Jeff Kolpack, Published October 06 2012
A healthy Smith shines in Bison winFARGO – North Dakota State’s smallest player is back making some of its biggest plays. Ryan Smith returned to the lineup last week and it showed Saturday in a matchup of two of the top-ranked Division I Football Championship Subdivision teams.
As good as the 48-7 win over No. 3-ranked Youngstown State (Ohio) was before 19,065 fans at Gate City Bank Field at the Fargodome, Smith felt even better.
He tied a career high with seven receptions. To cap his day, he returned a punt 76 yards for a touchdown in the third quarter that made it 38-7.
“It’s the best I felt in a long time,” Smith said. “It’s good to get back out there. I’m getting healthy.”
Smith has battled with hamstring problems off and on since the playoff run last season. He missed two games, sitting out the Prairie View A&M game as more of a precaution than anything else.
It was the second time in his career that he returned a punt for a score, doing it last year at South Dakota State.
“He’s Mr. Dependable,” said NDSU head coach Craig Bohl. “That punt return certainly had good blocking and he made a couple of key cuts.”
Harassing Bison ‘D’
puts clamps on Hess
Youngstown fumbled on its first play of the game. But the Penguins also marched 74 yards in 10 plays the next time they had the ball to tie the game at
It was a drive that mixed the run and pass to put the Bison defense on its heels. But that was about it for the YSU offense, which had 214 yards rushing last year in winning at the dome but had just 211 total yards on Saturday.
YSU head coach Eric Wolford credited NDSU’s defensive line for putting pressure on quarterback Kurt Hess.
“They were constantly harassing our quarterback and that’s something that may have got Kurt frustrated,” Wolford said.
It was a rare off day for Hess, who finished 11 of 20 for 117 yards and two interceptions.
Uncertain if he would
play, Crockett shines
Bison running back John Crockett went over 100 yards for the second straight game with his 103 on 25 carries. He almost didn’t make it to his first starting assignment.
Crockett was a game-time decision because of an abdominal injury.
“I didn’t think he was going to be able to play but he did,” Bohl said.
Etc. etc. etc.
Olson set a career high in tackles with 12, his second double-digit tackle game this season. The previous career high for the junior was 11 set against Robert Morris in the 2010 FCS playoff game. … Marcus Williams’ interception return for a touchdown, the fourth time he’s done that in his career, is a school record – one more than Matt Gorman. … Bohl said tight end Garrett Bruhn suffered a high ankle sprain. He pulled kicker Adam Keller from kickoff duty because of ongoing hamstring issues.
Forum reporter Jeff Kolpack can be reached at (701) 241-5546.
Kolpack’s NDSU media blog can be found