Jeff Kolpack, Published December 17 2011
Kolpack: Flu-ridden Jensen carries Bison to memorable FCS semifinal victory
Brock Jensen turned back Communism, too.
Neither sleet, nor snow, nor flu, nor turf toe held back the North Dakota State quarterback against Georgia Southern. He didn’t make it back to the field on time for the second half because he was getting fluids injected into his system to address dehydration from the flu. He couldn’t remember his last meal, probably early Friday sometime.
“It’s been a long 18 hours,” he said.
It’s been a long 21 years since NDSU’s last appearance in a football title game. No more. The Bison, with a courageous performance in more ways than just playing football – at least a handful played with the flu – defeated the Eagles 35-7 before the loudest 18,108 fans you’ll ever hear.
Jensen and his ’mates now have three weeks to get over the flu and whatever else ails them. They’ll play Sam Houston State on Jan. 7 for the Division I Football Championship Subdivision title.
Jensen was sharp, completing 10 of 15 passes for 137 yards and a touchdown and running for 94 yards on six carries.
His 55-yard touchdown run – a career high – with six minutes left in the third quarter was the deal breaker. It gave NDSU a 20-7 lead. It was part of a 96-yard drive that came after safety John Pike stripped GSU receiver J.J. Wilcox around the 5-yard line and Travis Beck recovered the fumble.
Jensen’s run was startling in that he probably hadn’t run 55 yards in one sprint since a turf toe injury suffered against Northern Iowa on Oct. 29.
“I surprised myself on that,” he said.
It was a good run that came with good fortune; the Eagles blew a defensive assignment. Head coach Jeff Monken said a cornerback did not execute a blitz call.
“He missed the call from the sideline,” Monken said. “They don’t get that play if he blitzes.”
Jensen also converted a third-and-4 play from the GSU 11-yard line midway in the fourth quarter, which led to a Sam Ojuri touchdown. That made it 28-7 and travel agents were busy taking calls for flights to Dallas.
It’s a straight shot down Interstate 29. Bison head coach Craig Bohl could have just opened an atlas he received from NDSU President Dean Bresciani after the first game this season, a reference to the road to Texas.
Bohl brought it with him to the postgame press conference.
“I got this atlas from a supportive fan,” Bohl said. “He’s a prophet and he’s also our president. He’s a lot smarter than me. I knew it was a long, hard road to Texas.”
The ol’ ball coach also took not one, but two ice-bucket baths in the final minute. He hugged players with the flu and later said he’ll probably get it, too.
“But I’ll have three weeks to get ready,” he said.
If that atlas doesn’t get NDSU to Texas, the Bison can turn to Jensen. He’s flying the plane, blindfolded.
Forum reporter Jeff Kolpack can be reached at (701) 241-5546.
Kolpack’s NDSU media blog can be found