Indiana State Shocks the Bison
Published: Monday, October 15, 2012
Updated: Monday, October 15, 2012 16:10
Quarterback Brock Jensen came into Saturday’s game against Indiana State with zero season interceptions on his stat sheet. The Sycamores put an end to that goose egg, picking off Jensen three times, two by Johnny Towalid that went for touchdowns, on their way to upsetting the No. 1 ranked Bison 17-14.
A Fargodome crowd of 18,164 saw a battle of NDSU’s top ranked defense vs. the third ranked ISU defense. Both offenses struggled early and often, with the first offensive touchdown coming from NDSU with 9:56 remaining in the fourth quarter.
“That was probably as inconsistent as we’ve been without question this year,” NDSU head coach Craig Bohl said. “Time and time again I think our execution wasn’t where it needed to be.”
Indiana State produced the first score midway through the first quarter with a 48-yard field goal. The Bison answered back, marching down the field and capping the drive off with a 21-yard field goal by Adam Keller to open the second quarter.
NDSU’s stout defense held the Sycamore’s all-American running back Shakir Bell in check the next possession and forced a punt. The Bison took over on downs at the 14-yard line and that was when Towalid struck first. Jensen’s third-and-4 pass found its way into Towalid’s hands and the cornerback ran 28-yards untouched into the endzone to put the Sycamores up one score with 10:31 remaining in the second quarter.
“There was a little bit of miscommunication with my wide receiver,” Jensen said. “I thought he was going to stretch it out a little bit more and I threw the ball about one yard to the right of him.”
Jensen and the Bison offense responsive march down the field into Sycamore territory ended when Jensen was sacked on third down, forcing a punt.
The Bison defense came up big again on the next possession when Kyle Emanuel stuffed Bell on a third-and 1 run. Two minutes later, Jensen found a wide-open Zach Vraa down the middle but the pass bounced off the hands of Vraa. NDSU was again forced to punt two plays later and ISU ran out the clock to take a 10-3 halftime lead.
All-American Marcus Williams gave the Bison an immediate spark to open the second half, returning the kickoff 55-yards to the ISU 45-yard line. NDSU faced a fourth-and two after two Sam Ojuri runs and converted when Jensen hit Vraa on a quick slant. The Sycamore defense tightened up and knocked down a third-and-4 pass and the Bison settled with a 33-yard field goal by Keller to narrow the lead to 10-6.
After back-to-back-to-back punts, NDSU began their possession on their own 20-yard line. It didn’t last long. On a third-and-12 and the first play of the fourth quarter, Jensen’s pass was tipped into the air and Towalid again came down with it and again returned it for a 31-yard score.
YSU’s 17-6 lead sparked some urgency for the Bison offense, and this time, they produced. Wide receivers sweeps by Ryan Smith and Cooper Wahlo Jr. and passes to Taylor Nelson and Smith moved the ball past midfield to the ISU 41-yard line. Jensen then hit receiver Andrew Okland for a 31-yard bomb to the 10-yard line. John Crockett carried the ball to the 2-yard line and Jensen snuck into the endzone two plays later. The Bison offense stayed on the field for the two-point conversion and converted. Jensen took a QB draw and strode into the endzone untouched and just like that, the Bison cut the lead to 17-14 with 9:56 remaining in the game.
The Sycamores drove against the tough Bison defense and the reenergized Fargodome crowd to NDSU’s 29-yard line. A third-and-11 pass was broken up and Tann Fritschle’s 46-yard field goal was wide left.
Down three points, a rejuvenated Bison offense again marched down the field, thanks to two pass interference calls against ISU on third down. With the ball at ISU’s 29-yard line, Jensen dropped back on second-and-10. Sycamore safety Larry King stepped in front of Jensen’s pass for a back-breaking interception, Jensen’s third, with 3:42 remaining.
NDSU’s defense struggled to get the ball back with the clock ticking. A third-and-9 pass drew a critical pass interference call and resulted in a fresh set of downs for ISU. The Bison finally forced a punt but NDSU’s offense had only 0:17 remaining on the clock and 80-yards to the endzone when they took over on downs. Jensen was sacked on the first play and the next play saw several Bison laterals eventually stopped as the clock ran out and the Sycamores ran onto the field in celebration of their upset.
“This team by in large has had a great workmanlike attitude and today we didn’t show up with that attitude,” Bohl said. “We were off and we need to make sure we get that corrected.”
The Sycamores (5-2) snapped a 10-game winning streak for the Bison.
NDSU will travel to Sioux Falls next Saturday to take on South Dakota. Kickoff is set for 6:00 p.m.