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Eric Peterson, Published November 12 2012

Bison lose Perry for the season to knee injury

FARGO – The Bison have lost another marquee defensive player to a season-ending knee injury.

North Dakota State junior defensive tackle Leevon Perry is out for the rest of this season, head coach Craig Bohl said Monday.

Perry injured his left knee during the first half of NDSU’s 20-17 home victory against South Dakota State on Saturday for the Dakota Marker.

“Hopefully, it’s not career-ending knee damage,” Bohl said. “At least the initial reports we have is it’s going to be really significant.”

The No. 1-ranked Bison play at No. 11-ranked Illinois State at 12:05 p.m. Saturday. NDSU can win the Missouri Valley Football Conference title outright with a win.

“This will be the best football team we’ve played this next week,” Bohl said of the Redbirds.

Perry is the second impact defensive player the Bison have lost this season to an injury. Junior safety Colten Heagle suffered a season-ending knee injury against Colorado State, which was the second game of the season.

“With every football team, there are different adversities that you’re going to encounter throughout the year,” Bohl said.

Perry was engaged with an SDSU offensive lineman on the play he got injured. Near the end of that play, the SDSU player dove down and cut block Perry in the knee area.

“I know injuries happen in football, but it was unfortunate that happened,” Bohl said. “I don’t think those plays really had any impact in the ballgame.”

Bohl had no comment when asked if he would send video of that play to the Missouri Valley Football Conference office for review.

Bohl expects redshirt freshman defensive lineman Brian Schaetz to return to action this week to help bolster the depth on the defensive front. Schaetz had missed the past two games with a knee injury.

Junior defensive tackle Danny Luecke, a Fargo South graduate who is listed behind Perry on the depth chart, will likely play an important role in the coming weeks with Perry out. Luecke had five tackles in the SDSU game.

“We’ve got quite a few of them that we rotate a lot,” Bohl said. “Leevon has a great presence. As the game (with SDSU) went along, I thought our guys that came into play did a nice job.”

The Bison have a 9-0 record on the road over the past two regular seasons.

If NDSU wins Saturday in Normal, Ill., that would mean two seasons in a row the Bison haven’t lost a road game.

“We’ve played pretty well on the road. Why that is? I don’t know.” Bohl said. “We’ve got a really focused football team. The guys recognize no matter where we play we’ve got to do our fundamental things and stick to our system,”

Bohl was an assistant coach at the University of Nebraska from 1995-2002. Part of that time was spent working for legendary head coach Tom Osborne.

“I think there was a certain model of consistency there that we’re striving for to get to here. We’re not there yet,” Bohl said. “I’m sure a lot of the things that I’ve strived to do as a head football coach have been passed down from some of the lessons I learned from him (Osborne).”

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Eric Peterson at (701) 241-5513.

Peterson’s blog can be found

at peterson.areavoices.com