Arizona Football comes back to beat FCS Powerhouse, NDSU

TUCSON, AZ – Following their tough loss to Mississippi State, Arizona Football (2-1) overcame a late deficit to beat FCS powerhouse, North Dakota State (2-1). 

What a difference a year makes, especially if you are Arizona Football! Around this time last season, the Wildcats lost to in-state FCS rival, Northern Arizona in what was perhaps the lowest point in program history.

And with the program fresh off a hard-fought loss to Mississippi State the week prior, this weekend against FCS powerhouse North Dakota State provided a great benchmark for where this Wildcat program is at.

Bringing the energy from the kick-off, the Wildcats were the first to strike in this one after both teams went three-and-out on the first series.

Responding with an eight-play, 59-yard drive, Arizona drove right down, scoring on a six-yard touchdown run from Michael Wiley to make it 7-0 early on.

Unfortunately, North Dakota State would find their rhythm on an ensuing drive, doing what they do best as they punished the Wildcats’ defense en route to scoring on a Cam Miller pass to Hunter Luepke from 31 yards to make it 7-7.

Despite a quick three-and-out by the Cats, North Dakota State was threatening before Arizona was luckily able to force a fumble which resulted in a touchdown a few plays later.

Using a 10-play, 83-yard drive, the Wildcats were efficient, driving nearly the full length of the field before Jayden de Laura found the end zone on a seven-yard scamper to put the Cats back in front, 14-7.

Once again, the Bison would not go away. Despite trailing 14-7, North Dakota State drove 75-yards in nine plays, eventually scoring on a two-yard touchdown from Miller to tie the game at 14-14.

And with just 50 seconds remaining in the first half, that would leave just enough time for the Cats to drive 56 yards, eventually setting up a 36-yard field goal from Tyler Loop to give Arizona the 17-14 lead at the half.

Staying aggressive in the second half, Arizona Football would use a late-game rally to come away with the 31-28 win.

Leading 17-14, the Bison and the Wildcats would open up the second half with quick three-and-outs.

In the next series, the Bison would once again find their rhythm, driving 75 yards in six plays to score a touchdown. NDSU fullback Hunter Luepke would find the end zone again, this time on a six-yard run to give the Bison the 21-17 lead.

Luckily, on the ensuing drive, Arizona would respond, this time driving 75 yards in eight plays to regain the lead at 24-21 on a two-yard touchdown run from freshman running back Jonah Coleman.

Once again, North Dakota State would respond with a back-breaking touchdown drive that went 75 yards in 3:34 on seven plays. Luepke would find the end zone again, this time from 38 yards out to make it 28-24.

Things would look bleak for Arizona after the Wildcats failed to convert on their 43-yard field goal attempt from Tyler Loop on the ensuing drive. Luckily, after a turnover on downs by the Bison, the Wildcats responded in a big way.

Using a little over four minutes, Arizona would drive 78 yards on 10 plays to regain the lead after de Laura connected with Jacob Cowing on a 22-yard pass to make it 31-28.

Needing a big stand, the Wildcats’ defense came up big in the end, holding North Dakota State to a three-and-out before the offense was able to run out the clock and escape with a 31-28 win.

With the win, the Wildcats improve to 2-1 on the year and return to action next weekend when they take on Cal (2-1) to begin Pac-12 play.

Here’s a recap of the Wildcats’ win over the Bison!

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