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Jeff Kolpack, Published December 08 2012

Kolpack: LaVoy' returns to defense, comes up with big play

Fargo - The last public picture of Anthony LaVoy was the North Dakota State offensive lineman sitting on the sidelines with a cast on his injured wrist. That was in August. He sort of faded away.

So when a player wearing No. 63 was spotted on the defensive line in the course of Saturday’s electrifying bash with Wofford College, the initial thought was somebody changed numbers. No sir. That was LaVoy.

Boy was it ever. These Mahnomen kids can play football. The high school team went unbeaten and won a Minnesota state championship this season, and on Saturday afternoon, one of its alums pulled off one of the more heroic efforts seen around Bison football camp in quite some time.

He blocked a key field goal and was part of a defensive line that held the Terriers offense out of the end zone in a 14-7 Division I Football Championship Subdivision quarterfinal win at Gate City Field at the Fargodome.

“When you get a chance to contribute and to help win a game like this, whatever they ask me to do, I’ll do it,” LaVoy said.

When nose guard Leevon Perry went down with a knee injury three weeks ago, LaVoy got the warning that he may be moved back to defense, where he played for three years. Rewind even more: This is a guy who started his college career at Division II Bemidji State (Minn.) before transferring to NDSU because the dream to play Division I football ate him up.

With the triple option of Wofford coming to town, LaVoy was officially back on defense this week, with one reason being he played well last year against triple option Georgia Southern.

“Anthony came in and didn’t skip a beat,” said Bison linebacker Grant Olson, who had a heroic effort of his own with 29 tackles. “What he was able to do tonight was a great accomplishment. He epitomizes what Bison pride is to me. A guy playing offense for an entire year and then comes over when we need him and he has great game. That’s what we build on, that’s what we do.”

Making his blocked field even more remarkable was it came against a team that doesn’t give them up very often.

“First one blocked in I don’t know how many years, over a decade,” said head coach Mike Ayers.

It came early in the fourth quarter with NDSU clinging to its 14-7 lead. Before lining up, LaVoy turned to teammate Ryan Drevlow.

“I said, ‘Let’s do this,’” LaVoy said. “I pushed through the middle and got a hand in the air. I felt it right away. It wasn’t much but I got it.”

At a solid 6-foot-4 and almost 300 pounds, the junior was born to play power football, which is the style when playing a running team like Wofford. He said studying the Terriers attack was a grind all week, but he followed his coaches’ plan.

But once he got on the field – on defense for the first time since about this time last year – it didn’t take him long to remember how to play it.

“It was kind of like riding a bike,” LaVoy said. “I played it for three years. This option stuff is power house straight forward football and that’s what I always was better at on defense.”

He’ll get to stay on defense this coming week with Georgia Southern back for another semifinal showdown. Bison fans will have a few days to regroup and then get all wacky one more time.

This tournament style college football is rock and roll.

“This is what our tournament is all about,” said NDSU head coach Craig Bohl.

Forum reporter Jeff Kolpack can be reached at (701) 241-5546. Kolpack’s NDSU media blog can be found at www.areavoices.com/bisonmedia