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Jeff Kolpack, Published December 14 2012

Bison quarterback draw sinks GSU

FARGO – The drive started ominously for Georgia Southern on Friday night, and ended with a North Dakota State celebration in the north end zone. It was 53 suspenseful yards for Bison fans.

Brock Jensen’s five-yard touchdown run was the winner in NDSU’s 23-20 win over the Eagles in the Division I Football Championship Subdivision semifinals, a victory that sends the Bison to the title game.

NDSU got the ball with 5:49 left and got it at its own 47-yard line after the Eagles were whistled for a personal foul on NDSU’s punt that was fair caught. Jensen gained 23 yards to the GSU 40.

John Crockett gained five yards. Jensen followed with a 10-yarder to the 25. On first down, GSU defensive lineman Brent Russell was flagged for roughing the passer giving the Bison a first down at the 12.

“Disappointing is the understatement of the century,” GSU head coach Jeff Monken said of the penalties. “That’s a fundamental thing. You can’t have foolish penalties. Foolish penalties kill you. Guys emotions are running high and they have to keep their cool.”

Jensen gained two yards to the 10. After an incompletion on second down, he gained five yards setting up the fourth-and-3.

GSU called two time outs and NDSU one before the quarterback draw brought the house down.

“Georgia Southern does everything right and it’s tough to beat a team like that,” Jensen said. “We’re headed back to Frisco and that feels awesome. The feeling is you can’t really describe it. Now gave us a chance to win back-to-back championships.”

Costly penalty stalls

NDSU momentum in third

Georgia Southern had the motion penalties splattered throughout the game, but it was one 15-yard penalty that hurt the Bison in the third quarter. After linebacker Carlton Littlejohn sacked backup quarterback Ezayi Youyoute for a 13-yard loss on third-and-6, NDSU’s Jordan Champion was flagged for roughing the kicker, giving the Eagles a first down at their 21-yard line.

NDSU would have had the ball on the GSU side of the field after the punt – and a boatload of momentum leading 16-13.

A 42-yard pass play on third-and-3 led to a McKinnon 25-yard touchdown and a 20-16 GSU advantage with 5:02 left in the third quarter.

“You have to overcome adversity, that’s what that is,” said Bison linebacker Travis Beck. “We just had to come back.

Bison kicker Keller gets team record for field goals

The three-point final differential could also be attributed to a Bison team record.

NDSU kicker Adam Keller set the NDSU mark for most field goals in a season with his 36-yarder to close the first half. It broke the mark of 16 set by Ryan Jastram last season and Shawn Bibeau in 2006.

Keller’s boot pulled NDSU within 13-9 with 25 seconds left before intermission. Considering the GSU offense rushed for 113 yards in the first half consistently getting four to six yards per attempt, NDSU was probably OK with being down just four points at the break.

It was the fourth time NDSU was behind at halftime with the others being Southern Illinois, Illinois State and Indiana State. The Bison rallied against SIU and Illinois State.

“That was a coin flip game, they could won that game easily,” Beck said. “Fortunately we came out on top. It’s the competition level.”

Keller, a sophomore, was the all-Missouri Valley Football Conference kicker.

Etc. etc. etc.

Christian Dudzik’s block of the GSU extra point attempt in the first quarter was the first blocked PAT for NDSU since Matthew Gratzek did it against Austin Peay in 2008. … NDSU had its extra point blocked in the first quarter after its first touchdown, which happened earlier this year against Southern Illinois. … Punter Ben LeCompte had a fine night averaging 55.0 yards on four kicks, including a 57-yarder that was downed on the GSU 2-yard line with 9:23 left in the game.

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

Kolpack’s NDSU media blog can be found

at www.areavoices.com/bisonmedia