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Tom Mix, Published September 22 2012

North Dakota State tops Prairie View A&M at Fargodome

FARGO – Historically, North Dakota State football has always hung its hat on its running game, but the Bison offense has been opening up a lot more the last several years.

As NDSU continues to secure its place among the elite in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision, its passing game is quickly becoming a prominent fixture within its offense.

Leading the way is junior quarterback Brock Jensen, who proved once again on Saturday that he can operate NDSU’s offense with high efficiency in a 66-7 nonconference win over Prairie View A&M at Gate City Bank Field at the Fargodome.

Jensen was 13 of 15 passing for 192 yards and three touchdowns, including a 69-yard score to sophomore Zach Vraa.

“We had a good game plan coming in,” said Jensen, who matched a career high for touchdown passes in a game. “We knew what areas in which we could attack their defense and were able to do that. When the opportunity presented itself for the big play to happen, we protected it well up front and we were able to make the throw and the catch. You can’t draw it up any better than that.”

The play to Vraa was a quick strike on the first play of NDSU’s third series of the game. NDSU opened with a five-play, 55-yard drive that was capped by an 11-yard Jensen touchdown pass to Vraa.

NDSU (3-0) had 11 possessions on Saturday and scored on all but one of them.

Jensen’s execution wasn’t lost on NDSU head coach Craig Bohl.

“The long pass to Zach was a great throw,” Bohl said. “He is operating our offense very well every game. He is doing things now where he has gone from elementary reads to beyond that with complex reads. … He is managing the game well and he is putting the ball where it needs to be.”

Jensen’s other touchdown pass was for 11 yards to Nate Moody, a wide receiver from Dickinson, N.D.

“We were able to spread the ball around today and keep them guessing,” Jensen said. “Our run to pass at the end of the game was pretty even. … We were able to make some plays out there and all of our wide receivers contributed.”

With the game well in hand by the second quarter, Jensen – who suffered an injury to his non-throwing hand earlier in the game but did not leave – was pulled for backup Carson Wentz, a former standout at Bismarck Century.

“He bent his fingers, but he was still able to play,” Bohl said of Jensen. “We taped them up and put ice on it. It was his non-throwing hand, but we wanted to make sure. We inserted Carson not because of that, it was just that we wanted to get Carson into the game early.”

Wentz picked up right where Jensen left off. The 6-foot-4 redshirt freshmen, who saw some time in the opening game against Robert Morris, finished 8 of 8 for 93 yards and one touchdown.

Wentz was surprised his number was called so soon, but he took the opportunity and ran with it.

“Coach Bohl came up to me a little before that and told me when I needed to start getting warm,” Wentz said. “When it came in the second quarter, I was just excited to get out there. I was a little nervous, but it was good to get out there and get some playing time in.”


Readers can reach Forum reporter Tom Mix at (701) 241-5562