Jeff Kolpack, Published August 30 2013
High temps make Bison sweat out win
A few hours later, it didn’t cool down much at Bill Snyder Family Stadium. It was still hot when North Dakota State was celebrating a 24-21 win over Kansas State in front of its fans in the south end zone.
The temperature at kickoff was 98 degrees with a light wind from the southeast at 3 mph, not exactly a cooling-off type of breeze.
As hot as that may have seemed, it wasn’t the warmest opening game for the Wildcats. The record is a whopping 109 degrees, which came in 2000 when K-State hosted Louisiana Tech.
Bison head coach Craig Bohl said a couple hours before kickoff that he anticipated his backups would have to play a more prominent role than usual.
“(The heat) affected all of us,” said Bison quarterback Brock Jensen. “You can’t practice to prepare for this. In Fargo, at least it got a little warmer in the last week.”
Helping NDSU, at least in the first half, was decent ball control by its offense. The Bison had the advantage in time of possession in the first quarter by almost two minutes. That expanded to a five-minute advantage by halftime.
NDSU ended with a 36:03 to 23:57 possession advantage – including 8 minutes, 30 seconds of the fourth quarter that will go down as one of the greatest drives in team history.
“I thought we were in excellent shape,” Bohl said of his team’s conditioning, “and it became apparent as the game went along.”
Bison fail to capitalize
in second quarter
The Wildcats were on the verge of taking control of the momentum in the first half when quarterback Jake Waters hits Tramaine Thompson with a 45-yard touchdown pass. That tied it at 7-7.
But the NDSU offense responded with three first downs that, if nothing else, kept the Wildcat crowd from making a difference. It was also a stretch of game where the Bison had two good scoring opportunities.
The Bison reached the K-State 27 on an 11-yard pass from Jensen to receiver Ryan Smith. But a three-yard loss, an incompletion and a quarterback sack took NDSU out of field-goal range.
They knocked on the door even harder after Marcus Williams picked off a Jake Waters pass and returned it to the K-State 29. A 14-yard run on a draw play by Derrick Lang on third-and-10 reached the 15.
Jensen had tight end Kevin Vaadeland open on the next play, but the tight end couldn’t haul in a pass that was slightly high. The drive ended when Adam Keller’s 34-yard field-goal attempt hit the left upright and bounced away with 1:58 left in the half.
LeCompte keeps North Dakota State in the game
It was a masterful night by Bison punter Ben LeCompte, who not only averaged 42.2 yards on four punts, but his kickoffs kept the ball out of the hands of the dangerous Tyler Lockett with a few “pooch” kickoffs.
The Wildcats ranked first in the country in return yardage last season, but got just 29 yards on three returns. Lockett never did get his hands on the ball.
Forum reporter Jeff Kolpack can be reached at (701) 241-5546.
Kolpack’s NDSU media blog can be found