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North Dakota State Bison wide receiver Darrius Shepherd looking forward to tough contest

FARGO -- North Dakota State wide receiver Darrius Shepherd wouldn't mind being twice as effective on Saturday playing both halves of the FCS quarterfinal game against Northern Iowa. He was pretty good playing just two quarters in the regular seas...

King Frazier of North Dakota State carries against Western Illinois during their football game Saturday, Nov. 7, 2015, in the Fargodome.Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor
Darrius Shepherd of North Dakota State pulls in a pass to score a touchdown against Western Illinois during their football game Nov. 7 in the Fargodome. (FNS Photo by Michael Vosburg)

FARGO - North Dakota State wide receiver Darrius Shepherd wouldn’t mind being twice as effective on Saturday playing both halves of the FCS quarterfinal game against Northern Iowa. He was pretty good playing just two quarters in the regular season meeting between the two teams.
A shoulder injury limited him to just one half in the Oct. 10 game because a pain-limiting shot would not last an entire game. So NDSU head coach Chris Klieman, by the instructions of the Bison training staff, got to pick which two quarters he wanted Shepherd.
He picked the final two.
“It was a whirlwind going into that game,” Shepherd said. “Then getting in there in just the second half and the way it ended, it was crazy.”
Shepherd had three receptions for 61 yards, but all three went for first downs and two were crucial. His 33-yard touchdown reception midway in the fourth quarter gave the Bison a 24-21 lead.
The biggest catch was an 18-yarder with 35 seconds remaining that was the game-winner in the 31-28 win. It came in front of his family who saw the freshman from Blue Springs, Mo., play at NDSU for the first time.
“That next day waking up, having breakfast with my family and we were all like, ‘What an experience,’” Shepherd said.
In the Panthers, the Bison will face perhaps the best secondary they’ll face this season. Free safety Deiondre’ Hall was the Missouri Valley Football Conference Defensive Player of the Year and senior safety Tim Kilfoyl has made key interceptions the last two years against NDSU.
“They have some really great players back there,” Shepherd said.
NDSU will also have the services of two playmakers who were injured in the first game against UNI: running back Lance Dunn and receiver Dimitri Williams.
“Lance can give us another change of pace,” said Klieman. “It allows us for the potential of some three-back stuff.”
Panther starting center questionable with injury
Northern Iowa will be without starting linebacker D’Shawn Dexter for the first half via NCAA rules. Dexter was flagged for a targeting penalty against Portland State last week in the second round victory and by rule must sit out the first half of the following game.
The Panthers may also be without starting center Robert Rathje, who suffered an apparent ankle injury against the Vikings. The Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier newspaper reported his status as being questionable.
The big question mark for NDSU, of course, is quarterback Carson Wentz. Head coach Chris Klieman said earlier this week the senior was going to practice for the first time after breaking his wrist in October against South Dakota.
Etc. etc. etc.
- In an effort to best simulate UNI quarterback Aaron Bailey, NDSU was expected to use freshman running back Demaris Purifoy as the scout team quarterback in practice.
- The winner of the NDSU-UNI game will play at Illinois State in the semifinals if the Redbirds defeat Richmond tonight. If unseeded Richmond wins, NDSU would host and a UNI-Richmond matchup would go to the bid system.
- The Bison are in danger of not having their first 1,000-yard rusher in 12 seasons. King Frazier is the leader with 877.
- The 1,301 yards by Bailey and the 1,021 by Tyvis Smith is the first time in school history Northern Iowa has put two backs over 1,000 yards. UNI has had two, 100-yard rushers in three of the last four games.

Related Topics: COLLEGE FOOTBALL
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