Drake's Season Ends in FCS Playoffs at North Dakota State

Saturday, November 25, 2023
by Cody Bush, PFL Media Relations

FARGO, N.D. - Cole Payton and Barika Kpeenu ran for two touchdowns each as North Dakota State defeated Drake 66-3 in the first round of the NCAA Division I Football Championship on Saturday at the Fargodome.

Drake's (8-4) defense opened the game by forcing and recovering a fumble on North Dakota State's opening drive, with Jacob Thomspon forcing the giveaway and Tyler Radocha recovering the loose ball at midfield. The Bulldogs capitalized on its opening drive with Shane Dunning kicking a 30-yard field goal at the 12:34 mark of the first quarter.

North Dakota State (9-3) responded with Cole Payton's 20-yard touchdown to cap a five-play, 65-yard drive. The Bison then forced and recovered a fumble on the following Drake drive and turned that giveaway into points RaJa Nelson's first touchdown, a five-yard run. Nelson would add a 40-yard touchdown reception early in the second quarter to extend the lead to 21-3 with 14:08 left in the first half.

The Bisons closed the first half leading 35-3 and were up 45-3 at the end of three quarters. North Dakota State closed the game with a 21-point fourth quarter to seal the victory.

North Dakota State finished with 547 offensive yards. Payton ran for 104 yards and two touchdowns and threw two passes for 23 yards. Quarterback Cam Miller completed 10-of-11 passes for 206 yards and two touchdowns.

Drake posted 177 offensive yards, quarterback Luke Bailey leading that effort with 111 passing yards on 13-of-24 passing.