Kolpack: Behind QB Jensen, Bison bust game open in 2nd half
FRISCO, Texas -- It didn't start out like it was going to end in another green and yellow party at FC Dallas Stadium. Sam Houston State practically owned the first quarter.
Then something happened at halftime and the best explanation is probably to borrow an NFL term from Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch.
The Bison went into Beast Mode.
North Dakota State dominated the Bearkats in the final two quarters for a 39-13 Division I Football Championship Subdivision title victory.
Cha-ching. Cha-ching. The merchants who sell food and drink in Frisco had another big financial day after an estimated 14,000-plus Bison faithful left the stadium.
Their team is something else.
It's as if they guzzled an energy drink and banged their collective heads against a wall after a 10-10 halftime tie. In the case of quarterback Brock Jensen, he reverted to a familiar fictitious trophy made popular by another NFL player: Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
Jensen mimicked Rodgers "title belt" signal on his first and third touchdowns.
"I had to bring it out again for the championship game," Jensen said.
The first was more of an "I'm back" signal. The third, with 10:13 left in the game that gave the Bison a 32-13 lead, was the dagger.
There's something about Cheesehead quarterbacks that is contagious. Jensen grew up idolizing Brett Favre and the Packers Super Bowl victory.
He changed allegiance to Rodgers and was rewarded with a note Rodgers wrote to Jensen before last year's title game.
"We both love Wisconsin and we both love the Packers," said Jensen, who is from Waupaca, Wis. "I admire the way he plays the game so I thought I would give a shout out to him."
They don't play the game the same but that's because they play on teams with different styles. Rodgers can throw for a billion yards.
Jensen was off early, but finished 9 of 16 for 115 yards and more important, did not throw an interception. He was named the game's outstanding player because he directed a suffocating offense in the second half.
"He made plays with his feet and did enough throwing the ball," said offensive coordinator Brent Vigen. "That's been our mode; we'll find a way to win."
Speaking of Beast Mode, Vigen had his moments over the course of Saturday. Knowing Sam Houston can stack a defense in the middle, he put in a series of plays with receiver Ryan Smith running to the outside. Smith averaged 9.4 yards on five carries.
Two of those big runs came on the first two drives of the second half that resulted in touchdowns and a 25-10 lead.
"We had three weeks to game plan so we pulled everything out in the book," Smith said. "We had a good game plan and it worked out well."
Vigen pulled out the flea flicker from earlier this year with receiver Zach Vraa on the other end. He called a misdirection pitch that John Crockett took 57 yards that set up a 3-0 NDSU lead.
The most interesting play call? A 31-yard pass from running back John Crockett to tight end Kevin Vaadeland in the third quarter. Crockett took the handoff on an apparent run up the middle, stopped and then tossed a jump pass to a wide open Vaadeland.
"That's something we've had in our back pages for some time now," Vigen said.
The details of the game aside, the bigger picture is an offensive coordinator who has endured some tough times. He was a former Bison tight end. He looked to be on the verge of looking for a job after Bob Babich left in 2002.
There was the 3-8 debacle of 2009 when he took some heat.
On Saturday, he was holding a national championship trophy for the second straight year in front of double the Bison fans than were usually at the dome in that 2002 season.
"To be a part of it in all the facets that I have, I couldn't be more proud of this whole situation," he said, while looking out over a football field full of celebrating fans. "It's hard to put into words."
Kolpack is a sports reporter for The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead, which is a part of Forum News Service. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org, follow him on Twitter at FGOSPORTSWRITER and read his blog at areavoices.com/bisonmedia.