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Jeff Kolpack, Published December 14 2013

Bison ground game fires on all cylinders in win

FARGO – There wasn’t much of a mystery why North Dakota State defeated Coastal Carolina 48-14 in the FCS quarterfinals. It’s been 17 years since the Bison put up a rushing yards total like they did on Saturday.

NDSU totaled 424 yards on the ground, the most since registering 520 against Mankato State in 1996. The telltale sign perhaps came early when running back Sam Ojuri went virtually untouched for a 73-yard touchdown run.

“Everybody has their gap and somebody wasn’t there and he took off for a touchdown,” said Chanticleers linebacker Mike McClure.

The Bison attack didn’t stop there. Ojuri finished with 162 yards on 20 carries. Freshman Chase Morlock got his 77 yards in the fourth quarter and quarterback Brock Jensen finished with 75. Junior John Crockett finished four yards short of 1,000 for the season with his 49.

“They had a good push on the offensive line,” McClure said. “Once the running back got in there, their line kept pushing and pushing. They kept pushing for an extra two or three yards.”

There was more than running the ball. The 623 total yards by NDSU was the most since 2007 when it had 649 against Illinois State.

“There was something in the air that got everybody going,” Ojuri said. “It was important to start strong and finish stronger.”

Olson works out, may not be finished yet

Bison linebacker Grant Olson, who once was thought done for the season with a torn ACL, may be trying to find a second life on the field. The senior worked out with strength and conditioning coach Jim Kramer on the field before the game, doing several shuttle and running drills.

Head coach Craig Bohl said it was unlikely Olson will play Friday in the FCS semifinals, but if the Bison win, he could possibly play in the national title game on Jan. 4.

“Grant’s on a mission to get back out there on the field,” Bohl said. “He’s doing some workouts now.”

Olson was injured late in the year against Illinois State and looked relegated to the role of a student assistant coach.

“I thought it was a done deal but he’s feeling a little bit better,” Bohl said.

Bohl said Olson is working with the orthopedic staff at Sanford Health to see if there’s a chance he could return.

Meanwhile, the news on safety Colten Heagle is uncertain. The junior suffered an unspecified shoulder injury and spent the second half with his arm in a sling. Heagle actually came off the field, as did defensive end Cole Jirik, but Jirik returned.

Also, Jensen went to the sidelines for a play when he got dinged up after being tackled.

“No concussion symptoms or anything so I’m all right,” he said.

Etc. etc. etc.

NDSU dominated the time of possession battle holding the ball for 39:45 of the 60-minute game. The Bison were 7 of 13 on third down conversions while Coastal Carolina was just 1 of 9. … NDSU is now 9-0 at home in the Fargodome in the FCS playoffs. The last home playoff loss was in 1991 to Mankato in the Division II playoffs at Dacotah Field. … Adam Keller’s 48-yard field goal was a season best and was a yard short of his career long, which came last year against Youngstown State.

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

Kolpack’s NDSU media blog can be found

at www.areavoices.com/bisonmedia