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Jeff Kolpack, Published October 24 2010

Bison football notebook: Eaves’ TD turns tide for Bison

Like a college student preparing for a test, North Dakota State safety Daniel Eaves read Indiana State quarterback Ronnie Fouch like a book. His 53-yard interception return early in the third quarter for a touchdown put NDSU up for good in a 27-15 win at the Fargodome.

It was Eaves’ third career touchdown, with the other two off of punt blocks by Warren Holloway. This one also had punch.

After the Bison offense ran six plays and punted to open the second half, the Sycamores – leading 12-7 – were on the move. A 32-yard pass from Fouch to Leonard Riston got them out of a first-and-20 hole from their own 10.

But on third-and-3, Fouch was forced out of the pocket by blitzing linebacker Preston Evans and tossed a pass toward the direction of tight end Alex Jones.

“I threw the ball off my back foot. Any quarterback can tell you that’s not a smart throw,” Fouch said. “I would like to have that one back.”

Eaves stepped in front of Jones and found a seam down the left side for a 14-12 Bison lead.

“After the catch, I saw Preston with a great block on the quarterback and guys were hustling,” Eaves said.

It was NDSU’s first interception return for a touchdown since safety Cyrus Lemon did it against Austin Peay in the 2008 season opener.

Bison use screen pass to McNorton as weapon

Indiana State head coach Trent Miles pointed to two plays that were costly. An unnecessary roughness penalty that kept a Bison drive alive early in the fourth quarter – but led to a missed field goal – and a screen pass to Bison running back D.J. McNorton.

NDSU is getting good at that play. It hurt Youngstown State two weeks ago and it hurt the Sycamores. Leading 14-12 and facing third-and-15 at their own 35, McNorton took the play 61 yards to the ISU 4.

“We give up the screen on third-and-forever,” Miles said. “Everybody in the world knows the screen is coming on that play. We were calling it on the sidelines.”

On the play, McNorton fakes a block on an incoming defender and then finds space in the middle of the field near the line of scrimmage.

He did it twice, finishing with three catches for 86 yards.

Return of Gratzek helps bolster run defense

The Bison got defensive tackle Matt Gratzek back after he missed the last two weeks with meniscus damage in his knee. The senior

wasn’t at 100 percent, but his presence made a difference – the Bison held the Sycamores to just 27 yards rushing.

It was the best effort in that statistical category by NDSU since holding Concordia-St. Paul to minus-14 yards in 2006. It was also the third time this year NDSU held an opponent to under 100 yards on the ground.

Gratzek had just one tackle, but he tied a career high with three quarterback hurries.

“He was making a difference,” said NDSU head coach Craig Bohl. “He may not be able to run like a greyhound but I saw him push a guard back about five yards (late in the game) and to do that to a guard, I’ll take that anytime.”

NDSU was credited with 10 quarterback hurries in all and Fouch was pressured on several other throws.

Etc., etc., etc.

The win was the 57th in Bohl’s career and tied him with Don Morton (1979-84) and Casey Finnegan (1928-40) for third place on the school’s all-time victories list. … The Bison were almost twice as good on kickoff returns (24.2 to 12.6 yards) as Indiana State. “You can’t give them the ball at the 50,” Miles said. “The used it as a weapon against us.”… Bison cornerback Marcus Williams continued his streak of a pass breakup in every game this season. … It was the 37th annual Harvest Bowl for NDSU.

Forum reporter Jeff Kolpack can be heard on the Saturday Morning Sports Show, 9-11 a.m. on WDAY-AM (970). He can be reached at (701) 241-5546.

Kolpack’s NDSU media blog can be found at www.areavoices.com/bisonmedia