POCATELLO, Idaho - Behind a stifling defense and Big Sky season-best 435 yards of total offense, the Northern Colorado football team snapped a 19-game road losing streak with a dominating 30-7 victory at Idaho State. The Bears improve to 2-5 on the year and 1-4 in Big Sky action, while the Bengals fall to 0-7 overall and 0-4 in league play.
The Bears rushed for 210 yards and had 225 yards passing for a balanced attack that saw scoring drives in each quarter. Junior running back Andre Harris led all players with 113 yards rushing, while senior quarterback Bryan Waggener completed 24-of-42 passes for 212 yards, hitting junior receiver Alex Thompson and freshman Patrick Walker nine times each. Walker tallied a career-best 89 receiving yards, while Thompson had 75.
Senior Michael York made three field goals, scoring a career-best 12 points, as he made from 30, 47 and 31 yards.
Junior linebacker Matt King led the squad again in tackles, notching seven on the evening.
"Obviously, we're excited we got the win," said head coach Scott Downing. "It's a huge win for us, our first Big Sky road win and our first Big Sky win this year after two very close losses the last two weeks. It's something our kids have worked very, very hard for. I've been telling everyone they're very, very resilient and they keep coming back and keep preparing. We knew it wouldn't be easy coming into Idaho State, and our hats off to them, they played well but we're very happy tonight."
Idaho State was led by Clint Knickrehm with 14 rushing yards, while Russel Hill completed 29-of-49 passes for 208 yards as Jaron Taylor caught seven for 42 yards and the Bengals' lone touchdown. A.J. Storms led the team defensively with 14 tackles and a forced fumble.
Idaho State was attempting a field goal when the snap went over the kicker's head. Junior cornerback Korey Askew picked up the ball and ran it back to the 45-yard line. On the ensuing drive, senior field goal kicker Michael York made a 30-yarder, capping a nine-play, 32-yard 4:14 drive for the 3-0 lead.
In a two-minute hurry-up offense, Waggener drove the Bears 82 yards in 10 plays in 2:13 and dove across the goal line on a seven-yard gain to give NC the 10-0 advantage with just 19 seconds remaining in the first half.
The Bears defense was stifling in the first half, as Idaho State had just 26 yards of total offense. They tallied five tackles for loss, including sacks by Ethan Davis and Nick Hernon. Waggener completed 12-of-21 passes for 101 yards and rushed for 27 yards.
For the first time this season, the Bears scored a touchdown on their opening drive of the second-half. Harris scored on a one-yard rush, capping off a 12-play, 80-yard drive in 2:58 to extend the lead to 17-0. It is the first touchdown for Northern Colorado in the third quarter this year.
A holding penalty on Idaho State on a Northern Colorado punt gave the Bears new life and NC took full advantage. The Bears drove 99 yards on 13 plays in 4:59 and scored on a 14-yard pass from Waggener to Thompson for the 24-0 lead.
Idaho State got on the scoreboard during one of the strangest drives in college football. The Bengals drove 64 yards on eight plays in 3:47, scoring on an 11-yard pass from Russel Hill to Jaron Taylor, however there were seven penalties on the drive, including back-to-back offsetting penalty plays. With 1:32 on the clock in the third quarter, the score moved to 24-7.
After an illegal substitution penalty against Idaho State on a Bears punt, the ball was placed on the 30-yard line and York made a career-best 47-yard field goal, bettering his previous long of 38 at Weber State a year ago, extending the lead to 27-7. York tacked on a 31-yard field goal with 5:12 remaining for the 30-7 final.
The Bears return home for three straight weeks, hosting Weber State, South Dakota and Sacramento State, respectively.