How to choose between two really good job candidates

As a hiring manager, your reputation is built and bolstered by your ability to source top-tier candidates for positions across your organization. Chances are your performance goals are closely tied to how effective you are at stocking your company’s teams with the best available talent. Sometimes this is a relatively straightforward task, and the perfect […]

As a hiring manager, your reputation is built and bolstered by your ability to source top-tier candidates for positions across your organization. Chances are your performance goals are closely tied to how effective you are at stocking your company’s teams with the best available talent.

Sometimes this is a relatively straightforward task, and the perfect candidate comes your way for an open position—all you have to do is get them interested and sell them on the notion of joining your team. Other times, the hiring process is a bit more difficult.

Most seasoned hiring managers have encountered nearly every permutation of hiring challenge imaginable—one particularly anxiety-inducing one is when you have what seems to be two “perfect” candidates who are vying for the same position. Both candidates are well-qualified, have impeccable industry backgrounds and skill sets, come equipped with sterling references, and appear to be great potential fits in all key areas—and you’re tasked with deciding who rises from the candidate heap and earns the coveted spot.

Here’s a solid method for successfully handling this situation in an effort to best meet your company’s needs.

Look beyond the obvious

If you’re facing the choice of having to decide between two great candidates and they both seem equally matched in all the key metrics you typically base your hiring decisions upon, then look beyond the typical. Step back from the situation and think about whether or not a candidate made a positive impression on you in an area that you typically overlook or don’t weigh heavily. If there’s an area of strength that may help one candidate perform on the job—no matter how small—then consider taking into consideration. Traits like personality type and problem-solving style aren’t off-limits, even if they don’t fit into typical evaluation models.

Give a test

When facing two seeming equal candidates, take a step beyond and really put them to the test. Consider giving them an additional work-related task to see who does best. Having the candidates complete a project that mirrors one of the responsibilities that they’ll encounter on the job is not uncommon, and can really help you make a tough decision a little easier.

Get a second opinion

Just like no person is an island, no employee is alone in a company—and neither are you. There are reasons why many interviews are conducted by multiple people and over several encounters—hiring someone new for a position in your organization is no small decision, and having multiple opinions factor into the final decision can help ensure that the best choice is made. If you haven’t already, have the candidates meet with other key decision-makers in your company and use their opinions to help you work through this difficult situation.

Trust your instincts

The truth is, there is no perfect candidate. Despite all the state-of-the-art analytics your company uses to gauge candidates and how well they sold themselves during the interview process, there’s just no surefire way to know for sure how well they’ll do when they’re on the job and hitting the ground running. Don’t forget this when you’re facing a difficult hiring decision, and also don’t forget to trust your well-honed instincts as an experienced hiring manager. Hiring someone new is always a leap of faith—so have a little faith in your ability to choose between two candidates wisely using your experienced eye.

Don’t write one candidate off completely

No matter how difficult it is, at some point you’re going to have to make a decision between two highly qualified candidates. Hopefully, you make the right choice. That said, choosing one candidate above another doesn’t mean it’s necessarily “goodbye forever” to the losing candidate. A savvy hiring manager knows that it’s in their company’s long-term benefit to maintain a talent-rich pipeline. That said, do your best to keep all good candidates in your orbit—because you never know when a new position will open up and you’re back on the hunt.

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9 customer service jobs to apply for this holiday season

The holiday season: hot chocolate, seasonal parties, family togetherness… and lots and lots of expenses that make the season as much of a drain as it is a joy. The good news is there are a host of job opportunities to help you actually pay for all those gifts you need to buy—most are seasonal […]

The holiday season: hot chocolate, seasonal parties, family togetherness… and lots and lots of expenses that make the season as much of a drain as it is a joy. The good news is there are a host of job opportunities to help you actually pay for all those gifts you need to buy—most are seasonal and require you to accommodate the holiday rush, but all will put extra spending cash in your pocket. Here are 9 customer service jobs to consider taking on as the holidays approach.

Personal Shopper

There’s a lot of shopping at the holiday season, and some people need you to do it for them. While personal shopping is often for upscale clientele, where you buy piles of presents for the wealthy and standing on long lines at Saks, it more often entails performing simpler tasks like buying groceries (or even takeout) and delivering them to people’s homes. When people are busier at the holidays and need to prepare extra food for visiting relatives, this type of service is in even more demand.

E-commerce Support/Social Media Customer Care

With a lot of customer orders at holiday time come a lot of questions and details that need handling. Demand for online customer support is high. The good news—support is a job that can even be done from home.

For those who are social media savvy, some companies hire customer care representatives specifically to monitor social media platforms and handle any complaints or issues a customer may voice through social media. While this can be about dealing with a lot of complaints, it can be a great seasonal job for the problem-solver with tech proficiency.

Hotel Concierge

If you live in a larger city, seeking out a temporary position as a hotel concierge can be a way to employ your customer service skills a bit removed from holiday stress, helping people when they are ready to relax. This position helps hotel guests find fun things to do in a city, and assists with finding transportation or even making reservations. With a greater number of travelers during holiday vacations comes a greater need for hotel support staff.

Retail & Sales Associate

Stores are open longer and need lots of help to meet the extra demand of ordering stock, processing orders, and helping customers find what they’re looking for. With the hustle and the bustle of the shopping season, the workflow at a retail store is likely to keep you on your toes.

Gift Wrapper

There’s an art to gift wrapping that many people do not possess. That’s why this job exists. Making a few extra dollars by beautifully wrapping someone else’s presents can help you pay for your own. For those who actually enjoy making their gifts look gorgeous, this job can be both an enjoyable and integral part of the holiday season.

Food Service & Hospitality Worker

The holidays always mean holiday parties. Whether it’s catering, waiting tables, bartending, or hosting, hospitality needs are highest during the holidays. Because event staff usually work a small number of hours (but often work late-night hours), catering companies often pay competitive wages. And if bartending is your specialty, you can expect to be well-tipped at the more upscale galas and corporate events.

Uber Driver

With all the events, holiday shopping, and travel to attend, one of the services people need desperately during the holiday season is a driver to get them where they are going. Once you pass the various driver requirements, if you have a license and a car and are over 21 you have a way to make money and help people get where they are going safely.

Holiday Tours & Events

Whether it’s a meet & greet with reindeer or a carol-singing bus tour, there are jobs out there that can get you into the holiday spirit, making the fun happen for families to enjoy. These types of jobs really do require a certain kind of energy and interest in working with kids and adults alike. While it’s not for everyone, it can be one of the more fun seasonal jobs out there.

Package Handler

There’s Black Friday, and now there’s Cyber Monday (the Monday after Thanksgiving). This Thanksgiving weekend, retail stores will be brimming with customers, and then of course many shoppers are increasingly buying their gifts online. Shipping companies like UPS and FedEx need extra workers to get these packages to customers, and also to get holiday gifts to friends and relatives. Increasingly, Amazon itself is hiring, both to handle increased traffic at its fulfillment centers and for last-mile delivery to customers’ homes.

 

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Minnesota veteran recalls serving as a navigator in WWII

By GABRIEL KWAN, Minnesota Public Radio
BLOOMINGTON, Minn. (AP) — Every Wednesday at the 8th Air Force Historical Society lunch for veterans, the seats are filled with women and men like 94-year-old James Rasmussen of East Bethel.
Rasmussen was 20 years old when he joined the 349th Squadron of the 100th Bomb Group at the end of 1944 near the end of WWII. He’s tall, energetic, and willing to talk about his service.
“I was in World War II as a navigator on a B-17 flying out of England,” he told Minnesota Public Radio .
As a navigator, Rasmussen’s job was to guide the bomber, also known as a Flying Fortress, to its targets.
He led the plane and its crew through bad weather, anti-aircraft fire and attacks by German fighter planes.
The 100th Air Group saw so much action in the air over Europe it earned the nickname, “The Bloody Hundredth.”
After joining the unit in England, Rasmussen learned quickly that the reputation was well-earned.
“On Christmas Day (1944), the group went out … and they had 12 losses that day,” he said. “It definitely was a reminder to us … kind of a wake-up deal about what kind of war we were getting into.”
The war had become a bloody and desperate one for Germany in the final months of the war. German fighter pilots would do anything to stop the allied bombers.
On March 7, 1945, just two months before Germany surrendered, Rasmussen came face to face with a German fighter pilot and survived without firing a shot.
“The German pilot came right alongside of our airplane, and I think he was trying to ram us because he stalled out right there, and I could look right at him,” Rasmussen said. “I was close enough to see him, and it looked like he was looking right back at me.”
“I had the machine gun pointed right at him and then when I pulled the trigger, the gun was on safe,” he said. Navigators, he explained, weren’t trained in gunnery as much as actual gunners were.
By the time he took the safety off his .50-caliber machine gun, he said, the German plane was long gone.
“Normally you would see airplanes flying around, and you never realize that there were people in those airplanes,” he said.
Others in his unit weren’t so lucky: Rasmussen recalls his unit lost four planes and their crews that day, all of them rammed by German fighters.
Because he survived Rasmussen would go on to fly relief missions to hungry people in the Netherlands, then occupied by Germany and stricken by famine. He guided the bomber on air drops that delivered food instead of bombs.
Not long ago he was reminded of those missions of mercy
He was at his daughter’s apartment building in Savage. Rasmussen and his daughter stepped into an elevator and a man noticed Rasmussen’s shirt with the emblem of the 100th Bomb Group on it. The man had been living in the Netherlands when Rasmussen and the other members of his unit dropped him bread and other food.
“He said, ‘Oh, I remember that, because we had white bread after that,'” Rasmussen smiled, quoting the stranger.
Rasmussen turns 95 in just a couple of months. He stays active by attending the 8th Air Force Historical Society’s weekly gatherings and he sometimes speaks at local schools about his experiences.
While the military made him a navigator, he wanted to become a pilot. Twenty years ago, when he tried to get a private pilot’s license, his wife stepped in and he didn’t complete the training.
“When I was about to get my license, my wife said she’ll never fly with me,” he said, laughing. “And of course, when you’re up flying all by yourself, it’s not a whole lot of fun.”
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Information from: Minnesota Public Radio News, http://www.mprnews.org

Retiring St. Paul officer’s last patrol had special partner

By MARA H. GOTTFRIED, Pioneer Press
ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — After patrolling St. Paul’s streets for 32 years, officer Jon Sherwood had a special request for his last day on the job. He asked officer Matt Jones to join him in his squad car.
They weren’t usually police partners, but their lives have been intertwined.
Jones’ father, officer Tim Jones, was a mentor and friend to Sherwood. They were K-9 officers working together on Aug. 26, 1994, as they searched for the man who fatally shot their fellow officer, Ron Ryan Jr. The shooter also killed Jones and his dog, Laser.
The murders were Sherwood’s darkest day on the job, but he said they also made him want to work hard to honor the sacrifices of Ryan and Jones.
One of the best days at work, though, was seeing Matt Jones reach his goal of becoming a St. Paul officer in 2013. Sherwood has known Jones since he was a toddler; the boy was 8 when his father was killed.
Matt Jones said Sherwood has been a mentor to him his entire life.
“He’s always looked out for me and everyone looks up to him,” Jones told the Pioneer Press . “I think if I could be half the cop that Jon is, I’d be doing all right.”
The East Side is the place Sherwood calls home — he grew up in the Battle Creek neighborhood, graduated from Harding High School, patrolled in the area for years and still lives on the East Side. When he retired last month, he was St. Paul’s second most senior patrol officer.
“It takes on something special to grow up as a St. Paul kid and be an officer here,” Sherwood said. “I think for the most part … my experience is that St. Paul likes their police department and their street cops.”
Sherwood’s family also is part of the St. Paul Police Department’s history. His great-great-grandfather, Daniel O’Connell, was the first St. Paul police officer killed in the line of duty. He was shot and killed in 1882.
Sherwood joined the St. Paul department more than 100 years later, in 1986. He started his career as a Hennepin County sheriff’s deputy for two years. He spent all his time in St. Paul as a patrol officer, with 20 of them as a K-9 officer.
Sherwood thought once about taking the test to become a sergeant, but it conflicted with an event he was chaperoning for his only child, Emily, and he opted to spend time with her instead. Sherwood said he never regretted the decision and loved being a patrol officer because every day brought something new.
Sherwood received national accolades as a K-9 handler and was also honored in St. Paul, including being named the police department’s Officer of the Year in 2017.
As Sherwood looks back at what’s changed since he became an officer, it’s not only technology.
When Sherwood started, he hardly recalls being called to people having a mental crisis. Now, officers respond to such calls daily.
The number of guns that officers find people carrying illegally or transporting in cars is also night-and-day from years past, Sherwood said.
One constant through the years, though, has been the feeling of the police department as a family.
At Sherwood’s final roll call, the room was full of officers — at least three times the number who would normally be there.
They came in when they weren’t scheduled to work and from other patrol districts because they wanted to honor Sherwood on his last day. Sherwood’s daughter, now a 27-year-old nurse, and her husband also surprised him by showing up.
“There’s not too many jobs that people work for 34 years anymore,” Jones said as he sat next to Sherwood in a squad car later. “He seems to love it the same way today as he did the first day that he started.”
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Information from: St. Paul Pioneer Press, http://www.twincities.com

Minnesota sees rise in electronic pull-tab gambling sales

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Annual sales of electronic pull-tabs in Minnesota rose 80 percent during the last fiscal year, generating $360 million, according to a new report by the Minnesota Gambling Control Board.
The rise in pull-tab sales comes after a lackluster debut six years ago, Minnesota Public Radio reported. Early game versions failed partly because there weren’t many machines and because players grew bored since the games didn’t change much. Interest grew after the original manufacturer folded and Pilot Games took over.
“I know we started rough in those early years, but now, when you look at the chart, it’s really climbing — and it’s still in less than 40 percent of all the charitable gaming sites in Minnesota,” Tom Barrett, executive director of gambling board, which oversees charitable, but not tribal, gaming in Minnesota.
Paper pull-tab sales accounted for about 75 percent of the charitable gambling industry this year, down from about 82 percent of the market last year. But sales were still up 6.8 percent year over year, Barrett said.
“So, I don’t know if it’s a case of the players try the electronics, go to the paper, go to the electronics, back and forth. We expected to see somewhat of a drop in paper sales, and that’s not happening,” he said.
Funds from electronic pull-tabs were pledged to pay for the U.S. Bank Stadium. The increase in sales means the state may be able to pay off the mortgage early and save money that would’ve gone to interest payments.
“I think it’s 2022 or 2023 is the first year we could start paying (the construction bonds) off early,” said Myron Frans, commissioner at the Minnesota Department of Management and Budget. “We hope we’re careful about how we use those funds going forward.”
The board’s report found that charitable gambling overall topped $2 billion in sales for the first time, with $1.6 billion paid out in prizes.
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Information from: Minnesota Public Radio News, http://www.mprnews.org

Police: Duo dumped deer carcasses on Minnesota Somalis’ cars

By STEVE KARNOWSKI, Associated Press
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Somali and Muslim leaders expressed deep concern Saturday after a white man and his teenage son dumped bloody deer carcasses on the hoods of two cars owned by Somali-American men in the central Minnesota city of St. Cloud, and they don’t believe the explanation the suspects gave to police.
The victims discovered the carcasses after leaving the YMCA on Wednesday night. In a news release Friday, assistant police chief Jeff Oxton said investigators used surveillance video to track down the pair who dumped the carcasses — a 62-year-old local and his 14-year-old son. The video showed the teenager put the skinned carcasses on the cars while the father, “knowing what was happening,” sat in their pickup truck, said Oxton.
“In a taped statement the suspects indicated that they needed to get rid of the carcasses and dumped them at that location in that manner,” Oxton said. “It is not believed that the suspects knew either of the victims.”
Oxton said there was nothing visible on or in the victims’ vehicles that would have identified the race of the owners. He didn’t identify the father and son or say whether they had hunted the deer themselves or where they had obtained the carcasses.
Oxton said police would forward the case to the city attorney for possible charges. In Minnesota, city attorneys generally prosecute misdemeanors or gross misdemeanors, but not felonies.
One of the victims and two community leaders scoffed at the suspects’ claims that they merely needed to get rid of the carcasses, pointing out that they had plenty of options for disposing of them properly or could have just dumped them in the woods.
“Putting it on the hood is a statement,” said Jaylani Hussein, executive director of the Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. “I don’t care what kind of statement they were trying to make and whether it was about Muslims or not. But it’s making a statement.”
Haji Yussuf, a local Somali community organizer, said he spoke with one of the victims, Ali Abdullahi, shortly after the incident.
“He was very hurt by it, but also scared,” Yussuf said, adding that Abdullahi compared it to displays of swastikas and cross-burnings. He said local Somalis are concerned because it follows last month’s synagogue massacre in Pittsburgh and other recent mass shootings, and that if the perpetrators are hunters, they probably have guns.
“Do we just let it go, or do we take it seriously before it goes to the next step?” Yussuf asked.
Abdullahi didn’t immediately return a phone call Saturday from The Associated Press. But he told Minnesota Public Radio that he was shocked to find the carcass on the hood of his car. “My jaw dropped. I stood there transfixed, not moving,” he said. He said he believes he and the other victim were intentionally targeted because they are Somali-American and that it was intended to send the message that, “You’re not welcome. We don’t like you.”
Abdullahi also said he was afraid to return to the YMCA to work out the next night.
“I was thinking that someone was just there to get me, especially that this was a deer hunter, and they have a rifle,” he said. “And all the shootings that I have been seeing and watching — I’m terrified. I’m just thinking that somebody is just watching me and trying to kill me.”
Oxton did not immediately return a call Saturday, and a dispatcher said nobody would be available to provide further information before Monday.
Minnesota has the nation’s largest Somali population at an estimated 57,000. As many as 10,000 of them settled in and around St. Cloud, a city of about 65,000 people about 65 miles (104 kilometers) northwest of Minneapolis, and they have complained of mistreatment over the years. Relations were especially tense two years ago after a young Somali man who may have been radicalized stabbed and wounded 10 people at a local shopping mall before an off-duty police officer shot and killed him.
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Follow Steve Karnowski on Twitter: https://twitter.com/skarnowski

Fundraisers call for landscaping at governor’s mansion

BISMARCK (AP) — Organizers of North Dakota’s new governor’s mansion are considering a second fundraising campaign to cover landscaping costs after falling $113,000 short of their initial goal.
State lawmakers in 2015 approved up to $5 million in spending on the new governor’s residence, designating $4 million to come from the Capitol Building Trust Fund and $1 million from private donations. The Friends of the Governor’s Residence fundraised $887,000, narrowly missing their goal, the Bismarck Tribune reported.
The group’s fundraising coupled with the $4 million in state money covered constructing the new residence and demolishing the former. But the funding didn’t cover landscaping costs.
Andrea Nelson, the group’s treasurer, said that the organization hopes to get information over the next six months on the costs and timeline to add landscaping to the residence.
The Capitol Grounds Planning Commission has received three landscaping conceptual drawings for the estate, based on the original Capitol master landscaping plan from 1920, said John Boyle, the commission’s director of facility management.
“It’s a magnificent residence but all they really have over there is grass,” Boyle said. “The house deserves something of that quality of landscaping.”

Bismarck Century wins fourth straight volleyball title

Bismarck Century got its volleyball four-peat at the Minot State Dome Saturday night, but Mandan made the Patriots earn it.
With much of the near full house cheering for Mandan, the Patriots put together a clutch 9-0 run in the fourth set to erase an 11-7 deficit before closing out the set, and match, 25-21, 25-23, 24-26, 25-18.
“We know people don’t want us to win, we understand that and that’s OK,” said junior Lauren Ware, who tied her own state championship match record with 27 kills. “Putting on this Century Patriots jersey means and lot to the people that wear it. There’s a history and tradition behind it and part of that means teams really want to beat us. We just try to embrace that and add it to the challenge.”
Mandan mounted a spirited defense, despite falling behind 2-0. Two kills by Olivia Moe to end the third set gave the Braves a 26-24 victory and handed Century its first, and only, setback of the tournament.
“The past few weeks we’ve had our backs against the wall multiple times whether it’s down in the match or down in the set, but the girls have been really good about sticking with it and continuing to plug away,” Mandan coach Anna Folk said. “Obviously getting down 2-0 to them is not an ideal situation, but the girls were never frustrated or panicked they just went back out there and made a match of it.”
It looked like it might even go the distance.
Two errors by the Patriots, an ace by Megan Zander and a kill from Sydney Walters put Mandan up 11-7 in the fourth set, whipping the crowd into a frenzy. But the Patriots answered in a big way, scoring the next nine points, the last two on back-to-back aces by Chloe Markovic, the second of which made it 16-11 Century.
“We called a timeout and told them, ‘This crowd had nothing to do with you getting here and they’re not going to have nothing to do with how we finish.’ But we have young players and they haven’t really experienced anything like that and it’s hard,” said Century coach Jamie Zastoupil. “We pulled it off with a rotation we’ve really struggled with all year long. We ended on that all three sets at the state tournament, but those young players really stepped up and finished it off for us.”

UND’s playoff hopes sink as Northern Arizona upsets Fighting Hawks 31-16

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. — University of North Dakota football followers spent the week trying to decode what needed to happen for the Fighting Hawks to make the FCS playoffs.
On Saturday, Nov. 17, the UND football team took care of the most important angle of postseason scenarios.
The Fighting Hawks didn’t hold up their end of any postseason scenario by falling 31-16 to struggling Northern Arizona at Walkup Skydome in the regular-season finale.
UND ended the regular season 6-5, while NAU finished 4-6.
With a poor offensive performance, UND had one final shot to come back in the fourth quarter when safety Jordan Canady intercepted an NAU pass with a little more than seven minutes remaining and NAU hanging on to an eight-point lead.
On third-and-2, UND running back Brady Oliveira was stuffed for no gain near midfield with 6:56 to play.
UND coach Bubba Schweigert elected to punt, and the Hawks never got the ball back in a one-score game.
Cory Young scored on a 1-yard touchdown run to cap an 80-yard, 13-play drive. Young’s score gave the Lumberjacks a 31-16 lead with 1:01 remaining.
UND struggled against an opponent playing a converted wide receiver at quarterback. NAU played its third- and fourth-string quarterbacks against the Hawks.
UND had a nightmare start. The Hawks fell behind 17-0 in the first half and 14-0 after the first quarter.
Northern Arizona started the scoring with a 9-yard run by Aramis Aldredge. Less than four minutes later, after UND quarterback Nate Ketteringham threw an interception over the middle of the field, Lumberjacks quarterback Brandon Porter found Emmanuel Butler for a 30-yard touchdown pass and a 14-0 lead.
UND received a gift to swing momentum in the first half. NAU punt returner Justis Stokes muffed a punt midway through the second quarter, a fumble that was recovered by UND’s Hayden Blubaugh at the NAU 29.
On third-and-14 from the 21, Ketteringham connected with Noah Wanzek on an out route in the back corner of the end zone. The touchdown connection cut the NAU lead to 17-7 with 5:37 to halftime.
UND further cut into the NAU lead on its next drive thanks to a 34-yard Brady Oliveira screen pass and two pass interference penalties.
The drive was capped by a Brady Leach 35-yard field goal to make it 17-10 with 2:54 left in the second quarter.
The Hawks, who have relied on a ground game, rushed for only 128 yards on 41 attempts. Santiago finished with 55 yards on 12 attempts while Oliveira ended with 18 yards on eight rushes.
UND also struggled throwing the ball as well. Ketteringham completed 13 of 29 attempts for 109 yards. But he also had two interceptions.
Neither team had a big offensive day. UND finished with 192 yards of offense while NAU ended with 270.
Each team had eight punts on the day.
The NCAA FCS playoff pairings will be released today.
UND was attempting to make the 24-team field after an injury-riddled 2017 season that ended 3-8.
UND did make the FCS playoffs in 2016, falling at home to Richmond in the opening round.

No. 1-ranked Bison cruise to victory, cap undefeated regular season

FARGO — North Dakota State put an exclamation point on an undefeated regular season Saturday afternoon, Nov. 17, at Gate City Bank Field at the Fargodome.
The No. 1-ranked Bison piled up more than 600 yards and steamrolled to a 65-17 victory against Southern Illinois in Missouri Valley Football Conference play before 18,008 fans.
The Bison (11-0, 8-0 MVFC) will get a first-round bye in opening round of the NCAA Division I FCS playoffs, which start next weekend.
“It’s incredibly difficult to do, especially in our league,” Bison head coach Chris Klieman said of an undefeated regular season. “It’s something that’s really special. … We’re judged by what we do in the postseason, but it’s cool to do this in the regular season.”
The playoff field will be announced at 11:30 a.m. Sunday, Nov. 18, on ESPNU. NDSU is expected to get the No. 1 seed, after capping the regular season with a dominating performance.
The 65 points were the most the Bison have scored in a Missouri Valley game since they joined the league in 2008.
“We’re getting better every week,” said Bison senior safety Robbie Grimsley, who had two interceptions against the Salukis. “We’re peaking at the right time.”
Grimsley was one of the many of the Bison seniors who had big games on senior day. Senior quarterback Easton Stick completed 16 of 21 passes for 302 yards and three touchdowns. The 6-foot-2, 221-pound Stick also rushed for a score.
“We’ll just keep grinding and get ready for the first one,” Stick said. “I feel really good about this group. ”
The Bison bolted to a 35-14 halftime lead and weren’t threatened in the second half. Both teams delivered big plays early, but NDSU gained the upper hand during a first-quarter scoring frenzy. It started in the opening seconds after Southern Illinois’ Je’Quan Burton returned the opening kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown.
The Bison countered quickly with running back Ty Brooks’ 36-yard scoring run, which capped a 79-yard drive that took just 1 minute, 44 seconds. The Bison took less time to take a 14-7 lead. A 32-yard pass from Stick to senior receiver Darrius Shepherd set up Stick’s 1-yard touchdown run to complete a drive that lasted 1:09.
The Salukis responded. Senior quarterback Matt DeSomer found wide receiver Raphael Leonard on a quick slant that he turned into a 59-yard scoring play tied it at 14-14 with 8:36 to play in the first quarter.
NDSU continued to light up the scoreboard from there, using its tight ends to build a two-touchdown lead. Stick found senior Nate Jenson for a 60-yard score and then followed that with a 22-yard scoring toss to a wide open Ben Ellefson, a junior from Hawley, Minn.
Ellefson’s scored made it 28-14 with 6:21 to play in the first quarter.
The Bison took a 35-14 lead into halftime after a 31-yard TD pass from Stick to Shepherd early in the second quarter. Stick completed 13 of 17 passes for 266 yards and three scores in the first half alone.
“Great performance by our guys,” Klieman said. “I’m so proud of these 24 seniors. … They challenge each other. They challenge the young guys. It’s hard to beat.”
NDSU continued to pour it on in third quarter with a pair of touchdown runs from senior running back Bruce Anderson and a safety, which came after the Salukis snapped the ball over the head of their punter and out of the end zone. Anderson’s 30-yard scoring burst gave the Bison a 51-14 lead with 8:48 to play in the third quarter.
Anderson said the Bison won’t change their mindset too much entering the postseason.
“We’ll back off the physical aspect of practice, but we don’t back off the mental aspect,” said Anderson, who rushed for 68 yards on 12 attempts.
Grimsley is tied for second in program history with 16 interceptions, tied with Tre Dempsey and Steve Krumrei. Former Bison cornerback Marcus Williams (2010-13) is the all-time leader with 21. The 663 yards rank sixth on NDSU’s all-time list for yards in a single game. It’s the most yards the Bison have gained in a MVFC game.
“We’ll enjoy this for the next week and then it’s time to get back to work and get ready for the next season,” Klieman said.