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Jeff Kolpack, Published November 23 2013

Smith has banner day for Bison in a victory

FARGO – Ryan Smith piled up the yards from his wide receiver position. He gobbled up field position as a punt returner.

The North Dakota State senior was an all-purpose yardage machine Saturday afternoon in the 42-0 victory over the University of South Dakota at Gate City Bank Field at the Fargodome. He had 111 yards receiving on four catches and added another 32 yards on two punt returns.

Smith had a major impact on the first two NDSU touchdowns that sent it to an easy victory before 18,234 fans.

“The real ‘X’ factor is he’s such a seasoned player,” said Bison head coach Craig Bohl. “To have his presence on the sideline and on the field makes a big difference.”

His 32-yard punt return on NDSU’s second possession of the game allowed the Bison to start from the USD 45-yard line. Six plays later, John Crockett scored from 28 yards and it was 7-0.

Smith and quarterback Brock Jensen hit the home run the next time they had the ball. On the first play after the Bison defense stopped USD on three plays, the two combined for a 64-yard touchdown pass and it was quickly 14-0.

“Brock put it right on the money,” Smith said. “I was telling him on the sidelines. I just put my arms out and the ball fell right in.”

Smith looked 100 percent fast since returning from a sprained ankle last week, although he wasn’t keen on talking about it.

“Every time I comment on my health, I end up getting hurt the next game,” he said. “I’m 100 percent healthy, so knock on wood. I feel good.”

Williams held out to rest knee injury

Cornerback Marcus Williams did not play for the second straight game because of a twisted knee, but Bohl indicated that was more precautionary than anything.

“He could have played if it was an emergency,” he said. “But the other guys’ movement skills were better.”

Cornerback Jordan Champion made his second consecutive start in place of Williams. He had another productive day with four tackles.

NDSU is expected to receive a first-round bye in the FCS playoffs, and Bohl said Williams should be ready to go in two weeks.

Earl, Coyotes struggle with passing game

About the only statistic of note that NDSU wasn’t thrilled about was 107 yards rushing by USD’s Jordan Roberts. He did it despite an injured ankle, he said afterward.

Still, Jordan left the Fargodome impressed with NDSU’s defense.

“They’re sound everywhere,” he said. “I think they had a plan to shut down the pass, and they did that.”

USD quarterback Kevin Earl struggled, completing 10 of 26 passes for 101 yards and two interceptions. After some impressive performances during USD’s three-game winning streak, he had his troubles the final two games that left Coyotes head coach Joe Glenn scratching his head.

“For some reason, the last two weeks he couldn’t find the strike zone,” he said.

Etc. etc. etc.

Smith’s 64-yard touchdown reception was a career high, besting a pair of 55-yarders set against Southern Illinois in both 2011 and 2012. … NDSU running back Sam Ojuri went over 1,000 yards rushing for the season. He finished with 118 yards and has 1,114 heading into the FCS playoffs. Crockett is within range of 1,000 with 931 yards. … Bohl said backup center Jesse Hinz hurt his knee but the extent won’t be known until today. … James Johannesson and Ty Brooks, two juniors from North Dakota Class 3A state champion Fargo South, were at the game as recruits.

Forum reporter Jeff Kolpack can be reached at (701) 241-5546. Kolpack’s NDSU media blog can be found at www.areavoices.com/bisonmedia