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Jeff Kolpack, Published September 29 2012

Bison defense force costly turnovers by UNI

CEDAR FALLS, Iowa – Top-ranked North Dakota State defeated Northern Iowa 33-21 on Saturday night, but the score that counted almost just as much was 3-0. That was NDSU’s victory in the turnover ratio game.

“You can’t turn the ball over three times against anybody, especially against a team like NDSU,” said UNI quarterback Sawyer Kollmorgen. “It killed us, really.”

The Bison recovered two fumbles and intercepted a pass that led to 17 points in NDSU’s Missouri Valley Football Conference opener before 16,008 fans at the UNI-Dome.

“Anytime you can get a turnover on defense, it’s a big play,” said Bison linebacker Travis Beck.

NDSU took a 13-7 lead into the halftime locker room on the heels of two back-to-back Panther turnovers, the most damaging a fumbled punt by Varmah Sonie after fielding the ball at his own 5-yard line.

“That was the difference in the game,” said UNI head coach Mark Farley. “He probably shouldn’t have fielded that punt. Huge error. Huge error. Unacceptable error.”

Christian Dudzik recovered it at the 9-yard line and it didn’t take the Bison long to erase a 7-3 deficit. John Crockett scored from the 3 and NDSU regained the lead.

Four plays later, Beck made good use of a blitz on third-and-9 forcing a fumble on Kollmorgen that teammate Mike Hardie recovered at the UNI 34.

“It was the right call at the right time,” Beck said, giving props to defensive coordinator Chris Klieman, “and I went and made a play on it.”

It led to an Adam Keller field goal with 44 seconds left in the half.

Beat up UNI in danger

of losing poll status

Northern Iowa fell to an uncustomary 1-4 and perhaps most likely out of the Division I Football Championship Subdivision top 25 poll for the first time in 98 weeks. The Panthers have a much-needed bye after playing Big Ten Conference teams Wisconsin and Iowa and third-ranked FCS team Youngstown State (Ohio).

Asked if the schedule took its toll, Kollmorgen said, “maybe physically. We have a lot of people banged up.”

UNI now needs to win all seven remaining games to have a chance to reach the FCS playoffs. The general standard is seven Division I wins and its only win is over Division II Central State (Ohio.).

“It’s crunch time now,” Kollmorgen said. “We have to win every game now.”

Etc. etc. etc.

Keller’s 43-yard field goal in the third quarter was his longest of the season. … Quarterback Brock Jensen had a couple of milestones. He passed Tony Stauss for third place on the NDSU all-time completions list and his 243 yards passing was the seventh time he went over 200 yards in his career. … Marcus Williams’ third quarter interception was the 13th of his career, tying him for third place on NDSU’s all-time list with Wayne Schluchter and Nick Schommer.

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

Kolpack’s NDSU media blog can be found

at www.areavoices.com/bisonmedia