Fans, players say keep rivalry going

Updated: October 19, 2003, 7:45 PM ET

GRAND FORKS, N.D. -- The 110th meeting between North Dakota and North Dakota State ended with a sentimental refrain from players and fans: Please don't let it be the last one.

North Dakota won a thriller 28-21 in overtime Saturday, after a North Dakota State rally in the final minutes left the teams tied at the end of regulation.

Sioux linebacker Digger Anderson, who ended the game with a 4th-and-1 tackle of Bison running back Rod Malone, was one of many who said the longest rivalry in NCAA Division II football should continue.

It may not. The Bison are moving up to Division I-AA next season, and UND officials have yet to agree on a contract for further games.

"All of the players want to keep it going, but it's out of our hands," Anderson said after the game.

NDSU receiver Allen Burrell said Saturday's game was the biggest he's ever played in and he'd like to see the tradition continue.

"This is a big game for both teams, and I hope they just keep playing," Burrell said.

Some of the estimated 12,000 fans who attended the game agreed.

"It would be crazy to end the rivalry," said Pat Wilber, a UND fan from Grand Forks. "Why would you give up a great state rivalry?"

"It would be a travesty if they quit playing one another," said Gregg Halverson, a 1971 NDSU graduate from Forest River.

NDSU junior quarterback Tony Stauss, who transferred from Division I Northwestern, got his first taste of the rivalry on Saturday.

Stauss said he hopes it isn't the last this year. The teams could meet again if both win their remaining North Central Conference games.

"We could be right back here six weeks from now with snow on the ground," Stauss said.

The Sioux (6-1, 4-0 North Central Conference) beat the Bison for the third straight game and 10th time in the last 13 meetings.

It also was the first overtime victory for Dale Lennon since he took over as the UND coach in 1999. Until Saturday, Lennon's Sioux had been involved in three overtime games, all losses.

The Bison (6-2, 3-2) overcame an afternoon of bobbled snaps with two late touchdowns, including a 65-yard drive without any time-outs in the final 76 seconds. Stauss hit Allen Burrell on a 2-yard touchdown pass with 10 seconds left forcing overtime.

In overtime, the Bison gave up a pair of third-down conversions, one of them a 3-yard pass from John Bowenkamp to Caleb Johnson for the final touchdown.

After the game, the coaches also weighed in on the rivalry's future.

"I've always been a fan of it," Lennon said. "I just made a promise where I wanted to see how the season progresses and how things finish and we'll make a decision after that."

NDSU head coach Craig Bohl was more enthusiastic.

"It's great for college football, and I encourage both schools to continue playing," Bohl said.

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index