FARGO, N.D. (AP) -- Nick Mertens threw three touchown passes to Kole Heckendorf, the last a 69-yarder on the first play from scrimmage in the second half, to help North Dakota State beat Austin Peay 41-6 on Thursday night.
Mertens was 16-for-18 for passed for 304 yards in his first career start, Heckendorf had eight catches for 179 yards and the Bison held the Governors to 91 yards of total offense in the opener for both teams.
Austin Peay geared its defense to stop the run, holding the Bison to 17 yards rushing in the first half. Running back Tyler Roehl ran for 14 yards in the first half and finished with 74 yards.
But Mertens was allowed to scan the field on most pass plays.
The Governors finished with 56 yards rushing and 35 yards passing. Ryan White scored Austin Peay's only touchdown on a 2-yard run in the third quarter, following an interception by Kevis Buckley.