State College of Science football team loves to play at home. The Cats certainly play like it.
NDSCS used a combination of big-play offense and shut-down defense to smother their homecoming opponents, defeating Dakota College of Bottineau 45-6 on a hot Saturday afternoon.
Coach Chuck Parsons was pleased with the win, but felt his team could have still performed better in certain areas, especially in terms of committing penalties.
“A win’s a win. I’m happy with it,” Parsons said. “But it’s the little things we’ve got to stop doing. Those are things that come with reps and we have to crank things up in practice.”
In front of a large crowd, the Cats went to work on offense early, as QB J.T. Jurasin connected with Claude Garrett for a 52-yard touchdown minutes in to give the Wildcats a quick 6-0 lead.
On defense, the Cats surrounded Bottineau’s ball carriers and put pressure on the quarterback, holding the Lumberjacks to well-under 100 yards in the first half.
After an Eric Mielke field goal made it 9-0, the Cats roared just before halftime with a pair of touchdowns. New QB Josh Hansana first found Shamir Akhdar streaking down the far sideline for a long touchdown to make it 16-0. Forcing a punt, the Wildcats had 20 seconds to navigate a short field to the end zone. It took only 16 as Hansana found Gannon Sinclair on a four-yard TD to put the game away early, 23-0.
Bottineau came out with a seven-and-a-half minute drive to open the third quarter, finally finding the end zone, but the Wildcats got the last laugh. After a good push, the Cats blocked the extra point and Kelvin Wilkins returned it 94 yards for a rare 2-point score.
“I like the effort. The guys are getting through and not using that play as a chance to take a rest. They’re executing what we’re coaching them,” Parsons said.
After another field goal made it 28-6, the Wildcats decided to turn on the fireworks for the fans. A trick-play option pass from Lorenzo Mitchell to a wide-open Hansana made it 35-6 and the route was on.
“We want people to understand that we’ve got weapons and aren’t one-dimensional in our offense,” Parsons said. “Yeah, it was good for the homecoming fans, but we’ve got razzle-dazzle if we need it.”
The Cats maintain their defensive intensity, holding down Bottineau, while Prince Kanu added a late touchdown for the Wildcats, who cruised by a 45-6 score.
NDSCS (2-2) looks now to the second game of their three game home stand, taking on Columbia Basin, Wash., at 1 p.m. next Saturday. It will be the last tune-up before a match up with the NJCAA’s No. 1 team, Iowa Western, on Oct. 13.