- Associated Press - Saturday, October 10, 2015

FARGO, N.D. (AP) - Freshman receiver Darrius Shepherd shook off an injury to catch two second-half touchdown passes as North Dakota State rallied to beat Northern Iowa 31-28 Saturday in the Missouri Valley Football Conference.

Shepherd, who was held out of the first half with an injury, caught the game-winning 18-yard pass from Carson Wentz with 35 seconds left.

“This was one of the best ones I’ve ever been a part of,” NDSU coach Chris Klieman said of the game. “I’m ecstatic right now.”

Wentz was 26 for 40 for 335 yards and four scores. Known for his late-game heroics, Wentz guided the Bison on a game-winning 10-play, 79-yard drive in just 1:55.

“We never say die. They were situations we’ve been in in the past and practice a ton,” Wentz said. “We just came out and executed.”

Wentz added a 2-yard TD to Jeff Illies and a 2-yarder to Jedre Cyr. The latter gave the second-ranked Bison (4-1, 2-0 MVFC) their first lead of the game, 17-14, with 14:13 left to play.

“We have so many guys and I have confidence in all of them,” said Wentz, who led the Bison in rushing with 47 yards.

Things got even more interesting after that.

The 10th-ranked Panthers (2-3, 0-2) needed five plays and 1:37 to retake the lead on Darrian Miller’s 7-yard run.

NDSU responded again with a 10-play, 69-yard march to go up 24-21 midway through the fourth quarter. Wentz hit Shepherd on a 33-yard scoring pass to cap the drive.

Shepherd was injured in the previous game. He was evaluated at halftime and allowed to play.

“(He’s) one of the toughest kids I’ve ever been around,” Wentz said. “He came out at halftime and made the plays.”

But UNI backup quarterback Aaron Bailey broke free on an 83-yard keeper on the next play for a 28-24 lead.

UNI kicker Michael Schmadeke missed a 38-yard field goal with 2:30 to play, setting up the final drive.

Shepherd finished with three catches for 61 yards.

“Darrius Shepherd didn’t practice all week with a shoulder injury and made two unbelievable catches,” Klieman said.

UNI started strong as Daurice Fountain caught a 67-yard TD pass from Sawyer Kollmorgen just 1:09 into the game. Fountain had four catches for 110 yards.

Kollmorgen passed for 103 yards and ran for 59 yards before leaving at halftime with an injury. Bailey came on to run for 157 yards on 13 carries and throw for 55 yards.

Wentz set an NDSU record for completions without an interception at 143. But his next pass was picked off by Tim Kilfoy and returned deep into Bison territory in the second quarter. Wentz had two interceptions and lost a fumble.

The Panthers used that turnover to take a 14-3 lead on Michael Malloy’s 1-yard TD run on fourth down with 9:20 left in the half.

NDSU finally reached the end zone with 3:53 left when Wentz hit Illies from 2 yards out to close the deficit to 14-10.

NDSU’s RJ Urzendowski caught five passes for 109 yards.


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