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Jeff Kolpack, Published November 16 2013

North Dakota State goes to fullbacks, tight ends early and often in victory

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – North Dakota State took its West Coast passing game up a notch on the toughness chart Saturday afternoon. The fullbacks and tight ends figured prominently in the 35-17 win over Youngstown State at Stambaugh Stadium.

Senior tight end Kevin Vaadeland had four receptions and two touchdowns and sophomore fullback Andrew Bonnet had three catches and a touchdown. That kind of production wasn’t by accident in the Bison clinching the Missouri Valley Football Conference title.

“We had some schemes drawn up,” Vaadeland said. “We knew they were going to play the run hard, so we thought we could get open out in the flat.”

Vaadeland’s catch-to-touchdown ratio this season is out of this world. He now has 12 receptions with half of those being scoring plays.

“You can’t go wrong with that,” he said.

Bonnet started NDSU’s scoring with a 3-yard touchdown reception in the first quarter that tied the game at 7-7. The 6-foot-3, 246-pound fullback pushed a defensive back away with ease on his way into the end zone.

Of his 33 receiving yards, a bunch were accomplished with Penguin defensive players on his back.

“It’s always fun throwing it to No. 46 out there,” said Bison quarterback Brock Jensen. “You never know if he’s going to hurdle a guy or run over the top of him and step on his chest. It’s pretty fun to watch him get the ball in the open field. He’s very athletic and a very tough kid.”

Jensen said the Bison offensive coaches saw some things on film that lent itself to using the tight ends and fullbacks more.

“We haven’t used them as much as we would have liked this year, and to get them back in the mix feels really good,” Jensen said.

Bison overcome three

turnovers in victory

It wasn’t all pretty for NDSU, which won despite committing three turnovers. Jensen tossed an interception late in the first half when he threw into double coverage. His lateral pass that turned into a fumble in the third quarter led to a Penguins touchdown that pulled them within 28-17.

Punt returner Christian Dudzik fumbled for the second straight week, this time in the fourth quarter although the outcome was pretty much in hand.

“I was frustrated about that,” said Bison head coach Craig Bohl. “We certainly can play a cleaner game than what we did. Typically you’re not going to beat a good team with those types of turnovers.”

Vraa maintains hot

streak with big day

NDSU receiver Zach Vraa continued his hot run of late. His seven receptions for 101 yards was the third straight game – and the fifth in sixth games – he’s gone over 100 yards in receiving.

Vraa had two catches in NDSU’s first touchdown drive with the big play a 25-yarder that reached the 3-yard line. A 17-yarder on NDSU’s final TD drive was a big third-down conversion.

The streak started with a five-catch, 179-yard effort against Missouri State. The only non 100-yard game was against Southern Illinois, although his one catch for 55 yards was a big-play touchdown on third-and-9.

Etc. etc. etc.

NDSU is 10-0 for the first time since 2007. … It was NDSU’s 17th straight road victory and 30th conference championship. … There were plenty of complaints with the television broadcast that originated from a local Youngstown affiliate. It prompted KVLY to send out the following Twitter message: “We are continuing to assist the tech crew in Youngstown to correct the video issues on their end.” … Bohl said there were no further injuries that he knew of immediately after the game. … Of the seven NDSU conference wins, six were by double digits.

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

Kolpack’s NDSU media blog can be found

at www.areavoices.com/bisonmedia