The North Dakota State Bison escaped a solid effort from the Youngstown State Penguins at the Fargodome for a 17-7 victory as they remain undefeated.

It wasn't the prettiest of victories, but the Bison found a way to make the plays when they needed to in a defensive struggle.

NDSU's first three possessions in order were a three-and-out, a fumble, and a missed field goal. Not exactly the Bison dominance we've come to expect this season. But on their next possession, on 3rd and 5, Easton Stick's 50-yard pass play to Desmond Cain had the Bison in business. On the next play, Stick threw to Lance Dunn who would score from 30 yards out to make it a 7-0 game. That would be the only scoring from either team in the first half.

Youngstown State was stopped throughout the first half on possessions that ended in either punts or turned over on downs, but late in the third quarter, the Penguins would find the end zone. Nathan Mays hit Miles Joiner for a 21-yard touchdown pass play to tie it at 7-7.

Both teams would exchange three-and-outs on their next possession before the Bison would get the ball back early in the fourth quarter. Stick threw to Darrius Shepherd for a 22-yard gain to get just past midfield on the first play of the drive. Then, Dunn took a handoff 37 yards to the Youngstown State 11 yard line. After runs from Stick of 2 and 8 yards, he punched a third straight run into the end zone for a touchdown to make it 14-7 with 11:22 remaining to play.

The Bison defense then forced a three-and-out on the Penguins next possession before Cam Pedersen kicked a 36-yard field goal for NDSU to make it 17-7 with just 5:13 to play. It would be all Bison defense from there. NDSU forced another turnover on downs, and then Robbie Grimsley would seal the game with an interception in the end zone.

The Bison defense held the Penguins (3-6, 2-4) to just 280 total yards. Stick finished 13 of 23 for 193 yards and the one touchdown. Dunn had 100 yards rushing on 18 carries and Shepherd tacked on 99 receiving yards on 8 catches.

NDSU (9-0, 6-0) clinches at least a share of the Missouri Valley title for the eighth consecutive season. They also clinches an automatic bid to the FCS Playoffs.

The Bison will play at Missouri State next Saturday at 2 p.m.