It’s been two days, and I still get goose bumps! I watched my North Dakota State Bison defeat Kansas State in football Friday night, and I’m still trying to reel in my emotions enough to write about it. When my mind rewinds through Brock Jensen’s touchdown plunge with 28 seconds remaining, I still am literally jumping up and down, pumping my fists in the air screaming!
I’ve been a rabid fan of North Dakota State Bison football for over 30 years, and Friday night’s victory may well be the most impressive ever! I don’t believe the players, who are mostly in their early 20’s, can fully realize the magnitude of what they were a part of that night. This was the stuff of legends! My children and future grandchildren will hear about this night for the rest of my life. The names Smith, Heagle, Ojuri, Jenson, and Bohl will be names they will learn to associate with Bison greatness!
Let’s start with Ryan Smith. This guy is only 5’7”! Ryan’s a North Dakota boy from Wahpeton, just a few miles south of Fargo, and he played his heart out Friday night! Smith doesn’t possess blazing speed to get behind a defense, but he makes razor sharp cuts to separate himself from defenders, and his quarterback Jenson always seems to get him the ball at the exact moment he’s open. Ryan had 8 receptions Friday night for 72 yards, but more importantly, he always made the clutch catch every time his team absolutely needed one.
Next, let’s talk about Sam Ojuri. This kid out of Illinois possessed the size (6’0” 212lbs) that the big colleges want, but for some reason none actively recruited. Thankfully, he eventually chose North Dakota State and, with a chip on his shoulder, has proven that he is one of the better running backs in the nation at any level! Ojuri rushed only 10 times on Friday night, but gained 127 yards on those carries. That’s a 12.7 yards per carry average, folks: Talk about taking advantage of your opportunities! While not blazing fast, nor overpowering strong, Sam ran with a determination that has become his trademark during his four years at North Dakota State. Sam Ojuri is a hard worker, and a winner, and he has the championship rings to prove it!
Brock Jensen is my favorite North Dakota State quarterback ever! He doesn’t have an arm that pro scouts will line up to see, nor does he have the speed that will likely place him on an NFL roster next year, but this kid from Wisconsin is the most competitive football player I’ve ever seen! Brock Jensen wins football games; plain and simple! On Friday night, he kept his team in the hunt for a win, and with nine minutes remaining, led the Bison on a drive that I consider the greatest ever! Jenson was 7 for 7 passing during those crucial minutes, including completions on all four third downs he faced. Then, with 28 seconds remaining, the storied quarterback plunged into the end zone from one yard out, sending me, and all Bison fans, into absolute pandemonium!
The North Dakota State Bison are perhaps one of the greatest college football programs ever. This season Craig Bohl will become the winningest coach in North Dakota State history. That alone speaks thousands of words!
On Friday, coach Bohl went head to head with Kansas State legend Bill Snyder, and not only did he come out on top, he dominated! Bohl’s initial plan was to take away KSU’s running game, forcing them to become one dimensional. His plan called for the Bison defensive secondary to play loose, allowing the front seven to be aggressive against the run. The Bison defense responded to their coach’s plan, and by half time, KSU had given up trying to run the ball.
The Bison secondary looked susceptible to the Wildcat passing game to start the second half, but that was exactly what Coach Bohl wanted KSU to believe. Kansas State extended their lead to 21-7 in the third quarter, and the home team began to feel comfortable. They didn’t realize it at the time, but they were playing right into Coach Bohl’s game plan.
It was midway through the 3rd quarter when Coach Bohl made his preplanned change on defense which would hopefully decide the outcome of the game. He instructed most of his defensive secondary to start pressing the KSU receivers at the line of scrimmage, but had strong safety Colten Heagle apply pressure to the backfield instead. KSU coach Snyder was slow to react, and before he knew it, his offense had been stymied on two straight possessions, and the Bison were in position to win the game.
North Dakota State then took possession of the football on their own 20 yard line, trailing by four points, with only nine minutes remaining. Despite the deficit however, it was the Bison that appeared in control of the football game!
Brock Jensen led the offense onto the field with the icy gaze of a gunslinger who already knew what outcome was going to be. When the camera zoomed onto the Bison sideline, Coach Bohl shared the exact same deadly confidence. They knew that David had Goliath down on the ground, and both coach and quarterback were ready for the kill. The Bison were the better prepared team on this particular hot summer night, and they were ready to slay the giant!
Brock Jensen dove into the Wildcat end zone for a three point lead with 28 seconds remaining. The Bison defense easily squashed KSU’s last second effort to tie the game, and NDSU earned the right to be considered one of the best college football teams in the nation this year, at any level!
I suddenly feel the urge to run around the house again, screaming at the top of my lungs: Boy is this fun!