned.
Albany’s Roy Alexander tumbles after North Dakota State’s Courtney Eubanks knocks the ball from his grasp during their football game Saturday, Sept. 4, 2021, in the Fargodome.
Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor
“I honestly felt like I got it in, but looking at the review it was really, really close,” Alexander said. “As I’m watching the review, I was thinking about what my coach always talks about. He always tells us five points of pressure so watching that it was like I can never do that again. That was too close. … The defensive back made a good play of getting his hand in there and swiping the ball. Looking at the review it was real close, but I’m glad I came out with it.”
Otherwise, the Bison were relentless on defense, holding Albany running back Karl Mofor, one of the top returners in the Colonial Athletic Association, to just 21 yards on 11 carries.
“Walking off the field at Sam Houston, we felt like we needed to do more as a defense,” said Bison safety Dawson Weber, referring to the quarterfinal loss last spring. “We knew we had to bring it up to the next notch.”
The Bison defense reached a goal of three takeaways a game, intercepting Undercuffler twice and recovering a Mofor fumble. NDSU converted all three miscues to touchdowns.
North Dakota State’s Eli Mostaert closes in to sack Albany quarterback Jeff Undercuffler at the Fargodome on Saturday, Sept. 4, 2021. David Samson / The Forum
The Great Danes struggled on third down, finishing the game 0-for-11 in third-down conversions. Albany was unable to sustain any drives in the second half, gaining 15 yards on 17 plays over the final two quarters. Albany was limited to minus-13 rushing yards in the second half.
“Certainly, 0-for-11, that’s not very good at all,” Undercuffler said. “I just kind of revert back to us being us offensively. We’ve just got to handle our business, limit as many mistakes as possible. … As a team, we’ve just got to be better. It’s as simple as that.”
Undercuffler completed 16 of 28 passes for 183 yards and a touchdown with two interceptions. Most of those numbers came in the first half, where he completed 13 of 18 passes for 155 yards and a score.
- Offensive guard Luke LaCilento, a transfer from the University of San Diego, did not play because of an ankle injury.
- Of the 74 players who dressed, long snapper Mike Florentine from Frankfort, Ill., and quarterback Cole Payton from Omaha were the only true freshmen.
- Entz said he was not aware of any Bison injuries immediately after the game.