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Kolpack: The little FCS school owns another FBS program in the fourth quarter

IOWA City, Iowa--Kinnick Stadium is aptly crowned a historic structure, with the bricks on its exterior dating back to the days when football players played in leather helmets. Certainly, when it comes to wins or losses with the home-standing Iow...

Chase Morlock of North Dakota State pulls in a touchdown pass against Iowa during their football game Saturday, Sept. 17, 2016, in Iowa City, Iowa.Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor
Chase Morlock of North Dakota State pulls in a touchdown pass against Iowa during their football game Saturday, Sept. 17, 2016, in Iowa City, Iowa.Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor

IOWA City, Iowa-Kinnick Stadium is aptly crowned a historic structure, with the bricks on its exterior dating back to the days when football players played in leather helmets. Certainly, when it comes to wins or losses with the home-standing Iowa Hawkeyes, there have been some big ones over the years.

This one was a whopper.

They did it again. The North Dakota State Bison marched into an FBS football facility, took a large paycheck, gave the bigger budget program a dose of power football and by mid-afternoon on Saturday, the team and its throng of visiting fans in the thousands were partying it up in the northeast corner of the stadium.

Bison 23, Iowa 21.

They did it again.

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"I can't say enough about the guys in the locker room," said head coach Chris Klieman. "What a resilient bunch. We told them all week long that we belonged. We belonged in the game and we belonged in the spotlight. What we've done in the past gives us an opportunity to think that we belong."

Oh they belonged. They especially belonged in the fourth quarter when Jim Kramer and his strength and conditioning program worked its magic again. The Bison are now 9-3 in FBS games, but the reality is Kramer is 9-3.

Iowa had minus-9 yards total offense in the fourth quarter. NDSU had 126 total yards in the final 15 minutes.

Isn't that called gut-check time?

These guys seem to always pass that test.

"Our plan was to keep grinding and keep beating on them a little bit," said quarterback Easton Stick. "We knew if we could get to that fourth quarter that we felt we would have a chance to win."

It's becoming an all-too-familiar formula on these big stages. The Bison put the University of Minnesota away in the second half in 2007 and 2011.

The lasting image on Saturday afternoon was NDSU President Dean Bresciani walking onto the field and doing something with his smartphone, presumably taking photos. The last time we saw somebody from the top ladders in the NDSU football program in this type of setting was former head coach Craig Bohl, who before boarding the team bus at Bill Snyder Family Stadium got one final look at a Kansas State facility.

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Earlier that evening, the Bison shocked the Wildcats 24-21 with that one not being decided until the final minute.

The Bison went all-Wildcat on the Hawkeyes.

"Toward the end, it was almost the same situation," said Bison linebacker MJ Stumpf.

NDSU went 80 yards in 18 plays, a drive that took 8:30, to beat Kansas State in the heat of Manhattan, Kan. Trailing 21-14 to Iowa early in the fourth quarter, the Bison took the old school route again.

They went 80 yards in 15 plays in a drive that took 8:39-nine more seconds than the famed K-State march.

"Just base run," said offensive coordinator Tim Polasek. "All I know is our offensive line was surging and our running backs won the one-on-ones today."

Lance Dunn for nine yards. First down. Bruce Anderson for 16 yards. First down. King Frazier for 10 yards. First down. Frazier for six yards on third-and-3. First down to the Iowa 25-yard line. Fourth down-and-2? Frazier for three yards. First down. Third-and-3 from the 7-yard line, Stick threw only his second pass on the drive-a touchdown to Chase Morlock.

Not wanting to settle for a tie and possible going into a third straight overtime, Klieman opted for the win. Polasek said that decision was made with about eight minutes left in the game.

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The play didn't work, but there was still 3:41 remaining.

"They are a very aggressive, tough football team and we didn't measure up," said Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz. "I'd say we lost to a really good football team. It's as simple as that. Anybody who was in the stadium today realized that's a good football team. They play hard. They are tough, physical and they believe in themselves. And they've been doing it for quite awhile."

The Hawkeyes played not to lose starting their possession with two nothing runs. On third down, Bison defensive coordinator Matt Entz, who seemed to have the hot hand himself with the calls in the second half, dialed a safety blitz. Robbie Grimsley sacked quarterback C.J. Beathard and Iowa had to punt.

"We always talk about finishing a game, finishing the play," Stumpf said. "We just had to get them third-and-long there and Robbie made a huge play. It was a huge play for us."

A huge play that eventually led to Cam Pedersen's game-winning kick.

A kick that blew up college football Twitter feeds. A kick that should get the attention of the ESPN "College GameDay" producer. Let's see, the next game is Illinois State in two weeks. Carson Wentz's Philadelphia Eagles have a bye week. Carson is the guest picker. The formula is golden.

We saw it again on Saturday.

Related Topics: FOOTBALLBISON MEDIA ZONECHRIS KLIEMANCARSON WENTZ
Jeff would like to dispel the notion he was around when Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press, but he is on his third decade of reporting with Forum Communications. The son of a reporter and an English teacher, and the brother of a reporter, Jeff has worked at the Jamestown Sun, Bismarck Tribune and since 1990 The Forum, where he's covered North Dakota State athletics since 1995.
Jeff has covered all nine of NDSU's Division I FCS national football titles and has written three books: "Horns Up," "North Dakota Tough" and "Covid Kids." He is the radio host of "The Golf Show with Jeff Kolpack" April through August.
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