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Jeff Kolpack, Published September 28 2013

Bison 'D' on a historic streak

BROOKINGS, S.D. – It was a historically tough performance for the best running back in Division I FCS football. South Dakota State’s Zach Zenner finished with four yards on eight carries.

But there were other history lessons in the 20-0 North Dakota State victory before a Coughlin-Alumni Stadium record crowd of 16,498 fans Saturday afternoon. It was the first back-to-back shutouts by a Bison team since 1987, when they beat Augustana 34-0 and Morningside 33-0. NDSU stopped Delaware State 51-0 last week.

Also, counting the fourth quarter against Ferris State, NDSU will take a scoreless streak of nine quarters into the key Missouri Valley Football Conference game against Northern Iowa next week.

The tone was set early by the defense, which stopped Zenner on a third-and-1 on the first series of the game.

“Stuffing the first couple of runs helped make them more one-dimensional,” said Bison defensive end Mike Hardie.

Zenner gained one yard on two carries on SDSU’s next possession. He was stopped for no gain on his next two attempts.

“It feels great to work as hard as we did this week, focusing on Zenner,” Hardie said.

Third-down conversions help control ball

It wasn’t a crisp game for the Bison offense, which struggled to sustain drives all day. But they did hold the ball for over two-thirds of the game, finishing with a whopping time of possession advantage of 40:20 to 19:20.

Quarterback Brock Jensen wasn’t as sharp through the air as he has been, but he also made some key plays with his feet. NDSU was 9 of 16 on third down conversions with Jensen converting a few of those, getting some yardage out of nothing.

“He’s a good football player, he just makes plays when he needs to make them,” said SDSU linebacker R.C. Kilgore. “I have a lot of respect for him as I’m sure the rest of the country does, too.”

Jensen converted a third-and-5 pass with a 10-yard completion to Ryan Smith on the first touchdown drive in the second quarter. He ran 13 yards on third-and-3 on the final Bison touchdown march that put it out of reach.

Etc. etc. etc.

It was a career day for NDSU punter Ben LeCompte, whose first two boots were career highs of 75 and 74 yards. Taking advantage of a cross wind that mostly favored him on those punts, he finished with a 44.7-yard average on seven kicks. Three of those landed inside the SDSU 20-yard line. … Bison head coach Craig Bohl said he knew of no injuries immediately after the game. … SDSU head coach John Stiegelmeier on the record crowd: “Excited about it. I thought our portion of the crowd was into it. I thought they had somewhat of an effect. There were a lot of green and yellow shirts on the other side, but I thought our crowd was really good. (NDSU) will always have a good following and need to do the same.”

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

Kolpack’s NDSU media blog can be found

at www.areavoices.com/bisonmedia