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Jeff Kolpack, Published November 15 2013

With injuries behind him, Vraa nears receiving mark

FARGO – North Dakota State junior Zach Vraa is done with breaking collarbones. Now he’s on the doorstep to breaking records.

His two touchdown receptions last week against Illinois State have Vraa one away from tying the team

single-season record of 11 set by T.R. McDonald in 1993. Vraa has six touchdowns in the last four games alone and has caught a touchdown pass in five straight games.

“The confidence is high,” he said.

It’s what NDSU had in mind when it signed Minnesota’s Mr. Football at Rosemount High School to a letter of intent. Vraa and senior quarterback Brock Jensen have never been better in the consistency of their connection.

“Just the first couple of years, we had to work some things out just getting to know each other with simple routes,” Vraa said. “Now we’re getting to the point where we can eye each other up on the field and know what each other is going to do. So just that repetition and having more games have helped.”

Injuries limited Vraa his first two seasons. He redshirted in 2010 and played just the season opener in 2011. He’s eighth in the league in receptions per game but is second in yards at 81.4 per game. The breakout was 179 yards last month against Missouri State that earned him an FCS national award.

“We’re still going to be a heavy-run team when we can because our offensive line is great and we have great running backs,” Vraa said, “but we’ll still put it in the air and keep defenses on their toes.”

Last visit not a good

memory for QB Jensen

Because of a conference scheduling realignment, NDSU hasn’t been to Youngstown State since 2010. It was a game the Bison will remember well when a 45-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Jose Mohler to receiver Justin Howard with 34 seconds remaining produced a 34-29 victory.

But it was a game Jensen would just soon forget. He broke his collarbone in the first quarter.

“It wasn’t the best memory,” Jensen said. “We did win the game, but I’m looking forward to going down there and have a total opposite thing happen for me. Stay healthy and have a good game.”

Jensen returned to the lineup later that season in the FCS playoffs.

NDSU shows hurry-up

offense still in the cards

NDSU unveiled a hurry-up offense earlier this season against Delaware State. The Bison went back to it at times last week in the 28-10 win over Illinois State.

It’s something that will remain in the offense, but don’t look for the Bison to try and mimic Oregon.

“We thought it would be something to interject,” said head coach Craig Bohl. “I think it’s important to have. We are certainly a time-of-possession offense but there are times where we will have to be in hurry-up mode.”

Etc. etc. etc.

E Jensen’s three touchdown passes last week tied the NDSU single-

season record of 20 set by Steve Walker in 2007. Jensen has 58 career TD passes, which is two shy of Walker’s mark of 60.

E Bison running back Sam Ojuri became the sixth player in school history to top 3,000 career yards in rushing. The last to do it was Kyle Steffes, who had 3,952 yards from 2003-06.

E NDSU remains one of eight unbeaten teams in Division I football, with two in the FCS. Fordham from the Patriot League is 10-0. The FBS unbeaten teams are Alabama, Florida State, Fresno State, Northern Illinois, Ohio State and Baylor.

E Youngstown’s six-game winning streak that was halted last week at Northern Iowa was the longest since 2000.


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

Kolpack’s NDSU media blog can be found at www.areavoices.com/bisonmedia