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Jeff Kolpack, Published November 28 2010

Bison notebook: Big plays too much for RMU

Robert Morris worked on North Dakota State’s screen pass all week and the Colonials came to the Fargodome prepared for it. The Bison weren’t fazed.

Quarterback Brock Jensen and running back D.J. McNorton burned the Colonials twice in the second half with essentially the same play in the 43-17 victory at the Fargodome. The second was the hardest to swallow for RMU, which had NDSU in a third-and-4 situation and trailing just 20-17 early in the fourth quarter.

“All week we knew that was a big play,” said RMU linebacker Alex DiMichele. “They just caught us in the wrong play. We had an outside blitz by two outside linebackers.”

McNorton took the short pass 61 yards to the 5 and Jensen scored on the next play.

“It was a matter of calling it at the right time,” Jensen said.

The first was a 49-yard touchdown in the third quarter that made it 20-7.

“We practiced against it and they didn’t use it for quite awhile,” said RMU head coach Joe Walton. “Then all of a sudden they used it two good times.”

Two true freshmen

lead NDSU in tackles

Bison linebacker Grant Olson was told last Sunday and Monday that there may be a chance he’ll get his first starting assignment on Saturday. That became official later in the week.

“One of the things we talked about is the production doesn’t drop,” he said. “They told us that the first day.”

It certainly didn’t drop. Two true freshmen – Olson and safety Colten Heagle – led the Bison in tackles in their first ever playoff game in Division I Football Championship Subdivision. Olson had 11 tackles and Heagle seven.

“The great thing about these freshmen is I don’t think they know they’re freshmen,” said NDSU head coach Craig Bohl. “And Grant was having to play a different spot than he normally plays.”

Olson, normally a middle linebacker, filled in for senior Matt Anderson at outside linebacker. Bohl said Anderson and backup linebacker Chad Willson, out with an appendectomy, will most likely be back next week when the Bison play at Montana State.

Olson was credited with two quarterback hurries and a forced fumble.

“I was able to watch a lot of film, especially with the days off we had from school this week,” Olson said. “I was able to get down some of their tendencies.”

Heagle had two tackles for lost yardage and it was the first time in five games he didn’t lead or tie for the lead in tackles.

“It was just playing another game,” he said. “We were playing Robert Morris and we did a good job against this team. Now we have to prepare for Montana State.”

Both teams unsuccessful

in 4th-and-goal at the 1

Both Bohl and Walton said say they felt they needed the points when each team went for a touchdown on fourth-and-1. The Bison were up 13-7 in the third quarter when McNorton fumbled on his attempt.

“I felt like it was fourth and 1 and we could get the yard,” Bohl said. “We didn’t get it … Robert Morris made a big play.”

The Colonials were stopped when Olson sliced through and forced the fumble on Johnson. RMU led 7-3 at the time.

“I knew we needed to score, I knew we had to put points on the board,” Walton said. “I thought it was a rational decision at the time. Maybe it isn’t now but I thought it was at the time.”

Etc., etc., etc.

Ryan Jastram’s 51-yard field goal in the second quarter was the eighth time in school history a Bison kicker booted one from at least 50 yards. Aaron Pederson had four of those. The school record is 55 yards by Ken Johnson. … NCAA tournament rules prohibited the Bison public address announcer from displaying any emphasis on one team over the other. … NDSU’s last offensive touchdown before Warren Holloway’s touchdown in the third quarter was in the third quarter of the South Dakota State game when McNorton scored from the 3-yard line. The Bison had a tough time getting across midfield last week in getting blanked at Missouri State.

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