Levi Jordheim recovered three fumbles, Robbie Grimsley had a 27-yard interception return for a touchdown and host North Dakota State took advantage of five turnovers to beat Northern Iowa 30-14 on Saturday.
Jordheim's three fumble recoveries, two created by teammate Nick DeLuca, tied the school record set in 1976 by Don Meyers.
The Bison (8-0, 5-0 Missouri Valley), ranked No. 2 in the FCS, entered the game as the nation's top-ranked defensive team and had six sacks and 12 tackles for loss. NDSU held the Panthers (4-4, 3-2) to just 48 yards rushing. DeLuca led the defense with seven tackles, four solo, two sacks and two tackles for loss.
Grimsley's pick-six tied the score at 7-all at halftime. Ty Brooks scored on a 22-yard run for the Bison in the second half, Cam Pedersen kicked a 23-yard field goal, Easton Stick threw a 31-yard score to RJ Urzendowski and Bruce Anderson scored on a 1-yard run.
Eli Dunne threw two touchdown passes to Daurice Fountain for Northern Iowa (4-4, 3-2).
South Dakota State 52, Western Illinois 24: Taryn Christion threw for 386 yards and five touchdowns and ran for another score as the Jackrabbits (6-2, 3-2 MVC) pulled away from the Leathernecks (5-3, 2-3) in Macomb, Ill.
SDSU scored 21 points in the third quarter and eclipsed the 50-point mark for the second week in a row and fourth time this season. Christion, a junior, moved into second place in school history with 58 career touchdown passes. He's thrown 21 TDs in eight games this season.
Christion put South Dakota State ahead for good, 24-17, on a 1-yard scoring pass to Jake Wieneke 55 seconds before halftime. In the third, he threw scoring passes to Marquise Lewis for 46, found Wieneke from 6-yards out and Mikey Daniel ran it in from 2 yards out.
Steve McShane led Western Illinois with 90 yards rushing and two scores.
South Dakota 42, Southern Illinois 0: Andrew Gray returned an interception a school-record 97 yards to help lead the Coyotes (7-1, 4-1 MVC) over Salukis (4-4, 2-3) as the Coyotes got to seven wins in a season for the first time at the FCS level.
Mike Johnson returned another pickoff 80 yards for another score in the fourth quarter as Tanner Hearn was intercepted four times.
South Dakota won easily even though senior quarterback Chris Streveler was injured on the first drive of the game. Austin Simmons stepped in, completing 11 of 18 passes for 91 yards and two touchdowns.
Streveler was throwing passes on the sideline in the second half, but the Coyotes led 28-0 late in the third, so he remained out.
Michael Fredrick rushed for 94 yards and a touchdown for South Dakota.
Darrell James had 105 yards receiving for the Salukis.