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Jeff Kolpack, Published September 22 2012

Injured Bison stars get a needed break

FARGO – Two of North Dakota State’s stars could have played Saturday afternoon if the opponent was somebody other than Prairie View A&M. Cornerback Marcus Williams and receiver Ryan Smith were held out to give them another week to heal injuries.

They were not needed in the 66-7 win over Prairie View A&M (Texas) in front of 18,623 fans at Gate City Bank Field at the Fargodome. Head coach Craig Bohl said both should be ready to go next week when the Bison travel to Northern Iowa for the Missouri Valley Football Conference opener.

Williams is recovering from a minor scope procedure to the meniscus in his knee and Smith is trying to put a hamstring problem behind him.

“And we felt good about our depth,” Bohl said.

Everybody played in the rout that improved No. 1-ranked NDSU’s record to 3-0.

“That always helps morale,” Bohl said.

Injuries take toll on Prairie View starters

The Panthers’ depth chart had a significantly different look on Saturday with five different starters on offense including a replacement for quarterback De’Aundre Smiley and four on defense.

“We were expecting (Smiley),” said NDSU defensive end Kyle Emanuel. “I knew he got injured a little bit but that’s who we thought was going to play.”

The Panthers went with sophomore backup Jerry Lovelocke at quarterback, who finished 16 of 18 passing for 122 yards.

“We adjusted and went out there and did what we did,” Emanuel said.

Smiley, starting receiver Jacolby Anderson, linebacker and leading tackler Raheem Cardwell, cornerback Terrance Mitchell and free safety Brian Medlock, who had one of the Panthers’ two interceptions this season, all missed the Bison game with injuries, said Prairie View head coach Heishma Northern.

“We felt like they were going to have something,” Bohl said. “We just knew we had to line up and play well.”

Northern said he didn’t tell anybody about his quarterback change to avoid NDSU from concentrating on Lovelocke. It didn’t matter.

“Great program, great team,” Northern said. “It lets us know where we need to go. They’re physical, but they’re more athletic than teams give them credit for. This is everything you could ask for in an FCS program.”

Etc. etc. etc.

NDSU scored every time it touched the ball with the exception of its last possession when the Bison turned it over on downs. … The 45-0 halftime lead was NDSU’s largest since leading Minnesota State Moorhead 63-0 in 2000. That game ended 80-0. … Zach Vraa’s 11-yard touchdown reception in the first quarter was a career first for the sophomore wide receiver. … Vraa’s 156 receiving yards matched his career total coming into the game. … Backup quarterback Carson Wentz got his first touchdown pass with a 10-yarder to Taylor Nelson at the end of the first half. … NDSU’s 59 points after three quarters was the most since beating Wagner 59-38 in the 2009 season opener. The 66 points was the most since the 2006 season opener when NDSU beat Division II Concordia-St. Paul 66-7. … NDSU had eight tackles for lost yardage and three quarterback sacks. “Nothing can set a tempo like a defensive line,” Bohl said. … 23 Bison players had at least two tackles.

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

Kolpack’s NDSU media blog can be found

at www.areavoices.com/bisonmedia