Bison leave Mark on SDSUBROOKINGS, S.D. — North Dakota State finally solved Coughlin-Alumni Stadium.
By: Eric Peterson, The Dickinson Press
BROOKINGS, S.D. — North Dakota State finally solved Coughlin-Alumni Stadium.
Sophomore Ryan Smith returned a punt 41 yards for a touchdown early in the fourth quarter. That play sparked the No. 3-ranked Bison to a 38-14 victory Saturday against South Dakota State in Missouri Valley Football Conference action before 14,823 fans.
NDSU (7-0, 4-0 MVFC) won in Brookings for the first time since 1999 to retain the Dakota Marker trophy.
“It really feels good to come out of this hostile environment with a win,” said NDSU sophomore quarterback Brock Jensen, who completed 20 of 25 passes for 178 yards.
NDSU is 4-4 against SDSU (2-6, 1-4) since the teams started playing for the Dakota Marker trophy. After the final seconds ticked off the game clock, Bison players quickly made their way to the retrieve the Dakota Marker trophy, which was located near one of the end zones on the Bison sideline.
“It’s disappointing. It’s really tough to see that,” said SDSU senior linebacker Dirk Kool. “You never want to lose to NDSU. … That hurts watching that.”
The Bison held a 17-7 lead early in the fourth quarter when they forced SDSU to punt from its own 4-yard line. Smith fielded the kick and started right before he cut back left and found daylight.
Smith covered the final yards of the return, diving just inside the pylon and vaulting into the end zone. The played covered 41 yards and staked the Bison to a 24-7 lead with 9 minutes, 24 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter.
“Killed us,” said SDSU head coach John Stiegelmeier.
“I thought that play really pretty much sealed the game,” added Bison head coach Craig Bohl. “We felt very comfortable as soon as that happened.”
The Jackrabbits moved the ball inside the NDSU 10-yard line twice in the first half, but came away with no points in both situations. SDSU had a first-and-goal at the Bison 1 on its first drive of the game. The Jackrabbits settled for an 18-yard field goal attempt, which freshman kicker Justin Syrovatka missed.
“They could have easily went up 7-0 and changed the game,” NDSU senior defensive end Coulter Boyer said. “It was game changing.”
Syrovatka also missed a 28-yard field goal attempt with 2:24 remaining in the first half.
“The greatest impact was the mental hit, rather than the scoring hit, the loss of confidence,” Stiegelmeier said of his team’s missed scoring chances. “That’s not good football. We need to go into those situations and bury it.”
NDSU hosts No. 2-ranked Northern Iowa next Saturday at the Fargodome.
“I know you probably aren’t going to have a chance to win the Valley if you don’t beat Northern Iowa,” Bohl said.
NDSU 7 3 7 21 — 38
SDSU 0 0 7 7 — 14
NDSU–D.J. McNorton 1 run (Ryan Jastram kick), :17
NDSU–Jastram 32 field goal, 8:39
NDSU–Brock Jensen 1 run (Jastram kick), 10:45
SDSU–Zach Zenner 1 run (Justin Syrovatka kick), 6:37
NDSU–Ryan Smith 41 punt return (Jastram kick), 9:24
NDSU–Jensen 1 run (Jastram kick), 4:44
NDSU–Derrick Lang 1 run (Jastram kick), 1:31
SDSU–Jason Schneider 7 pass from Jordan Thomas (Syrovatka kick), :04
TEAM STATISTICS NDSU SDSU
First downs 23 18
Rushes-yards 38-149 27-63
Passing yards 178 286
Comp.-Att.-Int. 20-25-0 25-43-0
Total yards 327 349
Fumbles-lost 0-0 0-0
Penalties-yards 1-15 5-52
Punts-Avg. 2-49.5 4-38.5
RUSHING: NDSU, Sam Ojuri 8-52, D.J. McNorton 13-51, Derrick Lang 6-28, Brock Jensen 10-21. SDSU, Tyrel Kool 11-38, Zach Zenner 7-34, Dominique Clare 1-6, Austin Sumner 7-(minus 12).
PASSING: NDSU, Jensen 20-25-0, 178. SDSU, Sumner 18-31-0, 206, Jordan Thomas 7-11-0, 80.
RECEIVING: NDSU, Warren Holloway 7-66, Ryan Smith 6-56, Trevor Gebhart 1-19, Garrett Bruhn 2-15, Frank Veldman 1-5. SDSU, Dale Moss 7-111, Aaron Rollin 3-42, Jason Schneider 5-41, Brandon Hubert 2-38, Vince Benedetto 5-34, Zenner 3-20.
Peterson is a sports reporter for The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead, which is owned by Forum Communications Co.