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Jeff Kolpack, Published October 13 2012

Sycamores prevail despite lackluster offense

FARGO – It was one of those things in college football that doesn’t happen very often. North Dakota State did not give up an offensive touchdown on Saturday, yet still lost.

Indiana State returned two interceptions for touchdowns and left Gate City Bank Field at the Fargodome with a 17-14 win before 18,164 fans. Still, it wasn’t the greatest of defensive efforts either, said junior middle linebacker Grant Olson.

“We played OK,” he said, “but our defense isn’t about just giving up points. It’s about setting up the offense as well. There were multiple times we should have been on the field on third down and we didn’t.”

The Sycamores were only 1 of 10 on third down conversions, but made enough plays to get close enough to midfield to allow punter Lucas Hileman to kick some punts into the end zone. It was NDSU’s toughest day this season as far as starting field position.

“There were lot of offensive drives, if set our offense up at the 40 or 50, we score,” Olson said. “Instead, we’re setting us up at the 10. That’s our fault.”

Shoulder injury sidelines NDSU’s top receiver

The Bison suffered a blow in the third quarter when receiver Zach Vraa suffered an apparent shoulder separation after getting hit on a fourth-and-2 pass. The 10-yard reception reached the Sycamore 22-yard line, which led to an Adam Keller field goal and a 10-6 NDSU deficit.

Vraa, the team’s leading receiver, spent the rest of the game with an ice pack on his shoulder. NDSU head coach Craig Bohl said he didn’t believe it was the same collar bone injuries that sidelined Vraa the previous two years.

Bohl said running back John Crockett suffered a hip pointer and his status for next week will be determined later.

Miles had a good feeling coming into game

Even though he knew his team was facing a top-ranked team that had just thrashed the No. 3 team 48-7 last week, Indiana State head coach Trent Miles said he had a good feeling about Saturday’s game.

“Actually, this is the most comfortable I felt coming into a game as far as being relaxed,” Miles said. “This conference … they are all heavyweights. North Dakota State is a great football team, they deserved the No. 1 ranking and they should still be No. 1 after this week.

“But we had our day today. Anybody in this conference can play with anybody. It will be just as tough next week going into Western Illinois.”

That’s where ISU hopes to avoid a letdown next week. Meanwhile, NDSU hopes to bounce back in Sioux Falls against league newcomer South Dakota.

Etc. etc. etc.

Johnny Towalid’s first interception for a touchdown in the second quarter stopped a streak of 140 pass attempts in a row without a pickoff by Brock Jensen, who last threw an interception in the second quarter of the Division I Football Championship Subdivision title game against Sam Houston. It was also the first time a Bison opponent has returned a pick for a touchdown since 2009, when South Dakota State linebacker Derek Domino did it. … NDSU starting tight end Garrett Bruhn (high ankle sprain) did not suit up. … The longest running play for NDSU was by a receiver when Cooper Wahlo took an end sweep 13 yards. Running back John Crockett had a long run of 10 yards and Sam Ojuri nine yards.

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

Kolpack’s NDSU media blog can be found

at www.areavoices.com/bisonmedia