Fargo, N.D. – Kyle Steffes rushed for 175 yards and four touchdowns on 13 carries as North Dakota State defeated Valpo 52-0 in the season opener. The Bison, playing their first season as an NCAA I-AA team, led 38-0 at halftime.
Steffes, a sophomore, rushed for 139 yards and three scores in the first quarter. NDSU went 52 yards on five plays on its first possession to take a 7-0 lead. Steffes completed the drive with a 43-yard touchdown scamper. On the Bison’s second possession, Steffes finished a 51-yard drive with a 14-yard touchdown run. A 43-yard field goal by Cory Vartanian gave NDSU a 17-0 lead at the end of the first quarter.
An interception by Brian Erenberg deep in Valpo territory set up an 11-yard touchdown pass from Tony Stauss to Travis White with 12 minutes left in the second quarter. Following another NDSU interception, Steffes darted into the end zone from 34 yards to increase the lead to 31-0. Just before halftime, Stauss connected with Marques Johnson on a four-yard touchdown pass.
Valpo, the defending Pioneer Football League Champion, gained 98 total yards in the first half. Kevin Knutson finished with four receptions for 35 yards. Joe Milazzo, the Crusaders’ quarterback, rushed for 45yards on 12 carries and completed 8 of 19 passes for 65 yards with three interceptions. Rob Giancola, a preseason NCAA I-AA Mid-Major All-America selection, caught two passes for 14 yards. Defensively, Valpo middle linebacker Brandon Sturman intercepted a Stauss pass at the goal line to halt a Bison drive.
In the first possession of the third quarter, Steffes scored his fourth touchdown, a two-yard run, to complete an eight-play, 48-yard drive. NDSU’s final score came on a 10-yard pass from Steve Walker to tight end Andrew Cooper early in the fourth quarter.
NDSU finished with 486 total yards, including 353 on the ground. Valpo compiled 180 total yards – 85 rushing and 95 via the pass.
Valpo plays its home opener next Saturday (Sept. 4) against Wisconsin Lutheran at 1 p.m.