BISON BEAT UP ON BULLDOGS
Published: Monday, September 9, 2013
Updated: Monday, September 9, 2013 16:09
Coming off the program’s biggest upset in school history, the NDSU football team avoided being on the other end of a shocking win. The Bison scored on its first four possessions to put the game away early against the Division II Ferris State Bulldogs for a 56-10 win in front of 18,979 fans at the Fargodome.
“After a big, emotional game at Kansas State, you always wonder how you are going to respond,” NDSU head coach Craig Bohl said. “We’ll look at the tape but by and large, I thought our guys responded well.”
In the home-opening game that included the 2012 national championship banner being risen, it was evident the Bison’s only focus was on the Bulldogs. And they took care of business early. NDSU jumped out to a quick 21-0 lead in the first quarter with methodical drives.
Quarterback Brock Jensen and running back John Crockett reached the endzone from one and seven yards out. Zach Vraa followed up with a big 43-yard catch and run for the score. The Bison had the ball for almost 11 minutes in the first quarter.
“It’s big to not plateau and keep moving forward,” Vraa, who finished with 100 yards receiving on four catches, said.
The Bison defense did their part as well. Ferris State didn’t cross midfield until late in the second quarter, and that was assisted by an unsportsmanlike conduct call on Bryan Shepherd. Shepherd was ejected with his big hit on a Bulldog receiver, a new rule that warrants against a defender leaving his feet and leading with his helmet
NDSU hassled the Bulldogs’ quarterback Jason Vander Laan all game, and CJ Smith joined the fun in the second quarter when he returned his first-career interception 22 yards to the 5-yard line. Crockett went untouched the next play to extend the score to 28-0 with 13:30 remaining in the half.
“The ball got tipped by one of the wide receivers, and then got tipped by another one,” Smith said on his interception. “I was just so shocked that the ball fell into my hands… I stood there for about two seconds because of the ball just falling into my hands.”
The lone hiccup for the Bison was Jensen’s interception with the ball at Ferris State’s 25-yard line. But the senior quarterback responded immediately on the next drive with a 7-play, 61-yard drive that ended with a 4-yard play-action strike to fullback Andrew Grothmann to extend the lead to 35-0.
“I thought we really had great control of the game,” Bohl said.
The Bison, hoping to get the backups some playing time, had to delay the decision to pull the starters after the Bulldogs scored a touchdown right before the half and opened the third quarter with a 25-yard field goal.
“There’s a gut feeling a head coach knows when you feel like you have the game in hand,” Bohl said. “I thought their quarterback was giving our guys problems. Typically, we’ve been able to shut people down and until that happened, I was probably a little bit more cautious.”
NDSU rebounded though, and scored 21 unanswered points to push away any Bulldog hope. The defense came up with key stops and Sam Ojuri found the endzone on a 2-yard run to extend the lead to 42-10 and NDSU called off the dogs.
“I think we started off pretty strong,” NDSU linebacker Grant Olson said. “And then there were a couple drives at the end of the half, giving up that score was tough. And then coming out for the second half, I don’t know if we just weren’t ready to play or what the deal was. It’s not as good as we can do and we’re going to try and get some things corrected.”
With the starters pulled, the Bison backups showed they can get some points on the board as well. True freshman running back Chase Morlock scored on a 9-yard run midway through the fourth quarter and cornerback Zach Colvin recorded his second-career pick six on a 44-yard return two minutes later to put the final dagger at 56-10.
“I had a blast out there,” Morlock said. “Just getting the cobwebs out and the nerves of playing the first college game, but it was awesome out there and the line got it done.”
With the win, Bohl is tied with Rocky Hager for the most wins in school history at 91. But when asked how the accomplishment feels, Bohl’s only response regarded the next team on the schedule.
“We gotta focus on our next game.”
That next game for coach Bohl and the 2-0 Bison will be against Delaware State on Sept. 21 with kickoff set at 2:30 p.m.