Adversity engulfed the first half of North Dakota State College of Science’s season-opener against MCAC foe Fond du Lac.
After falling into a 14-point deficit, the Wildcats then watched as 13-year old Gabe Issendorf, the son of NDSCS Head Coach Eric Issendorf, was carted off the field and taken away in an ambulance following a sideline collision. The game would come to a hault for nearly 20 minutes as emergency medical staff treated Issendorf.
But, NDSCS proved its resilience, and what could have been a deflating moment became a rallying cry for the Wildcats who could be heard saying "Let's win this for G-Money" from the sideline.
Scoring 38 of the game’s final 52 points, the Wildcats erased a two-touchdown deficit behind a furious fourth quarter rally to top Fond du Lac 38-28 on Saturday at Frank Vertin Field.
The game saw a momentum shift in the final four minutes.
Facing a fourth and short and trailing 28-24, Issendorf elected to go for it at midfield, dialing up a play action bootleg that saw freshman quarterback Trashawn McMillan find his way past the sticks.
Two plays later, McMillan was able to find KeyShawn Goins on a 38-yard strike to put NDSCS up 31-28.
McMillan, who appeared in relief of starting quarterback T.J. Owens, finished the game with 134 passing yards and a pair of passing touchdowns, while also adding 38 rushing yards. Owens completed just one pass for 16 yards. Both freshmen threw an interception.
On Fond du Lac’s ensuing possession, a fumble recovery by sophomore Nathan San set up the NDSCS offense inside the Thunder 10-yard line. That turnover was converted into a touchdown run by freshman Desean Phillips, capping the NDSCS comeback and 38-28 win.
The fumble recovery was one of six turnovers forced by the Wildcats defense. Three of those came via interceptions by sophomore captain Nate Seward.
Phillips finished with a game-high 107 yards on 21 carries. Kordell Ellis added 42 rushing yards on nine attempts.
NDSU transfer Cordell Pimienta scored a pair of electrifying touchdowns, one coming on a 45-yard pass from McMillan. He also returned a punt 53 yards late in the first half that gave the Wildcats their first lead of the game.
Goins finished with two receptions for 42 yards.
NDSCS will hit the road next weekend, visiting Itasca CC in MCAC action. That game is scheduled for a 1:30 p.m. kickoff. The Wildcats will return home on Sep. 21 against Dakota College – Bottineau.