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Jeff Kolpack, Published September 08 2012

Wide receiver duo sparks Bison

FORT COLLINS, Colo. – Trevor Gebhart and Zach Vraa were recruited out of high school two years ago as a tandem that could make a big difference. Saturday night, the two North Dakota State receivers delivered together for the first time.

They combined for nine receptions and over 100 yards in NDSU’s 22-7 win over Colorado State before 23,567 fans at Sonny Lubick Field at Hughes Stadium. Five of those catches came on third down and kept Bison drives alive on a day when NDSU was 12 of 21 in that statistic.

“We’ve had injuries,” Gebhart said, “but we came out tonight and played well. It’s a great feeling.”

Along with quarterback Brock Jensen, NDSU’s third down attack was something CSU did not have. The Rams were 1 of 10 on third down.

“We got whipped up front,” said CSU head coach Jim McElwain.

The Vraa and Gebhart combination was made even more important when receiver Ryan Smith did not play because of reoccurring hamstring issues. Gebhart said that became apparent on Wednesday.

“So I knew that I had to prepare myself knowing a key player like that would probably not be there,” he said.

Heagle, Bruhn may be

lost for the season

Not all was rosy for the Bison following the win. Safety Colten Heagle and tight end Garrett Bruhn, two key starters, appear to be lost for the season with ACL injuries.

Bruhn went out in the first half and spent the rest of the game on crutches. Heagle was hurt in the fourth quarter. He walked off the field under his own power but head coach Craig Bohl confirmed the probably knee injury.

It was the second time Bruhn, a senior captain, endured an injury. He was feared lost for the season with nerve damage in his shoulder but was attempting to play through it.

His loss means NDSU is now down to one senior start in center Joe Lund.

Special teams made

first-half difference

The Bison put on a clinic in special teams in the first half, and that went a long way into taking control over the Rams.

It started early when Marcus Williams returned NDSU’s first kickoff 53 yards to the CSU 45, immediately halting Ram momentum stemming from a long touchdown pass on the third play of the game. Williams’ return led to tying Bison score.

Later Williams returned a punt 64 yards in the first quarter and Carlton Littlejohn blocked a Jared Roberts field goal in the second. That was last done by Matt Veldman last year against Illinois State.

It was a mixed bag with Williams on punts. It was his first game doing so, but he also fumbled twice – teammate Aireal Boyd recovered one while the other was called back because of a Ram penalty.

Etc. etc. etc.

Williams’ interception in the first half was the 12th of his career and ties him for fifth place on the NDSU all-time chart. … Quarterback Brock Jensen’s 28 passing attempts was two short of his career high set last year against Indiana State. He was 17 of 28 for 178 yards. … The Bison had a decisive advantage in time of possession at 39:52 to 20:08. … Williams finished with 139 all-purpose yards with 57 on kick returns, 78 on punts and four on his interception.

Forum reporter Jeff Kolpack can be reached at (701) 241-5546.

Kolpack’s NDSU media blog can be found

at www.areavoices.com/bisonmedia

Kolpack is the host of the WDAY Golf Show Saturdays from 8-9 a.m. on 970-AM.